I picked up a Fossil Q Grant about ten months ago and finally feel like I can corral my thoughts on it.
Here’s the TL;DR version: On the plus side, it’s a great looking watch, especially for the price. It does a good job of tracking steps and an excellent job of telling time. But it’s not very good at staying connected to my phone. And every time it gets disconnected, I end up having to jump through a dozen hoops to get it reconnected.
(It’s such a hassle and takes so much time I often spend a day or two without connected functionality defeating the point of having a hybrid watch in the first place.)
But I’m not giving up on Fossil. For a decently priced, functional watch, they can’t be beat. But for the connected, wearable market…
I work with kids. Anything on my wrist is going to get grabbed, yanked, pulled, tugged, smashed, poked, prodded, and just…sticky on a daily basis. (Some of you are going – “So, just don’t let them touch it?” and all the teachers and parents are laughing so hard they’re crying.) So, I need a watch to be durable and cheap because I’m going to have to repair it at least once and replace it sooner than I’d like.
Fossil has a good mix of watches that look nice and professional and yet hold up well to the machinations of seven year olds.
When Fossil announced they were building hybrids and smart watches, I got excited. If they maintained their traditional quality and added some good functionality for a decent price, it could be exactly what I had been looking for.
One of the first products they brought to market was a hybrid built on a retooling of the classic Fossil Grant into the Fossil Q Grant – the same watch with bluetooth connectivity baked into the undercarriage along with a pedometer, notification LEDs, and a few other basic functions. In short, the watch promised to count your steps and notify you when you have new messages.
I was sold. And after a little bit of a wait while Fossil sorted out it’s first product issues, I got one in August of 2016.
Since then, the Fossil Q Grant has performed these functions well, but not without reservations. For example, while the step-counting function works well enough when I’m walking around the neighborhood, the second I’m carrying something (a camera) or pushing something (a stroller or a shopping cart) the number of steps I’m taking drops off rapidly. And yet my phone continues to count all the steps.
The messages function likewise works well, but not without reservations. You need to set up the app to trigger notifications from five people. You can alter these so that “people” means “everyone on Facebook” but a little bit more fine-tuning would be appreciated. I’d like, for example, the option to build lists into my notifications so that, for example, “family” would bring up one notification and “drinking buddies” would bring up a different one. The urgency with which I need to check messages from those two groups being radically different, you see.
But the problem with the watch is that it refuses to stay connected. Then, when it does connect, it flashes bright green just to let you know that it’s connecting. This can be a real problem when driving or, really, anytime.
Problem part one: If the watch battery hits zero, it will not reconnect to the phone without either a reset of the watch or forgetting the device in your phone’s bluetooth settings.
Problem part two: Once connected, if you have opened the app at least once, the app and watch will continue checking in with each other throughout the day, triggering the green LED every time they do so. Which means that there are times when I’m driving where my wrist is flashing green every five minutes. Obviously, this can be a bit dangerous, especially at night.
I’m not ready to give up on either wearables or Fossil, but I do find myself wanting to go back to a regular, dumb watch (and I’d be quite happy to have a Fossil Grant) and a separate pedometer that is unconnected to my phone. All in all, it’s been a fun experiment, but the hassle is greater than the value for now.