I have a bit of a conflicted relationship with smart watches. As a watch guy, I like seeing new stuff coming into the market, mixing up the standard offerings that we’ve got. As a gadget guy, all the new “gee whiz” stuff is just fun to play around with. So, if you were to marry those two, you’d think it would be just about perfect for me. To date, however, smart watches haven’t cut the mustard. I recently spent some time with the Skagen Falster 2 smartwatch to see if my opinion could be changed.
Out of the box, the Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch looks immediately familiar and subtly different. Sure, you’ve got your almost-standard circular steel case with a piece of black glass set on top (at least, that’s how it looks until you charge it up and use it). Then you notice things like the wire lugs (not true wire lugs, as you have quick-change straps, but the effect is there), as well as pushers flanking the crown, giving it a chrongraph-like feel.
Then you plug it in, and you get a sense of whimsy from the Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch. I’m not entirely certain how much of it is stock Wear OS and how much is Skagen, but having the little cartoon character dragging a cord across the screen? That’s just plain fun. Oh, and while you do have a proprietary charger, it’s a little magnetic puck that sticks to the ring on the back of the watch, so it’s quick and easy to pop on (and no clunky ports on the side to plug into). While I didn’t experience any issues with the charging ring, I’ve seen more than a few posts over on Reddit that call out some issues with it so something to keep an eye on if you own one.
For most of my time with the Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch, I kept things fairly stock. I did customize the actions that the extra pushers would kick off, and I played with some watch faces, but that’s about it. I largely wanted to see how the stock watch performed. It should be worth noting that you do need to have the Wear OS app running on your phone to get the watch connected up properly. Along with sending notifications over, you can actually control a fair bit on the larger screen, which is nice.
The big concern for anyone who is looking at a smartwatch is going to be battery life. Or, at least, it should be. When I had everything turned on on the Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch (including continuous heart rate, and including a session at the gym) I barely made it through the day on the charge. Being a bit more judicious with what it was doing (and turning off continuous HR) got me closer to two days. Should your battery get precipitously low (under 20%) the watch will put itself into power save mode, which is basically a time-only setting that allows it to limp along – and keep you on time – until you can get to the charger.
Then again, plugging it in overnight to charge isn’t that big of a deal, as sleep tracking is not part of the basic functionality of the watch. Which is a bit of a surprise, as the literature talks about it. And there are apps in the marketplace that purport to be able to do it, I just wasn’t about to try one out at random and hope it worked.
Where I found the Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch to really be a star was at the gym, and this is largely due to the Google Fit integration. What the watch is able to do is figure out what exercise it is you’re doing, and then you can record a set, check the reps and weight you dealt with, and then have it count down a rest timer in between sets. This exercise detection worked surprisingly well, and it was quite convenient to do a few taps on the screen to get things logged, rather than a separate app on my phone (for those curious, I normally rely on FitNotes). Some exercises required fine-tuning, as the movements are similar from the point of view of your wrist (for example, torso twists and chest fly), but it’s easy enough to manage that. Want to cut your rest short? Easy enough, just hit the button on the screen, and you’re on again.
It is worth noting that the gym routines do have an impact on the battery, as the watch is actually doing something, and the HR monitor is running along as well. I found the HR tracking to be generally in-line with what my preferred Polar watch recorded, and the distances it recorded for runs on the treadmill were about the same as well (slightly over-optimistic as compared to what the treadmill reports). What this means is that if you’re already used to the Google Fit ecosystem, and you don’t already have a fitness tracker, this very well could be the watch you’d want to track your fitness journey.
Past that, the Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch was a capable smartwatch – it delivered all of the notifications to my wrist that were supposed to, and it is a delight to be able to dismiss random “Unknown Callers” right from the wrist. Interacting with the screen is as you’d expect, swiping around on it and tapping on what you want. You can also use the crown to move through things, twisting it to scroll up and down, or pressing it. Same with the pushers flanking it. So, really, you’ve got a lot of options to work with the watch. On the main screen, swiping down from the top will expose quick access settings, and swiping up from the bottom gets you to notifications you may have missed. In other words, it does everything you’d likely want a smart watch to do, and can certainly be extended into other functionality via the robust app ecosystem for Wear OS.
That then leads you to a question – what is it that you want the Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch – or any smart watch – to do for you? While many seem to have embraced interacting with a small wrist-based screen, I just have not found a good enough of a use case that would make me kick my traditional watches to the curb. Yes, I did rather like the workout capabilities, but when I hold it up against the battery life I can get from my Polar watch, well, then again the value proposition starts to break down.
This is just my own preference, however. Perhaps if this was 15-years-ago me, I’d be a lot more into the tinkering around with things and getting stuff setup just right. Now, though, I just want to “grab and go” with my tech, and expect it to work. I’m not opposed to drilling into things to investigate (that’s what I do with data, day in and day out), but by and large, I just want it to work. And sure, the Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch does do that, I just suspect that Wear OS will give you a lot of “oomph” if you’re willing to tinker.
As far as smart watches go, the Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch is one of the better ones I’ve tested out. This is in part due to the Wear OS maturing, but it’s also due to the design that Skagen put into the watch to just make it look and feel more like a watch than some plasticky toy. And undoubtedly, the workout tracking is a big, big plus for the watch. While the $295 Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch ultimately isn’t an everyday watch for you, if you find yourself hunting for a non-Apple smart watch, you probably owe the Skagen lineup a look. skagen.com
Products from Amazon.com
- Brand & Model: Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch
- Price: $295
- Who’s it for? You want a smart watch, and you’re already used to the Google ecosystem
- Would I wear it? As a workout watch, maybe. As a daily driver, though, not particularly
- What I’d change: I know we’re constrained by current technology, but isn’t it nice to dream of a 4-5 day battery life?
- The best thing about it: Style aside, it’s the workout tracking hands-down.
Tech Specs from Skagen
- Case Color: Silver
- Case Size: 40 mm
- Case Thickness: 11 mm
- Case Material: Stainless Steel
- Dial Color: Full Color Display
- Battery Type: APP00277
- Battery Life: 1-2 days ** Based on usage**
- Storage: 4GB
- Strap Color: Brown
- Strap Width: 20 mm
- Strap Material: Leather
- Circumference: 200+/- 5 mm
- Interchangeable Compatibility: 20 mm
- Closure: Single Prong Strap Buckle
- Connectivity: Bluetooth® Smart Enabled / 4.1 Low Energy
- Compatibility: Android 6.0+ (excluding Go edition) and iOS 10.0+
- Operating System: Wear OS by Google™
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Altimeter, Gyroscope, Light
- What’s In The Box: Wireless Charger
- Water Resistant: 3 ATM
- Origin: Imported
- Warranty: International 2-Year Limited Warranty
Features from Skagen
- Magnetic Mesh Straps
- NFC Payments with Google Pay™
- Heart-Rate & Activity Tracking
- Voice Command with Google Assistant
- Smartphone Notifications
- Note: iPhone users can see incoming messages but cannot respond.
- Music Control + Storage
- Rapid Charging (80% charged in one hour)
- Customizable Dials
- Interchangeable Straps
- Powered with Wear OS by Google™
- Wear OS Google works with phones running Android 4.4+(excluding Go edition) or iOS 10+.
- Supported features may vary between platforms and countries.