CES Chronicles: Fossil’s newest hybrid smartwatch focuses on health and style

The new Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness is debuting at CES 2023, and ahead of my review, I'm going hands-on.

On my wrist is the $229 Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness. It’ll probably feel familiar to anyone who’s seen one of Fossil’s latest smartwatches given just how similar it is. And if you think it’s a boring upgrade, think again: it totally is, but it’s still a great watch.

I’ve been working on a review of it for CNN Underscored which goes live later this week, but since the embargo is lifting today, I thought I’d share a quick overview and my initial thoughts.

Here’s the Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness

Fossil’s new watch is debuting during CES 2023, and at first glance, you’d think it debuted last year. That’s because on the outside, it looks almost exactly like the Gen 6 Wellness. Fossil sticks with a glossy stainless steel body and three color options with silicon bands. It’s Fossil’s more fitness-friendly design language which is a bit friendlier and accessible compared to the standard Gen 6 series.

Of course, the Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness is a lot different than the Gen 6 Wellness on the inside, evident by the missing touchscreen on the front. Fossil swapped it for an analog watch face and a 1.1-inch E-Ink display behind it. This gives you that classic watch look while still providing enough room to show you your notifications and other data. It’s also 3 ATM waterproof.

A portrait of the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness smartwatch.

I’ve recently become something of a hybrid smartwatch connoisseur, so I was pretty thrilled to get the email asking whether I wanted to review the Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness. I asked for the blue and stainless steel model, and it’s stunning in person. The case size is thicker than you might think, but not too think where it becomes obtrusive. The three-button approach to navigation is also pretty solid: you use the top and bottom buttons to move the hands around the dial to select different menu items, while the middle button/crown works as the selector.

Custom watch faces, weather data, notification history, and Amazon Alexa support are all onboard, and the watch works the same way when paired with either Android or iOS. You can’t take phone calls or respond to text messages, but those are some of the trade-offs when wearing a hybrid.

Another trade-off has historically been fitness tracking, with many hybrid smartwatches simply not providing the same experience as regular smartwatches like the Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. The Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness tries to fix that with its own suite of fitness tracking features.

It’s part of Fossil’s Wellness initiative which it launched with the Gen 6 Wellness in 2022. Of course, that watch runs Wear OS and has a touchscreen, whereas the Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness does not. Comparatively, the Hybrid doesn’t offer as much functionality, but it’s still a decent mix of workout tracking and general health data.

On the bottom of the watch are all the sensors you’d expect to find, such as a heart rate monitor and blood oxygen sensor. You can also record EKGs, track your steps, and record various workouts. All of your data is stored in the Fossil app on your phone, and it can be synced to Google Fit or Apple Health.

I’m saving my full thoughts for my review, but my initial thoughts on the suite of fitness features on the watch are pretty positive. By no means is it as capable as my Apple Watch Series 8, but it’s nice.

Of course, one of the biggest draws for a hybrid smartwatch is battery life, and Fossil quotes the Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness as having two weeks’ worth on a full charge. This is something I’ll be paying close attention to and comparing to the Withings ScanWatch, one of the best hybrid smartwatches on the market, which regularly gets me a full month of use.

If you want comparison photos, you got ‘em. Here’s the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness next to the ScanWatch and my Apple Watch Series 8.

Fossil is launching the Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness on January 5th for $229. You can order it directly from Fossil.com if you’ve already decided it’s the watch for you. My full review will be live on Underscored very soon, so stay tuned. Until then, I’m covering CES in person for the first time in four years, so you should definitely follow along.