Skagen is a Danish lifestyle brand that’s been making watches for 30 years. Though the brand finds itself under the Fossil Group of watch brands – it brings a unique style. Skagen’s watches are regarded as minimal, yet stylish and functional. This is exactly how I’d describe the Skagen Falster 3 smartwatch.
The latest edition of the watch is in partnership with premium audio lifestyle brand X by KYGO. Unique to this edition is the matte black wrist strap and watch body. The wrist strap carries the KYGO “X” and you get some exclusive watch faces. The Falster’s overall design is more refined with the third generation, but it does share the same key traits with the first iteration: a round, flat watch body with floating lug ends.
Skagen Falster 3 specs and features:
- Case: 42mm stainless steel watchcase with matte black finish; 11mm thick
- Display: 1.3″ round OLED screen; 416×416 px; 328 ppi
- Battery: 310 mAh; magnetic pin fast-charger
- Weight: 41g (without straps)
- Strap size: 22mm; interchangeable quick-release pin
- OS: Google Wear OS 2.17
- Chipset: Snapdragon Wear 3100
- Memory: 8GB ROM; 1GB RAM
- Connectivity: Bluetooth v4.2 + LE; Wi-FI 802.11n; NFC
- Misc: 3 ATM water resistance up to 30 meters; Google Pay, Google Fit,
- Compatibility: Android or iOS (with limited features)
Aside from the solid design and looks of the Falster 3, there’s not much else that sets it apart from other Wear OS watches. It’s worth noting that there is no shortage of features – the Falster 3 has fitness tracking, heart-rate monitoring, standalone GPS, NFC for Google Pay, rapid charging, a built-in speaker, and a microphone. There’s a plethora of sensors including altimeter, ambient light, and gyroscope. There is no cellular-enabled variant of the Falster 3.
The Skagen Falster 3 has a retail price of $295, which is on the high end for a Wear OS smartwatch, so let’s find out what the Falster 3 offers and if this stylish package is worth it.
Design and display
The Falster 3’s Danish styling is minimal and attractive. The watchcase is round and flat – measuring at 42mm in diameter and 11mm of thickness. The lug ends (where the wristband attaches) floats outward, which gives the Falster its unique look. The watch case is made of stainless steel and in the case of the X KYGO Edition of the Falster 3, it’s matte black everything.
The 1.3-inch OLED screen has a thin bezel around it, and the fit of the glass around the case is tight, but there is still a slight groove that can sometimes get gunked up with food or debris. On the left side is a slot for the loudspeaker, and the right side has a total of three buttons. The microphone is also on the right side, as well as a noise-reducing mic at the top of the case.
The middle button doubles as a rotating crown, and can be used for scrolling through the app menu or looking through recent notifications. The other two buttons can be customized for shortcuts.
The back of the case is also black, save for the charging interface and the heart rate sensor. The charging interface consists of two contact rings that let the magnetic charger work in any orientation. This charger has had issues in previous versions of the Falster, but I haven’t experienced any in the time I’ve used the Falster 3.
The X KYGO variant of the watch comes with a silicone strap that features the KYGO “X” on the wearer’s side of the band, and a white strap loop (also with branding) accents the all-black look of the watch.
The glass and watch body are both built sturdily. Its stainless-steel body and matte finish are strong and durable. I was installing a new dishwasher and was under the sink wearing it and I realized I forgot to take it off before I jammed my hand past some pipes. I was sure that I scraped it up, but it turned out there was not a scratch on it. Watches go through a lot of rough use and based on my time with this watch, I have the impression that it’s built to last like a real watch.
Features, controls, and Wear OS
Wear OS isn’t at the same level as other wearable platforms from Samsung, Apple, or Fitbit. There’s still a level of polish missing from Wear OS but who knows how long it will be before Google revamps the interface. A major update isn’t only expected, it’s long overdue. Google does seem to be working on it, so hopefully we’ll see it by the end of this year.
With that said, there are a couple of things that do let the Falster stand out among other Wear OS alternatives. Although Skagen isn’t the only watchmaker to do it, the rotating crown does add another layer of precise navigation throughout Wear OS. Of course, you still need to tap on the screen to select.
The other worthy feature is the Battery Modes that are built into the UI. This makes it easy to customize exactly what battery-consuming features are enabled or disabled without having to dig through menus. The “Daily” mode turns on most features and is meant to recharge every night. Then there’s “Extended Mode” which claims its “intended for charging every few days”.
There’s a “Time only” mode that is supposed to last a week. It’s a super low-power mode that will only show the time for a brief moment when you press the side key.
A customizable mode lets you select exactly which features are on/off. You can also set a time (probably overnight) that you want the Watch’s Bluetooth to be turned off.
Strangely, none of the included battery profiles include the tilt-to-wake option enabled by default. Perhaps this is how Skagen intends the experience of the Falster – you can still raise the watch to see notifications as soon as the watch buzzes but it won’t wake up the watch until you touch the screen or press a button otherwise.
There are three buttons on the Falster 3. The top, center, and lower button. The upper and lower buttons can be programmed to act as app shortcuts. The top one defaults to the watch face styles shortcut, and the lower one defaults to Google Fit. The middle button will always act as Home/App drawer while press-holding this button will call Google Assistant. The rotating crown lets you scroll through lists or notifications and it’s worth mentioning that rotating the crown won’t wake the watch.
I’d suggest Skagen to add a long-press option to the customizable buttons so you can add two more app shortcuts. They might as well do double duty since they don’t do anything else.
One issue I kept experiencing was that I would find the watch to have no connection after wearing it for a few hours. You need to make sure that Wear OS is whitelisted in your phone’s battery-saving settings. However, there are other times when the watch is updated with music control and notifications, but still shows as is if it was disconnected. This happens mostly after taking off the watch for the night and then putting it on in the morning.
As I write this very text, my attempts to go into the Settings to reboot the watch have rendered both the touchscreen and rotating crown unresponsive for at least 10 seconds. Rebooting the watch had no effect on the half-disconnected Bluetooth, so I tried to reboot the host smartphone once I disabled battery optimizations to the Wear OS app on Android.
In the end, it appears that this is a long-time issue of Wear OS since the last major update in 2018. A combination of restarting the watch and making sure the Wear OS app is open on my OnePlus 8 Pro seems to fix the bug for a bit. This occasionally happens after I take the watch off for the night.
A platform that has been around this long has no excuse being this buggy. This has nothing to do with Skagen, this is more to do with the inner workings of Google and how it controls Wear OS updates across all brands. The added battery saving features and watch face customization from Skagen is great, but it’s a shame the OS it runs on still feels like it should be a Beta product.
I’m reminded of this every time I set up a Wear OS device. The setup process can be glitchy, slow, and with lots of stuttering – which does not make a great first impression to any consumer.
Fitness, performance, and battery life
The Skagen Falster 3 has a continuous heart-rate monitor and built-in GPS for logging runs, bike rides, or any way that you want to work out using Google Fit. Fit on Wear OS has improved a lot over the years but it still has some catching up to do compared to other fitness-oriented platforms, or Apple and Samsung’s Health platforms.
I do a lot of yoga and I like being able to track my heart rate with the Falster 3. The heart rate monitor works consistently, and its reading doesn’t jump around as much as I’ve seen with other Wear OS watches. I’ve also tracked biking and walking sessions with the Falster 3 using Google Fit.
The band that the watch comes with isn’t ideal for fitness. I don’t love the included wriststrap, but I do love that I can easily swap it for my favorite 22mm fitness band. The watch itself doesn’t exude that it would be intended for fitness. Just keep in mind that it does not have a raised bezel, so the glass could be more prone to damage in more extreme sports.
The watch is quick and snappy for the most part, but there’s certainly room to optimize the OS. This is despite the watch running the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset. The 1GB of RAM keeps the OS responsive and the 8GB of onboard storage is a welcome addition. However, with Google Music now being phased out to eventually be replaced by YouTube Music, there’s no longer a music platform for Wear OS that officially lets you save music for offline listening.
The Falster 3 has a 310 mAh battery, and it shares the same capacity with other Fossil Gen 5 smartwatches. Sadly, battery life on the Falster 3 is not strong. The Battery Modes do make it really easy to maximize your battery life by flipping off features that you don’t use.
If I workout for about an hour, it normally depletes about 30-35% of battery, which is a huge chunk of the day, gone. Keep in mind that whether you work out or not, you can expect – with certainty – that you’ll have to charge the Falster 3 every day.
The great news is that the magnetic charger on this watch is quick. Two pins on the back make contact with two metallic rings around the charger, so you can slap the charger onto the back without having to line it up. I found the charger to work well and it recharged the Faslter 3 quickly.
From a depleted battery, I was able to recharge the Falster 3 to 42% in half an hour, and 94% after 1 hour – reaching a full charge just a few minutes later.
Verdict, pros and cons
The Falster 3 is one of the best performing Wear OS smartwatches available today. That said, other platforms like Samsung Tizen and Apple’s watchOS are far ahead of Google’s Wear OS, and we wish that would change. Wear OS has a lot of potential, but Google isn’t harnessing it.
The Falster 3 is a minimalist smartwatch if I’ve ever seen one. Its design is minimal and elegant, and I like the matte-black-everything theme. Software is as expected from Wear OS: unpolished. Battery life leaves a lot to be desired, as well. The crown is a nice touch, but its implementation was not 100% thought out.
Fossil is on Gen 5 of its smartwatches, and the Fossil Group’s family of brands has enough success to keep selling stylish watches that run on the Wear OS platform. The Skagen Falster is a nice-looking watch that can handle the occasional workout here and there, but if you’re after a more fitness-focused experience, you might want to look elsewhere – and there are cheaper options.
- Stylish and elegant design
- Battery Modes are a useful way to control what uses battery
- Charges quickly
- Supports interchangeable bands
- Rotating crown
- Wear OS
- Rotating crown doesn’t work in all situations
- Battery life could be better
- A little pricey