New Garmin Instinct Crossover is the most unique hybrid smartwatch I've seen

Garmin's first rugged hybrid smartwatch features a huge digital display hidden in plain sight

Garmin launches Instinct Crossover hybrid smartwatch
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin launched its latest wearable, the Instinct Crossover, a hybrid GPS smartwatch "built for those who appreciate a classic analogue watch experience but who do not want to compromise essential smartwatch functionality." What makes the Instinct Crossover unique is the sizeable digital display, which is unlike what we've seen from other manufacturers.

It's an interesting choice to turn the Instinct into a hybrid smartwatch, and not just because of its rugged design. The Garmin Instinct Solar has long been one of the most sought-after Garmin watches among younger people who can't afford the also solar-powered Garmin Fenix 7X or the AMOLED Garmin Epix Gen 2, and those people tend to like digital wearables. The people who often choose hybrid smartwatches over – well – Garmins are relatively older.

So launching the Instinct Crossover is a bit of a paradox – a hybrid smartwatch for the younger generation. To be honest, I should be surprised. Garmin has a number of eccentric watches, including the Enduro franchise mentioned above and lorry drivers' favourite wearable, the Garmin Instinct 2 Dezl Edition. The Instinct line has long been the playground for Garmin to try new technologies and features, and the new Instinct Crossover fits into the pattern perfectly.

Will Garmin roll out hybrid smartwatch versions of its most popular outdoor watches? Are the best Garmin watches destined to be hybrid smartwatches? No, and no. I'm sure the Garmin Instinct Crossover is the first of many Instinct hybrid smartwatches, but I doubt there will be a slew of hybrid Garmins.

Garmin Instinct Crossover – Specs, features and availability

The Garmin Instinct Crossover delivers Garmin’s full suite of wellness features, including Sleep Score and Advanced Sleep Monitoring, Body Battery energy management system, stress, heart rate, and more. The watch also includes fitness features, such as VO2 Max, Pulse Ox, Fitness Age, Training Status/Load/Effect, HRV Status, and Recovery Time.

GPS tracking, multi-GNSS support, ABC sensors, TracBack routing are also supported by the Instinct Crossover, while the Reference Point helps you keep track of a known place relative to your location. The military-style Tactical Edition of the watch builds on these features and provides features like night vision compatibility, stealth mode, dual-format GPS, a kill switch and more.

From a physical design point of view, the Instinct Crossover features the new Super-LumiNova coated analogue hands and chapter ring to make the watch classier-looking than your average Instinct. The analogue hands are overlayed on Instinct Crossover’s (comparatively) massive digital display and automatically move out of the way when needed.

Garmin launches Instinct Crossover hybrid smartwatch

(Image credit: Garmin)

The watch is thermal and shock resistant, built to MIL-STD-810, and water-rated to 10 ATM. An interesting new addition is the RevoDrive technology, which helps the Instinct Crossover deliver accurate analogue timekeeping even in the harshest activities and environments. Should users have a significant impact on their watch during an adventure, RevoDrive will stabilise the watch hands and auto-calibrate to maintain accuracy.

The Instinct Solar 2 Solar was already able to function indefinitely using the sun's energy, and the solar-version of the Instinct Crossover can also do that in battery-saver mode. While using advanced connected features, Instinct Crossover - Solar Edition can provide up to 70 days of battery life in smartwatch mode with solar charging. Even without solar, the base model Instinct Crossover can provide nearly a month of battery life in smartwatch mode and more than 110 hours in GPS mode.

Available from today, the Garmin Instinct Crossover is available at Garmin US (opens in new tab), Garmin UK (opens in new tab) and Garmin AU (opens in new tab) with prices from $500/£480/AU$770.

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other content creators in the past, such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab). When he isn't working out, he loves roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment, including microphones, cameras and more.