UPDATES 9/11/2017: After I wrote this review, Skagen seems to have updated the firmware for the watch, addressing one of the critiques I included in my initial Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review below. As you will read below, I said that I was having trouble seeing which colored dot the hands were pointing at when I received a notification, but the firmware update allows you to set notifications to any number on the watch dial. I think this was an excellent move by the Skagen team, and it shows that they’re not just leaving their smartwatches out there without firmware updates. Time will tell whether they also fixed the glitches I was having with the notifications.
I also got a different phone, as I received my Galaxy Note 8 last week. That said, I should also mention that the smartphone that’s used with any smart device makes a huge difference, so it’s unclear whether my Galaxy S6 Edge was causing the glitches with notifications or if it was the Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch causing them. My S6 Edge had other problems, so it may have been my phone and not the smartwatch.
Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch Review
When it comes to writing product reviews, I tend to be very picky, but when I got the opportunity to review a smartwatch, I jumped at the chance. I selected the Hald Connected Leather Hybrid Smartwatch in rose gold and dark grey. For this Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review, I paired the watch with my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge; the company says that it does indeed work with iOS devices as well.
In my opinion, one of the most appealing things about the Skagen Connected hybrid smartwatch line is the fact that they look like ordinary watches, although perhaps a bit larger. The idea of having yet another screen attached to my wrist is not appealing, although I haven’t ruled out the possibility of checking out a full-fledged smartwatch.
Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review: Design
Skagen is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fossil, which has been hastening its entry into the smartwatch market, eager to fight back against this growing trend in a market it has held a major place in for a long time. It’s pretty easy to see the visual resemblance between the Skagen Connected hybrid watches and Fossil’s other watches. The fact that Skagen is a Fossil brand makes it even easier for those who aren’t familiar with the upscale Danish brand to trust the quality of the watch.
Skagen has paired the word “hybrid” with the word “smartwatch,” and it is indeed an apt pairing. Smartwatches are growing in popularity, and while the model I got to experiment with for this Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review is more “hybrid” than “smartwatch,” it does have some nice features. Another great thing about the design is the fact that it takes a standard coin-cell battery, which means you don’t have to charge it. Standard smartwatches generally require charging at least once a day, which could be one reason adoption has been slow going.
Aesthetically speaking, I like the look of the watch with its clean lines and beautiful coloring. The company has done excellent job of tucking some smartwatch functions into a beautiful watch. The case is 40 millimeters by 10 millimeters in size, while the straps are 20 millimeters and can be interchanged with other 20mm straps on Skagen’s website. They don’t have very many 20mm straps on their site yet, but I hope they add more at some point.
The company bills the line of hybrid watches I got to review as its “first wearable designed exclusively for her.” Skagen does have other hybrid smartwatches that could probably be worn by men or women, although the cases are slightly larger at 42 by 12 millimeters.
What is a “hybrid” smartwatch?
Instead of having a touchscreen for a face, the Skagen Connected Hybrid Smartwatch has a standard watch face, which greatly appeals to me because it dresses up or down. It’s nice enough to wear with business attire or even some dresses, but also casual enough to wear with jeans or everyday clothes. The watch also has three buttons on the side, and when you’re pairing it with your smartphone, you can assign the three settings you will use the most often to those three buttons.
As I started preparing for this Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review, I began examining the face of the watch, and the way the smartwatch functions are shown on the watch isn’t immediately obvious because of the lack of a screen. In addition to the marks for 1-12 to tell the time, the watch has small numbers from 1 to 31 between the 12:00 and 12:50. Between 12:50 and 12, the watch has 25, 50, 75 and 100. Between those numbers, there are four tiny dots: light blue, grey, dark blue and black.
Standard smartwatches are getting more and more functional as technology improves, with rumors suggesting that the third edition of the Apple Watch may even let users take and make calls on their wrist without having their iPhone paired. In my opinion, the last thing we need is yet another device that requires its own subscription for service, although I know I may be in the minority here.
Hybrid smartwatch functions
The Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch I reviewed is indeed a hybrid because it offers a smattering of smartwatch functions in a beautiful package. You do have to pair it with a smartphone to use it; you can’t even set the time on the watch because it automatically takes the time from whatever your smartwatch says. On the plus side though, when you visit another time zone, your watch changes automatically with your phone. I went to another time zone while working on this Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review. I liked not having to choose between changing the watch and then changing it back when I returned or not changing it and mentally adjusting for the time zone.
The smart features offered by this Skagen Hybrid watch are:
- Receiving notifications
- Find my phone
- Taking photos
- Activity tracking
- Sleep tracking
- Goal tracking
- Controlling music
- Checking the date
The very first thing I did for this Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review was try to read the instruction book, but the print is unbelievably small and I gave myself a headache trying to do so. The good news for you if you’re looking for setup instructions for this watch is that there isn’t much in there as far as directions. Most of the info you will need can be found on the company’s website in the FAQs.
How to set up the Skagen Connected Hybrid Smartwatch
To set up the Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch, you first have to download the free Skagen Connected app, which then walks you through the rest of the setup. You’ll have to create an account using your email address, Facebook or Google+ account.
The next step is pairing the watch with your phone; to do this, you’ll have to hold the middle button for three seconds until the watch vibrates and the hands move. When I first tried to do this, I wasn’t fully sure of what to expect. Following the instructions in the Skagen app, I pressed “pair” on the phone and then held the middle button after that. However, the watch didn’t pair with my phone. The second time, I held the middle button first, and then the hands started spinning around. While the hands were spinning, I selected “pair” on my phone, and the watch paired with my Galaxy S6 Edge immediately.
Next, the app told me that the watch’s firmware had to be updated, so I did that. It’s important to note that you can’t leave or close the app while the firmware is updating, or it will have to start over. The app then tells you to calibrate your watch by setting the time to the hour shown on the phone using the phone buttons to move the arms on the watch. At this point, the watch finally matches the actual time as shown on the phone.
To complete the setup of the Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch, the app prompts you to set your preferred units of measurement and input your height and weight. It also asks you to set goals for the number of steps you want to take each day and the number of hours you want to sleep every night. The app also asks whether you want to connect other apps; it can link to the Under Armour, Up by Jawbone, and Google Fit apps. If you desire, you can then import data from those apps into the Skagen Connected app.
Finally, the app prompts you to assign functions to the watch’s three buttons. You choose from:
- Ring Phone
- Second Time Zone
- Take Photo
- Music (Controls)
- Music (Volume Up)
- Music (Volume Down)
My review of the smartwatch functions
Some of the watch’s smart functions are more obvious than others. At first, the colored dots and extra numbering around the face are rather cryptic, but once you spend time with the device, it becomes easy to understand. The 1-31 numbers around the outside of the watch’s face allow you to check the date if you have that function assigned to one of the three buttons. Just press the button it is assigned to, and the hands will move to the number of the date. The 25, 50, 75 and 100 marks are percentages that show your progress toward your activity goal if you have it assigned to one of the buttons.
The colored dots are used for notifications, and this is one function that I like the most, although admittedly, I wish it were less glitchy. Screens have pretty much taken over our lives, as we quickly run to our phones or pull them out of our purses whenever we hear that someone has called or texted. However, if you’re wearing a Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch, you can check the notification on your watch to see whether it’s worth pulling the phone out of your purse or making the mad dash to the other room to check it.
In the Skagen app, you can assign up to six people or apps to one of the four colors, so you can decide whether or not to check your phone immediately based on the color the watch turns the arms to when you push the button to check your notification (if you have notifications assigned to one of the three buttons). I really like this feature because it cuts down on my screen time by enabling me to check who called or texted last, especially when my phone is in the other room and I hear that someone texted. I don’t even have to get up if it’s not one of the people I’ve assigned to one of the colors.
Unfortunately though, the notifications don’t always work, so this feature is glitchy. I would be very happy if this feature would always work. Additionally, it took some effort to figure out how it works. While working on this Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review, I took a look at their other smartwatches and noticed that they all seem to have a smaller dial inset on the face which is probably used for the notifications. Having that extra dial probably makes it easier to identify your notifications because on the watch I reviewed, it’s hard to see the small colored dots unless you have excellent direct lighting.
However, I can understand why they eliminated that extra dial because they wanted to make the watch smaller for women. If they want to keep to just the one dial, it would probably make the notifications easier to see if they spread the four colored dots out more rather than cramming them all into the last ten minutes of the hour. I really have to study the watch to see which color the arms are point at when I check the notification. Nonetheless, I wear this watch pretty much every day and do use the notification feature.
The rest of the functions are pretty self-explanatory. I keep the notifications assigned to one button and the ring phone feature assigned to another because I’m constantly misplacing my phone at home. I also like having the ability to take a photo with the watch; it requires the camera app to be open on your phone.
Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review: the bottom line
After spending a lot of time for this Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review, I really feel that it’s an excellent option for those who don’t want another screen to stare into. There are just too many screens in our lives these days, with many people being outright rude to the people around them because they just gaze into their smartphone screen as the world passes them by. This hybrid watch offers a nice balance with a few extra features hidden in a beautiful traditional watch. It offers just enough smartwatch functions to let you sort of peek at your phone without actually looking at it.
It’s a great way for someone who’s not sure about smartwatches yet to sort of dip their toe in the water to get a glimpse of what it’s like to have one. However, the Skagen Hybrid Smartwatches may be a disappointment for those who are looking for a full-fledged smartwatch. So if you’re looking for only a few functions on a smartwatch that looks like a regular watch, this is a great choice, but if you want one that does everything but make you breakfast in bed, you’re probably better off with yet another screen in your life.
Disclosure: I received this smartwatch free for the purpose of this Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch review.