Fossil Q Explorist HR review

Fossil's techiest watch ever

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.


  • Includes GPS and a heart rate monitor
  • It's water-resistant and can track swims
  • Much better for fitness than past Fossil watches

Fossil watches have yet to specialize in fitness features, and you’ve often been better off looking to a proper running watch or other smartwatches to get the best experience in your workouts.

The Fossil Q Explorist HR wants to change that though, and this is the best attempt yet from the company to make a fully fledged fitness watch.

It may look too premium to take running, but there’s lots of tech here that will do more than track your step count.

For one thing, it comes with Google Fit and Google Fit Workout apps on board, so you can track your exercise regime easily using them, or download other apps from the Google Play Store.

There’s a heart rate monitor on the back of the watch that sits close to your skin and will take readings throughout the day. It will also constantly monitor your heart rate when you’re in the middle of exercise, which is particularly helpful and we found it to be accurate.

It’s useful to have a picture of your heart rate throughout the day, and it’s even more useful to have an idea of your workout HR results.

GPS is available on the Fossil Q Explorist HR as well, so it will be able to track your location even if you go running without your phone. We did find the watch took a frustratingly long time to connect, and we were left waiting over 30 seconds to start our workout while the watch connected.

When it was connected, it stayed connected on a 45 minute run around some rural areas and we found it gave a similar report of the distance to what we know it to be. 

If you want a clear picture of your location when running and cycling, this is a great option.

The watch is also waterproof and capable of tracking your swims as well, although we've yet to test exactly how it performs when you're in a pool. We hope to do that soon and include it here as a future update.

Specs and features

  • NFC allows for contactless payments with Google Pay
  • Wear OS is easy to navigate and about to get updated
  • Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset performs well but is dated

Everything from previous Fossil watches is available again here, but this time there's some new tech inside that adds some extra features.

There's an NFC chip that allows you to use Google Pay from your wrist, meaning you can make quick and easy contactless payments.

The watch comes running the latest Wear OS software, which is easy to navigate, and Google is about to push out new updates to improve the platform and make navigating around the watch even easier.

Having Wear OS means you can download any Wear OS app from the Google Play Store and have it running on your watch right away, plus it will work alongside iPhones as well as Android devices.

The Q Explorist HR has the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset inside, which we've previously seen perform well in a variety of watches since it was announced in 2016.

We didn't have any stuttering or performance issues in our time using the watch, but you won't get any of the benefits of a newer chipset called the Wear 3100 that we've now heard about.

The newer chipset is capable of better battery life, and that may have been worth waiting for. Fossil has said it will be making more watches with this tech inside, so you may want to wait to buy a new watch when those are announced.

Battery life

  • Lasts around a day
  • Charges fast

The Fossil Q Explorist HR won’t be able to last as long as the new Samsung Galaxy Watch, but you’ll find it will get through a whole day before needing to be recharged. That's consistently the case with this watch in our experience.

Often we got to bed with around 15 or 20% leftover in the tank on the watch, which we weren't overly impressed by.

With more limited usage you may find the Q Explorist HR will last for more than a single day, but we didn’t manage to get the watch to last for more than a day and a bit. Two days would be the maximum we could foresee.

Charging the watch is easy with a proprietary charger that comes in the box. The charging plate is magnetic so it'll attach easily to the rear of the watch and Fossil recommends you only use the charger in the box to recharge the device. 

We found that the watch charged up remarkably quickly, so it shouldn't take you long to pump more battery into your watch when you need it. 

The new fast charging feature means you can place it down to charge for an hour and know it will get you through an evening easily.

There’s no low-power battery mode on the Q Explorist HR though, which would have been a way to easily prolong the battery life of the watch.

James Peckham

James is the Editor-in-Chief at Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.