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Fossil Q Commuter hybrid smartwatch review

Stylish and full of smarts, the Fossil Q Commuter gets you to work on time

Take a long, hard look at the Fossil Q Commuter, and you’d never guess there’s a boatload of smart features under the face of this watch. That’s the beauty of hybrid smartwatches — they’re easily disguised as traditional, mechanical watches, but they have Bluetooth connectivity that enables a variety of other functions. The Q Commuter is a particularly exceptional hybrid, because not only does it look stunning, but it also adds the ability to check what time you’ll get to work.

Gorgeous and comfortable

The Q Commuter is the most stylish hybrid watch we’ve seen from Fossil to date. Our review model has a white face, with a sturdy and thick brown leather band. Choosing a watch relies heavily on personal preference, and we fell in love with the Q Commuter’s design immediately. The lugs slope down, meaning there’s hardly any gap between the watch strap and your wrist. It sits comfortably, and the experience is the same as wearing a traditional watch.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The 42mm watch is perhaps a hair thicker than most traditional watches, but it’s hardly noticeable. There’s a small sloped bezel around the watch face, and there are three buttons on the right edge; they’re all clicky. We’ll get to these buttons soon, but they essentially act as the trigger key to certain functions.

There’s only one subdial on the watch face, and it serves two functions. One half of the subdial measures the steps you’ve taken to a preset goal. The left half of the subdial is split into four partitions, and they each are different categories the subdial’s hand moves to when an action takes place. If you get a notification, for example, the orange subdial hand will move to “Alert” for a few seconds. The watch’s hands and minute indicators also glow in the dark, which is helpful when checking the time at night.

The Q Commuter is the most stylish hybrid watch we’ve seen from Fossil to date.

Our favorite part of the watch may be the leather strap. It doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap. It’s thick, easy to buckle, and breathable. In the few weeks we’ve worn the watch, the band aged well — that hasn’t been the case for most leather bands we’ve seen on smart or hybrid watches. If you’re not a fan of the look, you can easily swap out the strap for any other 22mm watch bands.

If the white face and brown leather Q Commuter doesn’t appeal to you, Fossil has a number of other variants you can choose from. These include a black face with a black stainless-steel link strap, a navy blue face with a blue leather strap, and more.

It’s not all great news, though. You’ll want to be careful with swinging your arm about, because we’ve already noticed a scratch on the glass.

Your commute, at a glance

Fossil churns out a lot of hybrid smartwatches, and considering there are several fashion brands under the Fossil Group — including Skagen, Misfit, Kate Spade, and Emporio Armani — it’s easy to find another hybrid watch with the same exact features. The Q Commuter distinguishes itself with the ability to quickly find out how long it will take to get to work.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Commute feature is our favorite feature on this watch. Simply add in a destination address into the connected app — like your work — and the watch will use Google Maps to show you the time you’ll arrive at your destination. We’ve mapped this function to the bottom button, so as soon as we press it, the hour and minute hands move to the estimated time of arrival. It’s always been accurate for us, even with New York City’s frequent train delays.

Assigning notifications to numbers will require memorization work from you.

What else can the Q Commuter do? There are several other functions the app allows you to set to each of the three buttons. If you’re not interested in the commute function, you can set the top button to play or pause music from your phone; you can ask for the time in London with the middle button; or you can have your phone ring in case you can’t find it with the bottom button.

There are several presets you can switch through on the app, so if you’re out on a run, switch to the music preset and the buttons will now let you  play and pause your music, as well as choose the next or previous track.

Once paired with the Fossil Q Android or iOS app, you can start setting either a contact or an app to each of the 12 numbers on the clock. You can bundle multiple apps together, group contacts to one number, or even mix apps and contacts together, though that may get confusing. This method of assigning notifications to numbers will require some work from you, because you’ll have to memorize the configurations. If you don’t, these alerts will be pointless. It takes a few days, but once you get the hang of it, the notifications are certainly useful.

The vibration feedback is strong enough to make you glance at your watch. We set numbers one through four with personal contacts — so the watch’s hands will point to those respective numbers for any calls and texts from these contacts. The rest of the numbers are tied to notifications from apps. If we get a notification from Twitter, the hour and minute hands will move to 7. At that point, it’s up to you to determine if you want to open your phone to see the notification.

Fitness and sleep

The Q Commuter also tracks your steps, like a very basic pedometer. You can add a goal, like 10,000 steps a day, and the orange subdial hand will slowly move from 0 to 100 the more you walk.

Once you hit your goal, it will stay at 100 until the next day. Open the app and you can see the actual number of steps you took, as well as distance traveled and calories burned. We compared the results of the step counter with the Apple Watch and found them to be close. The fitness tracking feature is rudimentary, but we appreciate it being available.

Sleep tracking is surprisingly accurate, as well. The watch isn’t too uncomfortable to wear to bed, and it accurately recorded the amount of time we were asleep. In the app, you can break the data down between the amount of time awake, in restful sleep, and in light sleep. Like the fitness tracking it’s fairly basic, but it does the job.

Never worry about charging

The best part of a hybrid watch is that it does not require daily charging. In the almost month we’ve used the Q Commuter, our battery is around 85 percent. The watch uses a coin cell battery, and it will likely last for 6 months to a year. There’s an easy way to remove the back of the watch to replace the battery, which you can do for cheap.

Fossil Q Commuter hybrid smartwatch review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The watch is also water resistant up to 50 meters, which means you never have to worry about jumping in the pool with the Q Commuter on.

Price and availability

The Fossil Q Commuter starts at $155, but if you want a stainless steel strap, the price can jump to $175. For all its good looks and genuinely useful smart functions, it sure is a bargain. You can nab one from Fossil’s website now.

DT Editors' Rating: 4.5/5

Julian Chokkattu
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Julian is the mobile and wearables editor at Digital Trends, covering smartphones, fitness trackers, smartwatches, and more…
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