Hands on: Skagen Falster 2 review

A big improvement on the last?

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The Skagen Falster 2 is a minimalist, stylish watch, but this time it's packed full of features too, including GPS, NFC and a heart rate monitor. The bezel is thicker than we'd like but based on first impressions we have few other complaints.

For

  • Lightweight design
  • Big tech upgrades

Against

  • Thick bezel

The Skagen Falster was an interesting entry into the world of smartwatches for the watch brand.

Skagen has specialized it making minimalist watches, and its first smartwatch arguably took that design language too seriously and made for a very feature-light smartwatch.

We liked the design of the original Falster, but ultimately scored it three out of five stars as it didn't have enough tech built-in. 

The newer Skagen Falster 2 is now here after being announced at IFA 2018, and it looks like the company may have taken that feedback seriously and made a feature-rich yet minimalist looking smartwatch.

Skagen Falster 2 price and release date

September 12 is the big day for pre-orders to start shipping directly from Skagen, but it's unclear if that will be the release date all the way around the world or if it's just for those in the US.

Pricing for the watch starts at $275 / £269 (about AU$350) but you may have to spend more on different straps.

Design and display

Here's where Skagen excelled with the Falster, and arguably its second watch is even better looking than the first. As soon as you pick it up, the Falster 2 is noticeably one of the lightest Wear OS watches we've tested.

That doesn't make it feel any less premium, but it does sit comfortably on your wrist and we think if you'll be wearing this all day the weight will make it a comfortable fit. It's a 40mm case, so it's quite small.

You've got the choice of at least four different bands - these are the ones we've seen so far - with a comfortable-feeling black silicone being the most dull looking of the choices.

There's also a brown leather option, which will probably become more comfortable with consistent use. Then there are two mesh metal straps, which is a design you won't find on many other smartwatches.

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The silver mesh, brown leather and black mesh straps.

The silver mesh, brown leather and black mesh straps.
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Skagen's silver mesh strap.

Skagen's silver mesh strap.
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The silicone Skagen Falster 2 strap.

The silicone Skagen Falster 2 strap.
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Brown leather, silver mesh and black silicone straps for the Skagen Falster 2.

Brown leather, silver mesh and black silicone straps for the Skagen Falster 2.

The Falster 2 looks minimalist with its simple watch faces and lovely small design that should suit wrists of all sizes. You'll probably want to look elsewhere if you like big watches.

There's a crown-like button on the right hand side with two other functionality buttons sitting above and below it. These felt tactile and make it easy to navigate around the watch, plus you can program these to boot up whatever apps you use the most.

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The display is 1.19-inch screen with a 320 x 320 resolution like we've seen on other Fossil-made watches, like the original Skagen Falster. This is bright and clear, plus it's big enough to comfortably navigate around the Wear OS software.

There's quite a thick black bezel around the outside of the display, but it's thinner than on the first generation. We found the bezel particularly noticeable on the mesh strap versions of the watch, as it contrasts against the strap color.

Specs and features

Inside the Skagen Falster 2 is the Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset we've seen running in watches of this type for some time. Right now that may sound okay, but it may be that Qualcomm will release a new chipset soon that will make this look outdated.

It's running the latest version of Wear OS, and we were told it will be ready to run the upcoming new version of the software when it's on the market - but we weren't able to test that out today.

That said, Wear OS is an already accomplished software that worked well on the watch during our testing.

New features on this version of the watch will allow for Google Pay when you're on the move, plus there's a heart rate sensor and GPS built-in for when you're working out.

Considering the Skagen Falster didn't have many fitness features at all, this should make it a much better watch for exercise. That said, you may want to have the silicone band in your arsenal if you're planning to get sweaty wearing this.

It's also swimproof so you can take this watch in the pool with you to track your lengths, but exactly what it will be able to record is currently unclear. The battery is 300mAh, and we can assume Skagen will be aiming for at least a day from a single charge.

Skagen did say it has included a new battery saving mode as well, so if you're away from your charger for some time you may be able to keep the time on your wrist by using this.

Early verdict

The Falster already had a lovely design for those who want a minimalist looking watch, and Skagen hasn't compromised that to include a bunch of new tech inside the Falster 2.

It looks like Skagen may have walked the line of features and simple design perfectly with its second attempt at making a smartwatch, and we can't wait to get this back on our wrists for a full review.

  • IFA 2018 is Europe's biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they're announced. 

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.