Fossil Q x Cory Richards hands-on: Stylish high quality watch and bands with Android Wear 2.0

Smartwatches often look techy, plain, chunky, or unattractive. The Fossil Q x Cory Richards looks like a high-end analog watch with major style features and is one of the most attractive watches I have ever tested.

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(Image: ZDNet)

Although the masses have yet to fully embrace wearable technology, many of us appreciate the ability of a smartwatch to triage important information and wear a smartwatch daily. These watches are often chunky, have simple designs, or look like a mini computer on the wrist.

Fossil's new Limited Edition Fossil Q x Cory Richards looks like an analog timepiece and comes with both stainless steel and classy leather bands. It is an attractive stainless steel watch modeled after Cory's original Fossil Blue watch that he wore through many outdoor adventures. However, it is also missing a couple elements that make it an ultimate Android Wear smartwatch.

Cory Richards is an adventure photographer and alpine climber who is a long time fan of Fossil watches. Fossil designed this particular Android Wear smartwatch to include silver, blue, and black dials on the watch faces with a Richards signature on the multi-loop leather band.

Specifications of the Fossil Q x Cory Richards include:

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100
  • Display: 360x360 pixels resolution
  • Operating system: Android Wear 2.0
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Storage: 4GB internal storage
  • Wireless technology: 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • Other features: IP67 dust and water resistant, integrated microphone and speaker
  • Battery: 360mAh battery with wireless charging puck
  • Dimensions: 45mm round and 14mm thick

While the watch can track your daily activity, it is not a good fit as a fitness watch with metal and leather bands and no optical heart rate sensor.

There is also no NFC radio, so you cannot use Android Pay with this smartwatch for wireless payments.

Hardware

This is the first Fossil Android Wear device I have had the chance to test, so I had no expectations when the package arrived. The white square box had a color image of the watch with mountains sketched behind it and I lifted the lid off the sturdy cardboard to reveal the contents.

The stainless steel band was attached to the Fossil Q x Cory Richards watch body, while the cool multi-loop leather signature band was positioned adjacent to the watch. The stainless band has a quick-release mechanism with removable links, so you can adjust it to fit your wrist. It is a very comfortable and high-quality band that looks great.

The stainless steel watch body fits my wrist well, but it may be too large for those with smaller wrists. It's an attractive body with a notched top bezel that does not rotate and a center crown button that also has no rotation capability. With the new Android Wear 2.0 interface, it would have been nice to see one of these two mechanisms rotate for quicker navigation. The center of the crown is black plastic and it presses in to toggle the display and jump to the app launcher.

The watch face glass is smooth and transitions nicely into the bezel. There is a "flat tire" on the bottom of the display, similar to the Moto 360 smartwatch. There doesn't appear to be an ambient light sensor on this watch as brightness levels are manually selected, so I am unsure why there is a flat tire present on the watch.

A microphone is positioned below the center crown button with a speaker present on the left side in the center. Music and calls sound decent through the speaker, so you can use this to take calls while walking without the ability to hold up your phone for a call.

There is no optical heart rate sensor on the back like we see with most smartwatches today. The back has a matte plastic material with Cory Richards signature and is where the lightweight USB cable puck magnetically attaches to charge up the watch wirelessly.

The stainless steel band has quick-release pins embedded in the strap with angled ends that fit into the watch body. Quick release pins are included in the box that you insert after removing the stainless steel band. You then route the cool leather strap through the openings around the pins to secure the leather band in place. While I appreciate the look of the stainless band, the comfort and style offered by the Cory Richards signature leather band was my preferred option.

Watch software

Thankfully, the Fossil Q x Cory Richards smartwatch launches with Android Wear 2.0 so you begin with the latest operating system. There are several customizable Fossil watch faces and a Fossil Q app to help you personalize the look of the watch. These include complications to access your desired data or launch apps right from the watch face.

Android Wear 2.0 brings the Google Play Store directly to the watch, so it is a bit different than the previous version where you managed your watch apps with the Android Wear smartphone application. At first I found it a bit awkward to manage apps and updates on the watch directly, but I don't install a ton of apps, so I was able to setup the watch in about 20 minutes with the apps I wanted to use regularly.

Google Assistant is present in Android Wear 2.0 and is one of the major features I use regularly with these new smartwatches. Press and hold the button on the crown to launch Google Assistant and speak your request out loud. While the watch has a speaker, Google Assistant shows you the responses to your inquiries and does not provide a response in audible form.

Swipe down to see the watch status and access settings. Swipe up from the watch face to view your notifications. Single press the crown button to launch the app launcher.

Daily usage experiences and conclusions

The Fossil Q x Cory Richards is advertised as a limited-edition smartwatch, priced at $325. If you purchase this watch from Fossil, there is currently a 25-percent coupon code that will take $81.25 off the price. You can also now find it at Amazon for this discounted price. At $243.75, this is a compelling smartwatch for those looking for a fashionable and well built daily watch.

I've been able to get through most of a day with the smartwatch, but I had to charge it up each evening to be able to get through the next day. The display brightness can be turned all the way up to help with visibility in daylight, but it is not as clear and bright as my Gear S3 Frontier or Apple Watch Series 2.

The watch is fast, very comfortable, and works well as a daily wear watch for triaging messages, checking your Google Now cards, answering calls on the go, sending quick text messages, and tracking your activity while not working out.

The Fossil Q x Cory Richards looks fantastic, feels superb on the wrist with the leather band, is very well constructed of high quality materials, and with the current discounted price, it makes for an excellent watch to wear in the office or out on the town.

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