Two-week battery life
Solid fitness tracking
The Jorn Hybrid HR is an elegant hybrid smartwatch with a customizable e-ink display. It brings notifications from your phone to your wrist and tracks your exercise, sleep, and heart rate. The minimalist Scandinavian design delivers a classy look that fits in everywhere and extends to simple software and a lack of superfluous extras. Perhaps most importantly when it comes to ease of use, the watch can be used for weeks on end without needing a charge.
About the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR
Skagen’s new watch offers a few different options in terms of size, body color, and band, but every Jorn Hybrid HR has the same spec sheet:
Display: E-ink display
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Sensors: Accelerometer, Heart Rate
Water resistant: 3 ATM
Battery: Up to 2 weeks
Storage: 16 MB
Case sizes are 42mm or 38mm. The larger version comes in three finishes: Grey Steel with a mesh band, Brown Leather with a shinier body and a brown leather strap, or Black Silicone, like our review unit. The smaller watch size comes in two finishes: Rose-Tone Steel-Mesh with a mesh band or Black Leather, which is the same Rose Gold-colored body with a black leather strap.
Whatever finish and band you choose the price is $195.
What We Like
With an understated style that looks refined, the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR is the kind of watch you can wear anywhere. The black silicone model I tested blends in easily in every setting and with any outfit. The other finishes are a bit shinier and more eye-catching, but Skagen designs are always clean and relatively simple. The Jorn Hybrid HR has a central e-ink display with a large bezel that has numbered seconds and a pair of physical watch hands on top.
There are three buttons on the right hand side of the case. The central button shows notifications, selects options in menus, and takes you back to the home screen. The top button opens your wellness dashboard by default, and can be used to cycle up through menus, while the bottom button triggers music controls by default, and cycles down through menu options. You can customize what the buttons do in the Skagen Hybrid app (available for Android or iOS). The app also offers a choice of watch faces with different complications, such as heart rate or day and date, and you can even make your own from photos in your gallery.
Chunky lugs extend from the watch case to allow for quick release and attachment of different bands. The black silicone band is supremely comfortable and ideal for workouts. And because it has a similar look to the mesh band it’s not overtly sporty, allowing it to blend in on a night out (when we’re allowed to go out again). Comfort is important here, as the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR is designed to be worn 24/7 with periodic heart rate measurements and sleep tracking built in. The case is relatively slim and fits under cuffs easily.
As this is a hybrid smartwatch, it doesn’t have a touchscreen. The e-ink display updates every so often and the physical hands always show the time. Unlike some smartwatches, the display is effectively always on, but because it’s not backlit it’s tough to see in the dark. Thankfully, you can tap twice on the screen to illuminate the display for a few seconds.
Solid fitness and sleep tracking
The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR can’t match dedicated fitness trackers in terms of features or accuracy, but the fitness tracking on offer here is perfect for the average person looking to keep in shape. It counts your steps, minutes of exercise, calories burned, and records your heart rate every 40 seconds or so to give you resting, average, and maximum for the day.
You can get basic data on the watch, or dig deeper with detailed charts in the app. You can sync fitness tracking with the Skagen Hybrid app or output to Google Fit, if you prefer. It’s easy to set goals in the app for steps, active minutes, active calories, and sleep. There’s a move alert, too, which reminds you to get up at set periods if you’ve been sedentary for too long.
The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR records various activities including running, cycling, hiking, and walking. It can also track sessions on a treadmill, elliptical, weights, rowing machine, spin cycle, and there’s a generic workout option. You start tracking manually for most activities, but there is auto-detection for walking, running, cycling, and rowing machines. There’s no onboard GPS, but you can use connected GPS if you allow location tracking through your phone.
Sleep tracking works fairly well; it sometimes counts lying in bed as sleep, but that’s a common foible. You can see a breakdown of light and deep sleep in the app and there’s a chart of your heart rate through the night.
Before I move on, I have seen some complaints and photos online of the watch screen getting steamed up, but I’ve been using mine to work out every day for a month now and that has never happened. It is worth noting, however, that the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR is only water resistant, with a 3 ATM (atmospheres) rating for splashes and rain, so it should not be submerged in water or worn in the shower.
Excellent battery life
Most smartwatches have to be charged every night if you expect them to get through the day. Color touch screens are power hungry, as are microphones and speakers for calls or voice assistants. The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR dispenses with all of that in favor of physical watch hands over an e-ink display. Skagen suggests you can get up to two weeks of battery life from a single charge and my testing confirms that claim.
There’s no need to worry about remembering to put this watch on the charger every night. In fact, you can wear it all the time and it will keep on ticking. When the battery does run down, it can charge to 80 percent in just 50 minutes. You get a proprietary charging cradle in the box (it doesn’t support Qi wireless charging), but you do need your own wall charger to plug in the USB-A jack. This will work with any phone charger you have lying around.
What We Don’t Like
Whether this is the fault of the e-ink display, the processor inside (which is not listed), or perhaps a combination of the two, the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR is slow to respond to button presses. You have to press, then wait a beat for the screen to update. This is annoying if you’re trying to navigate through menus, since you’ll go into a menu then have to use the top and bottom buttons to cycle through options before selecting the one you want. This process can take a while and feels clunky, especially if the option you want is at the end of the list. Once you set up the button shortcuts the way you like it’s not such a big problem.
Limited feature set
As a hybrid smartwatch there are lots of standard smartwatch features missing here. There’s no microphone or speaker, which means you can’t take or make calls or use voice assistants from your wrist, though you can see incoming calls and accept or reject them. You can also set up notifications from most apps and read messages and emails on your wrist, but it’s slower and a little more awkward than it is on a smartwatch with an expansive color touchscreen. There are other handy features missing, too: the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR lacks support for payments, you can’t install apps on it, and it can’t store music, though you can use it to remotely control music or podcasts.
At $195, the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR is a lot cheaper than top smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 6 or Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, but it is still quite pricey compared to some full-featured smartwatches. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, in particular, can be found for only $25 more and has much deeper fitness tracking and lots of extra features. You can pick up some older Wear OS smartwatches for around this price, but I don’t recommend them. If you’re sold on the hybrid idea, then Misfit and Withings are the main competitors in this space and both offer a range of models, some of which are quite a bit cheaper than the Jorn Hybrid HR.
Should You Buy It?
Yes, if you’re willing to trade features for long battery life
The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR looks good, it has enough customization options for you to make it yours, offers decent fitness and sleep tracking, and the notification system lets you know whether you need to get your phone out of your pocket. For many people, this will tick all the boxes. The truth is many of the other features that smartwatches offer are not things that work well on the wrist or that you’ll use often in everyday life.
If fitness is your primary driver, then check out our picks of the best fitness trackers. Android phone owners who want a ton more features or a fancier screen should consider the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 or one of the other options in our best smartwatches guide. For iPhone owners in the same boat, the Apple Watch SE is worth a look.
Ultimately, there’s a definite niche for the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR. I love the minimalist style and the scaled back features are a trade-off I’m happy to make for that fantastic battery life.
Meet the tester
Simon Hill is a freelance technology journalist with a decade of writing experience covering everything from smartphones to smart home gadgets. For the last few years, he served as Associate Editor at Digital Trends where he wrote features, reviews, analysis, how-tos, and more.
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