The Best Smartwatches That Look Like Traditional Watches
This article originally appeared on Gizmos.
The world of smartwatches and wearable fitness trackers is a world of generally unattractive squares and rectangles. Sure you get a bevy of features on your wrist, but why does it have to be at the cost of style?
Enter hybrid smartwatches. These watches have traditional watch faces while hiding smart features. Many of them just cover sleep and activity tracking with automatic time adjustment while others throw in smartphone notifications via subtle vibrations and LEDs. Plus, you don't have to deal with an operating system (Android vs. iOS), just a cross-compatible app.
We think you should have the best of both worlds and get a classic watch design with features built for the 21st century. Even with full-on smartwatches and fitness trackers, you have to deal with unreliability of Bluetooth connections and margins of error with fitness/sleep data. Hybrid smartwatches aren't exceptions to these shortcomings, but they offer an elegant solution to the brutalist wearable tech problem.
We sifted through dozens of hybrid smartwatches to find the most stylish and reliable ones for your everyday life.
Best Hybrid Smartwatch for Most People
We know that most of you are just looking for an attractive Fitbit, so we recommend the Nokia Steel. Nokia packs activity and sleep tracking into this minimalist update to Withings' Activite watches. We chose this watch because it pairs reliably with smartphones, provides accurate activity tracking, has a replaceable battery that lasts up to eight months, and it's water-resistant up to 150 feet.
If you want a small inset screen, heart rate monitor, and smartphone notifications, you can upgrade to the Nokia Steel HR. The upgrade shrinks your battery life to about 25 days, but that's much longer than other watches with rechargeable batteries.
Best Hybrid Smartwatches for Smartphone Notifications
Considering that buying a watch is a personal style choice and these sister brands are essentially identical on the inside, we recommend both the Fossil Q Hybrid Smartwatches and the Misfit Command. We excluded their other sister brand Skagen because they use slightly weaker batteries and aren't as water resistant.
We like the smartphone notifications, activity tracking accuracy, design options, battery life, and swim-proof water resistance of the Misfit Command and Fossil Q watches.
Best Small Hybrid Smartwatch
We know how hard it is to find a smartwatch that doesn't have a gigantic face. The Skagen Mini Hald is stylish and has the smallest watch face we could find without sacrificing significant features. We recommend this hybrid smartwatch for its activity tracking, smartphone notifications, and elegant design.
Best Hybrid Smartwatch for Battery Life
If you don't want to think about battery life, a Mondaine Helvetica Smartwatch is a great choice from a reputable Swiss watchmaker. We recommend Mondaine's original hybrid smartwatch for its two year battery life, activity tracking, and minimalist design.
Their recent upgrade also offers smartphone notifications while still packing at least two years of battery life, but it has a much busier watch face.
How We Chose
We looked at the various hybrid smartwatches that have hit the scene in recent years, comparing professional and user reviews to get a clear picture of what works. We found that Fossil Group, Nokia, and Mondaine were rising above the pack, so we dove deeper into their specs and reviews. We considered design, price, battery life, and tracking accuracy and finally sussed out the best hybrid smartwatches for your wrist.
Close, But No Cigar
We excluded designer brands like Michael Kors, Kate Spade, and Emporio Armani because their watches all have similar (perfectly average) guts. Choosing any of their watches would speak to your personal brand affinity, not the watches' overall quality.
We were also intrigued by Frederique Constant's brand new, first of its kind, hybrid smartwatch with mechanical movement for true traditionalists. It's too new and unproven for us to recommend outright and it seems to only be available at local jewelers.