Hybrid smartwatches look like regular analog watches but are in fact smartwatches. The idea is to aim smartwatches to people who like wearing watches instead of tech or sports devices. I’m not sure who coined the term Hybrid Smartwatch, but it might have been Fossil since they have had Hybrid models since 2015.
What are Hybrid Smartwatches
According to Fossil, hybrid smartwatches look like watches but act like smartwatches. That means that they have most of the technical functionality that touchscreen smartwatches have—only in a sleeker, simpler package.
Most Hybrid Smartwatches don’t have a screen. This saves a lot of battery life and one of the biggest advantages is having a battery life that is measured in months rather than days. Typically hybrid smartwatches have a coin cell battery that lasts 6 to 12 months.
What can Hybrid Smartwatches do
Who says you have to sacrifice your sense of style to get cutting-edge features? With hybrid watches, you can get plenty of technical features in a stylish package.
It really depends on the manufacturer but the most typical features are activity tracking, sleep tracking, and notifications.
Track Steps and Sleep
While you wear your hybrid watch it’s keeping track of your steps, distance traveled and, should you choose to wear it while you sleep, your sleep duration and quality. All of your stats will be displayed in the smartphone app. You can use the app to chart progress day over day, week over week and month over month.
Notifications and smartphone control
Many hybrids use Bluetooth connectivity to make you aware of notification with a gentle buzz. Smart notifications can be available for incoming calls, text messages, and calendar reminders. You can also set alarms to wake you but the vibration on many models is quite weak so it may not be suitable for waking you up in the morning. Often you can use a watch button take snapshots from your phone and control your music or even use a find my phone feature.
Heart Rate Monitoring
Some hybrid smartwatches even provide 24/7 wrist-based heart rate monitoring like the Garmin Vivomove HR. This, however, does compromise the battery life and drops it to only 5 days.
The Garmin Vivomove HR has even a hidden display.
The smart display only appears when you quickly turn your wrist to glance at your watch. The watch hands dynamically move out of the way when you interact with the touchscreen then move back to the correct time when you are done. This is a cool feature and the display is really not noticeable and the device still looks like a regular analog watch.
Wash your hands without fear. Your smartwatch will be safe and sound. Most hybrids are fine up to 5 ATM so 50 meters.
Interchangeable Watch Straps
Most hybrid smartwatches are made with standard size lugs meaning you can pick and choose your own straps. Check my article on changing watch straps for your smartwatch.
Who makes Hybrid Smartwatches
Fossil Group founded in 1984 and based in Texas is one of the better known hybrid watchmakers. Their brands include Fossil, Relic, Abacus, Michele Watch, Skagen Denmark, Misfit, WSI, and Zodiac Watches. Fossil also makes licensed accessories for brands such as Skechers, Emporio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, formerly Marc by Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Diesel, Kate Spade New York, Tory Burch, Chaps, Burberry and Armani Exchange.
The benefit of choosing a Fossil-produced hybrid watch is that the Fossil smartphone app has simple and reliable connectivity and a fairly polished app, and you’re getting a design from a proper watchmaker.
The Fossil hybrid watches are reasonably priced and they do have an extensive catalog of watches to choose from.
The Command will track your steps and sleep using Misfit’s activity tech, while the hands will move to signal notifications. You can also unlock swim tracking to count your laps in the pool through an additional in-app purchase. It’s swim proof and has a 5 ATM rating.
The Misfit doesn’t have as many smartwatch features as some of the contenders but having the option to track your swimming is something that makes it extremely interesting for me since I do go in the pool at least twice a week. The device has a non-charging, replaceable battery that lasts up to one year.
Garmin is most known for its smartwatches for sports and they provide some of the best multisport devices. They have also stepped into the hybrid watch space with the award-winning Garmin Vivomove HR. It offers a watch designed 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 meters, so you can take it for a dip too.
On that hidden 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. Basically, it has all the features mentioned in this article and it currently is my favorite hybrid watch. It would be awesome to have GPS as well, but perhaps that will be in the next iteration. The only downside is that the battery life is poor with only 5 days using the HR monitor compared to the Fossil watches which typically give 6 months or more of battery life.
The Garmin Connect app is great and that’s something I would strongly consider when purchasing a smartwatch.
Nokia Health is now again Withings. They have multiple hybrid watches to choose from. The Steel, Steel HR and Steel HR Sport some of them.
Steel HR Sport is a hybrid smartwatch designed for sports, featuring heart rate monitoring, multi-sport tracking, connected GPS and a Fitness Level assessment via VO2 Max estimation. All these features are housed in a classic timepiece with water resistance up to 50m, a long-life battery of up to 25 days, and a durable stainless steel case.
Other content you might be interested in: