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​Fossil Q Marshal hands-on: Big on style but light on substance

It’s a bold statement, but the Fossil Q Marshal could be the best looking smartwatch of the company’s mammoth selection of connected wearables.

Available in black, stainless steel and grey with leather straps, the Fossil Q Marshal is one of the few smartwatches that can genuinely be mistaken for an actual timepiece – arguably the highest praise for a wearable in 2016.

The case is a solid rugged stainless steel and it feels noticeably heavy on the wrist. To be clear, it’s a reassuring, industrially machined kind of heavy, rather than bulky or unwieldy. Its 46mm case is pretty extreme, so it’s certainly not ideal for slender, or feminine wrists. But the aggressive ruggedisation continues around the bezel, where further detail is machined like an old-school tachymeter.

Fossil Q Marshal review

The design of the Q Marshal is slightly reminiscent of the new Gear S3 Frontier – oversized, heavy and solid.

Like the Samsung Gear S3 it features a water resistance of IP68, so it will be okay for doing the washing up or showering but don’t take it for a swim. It also features interchangeable straps and you can fix any standard 22mm band to the lugs, making it just as customisable as any analogue Fossil watch.

It’s thicker than your average smartwatch at 14mm, and it’s a couple of millimetres bigger than the Samsung Gear S3. That’s going to put off some, but honestly, it didn’t feel that massive on our wrist.

What did seem colossal, however, was the flat tyre which imposes on the circularity of the 229ppi 1.5-inch display. This is to make room for ambient light sensors, yet enough manufacturers have built round-faced devices without the ugly dead area that our expectations are now higher. This isn’t being persnickety, it’s a solid mark against the Q Marshal.

Fossil Q Marshal review

In terms of screen quality, Fossil isn’t divulging screen resolutions, which is probably because it’s not that competitive. The screen tech is fine, but it’s hardly eye-popping and is trumped by the Huawei Watch, Samsung Gear S3, and even the Ticwatch 2.

In terms of software, Android Wear is on-board in unfettered form. It’s very much the stock experience, so you get notifications, third party apps, voice control, fitness tracking and Google Now alerts. A full detailed rundown of Android Wear can be found in our guide.

Early verdict

While our IFA showroom floor photos may not do the Fossil Q Marshal justice, what the lights disguise is a neat and classy design, which offers a reassuring build quality. It’s big and unashamedly so – the breadth of Fossil’s range means that there’s something for everyone. However, we’re not going to let Fossil off the hook for the flat tyre and mediocre screen. While it’s blazing a trail for design and choice, smart buyers won’t settle for second-best tech.


Shop for recommended smartwatches on Amazon

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