Helping you pick a traditional watch with added smarts
What’s the difference between a smartwatch and a smart analogue watch? They might sound like the same thing, but there’s a way to tell the two apart from each other.
A hybrid smartwatch blurs traditional watch designs with contemporary fitness tracking and notification tech. You won’t see full touchscreen displays like you get on Android Wear watches or the Apple Watch. You certainly won’t have to deal with a couple of days of battery life, that’s for sure. Those smarts are added in a more discreet and elegant way.
Whether you’re style obsessed or want something that’s good at tracking your steps without hammering the battery, here’s our pick of the top smart analogue watches to get around your wrist.
Best for design
Mondaine Helvetica No.1 Smart
If looks is your number one priority, the Mondaine Helvetica No.1 Smart is one of the best-looking smart analogue watch we’ve had the pleasure of using.
The stainless steel beauty comes with a genuine leather strap with sapphire glass front and centre. You can take your pick of five different models and all come with the same Swiss-made build quality.
On the smart front the MotionX tech, which also powers Jawbone wearables, provides solid activity tracking, manual sleep tracking and silent alarm support to gently rouse you in the morning from your deep sleep.
Buy it for: Excellent design, steps counting, sleep, long battery life.
$850, mondaine.com | Amazon
Skagen Hagen Connected
One of the standout additions from Fossil’s massive smartwatch offensive has been the Skagen Hagen Connected.
Retaining the same minimalist look as Skagen’s dumb timepieces, the Connected adds activity tracking tech developed by Misfit to count your steps with a progress dial built into the display.
It’s available in four styles that mix leather, steel-mesh and titanium with a standard coin cell battery delivering plenty of battery life too.
$195, Skagen.com | Amazon
Best for fitness tracking
Withings Steel HR
Withings’s latest smart analogue watch might sound like a minor upgrade to the sleek Withings Activité Steel, but it’s so much more than that.
Carrying the same stainless steel casing, chrome hands and silicone strap as the previous editions, you know get an additional dynamic digital screen to view data including activity tracking and smartphone notifications.
As the name suggests, there’s a heart rate monitor on board as well to continuously monitor heart rate during the day and during workouts.
Battery life is a more than respectable 25 days and there are two different watch case models to take your pick from.
$179.95, Withings.com | Amazon
The Garmin Vivomove just focuses on steps and sleep, making it far simpler than any other Garmin fitness device in the company’s line up. Certainly more male-friendly at 12mm thick, it’s not nearly as svelte as the Activité (below).
It boasts a 5ATM waterproof (50 metres approx) which means it’s fine for the pool, although it’s hardly the Garmin Swim in terms of captured metrics. But you do get rewarded for your strokes.
Our favourite part of the Vivomove is the Move bar, which fills up with a bright red warning of impending death as you sit about on your slothenly butt. It makes the Vivomove one of the more effective fitness tracking features at you active, which should be precisely what they’re all about.
The Vivomove is available in Sport, Classic and Premium models.
From $150, garmin.com | Amazon
The Swiss-made Withings Activité represented the first great example of marrying slick analogue watch styling with tech smarts.
The Android- and iOS-friendly watch is built from luxurious materials with its stainless steel casing and domed sapphire glass accompanying a calf leather strap. There’s even an additional sports strap to take it for a dip in the pool.
It’ll count steps, measure distance and monitor sleep, and detect swimming automatically syncing data to the solid Withings Health Mate app. It also features a silent vibrating alarm and promises a hefty 8 months of battery life.
If you want to save some money and still get the same features and similarly slick design, you could also consider the newer Withings Activité Steel.
Buy it for: Steps, sleep, calories, swim tracking, alarm.
$349, withings.com | Amazon
Best for iOS – Fossil Q Grant
Android phone owners, steer clear. While the Fossil Q Grant is designed to work with Google-running smartphones, we didn’t have the greatest experiences with it.
That’s not to say that Fossil’s smart analogue debut doesn’t make a good impression. A watch first and fitness tracker second, the Grant comes in four different designs and has 22mm removable straps so you can customise to your heart’s content.
Activity tracking is kept to a minimum, counting steps and nothing more. You can’t read notifications on it, but a little blue LED and vibrating buzz will let you know someone is trying to get in touch.
Fossil has added to its smart analogue collection in a big way since the Q Grant with with four new men and women-friendly ranges including the stainless steel Q Crewmaster, rose gold Q Tailor and blingtastic Q Glazer.
Buy it for: Stylish design, steps counting, basic notification support.
$126.99, fossil.com | Amazon
Best for simplicity – Misfit Phase
Misfit’s first hybrid smartwatch, the Misfit Phase, is a strong debut, delivering a handful of smarts without a single sub-eye. It does make interpreting some notifications a little tricky, mind, but there’s no denying the Phase is a real looker.
The Phase will track your steps and sleep using Misfit’s activity tech, while the hands will move to signify a new notification, as well as the shifting colour wheel that can be seen through a small window at the six o’clock mark. All of the smarts are hidden under the surface, giving the Phase the feel of a classic, understated watch.
We’d like it to do a bit more in the smarts department, but if you want something that’s simple, tracks your activity, and looks good – this is a strong choice.
$175, Misfit.com | Amazon
Best on a budget – Withings Activité Pop
The Withings Activité doesn’t come cheap, but if you can live without the luxurious build quality, the Pop is still a great option.
Metal is ditched for plastic, but it retains the attractive design charm of its bigger brother. It also offers the very same activity tracking and alarm features so you can save yourself a bit of money, keep an eye on your steps and not have to worry about carrying around a charger.
Buy it for: Step counting, silent alarms, sleep tracking, automatic time zones.
$90, withings.com | Amazon
The Diesel On collection formed part of Fossil Group’s mammoth unveiling at Baselworld this week, and will drop in multiple colours.
The device itself is typically Diesel – bulky and industrial while still offering a stylish build. In terms of smarts, the On watches come with basic activity tracking and notifications, while the two ‘pushers’ on either side of the crown can be assigned to specific tasks.
Pricing details remain scarce, but we do know the hybrid collection will roll out in autumn 2017.
Alpina Comtesse Horological
Alpina has kept a fairly consistent philosophy when it comes to hybrid smartwatches: stay traditional and unnoticeably key in the smarts.
This has usually focused on the more masculine entries, though, until the company unveiled the Comtesse Horological for women at Baselworld. The 36mm frame comes in four colour variations, allowing users to track fitness, sleep and receive notifications for calls and emails.
No details are currently available regarding price, release date or battery for the Comtesse collection.
Marc Jacobs Riley
If you’re looking for your hybrid to have a designer edge, Marc Jacobs now has you covered – releasing two styles of the new Riley connected smartwatch line.
There’s fitness tracking for you to view via the companion app, vibrations for smartphone calls, message and app alerts and a long-lasting coin cell battery so you won’t need to charge it every night.
The designs are based on the regular, dumb Riley watches, though the connected variants have three buttons which you can set to specific features.
The devices are set to drop in autumn later this year, but price points are yet to be released for the colourful, plastic hybrids.
Fossil Q Accomplice and Q Activist
Fossil Group may have been busy unveiling a bevy of watches at Baselworld, but it didn’t forget about the Fossil brand itself. As well as launching more traditional smartwatches, it also found time to unveil the Q Accomplice (shown above) and Q Activist hybrids.
These analogue watches have smarts built in for activity tracking and smartwatch-style notifications, with the latter being the notable upgrade in this generation.
The fresh devices also feature “customisable pushers” – or, you know, buttons – which can be set to a host of functions, from remote camera shutter to ‘find my phone’.
Prices are currently unavailable, but the devices are expected to drop this summer.