Over the past year or so, Fossil has made a big push into Android Wear watches. So much so that for its latest, it's teamed up with famed National Geographic photographer Cory Richards for a special edition smartwatch.
Enter the Fossil Q x Cory Richards, a classy watch designed by an adventurer but perfectly suited to your fancy night out or a day at the office. Despite being designed by a professional climber, it's not built for pure adventure. It's a cousin of the Fossil Q Marshal, just with a couple of design differences and inspirations. It's also quite pricy at $325.
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But can those inspirations and class bridge the gap? And could it tempt you to part with a whole bunch of cash? Let's find out.
Fossil Q x Cory Richards: Design
The Cory Richards actually takes inspiration from the photographer's love for Fossil watches. Specifically, it calls back to the Fossil Blue Chronograph that Richards himself wore in his twenties. That's why the Cory Richards edition face has a small Blue logo.
In that way, the Cory Richards is trading on nostalgia. There's even a grunge setting for the Cory Richards face, which browns up whichever face colour you choose (blue, silver or black). It takes that attractive display, which is pretty good at displaying bright colours, and makes it look like you've taken it across the African Savannah. It works well, but boy is it weird clicking a complication and getting booted to a bright, perfectly viewable settings screen. It makes me wish the grunge setting was available system wide.
Hardware wise, this is a similar story to the Fossil Q Marshal. You've still got a 45mm watch face that's 14mm thick. You've still got a good heft to it, and the tachymeter-style ring around the watch face is still there. While that makes the Cory Richards feel a little recycled and less unique, it's a design decision that still makes sense. If this is a watch designed by a photographer who went down to Southern Antartica then sure, I see rugged physical features making sense. Oh, and you still have that dumb flat tire along the bottom of the display. By the way, it's also IP67 water and dust resistant, so you're good to go in the rain but don't take it swimming.
More annoyingly, there's still a crown that's more of a secretive button than an actual crown. This feels like a place that Fossil could have updated the watch, bringing it up to speed with other watches that have utilised rotating motions to navigate watch-based operating systems. But nope, it's still a button press. It makes the Cory Richards feel antiquated, but in a bad way rather than a nostalgic way.
And yes, this is a big watch. If you have smaller wrists then this may not be for you. If you have bigger wrists though, you should find the Cory Richards to be a pretty good fit. It's big, but it's not annoyingly big. It also looks good, and that combination will grab people's attention. There were numerous times people asked me about the Cory Richards, and each time they were surprised to find it was an Android Wear smartwatch.
A lot of those inquiries came about because of the signed Cory Richards band included with this one. Rather than get a single band of your choice, you're getting two. There's the link bracelet, which feels high quality and comfortable. It may be way too big for your wrist though, so be prepared to take out some links.
The real star of the show though is that signed leather band. Not only is it soft and comfortable, but it looks incredible. It's definitely not minimalist, with metal rings and stitched lines adorning its buckle section. It looks rugged, yet it feels debonair. This is the kind of band Indiana Jones would wear to a fancy dinner. It's also probably the one thing about this watch that perfectly captures what Cory Richards is going for. Bonus: It loops beneath the watch face itself, adding some nice, comfortable padding between your wrist and the watch. And of course, you can swap in and out out any 22mm watch band you like.
Fossil Q x Cory Richards: Features
Talking about what features the Cory Richards doesn't have is a little more interesting than what features it does have. There's no heart rate sensor, firstly, which means if you want any good fitness metrics this is not the watch you're looking for. There's also no GPS, so if you're an adventurer you might not be looking to do any serious adventuring. There are no NFC payments either.
Fossil itself calls out activity tracking as a signature feature, but without a heart rate monitor it feels like an afterthought that's being mentioned because this is a "rugged" watch rather than anything spectacular that the model does well.
There is one unique piece of software that Fossil builds in here, and that's the preinstalled Fossil Q app, which is the same as on other Fossil smartwatches. It allows you to customise your watch face, mixing and matching faces and colours and complications until you're blue in the face. It's not as customisable as you might imagine, since you choose a watch face colour first and are then given options based on that colour. You're not going to be able to go crazy and build something bizarre.
However, depending on the watch face, you are able to change things around. You can have a green original boyfriend design with rose gold trimmings, for example. Or, you can change the dial colour on something like the tailor watch face. These colour customisations are only available on the more traditional watch-like faces. Other stuff, like the Ettore, Fred or compass faces only offer two general colour options.
The best face of them all though is that Cory Richards edition watch face with the grunge setting. While it's just making the digital watch face look worn out and rusted, it adds a nice bit of character. Outside of that and the Fossil Q app, however, there just aren't a lot of features here that set it apart from other smartwatches.
Fossil Q x Cory Richards: Android Wear experience
What the Cory Richards does have though is Android Wear 2.0, which sings a good tune on the Cory Richards thanks to that Snapdragon 2100 processor. There's also a good 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. Like other models, clicking that crown will take you to the Android Wear menu if you're on the watch face. If your screen is dimmed, it'll take you to the watch face. Holding down the crown button will activate Google Assistant.
Other than that though, Android Wear 2.0 functions as it does on other watches. There's Google Assistant and the Play Store and Google Fit. It's a bit of a shame Fossil isn't building on top of Android Wear and doing anything more special, or giving users more features, but then again this watch isn't promising to be a feature-packed powerhouse.
Fossil Q x Cory Richards: Battery life
Fossil promises all day battery life with the Cory Richards and, well, that's about what I got. I cleared a day pretty easily for about a week. One time, I was even able to squeak out one and three-quarters of a day. However, that three quarters included leaving the watch on table while sleeping and light usage the following day.
If you do need to charge it because of heavy usage, you shouldn't be waiting too long. It's a relatively fast charge compared to, say, the Apple Watch. Speaking of Apple Watch, the Fossil Cory Richards retains the Apple Watch-like charger that the Fossil Q Marshal used.
- Beautifully rugged
- Nice customisation options
- Battery life
- Light on features
- Hardware feels archaic
- Might be too big for some