Fossil has tried its hand at creating "tech watches" before, with wrist PDA watches that are able to sync with your Outlook Calendar and office e-mail, but they haven't really been successful. Not only did they appeal to a small, niche audience, but the watches themselves were large and not very attractive. However, Fossil has once again attempted to breach the technology market with a line of Bluetooth watches that, once paired with a cell phone, will display caller ID information whenever there's an incoming call or text message. The watches also look more like regular watches, thus making them a bit more attractive. Fossil has released the watches under two brands, its Abacus MobileWear brand and its own Fossil brand. The Abacus MobileWear models come in either a stainless steel case and bracelet or a stainless steel case and black strap, and are priced at $199 each. The Fossil model has a black ionic-plate stainless steel case and a bracelet-style strap and will be available for $250 each. The one we reviewed is the Abacus MobileWear with the stainless steel case and bracelet.
Cased in a vintage watch design, the Abacus Mobilewear Caller ID watch we received looks a lot like a regular watch. It's very chunky and large and is clearly meant for men, but it still has the familiar two-hand analog watch face. The one thing that sets it apart is a tiny 96x16 pixel OLED screen that's located on the bottom part of the watch's face, which is where the caller ID information is displayed. Along the right side of the watch's face are a top key, a crown, and a bottom key. The top and bottom keys are used for various calling functions, while the crown is simply used to adjust the watch's time.
One of the major drawbacks of the watch is it only works with Bluetooth-enabled Sony Ericsson phones and Series 60 phones running Symbian OS 7 or later. That said, we had no problem pairing it with a Sony Ericsson W850i, and it worked flawlessly. When the phone receives an incoming call or text message, the watch will vibrate, and the watch's OLED will display the number or name of the caller. If you want to stop the ringing, you can hit the top key, which will silence the phone, and if you don't want to answer the phone altogether, you can hit the top key again and reject the call.
We should note you can't actually answer a call with the watch. The watch simply acts as a caller ID device, and you still have to use your actual phone to accept a call. That said, if your cell phone is also paired with a Bluetooth headset, you can glance at who's calling on your watch and answer the call with your headset, all without ever needing to take your phone out of your pocket or bag. We tried this with a Cardo Scala 700 paired with the phone, and it worked like a charm.
Overall, we appreciate the Abacus Caller ID watch's cool factor, but its limited functionality and handset compatibility make this more of a novelty item than a necessary gadget. Other features of the watch include water-resistance of up to three meters underwater, the ability to view the phone's time and date, and a battery life of about five to seven days. It comes with chargers for both USB and AC adapters.