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Skagen Falster 2 first look review: Wear OS at its stylish best

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Of all the smartwatch brands that fall under the Fossil Group umbrella, Skagen is probably our favourite. Whether it's making dainty hybrids or a full-fat smartwatch, there's a lot to like about the minimalist, elegant approach that the Danish brand adopts.

So we're glad to know that we've got a follow-up to the Skagen Falster. The original Falster was big on looks and you'll find more of the same with the Falster 2. This time though, it's bringing all of the smarts. Well, more than last time, at least.

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This time around we're getting a waterproof design, built-in GPS (so no tethering with your phone) and a heart rate monitor. To top things off, it's also packing an NFC chip to give us Google Pay contactless payments – something we've been craving from Fossil's smartwatches.

Skagen Falster 2: Design and build

Skagen Falster 2 first look review: Wear OS at its stylish best

Now that's a lot to fit in, and somehow Skagen manages to do it all without making the Falster a hulking beast of a watch. In fact, it's smaller, has a slimmer bezel and is noticeably lighter than the first Skagen Wear watch. There's now a 40mm case as opposed to a 42mm one that houses the 1.19-inch touchscreen display, and there's no real discernible sign that all these extra sensors are on board.

It's light too, with a weight that makes it feel as dainty as one of Skagen's hybrids. Some might miss the more reassuring feel of wearing a watch with a little more heft to it, but we're fans of its slender frame.

There are enough colours and band options to give it plenty of appeal. The new mesh strap option is particularly nice; it's essentially the Milanese strap option you can get with an Apple Watch with a magnetic clasp that clips satisfyingly to the strap's body.

Skagen Falster 2 first look review: Wear OS at its stylish best

We're pleased to get a waterproof design this time, which means you can go swimming with the Falster 2 with up to 30 metres of depth. Third-party apps will be able to take advantage of this feature for swim tracking.

One feature that is becoming prominent in all of the watches from the Fossil Group is a twisting crown. Its main use is to scroll through long messages or notifications, which helps keep smudgy fingers away from the display. But this time we also get two programmable buttons, which sit above and below the crown, something we've seen on other Fossil smartwatch sub-brands like Diesel.

Skagen Falster 2: Wear OS extras

Skagen Falster 2 first look review: Wear OS at its stylish best

The Falster 2 runs (or will run) on the latest version of Wear OS when it goes on sale on 12 September. That means you'll now get to experience the more simplified UI that requires less swiping to get what you were looking for. Google Fit will also be on board for racking up those all-important Move Minutes and Heart Points. That's on top of standard Wear features like notifications, activity tracking and voice support for Google Assistant.

Skagen's minimalist design bleeds into the software too: Watch faces will streamline information displayed so you're not overloaded with updates.

Initial verdict

I think it's useful to go back to what we said about the first Falster. We said it looked the part, but offered disappointing battery life and lacked the features to make it a truly standout Wear smartwatch. There's no doubting that the Falster 2 is one of the best looking smartwatches we've seen, and it's remarkable to think how much more has been added here.

But the fact that it features the same capacity battery as the original, with more features to power this time around, does concern us. With Qualcomm's next-gen smartwatch chip seemingly around the corner and tipped to improve battery life, it's disappointing that the Falster 2 will miss out on it.

At £269 for the version with a leather or silicon band or £299 for the more luxurious model it's not crazily priced for a Wear watch. If (and it's a big if) it can deliver everything it promises without hammering the battery life, this could well be one of the standout Wear watches to splash your money on.

What do you think?

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