The Girl: “I’ll actually wear this watch” (The New Polar RCX3)

Over the past few years The Girl has put up with all manner of sports gadgets floating through the house.  Some of them, she pays attention to.  Others, not so much.  Those that she pays attention to usually get ‘alternative branding’…aka…a new name.

Take for example, the Garmin Edge 500, around these parts, that’s simply known as ‘Blue’.  (Though, she’s not-so-secretly pleaded with Garmin to make a variant in pink).

Or, her older Garmin FR60 women’s watch, simply known as ‘Pink’ (Note, this is somewhat confusing, because her bike is also known as ‘Pink’.)

As you might suspect, whether something is semi-fashionable is a key consideration for her, and thus, one of the first things I hear when she see’s a new device is her opinion on whether it looks ‘decent’, or horrendous (very few sport watches make it to looking ‘nice’).

So earlier this week as I was unpacking a box from the Polar folks full of gadgets to check out, I was surprised that she basically leapt off the couch to grab the new women’s watch out of my hand.  As she sat back down, she commented “I’ll actually wear this watch!”.


At which point, she proceeded to put it on her wrist.  It hasn’t left her wrist since.  Thus, to take advantage of that, I ‘recruited’ her to go and take some photos of it for this post.  Essentially, if she wanted it, she was going to have to earn it.


And, since she was at it, I had her also take photos of the companion men’s RCX3.


So what is the new Polar RCX3?  Essentially the RCX3 is a more economical variant of the Polar RCX5 watch.  That’s Polar’s triathlon focused watch that was released last spring.  The RCX3 is noticeably slimmer than the RCX5 (width), like it went on a bit of a diet.

The key differences between the RCX3 and the RCX5 are around advanced functionality, with the RCX5 having features like Race Pace, and Time and Distance intervals – features that the RCX3 lacks.  Accessory-wise, both units work with the G5 GPS pod, as well as the footpod and cycling speed/cadence sensor.  Price-wise the unit is $220US (retail), including a heart rate strap.  This put it roughly equivalent price-wise with some of the low-end Garmin units with a heart rate strap.  If you want speed/distance, you’ll need to pickup either a footpod (~$90), or the G5 GPS pod (~$130US).

They primary differential of course with having the GPS pod in a separate unit is that you save on battery life, so these watches will last many months (closer to a year) on a single replaceable coin cell battery, whereas the Garmin’s you’ll only get 8-20hrs on a charge.

Though, I’m still a little bit surprised on pricing here, a bit high once you include the full package for speed/distance.  But, there are folks that want an ultra-slim watch that lasts a long time on a single battery, so this definitely fills a market.  And for ultra-folks that use a footpod, there’s very few other watches on the market that can go that kinda distance.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be putting it through its paces (as will The Girl, since she’s taken ownership of the women’s one).  Look for a review probably around the first week of April…just about the time the unit hits the street.

Until then, feel free to post any questions below – I’d be happy to get them answered.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend ahead!


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  1. Anonymous

    Ray…I’ll ask the first one.

    What’s the red “button” on the upper part of the band, just below the display. Is it functional (like maybe instantaneous HR by way of your thumb) or just for looks?


  2. alex

    @anon: that’s the start/lap button.

    @ray: any chances you know something about the rcx9 or something like that? i heard polar is working on a rcx5 with barometer :)

  3. Anonymous

    Still no Ant+ support. Very hard to fall in love with Polar as long as they insist to sit on their W.I.N.D. island while they try to compete Ant+ on smartphones and other Android devices with their Bluetooth gears.

  4. Dave

    Agreed – bought the RCX5 and, other than Polar’s glacial pace of updating Mac capability and lack of GPS, I loved it. Just got a 910XT and it’s by far the best watch I’ve had of 5. The ANT+ issue and requirement for two sensors hog tied to the bike were a real PITA also. If only Garmin would add something like OwnZone, the tests, etc.

  5. The big red button is like an enter button, same function as on the RCX3.

    RE: WIND or ANT+

    While I absolutely wish they were using ANT+, I will say that I’m happy to see that going forward they’re pretty much taking the BTLE (Bluetooth Smart) path. Long term there’s no doubt that’ll work out for them. Short term the road is a bit rougher. But, it’s probably the right choice for them to make.

  6. Jamie

    Doh! And I just bought a 610 2 months ago.
    I agree with the girl, me likes!
    I am all Ant+ enabled now though, so I’ll be sticking with my Garmin.

  7. One of the biggest complaints about the RCX5 is that it only allows 4 phases to be programmed in the training. You can find many threads/complaints about that in the Polar Forums. Polar has officially replied that it is a limitation built into the watch so there is no soft fix to be expected. Ray, I hope that when you do you review you report on this issue.

  8. Any chance you will have the new soleus watch (either one) any time soon to test? I’m really looking forward to them and would love to hear how it works!

  9. Jen B

    Hi – I am 100% with “the Girl” on this – most devices out there are so big, bulky, and ugly. Can we PLEEAASE get more female form factor devices to market!! Garmin’s path is to toss a stripe of pink or teal on a men’s watch and call it a women’s version. The one that I actually like “looks-wise” is the FR110 (grey band w/ pink), but it is crippled in features. Sigh. Even the new FR70 is a shame! Same watch as the FR60 w/ a splash of pink! I’m bored w/ my FR60 (had it for ~3 yrs already). I want to look at a new screen and possibly wear it as an everyday watch…but there isn’t anything else on the market. The Polar RCX3 looks nice but I won’t buy it… b/c it’s not ANT+ and I already have all of the ANT+ sensors. :-( Please Garmin, make me an FR80 that has a fresh look and a few new features. I don’t need the bulk of GPS!

  10. Has she seen these?

    link to

    I think they’re horrible. But one of them might appeal to fans of pink.

  11. Anonymous

    Ray… can you comment on what “alex” asked about rcx5 with barometer ?
    I think there are a lot of people who would like to see a more advanced model of the rcx5.

    Thanks !

  12. I’m also testing the new Polar RCX3:
    link to


  13. Hi Anon-

    RE: Altimeter

    I’d agree, I’ve always been surprised the RCX5 didn’t include it. I don’t have anything on new units…other than to say there are certainly new units in the works…sorry!

  14. @Ray:

    Your article couldn’t have come at a more appropriate moment as My Girl and I were just discussing the “hideousness” of athletic watches. Your Girl and My Girl I think would make excellent friends – My Girl is convinced that the athlete watch world is the most hideous designs by human-kind and tolerates wearing one as if it were some kind of disease infected spreader of the T-Virus.

    She has small wrists, too.

    In any case she’s convinced athlete watches are designed only by men, because how would any women in her right mind allow a watch to look orange like the 310xt?

    She was quite pleased to see there is hope in the future for something “wearable.”

  15. Fredric

    This watch would probably have fitted me better than the rcx5, at least price wise. I still miss the altimeter that my old s625x had(lost it, argh)

  16. Sagar

    Sad that Polar still seems to be off-plot with their devices. Use a G5 pod or their brick-sized footpod – is that seriously what they are offering their customers even now?

    As a 6-year plus user of the RS200 who put up with the stupid SonicLink software, being a recent Garmin convert has just opened my eyes on how easy software and peripherals for sports tracking actually can be

  17. @sagar in fairness comparing a 6 year old unit with current watches is a bit unfair. I too had a RS200 and remember that modems at the time were quite often dial up and the sonic link was way ahead of most other options. Also the G5 and S+ stride sensors are tiny relative to the SD and G1 / G3 pods.

    I think Polar are right to take their time, the technology is changing so often that units are out of date soon after launch. They also properly test the product before launch unlike other ‘buggy’ sports watches out there.

    I’ve an RCX5 now and while there are some differences between it and the RS800 they are for different levels of training. The RCX5 is a triathletes watch, I think it is perfect for its purpose.

    Polar,I believe, are developing an all in one unit but this will also get negative reactions as battery life will be entirely different to what we are used to at this stage.

    Can’t wait!!

  18. Anonymous

    I am just curious…is the RCX3 capable to tell HR while swimming as the RCX5? I am looking for a good all around HR monitor and am so lost as to what to purchase.

  19. Yup, assuming you have the correct WIND strap, it’ll read through water without issue. Enjoy!

  20. Anonymous

    “as I was unpacking a box from the Polar folks full of gadgets to check out”

    no RCX7 with altimeter and thermometer and such there by any chance? :-)

  21. Ted_S

    Does the RCX3 have the ability to download data directly to a computer for display with ProTrainer software (i.e., without having to go through a web connection)?

    I use my Polar HRMs for weekend trips in areas with no web connectivity. This might not be a problem if the memory size were several times as large. With current models, either I have to reduce the recording interval (which results in distance errors of 10 to 15 percent in twisting terrain) or risk running out of memory.

  22. Dingodog

    I’m a ‘reasonably’ happy 3 year user of the RS800 with foot pod. However, calibration is always an issue, with tweaking required for different pace (I have an Excel graph I have developed to adjust calibration depending on target pace). I like the idea of fpod + gps….where the fpod could be calibrated ‘on the fly’ when you were receiving good gps (don’t like the idea of completely relying on gps – losing parts of my run). Is this possible with the new RCX3? Could you get a watch to use the best of both worlds (fpod + gps)?

  23. Henrik L

    Hello, just wanted to ask a question as I am foreign and might have understood.

    As I read the rcx3 dont have ANY intervall function at all? Not one going by heart rate and time or anything like that?

    I havent had my hr monitor (a polar ft4) for long but I am already looking to upgrade. But I badly want a monitor which can do complicated intervalls (by time and heart rate, not pace/distance) at different heart ratings.

    Which the rcx5 dosent allow as you can only have 4 different phases.

    (I want to be able to do a workout that looks like this:

    10min warmup 50-60%
    5min 60-70
    3min 70-80
    1,30min 60-70
    3min 80-90
    1,30 60-70
    3min 80-90
    10min cooldown 50-60)

  24. Anonymous


    Love your site i’m new to running and i’m looking to purchase a HRM your site has been extremely helpful, thanks so much! Just wondering why you haven’t reviewed many Polar watches? Are they not good? I’m tossing up between a Garmin FR60 or the polar RS300x but i’m not sure about Polar?
    thanks for you help!

  25. Hi Anon-

    Polar makes some good units, but I feel that in many (not all though) cases there is a disconnect between what they are charging, versus what the competition is offering at a lower price point.

    Looking at the RS300X, that’s actually a pretty competitive watch price-wise with the FR60. Software-wise it depends. The Polar desktop software is more robust than the Garmin desktop software, but the Polar online site lags behind the Garmin one.

    When you look at some of the higher end models, that’s where the pricing gap really becomes evident.

    Just my two cents.

  26. Anonymous

    Thanks that was a help! Having a big problem deciding will have to read more of your reviews.
    just one more question, what HRM would you recommend under $150 for distance, pace, waterproof, and a function that alerts you when you change HR zones. they are my biggest needs.
    Forgive me if that doesn’t make sense i’m really new to this HRM world!
    thanks for your time

  27. Anonymous

    Any idea when your ‘in depth’ review is coming out? Really debating on wether or not this watch is worth the money or just go with rcx5. Much appreciated :)

  28. Anon1:

    For under $150, I’d look at:

    Timex Global Trainer (bigger, more tri focused, but tons of features)
    Timex Run Trainer (barely above $150, but simpler/smaller that TGT)
    FR60/FR70 (Non-GPS based, but tons of flexibility)
    RS300X is definitely an option
    Nike+ GPS is also an option, usually roughly $150

    Personally, if it was me and had to pick one of those, I’d go Timex Global Trainer or Timex Run Trainer. But, I prefer more flexibility with data/functions than most.


    Current plan for RCX3 is next week. I think I have everything I need to make that happen. I’ve been trying to avoid doing more than one watch per week on the review publishing front. Thanks!

  29. Anonymous

    Thanks again!
    Confirmed! It was a toss up between TRT and the FR60 and i’ve gone for the TRT for a little bit extra you get so many more features!
    p.s thanks for the quick replies, best blog ive been on by a mile!

  30. Basil

    Hi my name is basil malungani someone borrowed money from me in exchange of polar rcx3 white so I suspect that he might have stolen it how do I find out if it is stolen or it does belong to him,for reply send me a message via email. At,or contact me on 0834364183