Every company wants to make a smartwatch, but Razer — a company best known for gaming peripherals decked out in RGB lighting — at least had the good sense this time to partner with an experienced watch maker.
The result is the Razer x Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch, a wearable that both companies claim is “designed for gamers.” Let me be clear: This is not a wholly new smartwatch. It is Fossil’s existing Gen 6 watch with Razer-y cosmetic touches. Those include three Razer watch faces — two subdued, one with a little extra Razer lighting — and two watch bands in Razer’s signature black and neon green.
I’m not sure a smartwatch specifically for gamers — whatever that means — was really the move here, though it sounds like it could have had potential if the watch had gone full Razer. Perhaps some RGB detailing around the watch case that synced with with the lights on your keyboard? Fuck it, why not. There is a nod to the rest of Razer’s lineup with a Chroma watch face that can be customised with lighting patterns. But really this is just a Fossil watch with some Razer watch faces and the option to swap out the black silicone band for an eye-searing green. (To be fair, some people like the green.) You get a 1.28-inch colour touchscreen in a matte black case, and while it looks perfectly fine, it’s overall more subdued than we’ve come to expect from Razer. Sure, maybe an over-the-top gamer watch wouldn’t have stuck the landing but it would’ve been fun to see at least.
But look, I’m not the target market for this. At 44mm, the watch is gigantic on my wrist, and the Razer watch faces don’t do much for me. Then there’s the matter of Fossil’s Gen 6 platform: While it runs on Qualcomm’s latest 4100+ chip for wearables, it hasn’t yet been upgraded to Google’s new Wear OS 3 operating system (and won’t be until mid-late 2022). But the only watch you can buy that runs on the latest version of Wear OS is Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4, and it comes with some trade-offs: You can’t use it with an iPhone, it doesn’t have Google Assistant, and its health features are a little weird.
Razer has a health initiative for gamers, and to that end, the Fossil Gen 6 does offer some health-tracking features — even an SpO2 sensor for monitoring blood oxygen levels. Google’s Wear OS 2 interface makes it a little tricky to track all your health data in one spot — Apple and Samsung definitely have this part down — but you do get at least some advanced metrics. You can’t track esports workouts or anything, but maybe that’s asking too much.
Fossil Gen 6 will improve if it can be upgraded to Wear OS 3 sometimes in the near future. It will soon offer Alexa integration in addition to Google Assistant, so you’re not saddled with Bixby, and you can use it with an iPhone. The hardware is fine. I just don’t think anyone should pay $US30 ($41) extra for a couple watch faces when a non-Razer edition of the Gen 6 costs $US299 ($411) and is, for me at least, actually better-looking.
But few people will actually be able to buy the Razer x Fossil collab anyway. Only 1,337 (get it?) watches will be available as part of the drop, which happens Jan. 10 on Razer and Fossil’s websites.