Wristwatch sales have been down for years now, especially among teens and young adults who prefer glancing at their cell phones to strapping on a timepiece. If watch companies are headed for extinction, though, the appropriately named Fossil isn't going down without a fight, adapting to the cellular lifestyle with an ingenious new line that lets your watch and your phone work as a team.
By now you're probably familiar with Bluetooth, the wireless technology that lets you speak hands-free on your cell phone by cramming a Lieutenant Uhuru—style earpiece into your auditory canal. Fossil, working with Sony Ericsson, has adapted the same technology to let the phone in your pocket and the watch on your wrist communicate. When a call comes in, the watch vibrates and the caller's phone number appears on a brightly lit display near the bottom of the watch face. Now you have a choice: grab the phone and speak with the caller or press a button on the watch and send the call directly to voicemail. This way you can turn off the phone's ringer entirely and still be aware of incoming calls at all times. Even if you insist on walking around all day long wearing a dorky Bluetooth headset, the watch is still a worthwhile addition, letting you screen calls with a literal flick of the wrist.
The Fossil Bluetooth watch comes in several styles, with different cases and your choice of flexible band or metal bracelet, at prices ranging from $200 to $250 (check them out at fossil.com and abacuswatches.com). One big caveat: these watches currently only work with specific Sony Ericsson and Nokia phones. The Web sites list compatible models.
On the plus side, if you happen to be the proud owner of a musically oriented Sony Ericsson phone (and they do make the best MP3-playing cell phones available), the MBW-100 adds an extra layer of gee-whiz to the Caller ID watch. By clicking the crown, you can manage music playback on your phone, choosing to play, pause or skip to the next track. This MBW-100 will be sold directly by Sony Ericsson for $399 (sonyericsson.com).