Fossil’s new hybrids have customizable, E ink displays

Fossil's hybrid watches have always pushed back against the idea that they have to look like a smartwatch in any way. Some of the current models don't even have a subdial for activity tracking, so great is the desire to keep things looking analog. That's why the next generation of Fossil hybrids are such a big deal since they come with E ink displays that can be customized to offer any and all data on hand.

The Fossil Hybrid HR has an E ink face behind a pair of analog hands and, best of all, built-in heart-rate tracking. The latter comes from a PPG sensor on the underside of the case which will display your vitals in real-time on the face. And you can add up to four complications to the display, covering your step count, alternative timezones and phone notifications through to your projected commute time. It'll work well in darkness, too, since you just need to double-tap the crystal to activate the backlight.

Oh, and contrary to rumors, the Fossil Hybrid HR does not use Wear OS, but Fossil's own in-house software.

The Hybrid HR will have five different case options, all of which measure 42mm, with three working with 22mm straps, and the other two suiting 18mm straps. Each one will have around two weeks' worth of battery life on a single charge, depending on your usage. And Fossil offers a number of strap options, from leather and silicone through to stainless steel, to suit your particular style.

One thing that wasn't clear from Fossil's messaging, but we want to check out, is if the backgrounds can be used for animations. That would be a neat callback to a number of Fossil watches from its history, like the JR8621 from 2006, that had cascading text in the same style as that from The Matrix. And, frankly, I'm here for it.

The Fossil Hybrid HD is available today, with prices starting at $195 and running through to $215, depending on the options you select. There's certainly something about Fossil's pitch to make a fancier looking Pebble, especially if buying a "proper" smartwatch would leave you cold.

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