Hands on: Fossil Q Explorist review

The deluxe watch company finally makes a full-screened smartwatch

What is a hands on review?

Early Verdict

The move away from the flat-tire display means that Fossil is now prime competition with the best in the arena. If your wrist is still available, the Q Explorist may make for a good option.


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    Stellar design

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    Improved display

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    Android Wear 2.0 out of the box


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    Not the most innovative smartwatch

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Fossil is no stranger to making a smartwatch. Since its first debuted well over a year ago, it has worked to make each model a little slimmer and more feature-packed than the last. 

But, one thing that always tugged them down was the annoying flat tire look, the flat line at the bottom of the screen that prevents the screen from going full circle.

The Fossil Q Explorist is the most comprehensive, cohesive smartwatch from the company yet. Not only has its screen gone full circle, it comes with customizable software buttons and Android Wear 2.0 out of the box.

Having launched for $255 in late September, the Explorist is priced well for a smartwatch with more pizzazz than most others. We’ll have to wait and see if it brings anything inventive to the table in terms of software, but this could be one of 2017’s better options when it launches later in the Autumn. 


“Explorist” is an odd choice to settle on for this watch, mostly because it looks like its natural habitat is the office environment. Regardless, this tough looking wearable is decked out with edgy design elements.

Starting with the band, each section of it is made up of brushed steel. It all comes together in the middle at the brains of the Explorist where it transitions to glossy stainless steel. 

Moving onto the main attraction, the 44mm case measures up to 12.6mm in thickness, making it Fossils thinnest smartwatch targeted at the male demographic. The screen is surrounded in a premium knurl texture that makes it stand out a bit, though it can’t be rotated, like the Samsung Gear S3.

The screen itself takes a leap forward that we’ve been waiting for Fossil to make: it’s finally a full circle. Gone is the flat tire that plagued previous Fossil watches, as well as other popular models, like the Moto 360.

The Q Explorist comes in a few different styles.

The Q Explorist comes in a few different styles.


Inside of the Explorist, Fossil has opted for this year’s most popular spec combo in a wearable, the Snapdragon Wear 2100 paired with 4GB of internal storage. As such, the upcoming smartwatch will be able to handle anything you throw at it.

As we mentioned earlier, the Explorist runs Android Wear 2.0 out of the box, Google latest version of the wearable operating system. Joining the ranks of many others, this Fossil watch will be able to run apps natively, meaning with or without your smartphone nearby. Speaking of smartphones, Android Wear 2.0 always gets big ups for being compatible with both iOS and Android.

Early verdict

We’ve yet to spend a good amount of time with the Fossil Q Explorist, but with its 24-hour battery life, competent specs and gorgeous full-screened design, this might be one to look out for later this Autumn.

Of course, the battle for your wrist has never been more volatile. But the Q Explorist's focus on the fundamentals will likely bode well for those looking a traditional-looking watch with a bunch of smarts embedded inside.

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.