Housing the key features of a smartphone in wrist-sized casing was never going to be an easy task. For years, subpar functionality was the key limiting factor in the burgeoning wearables scene. But leave it to a leading watch brand to finally perfect the blend of form and function. We spent some time with Fossil’s latest entry in the smartwatch arena, and already picture the Q Explorist HR becoming indispensable to the life of the modern, connected man.
The bezel may not rotate, but the crown sure does, allowing you to scroll through menus and lists with a high degree of precision. The luxurious feel of the well-machined part gliding in its socket makes browsing even full-length e-mails a pleasurable affair.
Straps for the 22mm-slot are easily interchangeable via push pins on the rear.
Why anyone would handle e-mail on a watch used to be beyond us, too. But the real estate afforded by the Q Explorist HR’s 45mm screen – large even by haute horlogerie standards – is a game-changer. This doesn’t just deliver legibility; it enables its owner to reply in full, structured sentences by means of an on-screen keyboard.
This sounds like a terrible idea until you realise the keyboard picks up on typed words accurately. This, coming from someone with notoriously fat fingers. Exhibit A below. (Notice I’m using my thumb, the stockiest digit of them all.)
That’s right – the stock keyboard is even Swype-enabled. No additional installations necessary. The whole scale of the operation is thus rather discreet, and perfect for getting a few balls out of the court during an arduous board meeting. If you’re alone in your office or at the wheel, you can dictate out loud the words you’d like in the message.
Thanks to the latest Wear OS and an inbuilt mic, you can even summon the Google Assistant to find the fastest way home considering current traffic conditions, and have it throw up the map on your wrist. Detractors note: gone are the days when speech recognition only picked up Queen’s English. It’s 2018, and the Assistant pretty much reads your lips now.
Many other intuitive functions have been baked into the Q Explorist HR. Notifications pop up unobtrusively at the bottom of the screen, in the form of a small icon (or contact’s image, so make sure those are kosher). Tap these to open the relevant app (on the watch). Had a long meeting? Swipe up or spin the crown clockwise to bring you through a list of these – a la the smartphone.
Those who wrestled with balancing the fitness tracker and watch budget can put those concerns aside. The Q Explorist HR (and sister line Q Venture HR) at last packs a heart rate tracker alongside untethered GPS. This means you can stash the phone at home, track your running route, and measure your corresponding heart rate in real-time. Feel free to do laps in the pool with this one, too. Come the day when Google Pay for Wear OS is available in Singapore, you’ll be able to purchase items on the fly with NFC payment, sans your wallet or phone.
With such a feature-packed watch, one would imagine battery life would take a massive hit – but we only felt the need to charge the Q Explorist HR once every two days, which is decent by industry standards. Even this process felt good and well-thought out. To charge most competitors’ products usually requires fumbling with a rigid (and expensive) stand so that the charging pins can align perfectly. Be off by a smidge, or displace it ever so slightly, and you may find yourself with a very dead battery the next morning.
With the Q Explorist HR, you only need to toss the charging head in the general vicinity of the caseback.The magnetised concave snaps snugly to the electrical contacts, allowing you to be haphazard when slipping the charger on or when moving the watch around, as the angle of the cable no longer matters.
With the suite of conveniences as polished as the hardy exterior of the Q Explorist HR, consider us sold on this addition to the Fossil stable.