Ever since Fossil outlined its ambitious plan to introduce smartwatches and smart analogue watches across its family of brands, we've been itching to see the Q Wander and Marshal watches in full working order.
Having previously cast our eyes over Fossil's analogue devices, and brought you our favourable first impressions, it's now the turn of the Marshal and Wander devices. Sitting in Fossil's Q family, they share a platform with the original device, the Founder.
As far as Android Wear goes, which is the software platform of choice, these are very much the same AW experience you'll find elsewhere – on the new Asus ZenWatch 3, for example, or the premium Tag Heuer Connected.
We mention those devices, because they sit are opposite ends of the scale. Asus is gunning for the affordable end of the market with a price of €229; Tag Heuer sits in the real luxury end at £1100, both offer a software experience that's very similar.
The difference between these devices in part comes down to materials, but mostly comes down to design. Not the big design elements, like the bezel or the thickness of the watch, but the subtle differences, like the back and the lugs, how the strap fits, how it sits on your wrist.
This is where Fossil really swings in. Fossil makes a huge number of fashion watches and fashion watches are something that people choose to wear. They are popular because they are nice. We've looked at the Michael Kors range separately, but that's a perfect example of the power moves that Fossil is making in smartwatches. It's about desirability.
Pick up the Fossil Q Marshal and that's what you're struck by: it's a desirable watch, a watch that feels nice to wear, because it has been designed by a company that's making and selling a lot of watches.
That potentially makes watches like the Q Wander much more important to Android Wear than might at first be apparent. For those outside of the world of technology, i.e., your average person, the appeal of the Fossil brand, and the surety of the design, could put Android Wear on the map in a way that some of the technology companies didn't quite manage to do.
The technology of the Q Wander and Marshal is simple enough. Announcing a partnership with Qualcomm, this latest generation of devices runs on the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset. That's a chipset that's been designed specifically for smartwatches, whereas many previous devices were running on hardware originally designed for smartphones.
There are some shortcomings: Fossil has a flat tyre design on its display, like Motorola's devices, meaning that a small section at the bottom of the watch is black. That's partly why you'll see a lot of black watch faces, because it hides that bar at the bottom.
The bar is used to house things like light sensors, to change the brightness of the device. We didn't have the time to really get to grips with the quality of the display in our initial hands-on session, nor with the performance of this watch overall, although the Wear 2100 chipset should mean longer battery life than some other devices.
Charging comes from a magnetic inductive charger that attaches to the rear, discarding the cradle-style charger of the previous generation.
In terms of functionality, the offering here is very much the same as other Android Wear devices. Compatible with Android and iOS devices, you'll get notifications, voice controls and lots of compatible apps to keep you informed, entertained or just heading in the right direction.
Overall, it looks like a strong step in the right direction. With Fossil pushing out a number of smartwatches, in a number of designs, at an attractive price, we can't help feeling that this is doing Android Wear the right way. It's a desirable approach and as we said with the Michael Kors watches, it's about fashion first and the technology second.
The Fossil G Wander and Fossil Q Marshal will be available now and cost from £279.