The Fossil Gen 6 literally gave me a burn and this is not some kind of a fashion statement

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The Fossil Gen 6 literally gave me a burn and this is not a fashion statement
Just a few days ago, I shared with you my experience with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, which went so well that I wound up in a hospital. One would think that something like that would convince me to stop, but that's not how I roll.

What am I trying to prove here anyway? Well, the fact that most modern smartwatches suck! And I think I know why: Big Tech hasn't stopped feeding us products that very few of us actually want or need. 

The plot for this experiment was to spend some time with each of these bad boys: 

  • The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro — the flagship watch made by one of the world’s best smartphone manufacturers.
  • The Fossil Gen 6 Venture Edition — a smartwatch made by watchmakers with 39 years of experience, none of them being in the field of software engineering.
  • The Pebble Time Steel — the passion project that defined the smartwatch. And then Google killed it.

And when I accepted this quest, I had a wide smile and passion in my heart. But I had no idea that it would result in so much anguish and torment. 

And before we move on...
You should know that this is Part #2. If you missed out on reading the first part, you can click here


The diary of a Mad Lad #2: Where craftsmanship meets capitalism





I am a total Fossil fanboy. The fact that the company doesn’t have a proper store in my general area (by which I meant country) doesn’t stop me from showing it either. I spend more than I should just to get my favorite watches, smart watches and sunglasses from Fossil. Because it is a brand that I can trust, which I don’t really say often.

So, I was very excited about trying the Fossil Gen 6 out. I mean, it sounds like the dream-watch:

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  • Made by my favorite company
  • Fueled by wearOS (which is made by my other favorite company, Google)
  • Modeled after one of the most cult-classic analog watches from Fossil
  • Is extra nature-friendly
  • Comes equipped with a magical screen made for lovable doofuses like me

And that last bit is important. You see, all of my smartwatches have screen protectors. Because even though it doesn’t look like it, I am in all actuality constantly flinging my arms around like a possessed beyblade while walking. It’s just that I am doing it so fast that you can’t notice. Hence, I bump my smartwatches on every possible surface near me, around twenty-five-hundred times per second.

But I did not put a screen protector on the Fossil Gen 6 before strapping it on, because I was really, really excited. And after hitting it on just about every rock, table or wall that I could see with my peripheral vision, I can confirm that this glass is made from titanium.

I don’t know how that works. It’s just a fact, okay? Because there is no other possible, reasonable explanation to how this screen did not get scratched, given that Fossil describes it as being made from typical glass.

So, I spend the day setting the watch up, while giggling like a preschooler on Christmas morning. I set up all my data, my alarms, my accounts, installed Facer, arranged my watchfaces… The typical new-smartwatch bonanza.

And throughout all of that time, I was amazed at how much thinner and traditional the watch seemed. It truly showed that this is a smartwatch made by people who understand watches. So it is an utter shame that those people didn’t also understand software.

Because everything lagged all the time. Icons randomly disappeared. The watch needed three days to process the fact that I am interested in a “C” instead of an “F” when it comes to temperature measurement. And the list goes on for quite a bit, honestly.

Then the battery died while I was doing the setup, because I forgot that with the Fossil Gen 6 being literally half the size of the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, some sacrifices in terms of battery life probably had to be made. And they were.




Now, this may sound absurd, but I mean it wholeheartedly: I’ve never in my entire life had a harder time charging a device than with the Fossil Gen 6 Pro. It just… Didn’t do the thing. I checked diagrams, I cleaned the connectors with the proper type of alcohol, I even went online in search of tutorials, because I was convinced I was doing it wrong.

But do you want to know the truth? Well, it doesn’t charge the way it is explained. At least my model doesn’t. You see, there are these pins that can — allegedly — connect through any single point on these two charging rings on the watch’s back.

The thing is, that unless the connection is happening on two specific points of contact, the watch doesn’t really charge. It vibrates once to indicate that it knows that it is about to get fed, but it will not charge. And eventually I just accepted that as “the proper way”.

So, after this amazing babysitting experience, I left the watch to charge up and when I turned it back on, I realized that half of my settings had been reset, so I got to do them again. Fun!

It took awhile, but it finally was done and I could enjoy the beauty of the real-watch-inspired watch faces that Fossil supplied the Gen 6 with.

And while browsing those, I couldn’t help but notice how I had other watch faces installed, but I didn’t get access to them. Like, for example, the Diesel watch faces app, which was installed on my Fossil Gen 6. But despite that being the case, I couldn’t use any of the Diesel watchfaces. And I could even uninstall it — which I did, because why would I need it? — but still… Why was it there?

I’m not going to dive in this rabbit hole, but let’s just say that the software engineers who handled the wearOS version that ended up on the Fossil Gen 6 may also have played a hand at the creation of other wearOS versions for other watch brands like Diesel or Citizen. And if you ask what I mean, I'll have to write an article about it, so please do that in the comments. 

Finally, after all of that, I went out for my usual evening walk and I couldn't help but notice how it took more than an hour for the watch to realize that I was walking, but take that as you will. I enabled GPS tracking on the way back and that 40 minutes of walking somehow drained 48% of my battery, so… I had to charge the watch twice in a day?!

Always on display? Off. WiFi? Off. NFC? Off. GPS tracking? Off. Every possible thing that I didn’t use regularly, I turned off and after that — finally — I could get a solid full day out of the Fossil Gen 6, with it being at about 28% when I got to bed at around midnight.

Naturally, that makes sleep tracking absolutely impossible, but oh well: I wanted a watch, not a tracker. I have Pokemon Sleep for that anyway (Re: if you ask, I’ll have to write an article about it).

So, after 48 hours with the watch, I finally felt like we — as in, it and me — were finally getting in sync. I woke up and saw that I had an update available and — gosh! — it was an upgrade to wearOS 3! “How exciting” I said to myself and I set it up to download, and then went on to make myself a cup of joe.

While drinking said coffee, I dug around a bit and saw that this update should’ve been available to me on day one. But I checked, several times in fact, and there were no pending updates at the time. Odd. Well, the important thing was that the watch was finally getting it, right?

Oh, no. Not at all.




When the update was done, I put the watch back on in order to set it up, because I’m one of those weirdos who set up their smartwatches while wearing them, when I felt that something was off.

Now, you may laugh at me for this — and I won’t judge you for it, because I laughed later too — but it took me a hot minute (literally) to realize that the watch was burning my skin. Because I was so used to the cool sensation of its metallic chassis that I just thought “Well then, I guess I’m feeling it wrong” and went on.

After a few seconds, I took the watch off and I saw a visible red area of irritation that felt really sensitive for the rest of the day. It was a minor burn, sure, but… Why did my Fossil Gen 6 Venture Edition try to burn my wrist off after its update?! That should not be a thing! Ever!

And just as I was having a laugh at the situation — and forgive me, I didn’t think to take pics — I decided to carry on with the setup without the watch being on me. At which point I was utterly delighted to get this notification, straight from Satan’s very own brain cells:

The watch was completely reset. Completely. I spent a day setting it up. And now? I got to do that all over again. FUN!!

I’m going to save you the details on the process, because it was pretty much the same. The UI lagged equally as much and the watch was now prone to heating up, which made me take it off from time to time. At least the battery life didn’t get worse, so that was nice.

But a lot of my most-used features got weird. Cardio and SpO2 asked my permission to do their thing once every two days or so, without me changing any settings. Weather and UV index data constantly forgot their permissions too, forcing me to manually provide location access again and again.

Oh, and by the way, SpO2 readings on the Gen 6 were absolutely normal, unlike with the Watch 5 Pro. May that be because of the worse sensor? Sure. Do I appreciate the lack of extra stress? Yep.

Mind you, I don’t even turn off the watch during these periods. I take the watch off for charging during the night and that’s it. What it does while I am not looking straight at it, I do not know and at this point, I am too afraid to find out.

Here's a fun one though: one time, I initiated an SpO2 measurement and the Gen 6 counted down to 0, as smartwatches like to do — hopefully without exploding — and then nothing hapenned. I cancelled, went back, initiated it again and it got stuck on 0 once more. So I just left it like that to see what would happen.

After a few minutes, I took it off, because — again — it was getting hot. And then it just stood like that, animation looping and sensors psychedelically blinking non-stop, until its battery died. Neat!


 

Another annoying quirk that the watch gained is that it now worked with Fossil’s dedicated app instead of the general wearOS app. And the Fossil app might as well be made by Baphomet or something, because it manages to drain 40% of battery from my Pixel 6a per day when it is set to “Unrestricted” under battery settings.

And for what? Well, only to expect you to open it up daily and sync your watch manually, of course. And yes, otherwise you lose all of your health data. At least, that is the case with me.

So while I can’t say that wearOS 3 ruined the watch for me, because not that much changed, I can say that it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Mostly because of the delay in me getting the update, which still makes absolutely no sense.

And then I had the most important realization. One that I had known the entire time, but I was too preoccupied with the watch itself in order to let it seep into my consciousness:

Fossil is a watchmaker. Not a software engineer. And it shows. It gleams in the darkness, it is so obvious that it hurts. The Gen 6 is a beautiful piece in terms of build quality and design, but on the inside? It is rotten.

And while I was tucking it back into its box, I realized another thing. I already have a Fossil Hybrid HR, which I am very happy with. But it doesn't run on wearOS. So how much of this entire fiasco was actually Fossil's fault then?

Was Google actually to blame instead? 

... And also, am I cursed or something? How can all of this happen in just over a month? Or is the smartwatch industry just… This bad now?

The Adventure thus far:


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