Fossil has been making watches for decades and has been quite active in the smartwatch space as well for a couple of years. We have reviewed WearOS smartwatches such as the Fossil Q Marshal and other models from Fossil's subsidiaries, including the Skagen Falster, Diesel On Smartwatch, and Misfit Vapor. We also put the Diesel Hybrid On watch to the test. The company has now launched a new hybrid smartwatch called the Fossil Q Machine. It's designed like a traditional timepiece but claims to combine step and sleep tracking. Is the Fossil Q Machine the perfect bridge between a standard watch and a smartwatch? We put it to the test.
The Fossil Q Machine can easily pass off as a normal wristwatch at first glance. It has a big 45mm case with a crown and two buttons on the right. The crown also has a button on it but cannot be pulled out like on traditional watches. The buttons on either side are big and have a pattern that makes them easy to find without looking. We really liked the design with a smaller dial at the bottom of the main one. This is mainly used for the watch's smart features. It has markings from 0-100 to show the percentage of your activity goal that you have managed to achieve. This dial also has Alert, Time 2, Alarm, and Date markings, which are indicated by a tiny needle.
The case is made out of stainless steel and the bezel has a knurled pattern that gives the watch a distinct look. Our review unit came with a 24mm metal strap but you can swap it out for a leather one if you like. The strap has quick release pins that make it easy to change it without using any tools. The clasp is also made of stainless steel, and fits in with a solid click. Wear the Fossil Q Machine and it makes its presence felt on the wrist. At 13mm thick, it isn't the slimmest case out there but doesn't feel as chunky as the Diesel On Hybrid. In addition to our Smoke Stainless Steel review unit, the Q Machine is also available in Gold-Tone Stainless Steel The styling for this smartwatch is quite masculine but Fossil does have other models for women.
Turn the case around and you can see stampings that say that the watch is waterproof upto 5 ATM. The back cover is removable using a coin, revealing its CR2430 button-cell battery. Fossil claims that the battery should last for six months, subject to the number of alerts you set on the watch. We did not see any significant difference in the battery percentage shown in the companion app after using the watch for two weeks.
The Fossil Q Machine pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth. Once paired, the watch syncs time with the phone. This is the only way to set the time, and you cannot do this directly like on ordinary watches. If you travel between countries this is useful, as the watch will automatically sync to the local time. You can also set it to show the time of a secondary location at the press of a button. The three buttons on the watch can be set to remotely trigger your phone camera's shutter, play/ pause music, and run a stopwatch, amongst other options. You can also set a button to help you track your goals, such as water intake, or help you find your smartphone by setting off an alarm sound.
Fossil has also added notification functionality to the Q. It has a vibration motor but since there's no display, it moves the watch hands. In the Fossil Q app you are required to choose a number between one and twelve for each app or contact. Whenever you get a call or a notification, the watch hands move to the corresponding number. This isn't ideal, since you have to remember what app or contact each number corresponds to.
One issue we did spot is that if you set all calls for number 12, for example, and a specific contact to number 1, the watch would point to 12 when you get an incoming call from that contact. Also, if you assign a particular contact to a number, the watch points to it irrespective of whether you get a call or a message. But if you only use it to know what app's notifications you have received, it isn't much if an issue. After using the Fossil Q Machine for over a week we got used to this and could easily recognise the type of alerts.
We found the vibration motor to be weaker than that of the Mi Band 2, causing us to miss a few notifications. Since this is a hybrid watch, it only indicates the last notification you've missed. The app can support multiple watches but it isn't very well designed. To check your steps, for instance, you need to tap and swipe a couple of times. Also, it doesn't sync in the background, so you'll need to sync it manually all the time. If you don't swipe in a straight line, it assumes that you're trying to pull down to refresh your data and starts syncing with the watch.
You need to set a goal for the number of steps you wish to cover each day, and the needle on the smaller watchface will point to the percentage of your goal that you have achieved. For a more accurate number, you will have to launch the Fossil Q app on your smartphone. Step tracking is not very accurate. To test this hybrid watch we used it along with the Xiaomi Mi Band 2, which is reasonably accurate though not the best in business. At the end of the day, we had the Mi Band 2 reporting 2,477 steps and 1.6km, while the Fossil Q Machine reported 2192 steps and 1.3km.
While counting the number of steps manually we found that the Fossil Q Machine under-reported the steps by a little over 10 percent. The Fossil Q Machine reports distance only to one decimal point which makes it hard to gauge accuracy. When we walked a distance we knew was 1km, the Fossil Q Machine reported 900m covered.
Sleep tracking is possible with the Fossil Q Machine but this watch isn't comfortable to wear when you go to bed. We used it to track sleep for a few nights and found it to be as accurate as a Mi Band 2. While testing we had the Mi Band 2 reporting 7 hours 29 minutes of sleep, while the Fossil Q Machine reported 7 hours and 25 minutes, which is an acceptable difference. The Q gives you a breakdown of light sleep, deep sleep, and wakefulness durations but it isn't as detailed as the Mi Fit app. If you don't like to dig deep into analytics, you'll like the Fossil Q app as it does not bombard you with information.
The Fossil Q Machine isn't a smartwatch but more like a watch with fitness tracking features. If you are coming from a smartwatch, the Fossil Q Machine can be a little frustrating at first. You will get used to its notifier functionality in the few days. A big positive for the Fossil Q Machine is the battery life. While you'll need to charge a smartwatch or fitness tracker after a couple of days, the Fossil Q Machine can soldier on for several months. Also, when the battery does run out, it is easy and inexpensive (between Rs. 150 and Rs. 250) to replace.
If you aren't actively tracking fitness numbers but just want to keep yourself motivated without an additional fitness band, the Fossil Q Machine will serve your purpose. At Rs. 13,495, it's not that much more expensive than a comparable regular Fossil watch, and gives you useful functionality.