Fossil is launching 40 hybrid smartwatches under its designer brands

(Image credit: Armani)

The Fossil Group has announced that it will be launching 40 new hybrid smartwatches under several of its designer brands including Armani, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Diesel.

Rather than the digital display of pure smartwatches like the Apple Watch, these hybrid devices keep the traditional analog watch face but integrate smart features such as fitness tracking and notification alerts.

With the smartwatch market not doing so great right now, creating hybrid devices could be a good way of allowing customers to reap the benefits of smart features without sacrificing the style aspect of wearing a designer analog watch. 

It’s a gentle introduction to the smartwatch sector which could see more consumers turn to digital smartwatches as they continue to improve in appearance and functionality. 

Time for something different

The hybridity certainly has appeal for customers who like the idea of smartwatch features but don’t want to shell out money for a watch that will be obsolete in a year or two.

Though all of the watches are coming from the Fossil Group, Ars Technica reports each brand was tasked with designing its own watch. To ensure it was creating a watch individual to it, each brand questioned its customers to establish what they’d most like to see in a hybrid smartwatch. 

As a result, each of the watches has small features unique to the brand that’s designed them. For example, Armani customers found the most appeal in being able to access a second time zone so the Armani watch has a customisable sub-dial. 

Meanwile, the Kate Spade watch has a countdown feature which users can program small champagne glasses on the watch face to track the approach of a fun life event.

Unique features

Outside of these small unique features, each watch also has standard smart features such as step tracking, smartphone notification linking, and music playback that we’ve come to expect as standard. 

Each watch has its own dedicated app and all are powered by coin-cell batteries which need to be changed every six months rather than charged every night.

Stylish as they are, hybrid smartwatches aren’t able to offer the same depth of experience as digital smartwatches; for example, where digital smartwatches will show notifications directly to save users pulling out their smartphone, hybrid watches only let them know that they have a notification.

Each brand will launch its own line of smartwatches on its site but there aren't official specifications or exact prices for every watch just yet. We'll keep you updated with more information as it becomes available. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.