Fossil Q Grant Hybrid Smartwatch

Love them or hate them, you must admit that Smartwatches have made a mark on the greater watchmaking industry. It seems like every other person I meet is wearing an Apple Watch or some other device that logs their steps, notifies them of messages, or reminds them to breathe (presumably). Traditional watchmakers have taken notice. TAG Heuer, Alpina, Montblanc, and several others have hopped on the bandwagon and more appear every day. Inexpensive options are proliferating as well, like this $175 Fossil Q Grant in Smoke-tone stainless steel.

Unlike a true smartwatch, the Fossil Q Grant not a tiny computer. It has an integrated accelerometer, but no screen or user accessible storage. Rather, is an analog quartz that still wears a familiar, three-hand face (although that third hand indicates functions, not seconds) but can also provide several reminder functions courtesy of a Bluetooth link and the Q app to your Apple or Android smartphone. Fossil calls it a hybrid smartwatch, which makes sense to me. It’s timekeeping and “smart” functions are housed in the same device, but otherwise, have little to do with each other. As such, I reviewed it as two distinct devices: wristwatch and smartphone link.

The wristwatch aspect was the most familiar, and the Q Grant does a pretty good job of it. At 44mm wide and 13mm thick, it is fashionably oversized, if perhaps a bit too much do for my tastes. Still, it is a watch that most of its buyers will wear every day, and if your wrist is bigger than my 6.5” circumference, you could easily get away with it. Deeply curved lugs certainly help with wearability, and a 50m water resistance rating should provide ample protection for general day-to-day activities.


Fossil provides no information about the movement. Suffice to say that it is quartz, most likely hails from China, and along with the rest of the watch, is covered by a 2-year warranty. Unlike a real smartwatch, the hybrid Fossil Q relies on a replaceable CR2430 battery with a 1-year lifespan, eliminating the hassle of charging the watch every night. The watch connects to your phone via Bluetooth and is controlled by the Fossil Q app.


Fossil (mostly) tends towards tasteful designs, avoiding the excesses of some of their department store brethren. As a result, they are usually rather attractive and the Q Grant is no exception. The gray dial features raised black Roman numerals in a radial arrangement, date markers on the perimeter, a central recessed subdial ringed by with a CD textured index, and a further sunken multi-function subdial at 6 o’clock. Black sword hands stretch right to the edge of their markers, and both the minute hand and subdial needle are tipped in orange. It is a handsome layout, but in the Smoke-tone color scheme, wildly impractical. The black-on-gray is hard enough to see in broad daylight, particularly when you are squinting at the smaller elements, and it is damn near invisible in low light. At night, you can just forget about it as that gray lume is utterly worthless. I recommend you choose a different model, such as black-on-cream or white-on-navy.


There are Q Grants on leather, but this one comes with a fitted two-tone link bracelet that matches the black IP coated case and silvery-gray dial. Aside from a bit or rattle, I had no complaints. Unlike many in this price range, the end links are solid and they also feature an ingenious integrated quick release springbar. You just pinch the two ends together and the bracelet pops free. A signed, push-button clasp secures it. I’ve encountered some god-awful bracelets at this end of the market, even from players like Seiko, but this one served me just fine.


At a glance, you might mistake the Q Grant for a chronograph given the presence of two buttons flanking a skinny crown with a knurled edge, flanked by a pair of curved guards, but that “crown” is actually a third button. These three are programmable to trigger certain functions in the app. Here is where I must transition from a normal watch review to a smartwatch review, because like the Timex IQ+ Move I reviewed last year, absolutely everything runs through the app, even setting the time and date.

Setup was easy. Simply download the Fossil Q app, turn on your phone’s Bluetooth, set the two devices near each other and press the center button on the watch for five seconds. The devices will pair and the app will walk you through the remainder of the process. I like the app interface. It is slick, stylish, and uncluttered. Large buttons and limited options go a long way to making it user-friendly.


Once your app is active and your watch is set, you can tell the time using the charmingly old-fashioned method of reading the two hands, and the date by the irritatingly high tech method of pressing a button to move the orange-tipped minute hand the corresponding position on the date index. Using your three buttons, you can you can snap a photo, control music, track your sleep, track your steps, check a second time zone, activate a stopwatch, ring your phone, and check your commute time. While you are at it, the watch will track your steps and sleep. The watch will also notify you of alerts from your social media, text, email, apps, calendar, and alarm clock, as well as any personal goals you care to enter (for example, “drink water 5 times per day”).

Overall, Q functionalities worked as advertised. Once I had assigned a button, I had no problem snapping photos, playing music (admittedly, I only have two songs on my phone), or using any of the other one-button functions. For me, the most useful time was the Second Time Zone function that displays the time at the location of your choice. I do not care the slightest bit about how many steps I take or how many minutes I sleep, but the Q Grant dutifully kept a record of both. For notifications, you set the apps you want to buzz and assign them to a position on the dial. Say, 1 for texts, 2 for an email from Mrs. Time Bum, 3 for Facebook, etc. When your phone tells you something, the Q delivers a vibration and briefly moves both hands to the corresponding number. The advantage is that you can see right away what is ringing and decide if it worth pulling out your phone, which may be handy if you keep it in a bag or purse.


My issues with the hybrid smartwatch function are twofold. First, I carry my iPhone in my pants pocket. Since it is never much farther from my person than my watch, I really don’t need the link. Getting an alert on my watch while my phone vibrated the same alert in my pocket gained me nothing. Second, the link relies on Bluetooth, which is great except that it is a voracious leech on your battery. My iPhone 5S already pretty weak in that department so keeping a Bluetooth dependent app engaged 24/7 is a non-starter, especially with active notifications running on multiple apps. Between the two, I managed to drain all the life out of the phone in just a couple of hours. That Bluetooth drain is going to take its toll on the watch battery too, which makes me wonder just how close you would get to that 1-year life estimate if you used the watch to its full potential.

I can say with great certainty that I would never use this watch in that way. Perhaps I’m a Luddite, but I want my watch to tell time and nothing more. The timezone check is handy, and it is nice to have a remote trigger for my iPhone camera, but beyond that, I did not find much use for the Fossil Q Grant’s smart features.

So is the Fossil Q Grant worth your money? Maybe. Before you buy, I’d suggest you ask yourself what you are really looking for in a smartwatch. If you want something to mirror your phone and help plan your life, then suck it up and buy a real one like the Apple Watch or one of the various Android Wear watches. On the other hand, if you are looking for a practical, everyday watch that can give you just a little bonus tracking or alert functionality, then the $175 Fossil Q is a good bet. Just pay attention to that battery use and choose a model in a legible color scheme. ⬩


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