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One of the best-looking hybrid smartwatches is 20% off for Prime Day

Pininfarina's hybrid entry boasts excellent hardware and watch software, with a design that will make you look twice. The Amazon Prime Day deal won't last as long as the battery.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Matthew Miller/ZDNET

What's the deal?

Pininfarina is offering its largest discount ever since launching the Senso hybrid smartwatch. The 20% discount drops the price from $399 to just $319, saving you $80.

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Pininfarina Senso Hybrid watch is available in four colors at $399 each.
  • High-quality hardware, long battery life, and lots of functionality for a hybrid watch.
  • The smartphone software has limited capabilities.

I've been wearing at least one watch on a daily basis for decades. Today, that usually means a smartwatch on one wrist and a GPS sports watch on the other. For the past two weeks, I replaced my smartwatch with the Pininfarina Senso Hybrid watch -- and it certainly stood out on my wrist as a classy watch with luxury looks.

Also: Coros watches are getting 3 major health and fitness updates - and I tested them all

Hybrid watches provide a standard watch experience with analog watch hands and embedded health and wellness features that are not readily apparent to others. The Pininfarina Senso Hybrid watch is available for $399 in Mercure Gray, Moonlight Silver, Sunburst Rose Gold, and Slate Grey with a singular 44mm diameter size. I was sent the Mercure gray model to test for ZDNET.

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The dark gray stainless steel case, sapphire crystal glass, and supple 22mm Italian brown leather strap look fantastic. White-colored analog watch hands are present over the bronze face, with minute line markers. Two circular elements are centered on the watch face, with the top one serving to present the hybrid functions on a simple OLED display. The bottom analog dial can be customized in the watch settings.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Three buttons are found on the right side, with the center button serving as a rotating crown button to help you scroll through the various options on the hybrid display. The watch is rated for 5 ATM, which is perfectly reasonable for a hybrid watch that is more suitable for being worn in the office rather than snorkeling on vacation.

Sensors installed in the watch include an accelerometer, electrocardiogram, optical heart rate sensor, and 3D magnetometer. Bluetooth 5.0 is provided to connect the watch to your iPhone or Android smartphone. Pininfarina advertises a battery life of 30 days with charging conducted through a small dock that connects via USB-C. In my experience, the watch easily lasts a full week to 10 days with 24/7 health and wellness tracking, 2-3 days of activity tracking per week, and some advanced connected utility use. The watch might last 30 days with minimal activity tracking, but I tested it as if it was my primary watch and I was pleased with its performance.

Also: Forget the Pixel Watch: This $350 Android has a sportier look and superior battery life

In the past, I have tested hybrid watches from Withings and Garmin, with the Withings ScanWatch models focused on basic health and wellness support, and Garmin focused on providing Garmin ecosystem support with watches sporting analog watch hands.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The Pininfarina Senso Hybrid watch provides more hybrid features than I've seen on one of these watches. The watch has functions you scroll through that include time/date, weather, health, activity, sports, remote, compass, notifications, and system settings. Using the three side buttons to navigate the watch interface is intuitive, including rotating the center crown button.

Health features include heart rate, ECG, blood oxygen measurements, sleep tracking, and breathing exercises to help you relax and recover. In order to capture an ECG measurement, you place your opposite hand over the right side of the watch face and on the bezel. A countdown appears on the digital display once you have made an acceptable connection for measuring your body condition. 

Also: The Garmin Instinct Crossover grew on me. I just wish it had this one killer feature

The activity widget shows your steps, distance, and calories. There is a very long list of sports that you can track with the Pininfarina Senso Hybrid watch, but I recommend that you find and attach a standard 22mm watch strap made for working out because it isn't appropriate to use a leather strap for exercise. The data from the Pininfarina Senso Hybrid watch can be sent outside of the smartphone app to Apple Health, Google Fit, and Strava, so that is a nice option.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

A particularly unique function of the Senso Hybrid watch is its remote functionality. In the remote mode, you can have the center button serve as the capture button for your connected phone's camera. If you start music playing on your phone, you can then use the watch's remote utility to play or pause the song.

While there are plenty of advanced functions provided by the watch, the smartphone app could use a bit of work. The app provides graphical tiles, with Home, Sleep, Heart, Wellness, and Activity displays available, along with a full settings area to customize the watch experience. While the data is available via the software, the user experience could be improved.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

For example, you can flip to view your weekly sleep data, but all the detail for that week below the weekly plot is for just the past day. When weekly data is selected, then weekly averages, maximums, and/or minimums should be shown to the user. 

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Also, some of the data is not shown as you would expect and as I have seen displayed on other watches. In order to see your stress levels, you need to perform an ECG measurement, which is a very specific event, and this approach means you can't obtain typical stress level measurements throughout the day without extra effort. The same is true for HRV and SpO2 measurements, which are not automatically captured on a regular basis.

I love the look of the Pininfarina Senso Hybrid watch, the build quality, and the long battery life. The functionality on the watch and its user navigation are superb, but the smartphone application lacks the polish and capability I expect from a $400 watch. I wanted to use this watch daily, but without automatic measurements of all key health and wellness data, it is not a device I will wear until that capability is provided.

ZDNET's buying advice

Hybrid smartwatches provide consumers with a device that looks like a traditional watch while also offering advanced health and wellness features. The Pininfarina Senso Hybrid watch looks fantastic and offers more features than most other hybrid watches, but its full capability is a bit limited by the smartphone software.

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