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The Misfit Phase is yet another connected analog watch

It’s pretty, but it doesn’t really do anything new.
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Misfit may not be the first (or even tenth) name that comes to mind when you think about sophisticated design, but its acquisition by the Fossil group last year may have taught it a thing or two about style. The company just debuted the Misfit Phase, an eye-catching analog watch that tracks your steps and sleep habitss and shows your progress toward various fitness goals. Like other smartwatches, it will alert you to incoming calls, messages and app notifications.

Gallery: Misfit Phase hands-on | 11 Photos

If that "hybrid-smartwatch" format sounds familiar, it's because plenty of other brands already offer it -- including Fossil itself and its partners Michael Kors and Skagen. Even Swiss watchmakers such as Frédérique Constant and Mondaine have joined in the fun. At $175, though, Misfit's Phase is slightly less expensive than most of the competition.

Like others before it, the Phase sports a traditional watch face instead of a digital one and tracks your steps taken as well as sleep duration and quality. But whereas the Activite and the Swiss watches show your progress in a sub-dial on the same face, the Phase moves its hands when you press the Mode button on the top right. So if you've achieved a twelfth of the progress you needed to that day, the hands would move to the number '1' when you press the button. Indeed, the two buttons that sit on the right of the device's face set it slightly apart from the hybrid-smartwatch herd. But I'm not sure that having to push a button to pull up your progress is better than having it always there. The added step doesn't feel worth the reduced clutter.

Gallery: Misfit Phase press images | 6 Photos

Pressing the Phase's top button cycles through modes such as time, progress and alarm setting. A small circular window at the six o'clock position will change colors to reflect the mode you're in. You can also set the hands to point to specific numbers on the dial depending on who's calling or messaging you. During a brief demo, I was amused to see the hour and minute hands both swing to two o'clock position when a call came in, while the watch vibrated. Eventually, when Misfit updates its software (it's not clear when that will happen), you'll be able to program it so that the round window will turn to a specific color for any app you choose (i.e., blue for Facebook, green for calls, et cetera).

The bottom button triggers designated actions on your phone, such as snapping a picture when the camera is open, advancing through presentation slides or controlling music playback. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see this feature in action, so I can't vouch for how well it works.

I was most taken by how pretty the devices looked, especially the blue-and-gold version. You wouldn't be able to tell that this was more than a mere analog watch. That is, unless you spotted the chunkier-than-average stainless steel case. Just like your typical wristwatch, the Phase can be paired with any standard 20mm watch strap. Misfit is also offering custom bands that are available in leather or silicone, and the latter material felt surprisingly soft and comfortable. The watches themselves will be available in six band/case color combinations at launch. Because I'm such a style guru, you'll need to know my favorites: the blue/gold, white/gold and black/gold options (in that order).

The Phase has some other things going for it. It's water resistant up to 50 meters and, like other Misfit wearables, promises six-month battery life.

Considering how easy it is now for traditional watchmakers to add these fitness-tracking and connected features to their existing (and very handsome) timepieces, I was surprised that Misfit is charging as much as it is for the Phase. It's slightly cheaper than Fossil's Q Tailor ($195) and Skagen's Hagen Connected ($195), but a touch pricier than the Withings Activite Steel ($170). The new watches will be available on November 7th on Misfit's website.

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