Hands-on with Fossil's Q Grant and Q54 Pilot mechanical smartwatches

Fossil realizes that a full-blown smartwatch with a display on front isn't for everyone, and is helping bridge the gap between traditional mechanical watches and new smartwatches with new non-display models, the Q Grant and Q54 Pilot. Taking a look at these two watches in a jewelry case or on someone's wrist you wouldn't immediately notice that it wasn't a plain mechanical watch — in fact these look almost identical externally to Fossil's standard Grant and Pilot 54 watches.

But flip the watch over to the back, and you'll notice something a lot more like the Q Founder Android Wear watch — a plastic back plate. This gives away the surprise — the Q Grant and Q54 Pilot are harboring smartwatch components inside, including LEDs, a vibration motor and a wireless charging coil. It's a tad jarring when you do notice the plastic back, and it really seems out of place on otherwise nice-looking metal mechanical watches, but I have a feeling I'd get used to it quickly.

Great looks and smart components with a week of battery life.

You can think of these watches as having features more akin to fitness trackers than a full-on Android Wear watch, which is all many people are really looking for. You can get notifications from your phone, track your steps and calories burned, and take in that data to compatible fitness apps — such as UA Record. But really, the big upside of this approach is battery life — Fossil quotes seven days of life from the Q Grant and Q54 Pilot.

The watch stays connected to your phone, and using the Fossil Q app you can set the watch to vibrate and flash its multicolor LEDs (located on the sides of the watch, where the plastic meets the metal) depending on where the notification came from. The app gives you granular control over when the watch will notify you, all the way down to scanning for keywords in texts so you aren't bothered too often by the watch. The only real downside here is that this system requires the third-party apps you want to be notified by be specifically made compatible with the Fossil Q app — though the list of compatible apps is quite large.

Fossil Q Grant

The Q Grant (shown off here), announced late last year, is the flashier of the two with a shiny bezel, earthy tones a watch face with roman numerals for timekeeping. It has four basic styles — a tan face with silver case, black face with silver case and link bracelet, black face with black link bracelet, and a beige face with rose gold bracelet. The great part about this being a "normal" watch is that it takes all standard 22mm watch bands if you want to customize it, and you can buy a vast assortment from Fossil for $30 each.

The Q54 Pilot is very similar in size and design, but is a bit blockier and has a bit more of a modern look, standing out notably from the classic styling of the Q Grant. Again it can accept any 22mm watch band, and there are a handful of starting color options for you to choose from. It isn't on sale just yet — it'll hit stores in early spring 2016.

Both the Q Grant and Q54 Pilot land in the $175 to $215 price range, depending on your band choice, which is actually quite affordable by smartwatch standards (Fossil's Q Founder starts at $275. That's also only $50 to $60 more than the non-smartwatch versions of these watches, which seems like a good deal if you want to have a watch that looks like a classic timepiece but has additional functionality of movement tracking and notifications — plus great battery life.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.