Helping you pick a traditional watch with added smarts
What’s the difference between a smartwatch and a hybrid smartwatch? They might sound like the same thing, but there’s a way to tell the two apart from each other.
A hybrid blurs traditional watch designs with contemporary fitness tracking and notification tech. You won’t see full touchscreen displays like you get on Wear watches or the Apple Watch, and 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 hybrid smartwatch – Garmin Vivomove HR
If you want the perfect marriage of design and smarts, this is our choice for the best hybrid smartwatch you can get right now.
Successor to the Garmin Vivomove, the award-winningVivomove HR offers a watch design for both men and women, adding a discreet display that only appears when you tap on the watch face. It’s also waterproof up to 50 metres (like its predecessor), so you can take it for a dip too.
On that nicely disguised display, you’ll be able to see activity tracking data, check in on heart rate readings, view notifications and even check in on your stress levels. It’s essentially the Garmin Vivosport fitness tracker in a much sleeker and stylish body, minus the built-in GPS.
Battery life is two weeks in watch mode and five days when you’re taking full advantage of the smartwatch features. On the whole, it’s a winner.
From $199.99, garmin.com | Amazon
Best hybrid smartwatch for design – Skagen Jorn/Hald Connected
The latest Skagen Connected device may have launched last year, but this is still one of the best looking hybrids to have on your wrist.
There are two versions: The Jorn, for men, and the Hald, for women. Both of them come in various styles, and they both retain the same minimalist look that Skagen’s dumb timepieces carry.
Activity and sleep tracking are present, but it’s all pretty basic. What is different this year is that the sub-dial has been jettisoned. Instead, the face hands will move around and point to a different colour based on your notifications.
The Jorn is available in two variations: stainless steel with a tan leather strap and grey face, or titanium with a grey face and 22mm black leather strap. The Hald comes in either rose gold, gold or stainless steel watch face variations, with different tan and 20mm black leather bands.
One thing to note: Skagen unveiled its latest hybrid, the Skagen Holst, at Baselworld 2018. There’s no firm date set for its arrival, but you may want to hold out if you prefer the look or want a potential price reduction of older models.
$175, skagen.com | Amazon
Best hybrid smartwatch for notifications – Kronaby
If you’ve got a bit more money to play around with, Kronaby’s collection of hybrid smartwatches is well worth checking out.
There are models for men and women, with high grade materials adding that touch of luxury. You can swap out the wristbands, too. In terms of smarts, it keeps it basic on the fitness front with just step tracking, but you do get vibrating buzzes that vary in strength to indicate different notifications and the ability to assign physical watch buttons to control features like music playback and remotely take smartphone pictures.
There’s also a nice personal safety feature that lets you send out a details of your current location to an assigned contact with the press of a button. New IFTTT support means it can take control of smart home kit too.
It packs decent smartwatch features into a sleek, stylish body and while there’s still room for improvement, it’s one of our current hybrid faves.
As with Skagen, Kronaby also used the Baselworld platform to announce its 2018 collection, which comprises of new models for the Apex, Sekel and Nord ranges. They land on 13 April, so make sure to check them out if you want an alternative to the Swedish startup’s current offering.
From $350–$795, kronaby.com | Amazon
Best hybrid smartwatch for fitness tracking – Nokia Steel HR
Nokia may have taken over the Withings brand, but the Steel HR is still very much the same equation. And while it also may only appear to be a minor upgrade over the sleek Withings Activité Steel, it’s actually so much more than that.
Carrying the same stainless steel casing, chrome hands and silicone strap as previous editions, you now 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.
However, while the watch itself is great, Nokia itself has since announced that it’s selling its Digital Health business back to the co-founder of Withings. What that means for the future of the Steel HR is unsure, so it’s worth keeping that in mind.
$149.95, nokia.com | Amazon
Best hybrid smartwatch for iPhones – Fossil Q Accomplice
So there’s a whole bunch of Fossil hybrids you can pick from, but we’ve found that the experience is better when paired with iPhones, as opposed to Google-running smartphones.
The Accomplice is one from the collection that we really enjoyed using alongside Apple’s smartphone – and it’s a looker, too. The 38mm watch is classy, light and fairly slim at 11mm thick.
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 for third party apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp.
The three physical buttons on the side of the watch also offer additional smarts, such as letting you control music playback or take a smartphone selfie, as well as more standard functions, like showing the date, showing a second time zone, starting the stopwatch or ringing your phone.
It’s big on style and the smarts are discreet, so if you like that combo, then this could be the hybrid for you.
From $155, fossil.com | Amazon
Best hybrid smartwatch 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.
It will track your steps and sleep using Misfit’s activity tech, while the hands will move to signal 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. It’s worth noting that its successor the Misfit Path is on the way, maintaining that same sleek design while adding new smarts.
$149.99, misfit.com | Amazon
Best hybrid smartwatch if money is absolutely no object – Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture
If you’ve got money to burn and want a hybrid that oozes luxury, this Hybrid Manufacture is the one you need in your life.
The Swiss watchmakers latest hybrid is the first to fuse tech with a mechanical manufacture-made movement and comes in four 42mm styles including a rose gold model that pushes the price up to £3,795.
On the smart features front, it offers step tracking, sleep tracking and a second time zone. The Manufacture goes a little further with its coaching from the companion smartphone app giving you health tips based on your stats, advising you, perhaps, that too much activity in the evening is having a negative impact on your sleep.
It might not be jam packed with connected features, but with all the hallmarks of the watchmaker’s fine craftmanship on show, it’s going to appeal to loves of classic watch design who aren’t ready to go full smartwatch just yet.