Garmin has announced the Garmin Instinct Crossover, a hybrid smartwatch with analog timekeeping designed for “those who appreciate a classic analogue watch experience, but who do not want to compromise essential smartwatch functionality or rugged watch durability.”
It’s a Garmin Instinct 2, one of the best Garmin watches, with hands. Hands! The analog timekeeping elements are coated with Super-LumiNova illumination markings, and are overlaid on top of the watch’s digital display. The hands are said to “quickly move” when you want to access your smart watch functions, and new ‘RevoDrive’ technology keeps the watch accurate when it resumes, although no details were given on how this works.
The other big news on this watch is battery life. The Instinct Crossover comes in Solar and non-Solar charging options. If you get one of the versions of the watch with no solar charging capabilities, its smartwatch mode can last 28 days, while its low power battery mode can last an excellent 71 days. If you get a watch with Solar charging, the low power battery mode will last forever.
That is not hyperbole. As long as you spend three hours each day in 50,000 lux conditions - the equivalent of an overcast day - the watch will continue to operate.
Garmin stresses in its press materials the watch measures battery life in “months, not days”, a thinly-veiled swipe at Apple. When the excellent Apple Watch Ultra was first announced on 8 September, it was much lauded to be the longest-lasting Apple Watch ever at over 36 hours. Garmin, somewhat snidely, tweeted the following:
We measure battery life in months. Not hours. #Enduro2 pic.twitter.com/OcTLdpvHV6September 8, 2022
Garmin Instinct Crossover retains most of the Instinct series’ smart features including GPS tracking, multi-band GNSS and TracBack features, which returns you to the start of your route by the safest path. It also packs all the usual Garmin bells and whistles including accurate heart rate monitoring, the Body Battery recovery metric, the ability to record your VO2 Max, your Fitness Age, and sleep tracking.
Garmin Pay, and notification reports are also both present, although some of Garmin’s newer features, such as Training Readiness score or the Morning Report functionality, are’t listed in the watch’s description, and neither are notification functionalities.
The watch comes in three models: one with solar charging ($539.99 / £529.99 / AU$1,049), one without ($499.99 / £479.99 / AU$999) and a special solar Tactical Edition ($599 / £579.99 / AU$1,149). Preorders are open now, with the watch expected to arrive in five to eight weeks.
Analysis: All I’ve ever wanted
I recently wrote that as useful as they are, it's time we stopped pretending smartwatches will look as good as analog watches. Garmin seems to have read my mind and set out to prove me wrong, because I love the idea of this watch. As mentioned above, it’s essentially a redesigned Garmin Instinct 2 with analog timekeeping, which is no bad thing.
I’ve not handled it myself yet, and I know Garmin’s suite of metrics is excellent (the Forerunner 955 Solar is on-wrist as I type) so for me, the proof is going to be how the hands and the smart interface operates. Withings Scanwatch Horizon opts for a smaller screen to circumnavigate this problem, but the Instinct Crossover has gone for a full-size screen in a well, with the chunky luminous hands layered over the top.
Unfortunately, the timing of this release means you're unlikely to score one for cheap in the Black Friday Garmin deals, but you'll be able to find some excellent discounts on its predecessors in the Instinct range.
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Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.
Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.