Fossil doesn't require introduction. It is one of the finest watchmakers in the world. And just like most of the fine watchmakers, Fossil also came out with a smartwatch. It launched the Q series of smartwatches last year. The Fossil Q Marshal smartwatch is among the latest of the lot, launched last month in India.
While Fossil faces competition from its age-old rivals like TAG Heuer, the bigger threat to the Q is posed by companies like Samsung, Apple and Motorola that have a lead in the smartwatch category.
Since all the premium smartwatches in the market today are priced around or above Rs 20,000, Fossil's decision to price Q Marshal at Rs 21, 995 doesn't seem to be an absurd idea. After all, Fossil is a premium watchmaker. Premium or not, the real question is whether Fossil can justify the price with performance of the Q Marshal smartwatch. The smartwatch segment is not just about the design and looks, areas where Fossil is strong but also about the stuff these gadgets can do, and that is one area where the Apples and Samsungs of the world are unbeatable.
Design and build quality
Fossil has tried to keep its signature chunky design, almost, with the Q Marshal smartwatch. The watch has a soft, yet thick, silicon strap. The unit that I have reviewed is in black and it looks quite slick. The Q Marshal's dial reminds you of Motorola's Moto 360, however, this one feels more premium in that regards.
The Q Marshal feels more like a traditional timepiece with jagged edges and a crown, which actually is a button. The watch is expectedly heavy, which also adds to the feel of ruggedness. However, I wouldn't suggest doing rugged-y things with Q Marshal. It's made of stainless steel but that, name apart, feels like soft and scratch-prone metal.
Coming back to the silicon strap, it is soft to touch and if you are used to wearing watches it shouldn't feel uncomfortable. The material, however, attracts dust which settles in the crevices. On the bright side, you can easily detach the strap and clean it with water and cloth.
The Fossil Q Marshal looks rugged and feels heavy. At first look the smartwatch seems like any other Fossil watch, which is a good thing. The Q Marshal follows the signature Fossil design language and if you have been using a big watch, this can perfectly replace the older watch with something that is similar and yet come packed with new technology and some cool features.
The smartwatch has a round screen, although the display looks more like a flat tyre, something that we have seen in Moto 360. Some may call it boring or even ugly, but in my opinion as long as it works, it is fine. And it does work.
The display is bright enough to be visible under direct sunlight, it also has a brightness boost option, which brightens up the display for a few seconds before going back to the selected brightness level.
You can change the watchface by long pressing on the dial, and also from the Fossil Q app. The app doesn't offer any more functionalities.
The Q Marshal runs on Google's Android Wear and you sync it with your phone using Bluetooth. The pairing is simple, you just need to follow instructions shown in the watch. Rest is usual business once paired.
The Fossil smartwatch shows notifications as and when they appear on the phone. Compatible apps will also appear on the watch. Most notifications like WhatsApp message and email are non-interactive, which means you cannot reply from the watch itself, however, Hangouts notification allows you to send preset replies. The watch's operations are mostly smooth, but we did feel it lagging once in a while. However, it never froze during my usage.
As all the other smartwatches, the Q Marshal also has a fitness tracking features. It supports all the fitness apps. For my tests, I used Google Fit. The tracking was more or less accurate, however, it did confuse a rickshaw ride with cycling. But that's something which we have experienced with other trackers as well. The Q Marshal lacks a heart rate monitor, which is a letdown since even Xiaomi's Mi Band 2 has a heart rate sensor and it costs just about Rs 2,000.
The watch supports "Ok Google", which is a handy feature. But at times it couldn't register my voice, which could have been caused by a slow internet connection, or due to a not-up-to-the-mark microphone. The watch also allows you to control music, but only play, pause and skip. You can't control the volume. Basic Google apps like Maps and Calendar can be accessed on the app and are helpful.
The Q Marshal also has several gesture control options, which you can browse through from the settings options. The smartwatch has IP67 certification, which means you can submerge it in 1 meter deep water for about 30 minutes. In simpler words, you shouldn't worry about washing your hands while wearing the Q Marshal.
Fossil has packed in a magnetic charger, something similar to Apple's Watch. It gives you about 10 hours of battery when used to its full efficiency, which means always on display, Wi-Fi turned on. To stretch the battery life, you can turn off the 'always on display' feature and also the Wi-Fi. Doing this will let you use the watch for about a day and a half.
Should you buy it
Let's be honest here: smartwatches are sort of luxury items. Or rather, they are not something of a necessity the way a smartphone is. In the market the Fossil Q Marshal is rivalled by Moto 360 2nd gen and Samsung's Gear S2.
Although other two mentioned watches are older than the Fossil watch, in our experience the overall performance and feel is better in the Moto and Samsung watches. That's not to say Fossil's Q Marshal lacks in any significant ways. A normal user should have no problems whatsoever with it. In fact, many will also appreciate its more traditional design. But for more tech savvy users, the watches from Samsung and Motorola are better.
To sum it up, if you are all about rugged looks and brand name, Fossil will not betray you. At Rs 21,995, you get decent performance, good looks, and brand name. Go for it if these three things are all that you are looking for.