What’s the difference between a smartwatch and a smart analogue watch? They might sound like the same thing, but there’s a way to tell the two apart from each other.
A hybrid smartwatch blurs traditional watch designs with contemporary fitness tracking and notification tech. You won’t see full touchscreen displays like you get on Android Wear watches or the Apple Watch. You certainly won’t have to deal with a couple of days of battery life, that’s for sure. Those smarts are added in a more discreet and elegant way.
Essential reading: The best Android Wear watches
Whether you’re style obsessed or want something that’s good at tracking your steps without hammering the battery, here’s our pick of the top smart analogue watches to get around your wrist.
New smart analogue watches inbound…
Fossil Spring 2017 Collection
At the start of 2016, Fossil promised 100 connected devices before the end of the year – and it wasn’t joking. Armani, DKNY, Karl Lagerfeld, Diesel and Michael Kors have all got the connected treatment, and now Fossil is sitting on around 150 SKUs – promising to hit 300 in 2017.
At CES 2017 we got a close-up look at some of the first that will be arriving this year, including the new Q Accomplice, its thinnest hybrid to date, and the new Q Grant. It also announced that Armani Exchange was the latest to join the lineup with its own connected timepiece. Expect to be able to get your hands on these very soon.
Read this: A close look at Fossil’s Spring 2017 collection
Best for design
Mondaine Helvetica No.1 Smart
If looks is your number one priority, the Mondaine Helvetica No.1 Smart is one of the best-looking smart analogue watch we’ve had the pleasure of using.
Read this: Frederique Constant Horological Worldtimer review
The stainless steel beauty comes with a genuine leather strap with sapphire glass front and centre. You can take your pick of five different models and all come with the same Swiss-made build quality.
On the smart front the MotionX tech, which also powers Jawbone wearables, provides solid activity tracking, manual sleep tracking and silent alarm support to gently rouse you in the morning from your deep sleep.
Buy it for: Excellent design, steps counting, sleep, long battery life.
Wareable verdict: Read our full Mondaine Helvetica Smart review
$850, mondaine.com | Amazon
Skagen Hagen Connected
One of the standout additions from Fossil’s massive smartwatch offensive has been the Skagen Hagen Connected.
Retaining the same minimalist look as Skagen’s dumb timepieces, the Connected adds activity tracking tech developed by Misfit to count your steps with a progress dial built into the display.
It’s available in four styles that mix leather, steel-mesh and titanium with a standard coin cell battery delivering plenty of battery life too.
Read now: Skagen Hagen Connected review
$195, Skagen.com | Amazon
Best for fitness tracking
Withings Steel HR
Withings’s latest smart analogue watch might sound like a minor upgrade to the sleek Withings Activité Steel, but it’s so much more than that.
Carrying the same stainless steel casing, chrome hands and silicone strap as the previous editions, you know get an additional dynamic digital screen to view data including activity tracking and smartphone notifications.
As the name suggests, there’s a heart rate monitor on board as well to continuously monitor heart rate during the day and during workouts.
Battery life is a more than respectable 25 days and there are two different watch case models to take your pick from.
Read this: Withings Steel HR review
$179.95, Withings.com | Amazon
The Garmin Vivomove just focuses on steps and sleep, making it far simpler than any other Garmin fitness device in the company’s line up. Certainly more male-friendly at 12mm thick, it’s not nearly as svelte as the Activité (below).
Essential reading: All you need to know about Swiss smartwatches
It boasts a 5ATM waterproof (50 metres approx) which means it’s fine for the pool, although it’s hardly the Garmin Swim in terms of captured metrics. But you do get rewarded for your strokes.
Our favourite part of the Vivomove is the Move bar, which fills up with a bright red warning of impending death as you sit about on your slothenly butt. It makes the Vivomove one of the more effective fitness tracking features at you active, which should be precisely what they’re all about.
The Vivomove is available in Sport, Classic and Premium models.
From $150, garmin.com | Amazon
The Swiss-made Withings Activité represented the first great example of marrying slick analogue watch styling with tech smarts.
The Android- and iOS-friendly watch is built from luxurious materials with its stainless steel casing and domed sapphire glass accompanying a calf leather strap. There’s even an additional sports strap to take it for a dip in the pool.
It’ll count steps, measure distance and monitor sleep, and detect swimming automatically syncing data to the solid Withings Health Mate app. It also features a silent vibrating alarm and promises a hefty 8 months of battery life.
If you want to save some money and still get the same features and similarly slick design, you could also consider the newer Withings Activité Steel.
Buy it for: Steps, sleep, calories, swim tracking, alarm.
Wareable verdict: Read our full Withings Activité review
$349, withings.com | Amazon
Best for iOS
Fossil Q Grant
Android phone owners, steer clear. While the Fossil Q Grant is designed to work with Google-running smartphones, we didn’t have the greatest experiences with it.
That’s not to say that Fossil’s smart analogue debut doesn’t make a good impression. A watch first and fitness tracker second, the Grant comes in four different designs and has 22mm removable straps so you can customise to your heart’s content.
Activity tracking is kept to a minimum, counting steps and nothing more. You can’t read notifications on it, but a little blue LED and vibrating buzz will let you know someone is trying to get in touch.
Fossil has added to its smart analogue collection in a big way since the Q Grant with with four new men and women-friendly ranges including the stainless steel Q Crewmaster, rose gold Q Tailor and blingtastic Q Glazer.
Buy it for: Stylish design, steps counting, basic notification support.
Wareable verdict: Read our full Fossil Q Grant review
$126.99, fossil.com | Amazon
Best for simplicity
Misfit’s first hybrid smartwatch, the Misfit Phase, is a strong debut, delivering a handful of smarts without a single sub-eye. It does make interpreting some notifications a little tricky, mind, but there’s no denying the Phase is a real looker.
Read now: Misfit Phase review
The Phase will track your steps and sleep using Misfit’s activity tech, while the hands will move to signify a new notification, as well as the shifting colour wheel that can be seen through a small window at the six o’clock mark. All of the smarts are hidden under the surface, giving the Phase the feel of a classic, understated watch.
We’d like it to do a bit more in the smarts department, but if you want something that’s simple, tracks your activity, and looks good – this is a strong choice.
$175, Misfit.com | Amazon
Best on a budget
Withings Activité Pop
The Withings Activité doesn’t come cheap, but if you can live without the luxurious build quality, the Pop is still a great option.
Metal is ditched for plastic, but it retains the attractive design charm of its bigger brother. It also offers the very same activity tracking and alarm features so you can save yourself a bit of money, keep an eye on your steps and not have to worry about carrying around a charger.
Buy it for: Step counting, silent alarms, sleep tracking, automatic time zones.
Wareable verdict: Read our full Withings Activité Pop review
$90, withings.com | Amazon
Have we missed your favourite device off of our list? Let us know what you think should have been included and why using the comments section below…