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Garmin adds the Instinct Crossover hybrid smartwatch to its lineup

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Garmin has added yet another rugged fitness smartwatch to its lineup. This time, it’s the $499.99 Garmin Instinct Crossover. As the name suggests, it’s a mash-up of a hybrid analog and multisport GPS watch. It’s a baffling combo, but hey, it’s got analog hands.

Hybrid analogs look like traditional watches but have basic smart features like push notifications and alarms. They’re aimed at folks who want a discreet yet sleek wearable that’s good enough for casual fitness tracking. As for the Instinct Crossover — which really sounds like it should be a Suburu — it seems like it’s for folks who want a slightly less “ugly” Garmin without sacrificing rugged capabilities.

Design-wise, it looks like a Garmin. You’ll either love the Casio vibe or hate it, but it’s nowhere near as chic as Garmin’s existing Vivomove hybrid lineup. The notable thing here is the analog hands. They’re coated in a glow-in-the-dark material and feature a new “RevoDrive” technology that auto-calibrates the hands in the event your watch experiences “significant impact.” Otherwise, the hands borrow a page from Fossil’s playbook in that they strategically move out of the way whenever you need to read notifications or look at data.

It does have military-grade durability, 10ATM of water resistance, and is “thermal and shock resistant.” You get a wide array of Garmin’s fitness and health features, including Body Battery, training status / load / effect, HRV Status, and Recovery time. It’s also got built-in GPS, multi-GNASS support, and other navigational features like trackback. You also get Garmin Pay and about a month of battery life for the base model. For $50 more, there’s also a solar charging model that can get up to 70 days. For an extra $100, there’s an Instinct Crossover Solar Tactical Edition that adds night vision, stealth mode, and other “tactical” capabilities.

If you’re confused, I’m right there with you. As mentioned, Garmin already has a Vivomove lineup of chic lifestyle-focused hybrids. (The Vivomove Sport is an excellent sporty and affordable hybrid.) Garmin also has several — and I truly mean severalrugged fitness watches that look like the Instinct Crossover, have similar feature sets, and cost a similar price. Some, like the recently launched $349.99 Garmin Forerunner 255, are cheaper and yet have more accurate multiband GPS. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a rugged Garmin with good battery life, you can pick between the Enduro, Epix 2, Instinct 2, Fenix 7, and Forerunner lineups — plus a handful of others I’m probably forgetting.

Screenshot that shows a link to a quiz that reads “Too many options? We’ll help you choose” on Garmin’s product page

This is actually part of the Garmin website.
Screenshot by Victoria Song / The Verge

Aside from aesthetics and the sort-of gimmicky hands, I’m not sure why you’d pay $150 more than the base Instinct 2 models, of which there are several. Fifteen, in fact, and we’re not even getting into color SKUs. Garmin is aware of how convoluted its product catalog is. Their site has a Choose Your Own Adventure style quiz to help pick you out the right watch series.

There aren’t enough hours in the day to explain Garmin’s entire product portfolio. And while I’ll always advocate for greater consumer choice, there’s a point where you have too much choice. In this case, you end up diluting your entire product catalog.

Garmin’s been this way for a while, but something about the Instinct Crossover feels like we’ve reached peak Garmin capacity. Perhaps it’s the fact that Apple and Samsung are encroaching on its territory. But I’m not sure adding another rugged watch — this time with quirky analog hands! — makes a whole lot of sense.

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