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Garmin MARQ Series Hands-On: Everything you ever wanted to know

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Today Garmin raised the stakes and announced their most expensive watch to date – the Garmin MARQ, at upwards of $2,500. Actually, it’s five watches. Five different units that mirror Garmin’s existing product lines across all of the company’s divisions.

Each the five different watches targets a corresponding audience, as follows (EUR pricing matches USD pricing):

MARQ Athlete – $1500: As the name implies, athletes
MARQ Expedition – $1750: A blend of athlete + multi-day sport adventures
MARQ Captain – $1850: For boating/marine related adventures
MARQ Aviator – $1950: For aviation folks piloting an aircraft
MARQ Driver – $2500: Automotive racing focused

If you’re familiar with other Garmin watches, you’ll note that most of these align to existing watches Garmin makes. For example the MARQ Athlete follows in the footsteps of the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus series of watches. Whereas the Captain follows from the Quatix, and the Aviator from the D2 series.

But the Expedition and Driver editions are actually new ventures for Garmin, and include (in the case of the Expedition), some unique features that could very well be applicable to many fitness folks. Fear not, I’ll dive into all of them.

However, if you want a quick dive into all the watches – including a complete look at the revamped user interface, check out my video on it:

Oh, and finally – as usual, these are all media loaners from Garmin. Yes, all $11,149 worth of watches sitting here. In fact, all but one of them will be picked up tomorrow morning. The last unit, an Athlete edition, I’ll hold onto for a few more weeks so I can get a bit more test data for a full in-depth review. I include plenty of data in this post, but I didn’t get the feeling the software was as final as I’d like it to be able to make accuracy/stability judgments as I would on a truly final product. It sounds like they’re close, but not yet there. As such, this definitely isn’t a review. Things could get better, or worse from here.

MARQ Editions Overview:

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Now as noted above there’s five versions, each targeting a different market. Effectively Garmin has taken the lower end variants of each of these watches and elevated them from a materials and user interface standpoint. For example, the Aviator watch is based on the D2, the Expedition and Athlete watches are based on the Fenix 5 Plus, and the Captain is based on the Quatix. So software-features wise these all carry over, though with some new hardware tweaks, like a different GPS chipset and different optical heart rate sensor, as well as more than double the storage space of the Fenix 5 Plus series.

I’m going to run through each version briefly below in terms of feature highlights, along with a bit of a gallery of shots to sip your coffee against.

Common features:

All watches include the same baseline, which is essentially the features of the Fenix 5 Plus series watches, with some twists. So that includes:

– Detailed maps for the region you bought it in (e.g. North America)
– Offline music playback/storage, including Spotify support
– Garmin Pay contactless payment support (load credit cards/etc onto it)
– PulseOx SpO2 measurement
– Swim/Bike/Run/Golf/Ski, and numerous other sports all included
– Full global database of ski resort runs/maps included
– Full global database of golf courses included
– Revamped user interface for the MARQ lineup
– Revamped Garmin ELEVATE optical HR sensor (officially ‘Gen3’)
– All watches have incident detection and safety alert features (similar to Vivoactive 3 Music LTE, except without the LTE)

Now, there are some interesting twists in here. For example, above you see the ski resort database, which is new to Garmin. They’ve had a ski mode, but not a ski map aligned to that while actually skiing. So that’s cool. However, Garmin Connect Mobile (on your phone), lacks that map overlay – so things do fall apart a bit once you upload your ski day. Still, it’s progress.

Side-stepping slightly, there are some hardware specific notables that are common to all variants:

– Smaller 46mm size (so basically same as the Fenix 5/Plus, not the S or X models)
– Battery life: 12 days in watch mode, 28hrs GPS-on, 48hrs UltraTrac GPS
– Ceramic Bezel: For the Aviator, Captain, and Driver editions
– New charging cable: Like a blend between the Fenix 5 cables and the Forerunner 645 cables

On the ceramic bezel, Garmin made note numerous times on multiple occasions on multiple continents that they went to extreme measures to try and find an ultra-scratch resistant material compared to any watch they’ve ever made. I haven’t managed to scratch mine yet, but I also haven’t dragged it along the concrete walls either. I’m clumsy, so at least so far so good.

From a service standpoint, all watches share the same level, no matter where they were bought:

– 2 years full warranty
– 5 years of parts serviceability from date of purchase (i.e. if bought June 2021, it’d go until June 2026)
– Battery replacement program through both Garmin and dealer

The slide to support battery replacement through the dealer is an interesting twist. Garmin previously required customers contact them directly via their support channels. So this battery replacement aligns more closely with higher-end watch shops.

Even more interesting are two core hardware choices Garmin has made:

1) They’ve switched to the Sony GPS chipsets
2) They’ve increased the storage up to 32GB – a huge upgrade over the typical 8-16GB Garmin has used in other units

The first one is however the biggest shift in direction we’ve seen Garmin make in years. Up until now all of their more recent watches have been using MediaTek GPS chipsets. In fact, Sony is a relatively new player in this space. But they’ve garnered significant attention due to their extremely low power profile. Suunto and Polar both switched to Sony GPS chipsets this past year for their top-end watches, however, that didn’t go terribly well. COROS also introduced a watch with it too – and again, GPS accuracy was hardly stellar.

Both Polar and Suunto admitted (and continue to admit) GPS accuracy is still a work in progress on the Sony chipsets. In fact, even Garmin admitted as much during my meetings with them. It’s a dangerous gamble for Garmin to make. They’re effectively entrusting their ability to ‘fix’ Sony’s GPS challenges, in order to save significant battery life.  Will it work? I’ve got more thoughts later in the post after doing some tests.

The second change related to storage space is also interesting, but also confusing. Garmin adopting a sprawling 32GB of space would set the stage for far more maps to be available on the device. But despite that, Garmin is only loading the local region maps, and not the full international detailed map set. So you’re still stuck either paying for maps when you travel, or downloading them via clunky steps from 3rd parties. I fail to see how people spending $2,500 on a watch want to take those steps. It seems petty by Garmin.

Athlete Edition Differences:

This variant is as close to a Fenix 5 Plus as you can get from a feature standpoint. It’s basically as close to a Fenix 5 Plus as any of these watches are, but with a few minor tweaks:

– They’ve improved the race predictor
– They’ve tweaked the daily training load metrics
– There are some unannounced fitness-features Garmin says will arrive in the coming months it’ll support

All of these announced metrics above are driven by FirstBeat. Most of them aren’t terribly different than before, but they manifest themselves in cleaner ways. I’m going to dive into that in the breakout Athlete section below. Note that the Athlete edition only comes with a silicone strap, which honestly, I find kinda disappointing. After all, there are Fenix 5 Plus variants for some $500 less that include both a silicone strap and a fancy strap.

Expedition Edition Differences:

This variant is like taking a Fenix 5 Plus, but then steering the direction towards longer range tracking and away from normal sport/fitness features. The two unique bits this has compared to a Fenix series unit are:

– Expedition App: This allows you to do 4 continuous weeks of GPS track at 1-hr intervals
– Orienting lock: Allows you to lock a heading from within the map view by holding the start button

And again, for these features, I’m going to cover them down below in the Athlete/Expedition detailed section.  The first one though related to a four-week GPS track is fascinating. Not just because of the watch side of the house, but also Garmin working on the backend platform to ensure it properly supports files uploaded from that. The Expedition includes an Italian Vacchetta leather strap. Without question, it’s the prettiest strap out of all the editions in my eyes.

Aviator Edition Differences:

This watch is based upon the Garmin D2 PX Delta unit (which is in turn based upon the Fenix 5 Plus series). It’s focused on piloting an aircraft, including integration with some of Garmin’s flight management systems via the Flight Stream 510, and has pre-loaded aviation maps and airport databases.  [Updated] In addition, beyond all the features of the D2 PX Delta watch (which came out last July), there doesn’t appear to be anything new. The below three features Garmin noted as new were added via firmware update to the D2 PX back in December.

I’m a bit of an aviation geek. One of these days I’ll finish my pilot’s license. But looking at both this and the D2 PX, there’s so much cool stuff packed in here, especially around things like NEXRAD weather radar. One of these days I’ll get to use it for its intended purpose. The strap is titanium with a “multi-link swept wing design” (their description, not mine).

Captain Edition Differences:

This watch follows after the Garmin Quatix series, and is actually a notable upgrade from the Quatix 5, since that unit as based on the Fenix 5 and not 5 Plus series. So this variant gains all the music/contactless payment/maps bits that one lacked. The main focus here is connecting to Garmin’s marine units to actually control your boat from your wrist. For example, when connected to the GHC 20 you can control autopilot. It also supports hotkeys for actions like man overboard plotting and automatic navigation to it, as well as functions like anchor alarms and tack assist modes.

With the Captain edition they’re adding the following:

– Current weather watch face, including at specified home port
– Regatta Timer with GPS and dedicated bezel markings using start/stop hotkey

And again, the big update here is also the mapping compared to the previous Quatix 5, which didn’t contain mapping. The strap is Jacquard Weave and is pretty stunning in real-life. If it wasn’t so costly, I’d definitely consider it for my Fenix 5 Plus unit.

Driver Edition Differences:

Ok, ‘differences’ is the wrong word here. Because Garmin has never created a watch in this category before. So this is a first for Garmin. Still, these are new features above/beyond what a Garmin Fenix provides today, and they’re all aimed at driving versus sporting.  They are:

– 260+ pre-loaded race tracks (full list here)
– Race App
– Track Timer
– Live Delta Time
– Auto Lap Splits based on position
– Lap Time Repeatability Score (LTR)
– Last Race Summary
– Virtual Pit Wall

Unfortunately this particular item isn’t one I can readily test, and since there’s no past context to base features on, my ability to discuss it in depth is somewhat slim. Still, I went ahead and tried to find these features and apps on the watch as best as possible for the gallery below.

Phew – got all that? Good, that’s a lot of watch imagery goodness for you!  Now, to put some cold water on that, here’s a nifty graphic from Garmin showing you how many clams you’re going to need to shell out for each version:

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Eeks! At least they’re pretty.

Now interestingly, you won’t find these in any of the Garmin retailers/stores you know today. Garmin will only be selling these watches through high-end watch shops (some of which sold the Garmin CHRONOS lineup previously, but most are new to Garmin). That’s a big shift for Garmin, which won’t offer the watches through retailers that are specific to each product group. Garmin says they expect customers looking at this range of watches to be going to dealers that sell TAG, Breitling and others – and thus, they’d likely already have a connection with that watch shop.

That may be true, but it’s also questionable. As a runner, I’d never go to a high-end watch shop to find a running…err…Athlete watch. Similarly, if I was into Garmin’s marine gear (where I’d probably have dropped over $10,000 to begin with), I’d likely go to my marine dealer. Same with aviation, and so on. I’m not terribly sure that I’m going to get someone that fully understands the nuances of all the tech features in a Garmin watch from a typical high-end watch dealer. And given Garmin’s entire pitch is the tech, that seems questionable.

Other companies, including both Apple, have tried funneling customers into specific high-end stores and met with limited success before changing directions and offering them more broadly. Still, we’ll see how it goes. I suspect by summer we’ll know whether the strategy is working for the company.

What’s in the box:

Not gonna lie, the Garmin MARQ officially takes the cake as the most beautiful box arrangement internally I’ve ever unboxed for a sports tech device. Though admittedly, the bar isn’t terribly high. Still, it’s impressive.

I’ve got all versions, though only the Aviator and Driver ones in fancy boxes. The others came in basically Ziploc baggies.

Since the boxes and contents aside from the watch itself are actually identical, I’m going to just unbox one of them for ya. Note that the $1,500 athlete does not include an extra strap, whereas the other editions do include a silicone strap, though you won’t see it in the specific unboxing below as the Driver demo unit I had appears to be missing it.

Anyways, the outer shell of the box is a black cardboard sleeve, but once you slide it away you’ll find a metal tin that contains the MARQ:

Open the lid and and the watch is sitting there looking at you.

On the side there’s a small box that includes some paper stuff, as well as a fancy warranty card. Not entirely sure why in 2019 for a fully connected watch you need a warranty card, but OK.

You can then pull out the inner tray of the box, under which you’ll find more goods:

There’s a card that gives a bit more detail about the specific version you have:

 

And finally, down below all that is one more box. That contains the charging cable as well as the secondary silicone strap. Again, in my case the demo box I had didn’t have the extra strap. But you can see the charging cable.

Of course, I’ll show you plenty more close-ups of the watches themselves throughout the post.

The Basics:

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This section is essentially a walk-through of the basics of the watch and how it works with Garmin Connect Mobile. If you’ve been around the Garmin watch block a few times, then honestly none of this will be super new. What will differ though is the user interface, which is updated on the watch compared to a Fenix 5. Not drastically different, but different nonetheless.

However, if you’re totally new to Garmin watches and reading this – then consider this section a bit of a primer.

First up is the watch face. Each of the MARQ watches have a unique watch face for that edition. Like almost all Garmin watches, these are customizable both with watch faces from the Connect IQ app store, but also just by tweaking virtually every bit of data you see on it.

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All of the watches have the same button layout, and this mirrors the Fenix series. The left up/down buttons iterate through the widgets. These include current weather (newly revamped widget), your last workout, training status, history, music, health stats, and plenty more. Here’s a small gallery of what it looks like on the Athlete edition. Note that virtually all of these widgets have had the UI (user interface) tweaked compared to the Fenix series:

The middle button on the left side accesses the settings controls area. This is both for individual sports/apps, but also watch settings. This too starts off similar to the Fenix 5 series, but then takes a tweak to the user interface down lower in the menu. The settings options here are all the same best I can tell, just simply re-arranged.

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Next, you’ve got the upper right button. If you tap this once this takes you to the sport mode selection. It’s also where you’ll choose to start apps that you’ve downloaded. Again, this is updated. There’s a continuously sliding view of the earth behind each sport/app. It’s a clean never-ending animation in real-life that adds a nice touch to things (I’ll try and create an animated GIF to show it).

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By selecting a sport or app it’ll go off and start connecting to the relevant sensors, as well as acquiring GPS. So for the Athlete edition that means connecting to sport sensors like speed/cadence/power sensors (and plenty more). Whereas for the Aviator edition that would be to flight management systems, and with the Marine unit that’d be to Garmin’s suite of control systems there.  If selecting an indoor sport (like Yoga), then it wouldn’t enable GPS.

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I dive into the sport modes specifically down a bit lower in the Athlete/Expedition unit details. So I’ll save all of that for there.  Meanwhile, for the Aviator/Driver/Captain units, I’ve tried to include as many photos above in the galleries in the earlier sections, to cover some of those features. But given I lack a boat/plane/race track, that’s a bit tricky.

In addition to having pressed that upper right button once, you can also long-hold it. Consider that the party-trick of each edition. For example on the Athlete edition if you long-hold the start/stop button it’ll bring you to a new training metrics page unique to the MARQ Athlete. Whereas on the Aviator edition it’ll bring you to the DIRECT-TO option for navigating to a given ident. On the Captain edition it pulls up the Regatta timer, and on Expedition it pulls up the heading lock on map screen. Essentially, for each edition it connects to the banner new feature not seen on other watches.

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Meanwhile, on the back of the unit you’ve got the optical HR sensor. This is what Garmin calls their 3rd generation ELEVATE sensor, though in reality there’s been many more minor editions in between. Still, this essentially takes the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus optical HR sensor and upgrades it yet again.

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Also on the back you’ll see the ability to utilize the QuickFit type straps that Garmin has. These lock onto the watch pretty securely, and are slightly updated with the MARQ series. All watches include a single strap on the watch itself in the box, but no secondary straps. If you want those, you’ll need to shell out a boatload of cash.

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Meanwhile, virtually everything you do with the watch is being synchronized to Garmin Connect via their smartphone app (Garmin Connect Mobile).  For example, that optical HR sensor is constantly monitoring your heart rate 24×7 with its little green LED. That’s uploaded alongside the more frequent SpO2 readings taken via the red LED on the back. That’s also uploaded and charted on Garmin Connect Mobile:

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In addition, all your daily activity stats like steps, stairs, distance walked, etc… is also present within the app as well as online on the website too:

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Newer metrics found on the more recent Garmin devices are also seen there too – like Body Battery, which aims to quantify the blend of sleep, stress, and activity together.

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The calendar app will show both manually started workouts, as well as automatically detected exercise. For example, my run yesterday was a manually started workout, whereas the numerous bike rides around town between office and home were automatically detected:

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Next, changing topics entirely, all watches have storage for music, as well as for connecting to streaming platforms. The music is downloaded via WiFi, and then played back via Bluetooth headphones.  In fact, the Spotify app is actually pre-loaded on the watch, a slight change from other editions where you have to download it. I’ve talked at length about Spotify on the Fenix 5 Plus series, and it’s identical here. So check out that post if you want more details.

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Similarly, Garmin Pay is also the same here as well. That allows you to load your credit or debit card in from various banks and then use contactless payments. So I added that in too, no issues.

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Finally – one last thing to briefly touch on is notifications. All watches will display smartphone notifications from both iOS and Android. You can control these via the notification centers on both platforms. The notifications are simplistic, and not on the same level as the Apple Watch in terms of things like pictures or such (but emoji do show up):

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Ok, with that I think we’ve covered all the basics. When in doubt, refer to my Fenix 5 Plus In-Depth Review, since all the details there carry-over to here as well.  Unless noted otherwise in the differences section above, the overriding answer is ‘Yes, it’s the same’.

Athlete & Expedition Edition Details:

For this post I’m heavily focusing on the Athlete and Expedition variants. The reason? It’s my dish. While I’m a bit of an aviation nut, I don’t have my pilot’s license completed – nor my own plane or helicopter to have fun with this stuff. Same goes for boating and driving. I wish I had a fancy sports car, a boat, and plane. But y’all need to hit the refresh button or Amazon links way more times to make that happen.

Unfortunately, I was in Africa and missed the Garmin MARQ media launch event in Barcelona, where I understood the journalists got to have the Aviator watch fly a helicopter for them, the Captain edition control a legit yacht, and the Driver edition…well…go around a track and capture splits. Figures the one cool media launch event Garmin has ever held (ok, they’ve only held one other launch, years ago for the initial Vector debut), and I managed to miss it. You can however read about parts of it here in French. Or just look at the swanky pictures.

So again, this section is mostly focused on Athlete/Expedition editions, and within that, the fitness/sports side of the house.

Where we left off above was on the sports side. With the basics covered, there’s some interesting nuance to the bezels on all editions, but I’m going to focus on the Athlete first. If you look carefully you’ll see there are two sets of numbers along the top half and bottom half. The top-half is displaying your current VO2Max value. Whereas the bottom half is displaying your recovery hours.

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So looking at the above, you’ll see the little yellow arrow on the recovery hours has me at 0 hours apparently, whereas VO2Max has me at 53. Interestingly, this still doesn’t seem to do a good job of Physio True-Up, whereby it’s supposed to combine VO2Max values from different Garmin devices together properly. But that’s a different problem for a different day. Ignoring that bug, I actually really like the recovery hours at a glance idea, it’s smart.

Speaking of unique things, if you hold that upper right start/stop button for a few seconds, it’ll bring open the new physiological metrics dashboard. This is new to MARQ and is supposed to blend both your race prediction times and training load metrics into one cohesive chart. Sorta vaguely like what Polar is doing on their Vantage series (very vaguely).

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That said, I think something is amiss currently on the race prediction algorithm on this unit. For example, it predicts a 10KM time of 45:19, which seems to be silly-simple math of my most recent 10KM training run time prorated for the last half a mile. Given that was an interval run with walking/recovery breaks included in that time, that’s a wonky way of looking at things. Again, I’ve had good luck with every other Garmin device in the last 5 years on race prediction and the algorithm being roughly correct/inline, so I think this may just be a small bug here. Realistically it should be giving me 10KM times in the 38-39 minute range right now.

Additionally, within the widgets page you’ll see revamped pages showing training load over the past 7 days and 4 weeks:

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Both of which when clicked on will give you a little text descriptor of whether your training load is helpful or not. Again, very much on the same wavelength with what Polar is doing on giving prescriptive guidance for training load with their Vantage V.

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As for an actual workout, almost everything is identical here compared to a Fenix 5 Plus series watch. As noted earlier, we’ll go in and select a sport to do. For this example, I’ll use running:

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At the same time it finds GPS it’ll find any extra sensors you’ve got, including heart rate straps. The reduced GPS satellite UI is slightly tweaked here in terms of the GPS signal graph. I’m not sure it’s as obvious as the complete circle around the bezel, but it gets the job done once you understand it.

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From here you can also select any courses you want to follow or structured workouts you may have downloaded or created. After which, you’ll press start to get going. At this point it’ll be recording your run (or other workout) and displaying the metrics.

All of this works just fine as expected. No real tangible change here from the Fenix 5 Plus series. Once done, you can end your run. This is where you’ll see another change in the user interface. Gone is the dumbed down summary status, and now you’ll find a much cleaner overview. The first page gives you a little drawing of your run:

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While down below you’ll find categories you can dive into for more details. These include all stats, training effect, heart rate, laps, and more.

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In fact, if you hover over a given category it’ll rotate the text back and forth over the average. For example, scroll down to heart rate but do not tap enter, and it’ll iterate back and forth and show your average HR. Elevation plot shows total elevation gain for example.

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Afterwards, it’ll sync your workouts over to Garmin Connect via either Bluetooth Smart or WiFi (or, USB cable if you want), and then onwards to any 3rd party services you may have connected, like Strava. Again, basically the norm for Garmin watches made in the last few years.

So, let’s shift gears briefly over to the Expedition edition watch. That’s the one with the fancy Italian Vacchetta Leather band.

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As you might remember, its party trick is doing multi-day expedition activities on a reduced charge. In this mode the unit will turn off all sensors and accessories, including the optical HR sensor and phone connectivity. In return, it’ll get a month’s worth of battery life and take GPS plots every hour. It details this in a quick three-step program:

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Once that’s setup, off you go, with occasional GPS plots. Now I haven’t had the chance to dig into this for more than a few hours. But it’s potentially something super interesting.  Of course, this is likely one of those features that’s heavily tied to the new Sony GPS chipset. At least that’s my guess, as Suunto hinted at these types of things with the same chipset.

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The other party trick on the Expedition is the new map-locking compass. This is a bit of a multi-part app that you access via long-hold of the start/stop button. Once you’ve set a specific heading it’ll show you deviation from that heading using a ride line around the bezel that grows. You can unlock/lock the set heading at any point in time.

With that, I’ve covered basically all of the unique bits on the new Athlete and Expedition editions. So let’s take a deeper dive into some accuracy portions.

Initial Workout Accuracy:

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Normally in a full review I’d breakout elevation, GPS, and heart rate accuracy into standalone sections. But this isn’t a review. It’s like a review that’s not done yet. It’s still cooking, because the firmware is still cooking. As such, I wouldn’t assume anything in this section is final. Things may get better, they may get worse.  In fact, things got better between a run on Sunday night and a run yesterday afternoon, based on Garmin doing some digging into my Sunday run. Inversely, I had a reasonably good run last week in NYC before things were less ideal on Sunday. So it goes both ways. Again, it’s still beta.

So I’m not going to go super-deep on each chart like I would on a normal review. There’s links if you want to dig in deeper though.

Getting elevation out of the way quickly, I haven’t been anywhere of altitude interest in the last two weeks. Last week in NYC I was simply along the waterfront at sea level. And here in Amsterdam I’m also at (or below) sea level. Still, I’ve got mountains coming shortly, possibly this weekend into the Alps. Or at worst in two weeks into some other big mountains. So plenty of time to test that.

What I can focus on for now is heart rate accuracy and GPS accuracy, both of which are changed in the MARQ series. The units got a new optical HR sensor that ultimately aims to produce more accurate results. However, at first glance I’m not sure that’s the case. Looking at the pile of workouts I have so far, the general trend is that it’s fine for steady-state, but seems to be struggling more than I’ve seen for the Fenix 5 Plus series at interval workouts. For example, this workout yesterday with some intervals showing the ups and downs and the MARQ Athlete bobbling some of the intervals momentarily, but not horribly (the green line is the Fitbit that totally missed the boat, the purple line is the MARQ):

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My Sunday interval workout was similar, it had a few stumbles on some portions of the intervals, but wasn’t exactly horrid either.

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However, my NYC run was fine, but it was also mostly steady-state:

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An outdoor ride I did was OK in the middle at steady-state, but a mess outside that (the blue line is MARQ) when I was in the city and reversing sections with stop and go bits. Though, this is pretty much the norm for Garmin’s optical HR sensors on watches while riding, in my experience.

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So my interim assessment on optical HR accuracy of MARQ is ‘work in progress’. I’d say I was getting better performance out of the Fenix 5 Plus series, but most of my time there was in warmer weather. No doubt the chillier weather of both NYC last week and Amsterdam this week is impacting accuracy (as it does for all optical HR sensors in cold weather). As I’ve often joked, those who release fitness watches in winter get the short end of the stick with HR accuracy testing.

So switching over GPS accuracy testing, things are evolving quickly. I’ve had multiple firmware versions in just the last week alone.  So for example, last Tuesday in NYC I went out for a run along the waterfront and the GPS was mostly OK. Not fantastic, but on-par with the Garmin FR935 and Apple Watch. They all struggled in one particular spot up against a warehouse, but otherwise I’d say were acceptable for most purposes.

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Upon returning back to Amsterdam I got in a ride, and things looked great there too (you can click on that set name and then zoom in/out as you see fit):

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However, two days later I went out for an interval run around Vondelpark and got exceedingly poor GPS+GALILEO performance initially, as seen below:

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Garmin dug into it a bit and believes it was the combination of having updated the firmware mere seconds before I started the run (literally, I was standing outside waiting for it to finish), and thus it not having time to do a GPS ‘soak’. Additionally, they recommend for this route to go to GPS+GLONASS instead of GPS+GALILEO.

So I did that for my run yesterday, and things seemed far better. Only one minor blip near a tall building – but all watches on me during that run did some odd stuff near that building:

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So at the moment, the jury is out. As I noted earlier, Garmin’s made a massive gamble with going with the Sony GPS chipset. I don’t know exactly which of the two Sony available chipsets they’ve selected, but given only one supports Galileo (which Garmin offers), it’s likely the CXD5603GF. Unless of course Garmin is leveraging some unannounced chipset from Sony. Likewise, we don’t know exactly which GPS chipset Suunto and Polar are using, though neither offer GPS+GALILEO. Whereas COROS does offer GPS+GALILEO, and The5KRunner confirmed with COROS that they are using the CXD5603GF for their APEX units.

Ultimately, all these companies have confirmed in private the reason to switch is simple: Battery life, and only battery life

It’s a dramatic difference. For example, it’s presumed the Fenix 5 Plus series uses the MediaTek MT3333 chipset, which has a battery draw of 5-19mA depending on the mode. Compare that with Sony’s chipset at 6mA. That, in turn, allows Garmin to put a smaller battery in the unit and retain similar battery life. Alternatively, maintain the size of the watch and increase battery life.

We’ve seen Suunto and Polar really struggle with these chipsets, even through to this month. Whether Garmin is using precisely the same chipset as these two, we don’t know. But as I noted early on, Garmin did acknowledge there are areas that are still being worked on here. And anytime Garmin makes a GPS chipset change, it’s never for just one unit. It’d undoubtedly be the chipset they move to for future products across all price points.

Of course – now that I just finished writing 4 paragraphs on GPS chipsets, I do need to be clear that GPS chipsets are just one part of the equation. And frankly, not as important as antenna design. GPS watches live and die based on good or bad antenna design. Many people will chalk up poor GPS inaccuracy to a specific GPS chipset, when 9 out of 10 times, it’s just due to crappy antenna design. Garmin did note in their discussions with me that they spent a significant amount of time specifically on antenna design in MARQ and trying to really nail it. Again, we’ll see how that shakes out over time.

On the bright side here – owners of Polar, Suunto, and COROS products will likely benefit from this change. The reality is that Garmin sells millions more units annually than those companies combined. As such, they can place enormous pressure on Sony’s GPS chipset division for changes, which likely would be made available to all these companies. And hopefully, that results in better accuracy for everyone.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Wrap Up:

DSC_7716

When Garmin first introduced their $1,500 Chronos watches a few years back, the reaction from myself and others was ‘Why would you waste that much money on a device that’s going to be technologically out of date in 3-4 years?’  And when it comes to watches itself, my view there is largely the same.  But over the last few weeks I got to thinking about other products in the same price point that I use just as much as a watch but also have a limited lifespan. For example, my DSLR camera is in that ballpark, and realistically after 3-4 years I’ll have moved onto something else. Technology-wise, it’s no longer keeping up with the Joneses.  And with mainstream cell phones being introduced at $2,000, those too would rarely be kept beyond 3-4 years.

Which isn’t to say that one needs to buy a $2,500 watch – hardly so. But instead, that perhaps I’ve just been looking at it the wrong way.  With Garmin trying to get into the luxury watch realm, the normal response thinking is that the people buying those watches are doing so to last 50 years and hand down to their children. But I think in actuality the twist here isn’t to get a classical timepiece that outlasts your home. Rather, it’s to get a high-end watch that fills a specific need for a limited duration. It’s a luxury item, but just not in the same way as the other brands in the category. It’s more utilitarian than artistic.

Of course – the bigger question is will Garmin succeed here? Certainly, they know what’s worked for them with the Chronos lineup, and this appears to be them going all-in on it, across every business unit within Garmin. But I’m also hesitant that Garmin really understands how to sell to customers in this category, including the dealers. A Garmin watch is very different than a TAG, Breitling, or Rolex. Even with those companies selling connected watches, they have but 1% of the features to understand compared to the Garmin MARQ. That’s a big leap for traditional high-end watch dealers, the only location Garmin will sell the MARQ series.

Still, it’s an interesting play. And for the rest of us, I hope/expect we’ll see some of these added software features trickle down into the offerings at prices the remainder can afford (or, want to afford).

With that – thanks for reading!

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291 Comments

  1. Not convinced these will do well. Apple tried it and ditched the luxury line of watches, not to mention TAG’s effort at a smartwatch.

    I do get the point about tech is moving on so fast and people drop 1k on a phone, but most do that over a contract and not an upfront investment.

    I also like you don’t think Garmin get the high-end watch Market. People pay for a Breitling (as I did) for the design and craftsmanship. A high-end watch like a Tag or Breitling will also hold its value or in some cases increase, but I can’t see a Garmin doing that.

    • Digital Fury

      Wouldn’t call the Apple Watch and a TAG luxury products. They are still mass market.

    • Didnt suggest that Apple was a luxury line, My point was that Apple had tried the “Luxury” line of watch and it didn’t work.

      However, 17k for the Gold version of the Apple watch is not mass market and entered the luxury range just with the price.

    • ANTONIO

      I like the silicone band of the Athlete one. You think will be possible to fit on my F5 Plus?

    • joedidder

      Comparing Apple Watch’s to Garmin Watch’s is laughable.

    • You either didn’t read my comment or you are missing the point. I am not comparing Garmin with Apple Watch in terms of features. I am saying that Apple tried the luxury watch thing and it didn’t work.

  2. simon

    oh good – yet another different type of garmin charging cable !

  3. Michael

    What are the price points going to be for each watch style?

  4. Greg

    Jumped the shark, Why can’t they focus on the stuff and price points people actually buy?

    Like come out with a fenix watch with a better screen and LTE? Or fix the current issues. Or make a half way decent app

    I refuse to understand who buys a 2k watch when it’s not mechanical and can keep its value. Like all e watches, these decline in value as the tech gets old.

    The cheapest and fitness model is also the ugliest. The others ones look nice

    Argh Garmin

    • “I refuse to understand who buys a 2k watch when it’s not mechanical and can keep its value. Like all e watches, these decline in value as the tech gets old.”

      I discuss this in the wrap-up section.

      I think we (or at least I), have been thinking about it the wrong way. These aren’t aimed at someone that wants a mechanical watch they’ll keep for decades. These are aimed at someone who wants a fine watch that’s super functional. The same type of person who would buy a new $2,000-$3,000 camera every 3-4 years, just cause.

    • Paul S.

      Personally I can’t understand why anyone would want a mechanical watch, let alone one that cost $2000. You can buy something that keeps better time for low cost at Walmart.

      As for these, I can buy a Fenix that’ll do everything that these will do for what, half the price?

    • Reginald Brown

      Yes, this. The Aviator, Driver, and Captain make a ton of sense to me. Garmin can afford to make a small volume, since they own manufacturing. That’s not something that is the case for Apple or TAG.

      The Driver is for a Ferrari owner on track days, the Aviator for someone that owns their own plane, and the Captain for someone that owns a yacht. These are not high prices to those people. A lot of people commenting on this (myself included) have no frame of reference for the purchase of these, because they’re not meant for us. They’re meant to give a few features that individuals that have so much money that this is a small purchase to them would want. A Fenix 5 Plus or a Forerunner 935 actually costs more to me than what these will cost to the market Garmin is aiming at, because they represent more hours of my work to earn. The average Ferrari owner might make enough in minutes (or less) to buy a Driver, where it might take me a week to earn the Fenix 5 Plus that I actually own. So who’s actually spending relatively more money?

      This concept is something that some people refuse to understand.

      With regard to the switch to the Sony chipsets, again, it makes sense to me to make these the test bed. Your average Forerunner 645/935 owner might care WAY more than your average ultra-runner about current pace, and be willing to sacrifice some battery life to get that. That user is also never going to own one of these. But there is definitely a market for the better battery life, and if they can sort the accuracy issues on these (or work with Sony to come up with a new chipset that improves performance based on the partnership forged right here), then they can put them in to the 655 and 945 and get both better battery life and high accuracy. Or they will find they can’t, and stick to MediTek to supply the chipsets for those.

    • Reginald Brown

      BTW, my “this” comment was in response to Ray.

    • Dave Lusty

      Erm, I’m looking at at new Bianchi that costs £10,500. How is that different to this? I can get THE SAME BIKE for £6500 with Ultegra instead of Dura Ace. I can get an almost identical bike for £4000 with slightly different carbon weave.
      I also could have bought the Fenix 5 Plus without the ti metal band for half the cost.

      I like pretty things. Sorry if that offends people, but I work hard for my money so I’ll choose whether a £2k watch is expensive to me or not. That blue weave strap is very nice but that IS crazy money in my eyes. I need to level up on this whole wealth thing!

    • Mike S.

      Maybe Garmin’s real motive is to drive people to the Fenix series. This is probably their real cash cow.

    • Tom

      just simple: if you bought a rolex submariner steel in 1990 you paid about 1.600$. if you sell now after using it for 30 years you get about 7.000$ for the used watch.

    • Paul S

      And if you had invested that $1600 in the stock market 30 years ago, what would you have?

    • Tom

      dow jones about the same – but without having a nice watch on your wrist over 30 years.

    • Paul S

      So essentially no appreciation or depreciation. And now you have an antique that’s no longer really fit for purpose, since everyone carries slabs or wears slabs synced to atomic clocks these days. Same with my childhood comics (I started with Spider-Man 14), which I still have. Once they might have had some value; nowadays you can read them all online for not much. Some people may want the physical thing, but the stories are available cheaply on demand. Personally I’d rather have the story. Or the Apple Watch. Mechanical watches are historical curiosities.

    • Tom

      true! and now one can sell his submariner and buy 4 garmin marq over the next 20 years.
      so 50 years of having a nice watch did cost just 32$ a year 🙂

      the apple watch looks like a girls watch and recharging every single day is just a joke.

    • Paul S.

      Personally I don’t care what it looks like, I care what it does, which is nothing short of amazing. As for charging, it goes on the stand at night when I’m asleep. It’s not a problem.

    • Greg

      But my phone or camera has sooo much more function for the price. The price reflects the complex, cutting edge tech involved while this a just a money grab as the tech is no different than the 700$ fenix watch

    • Reid S

      Speaking as someone who used to own and race a 35 ft ‘yacht’ (a j105, later downsized to a viper 640), the price of that Captain watch could actually buy a decent used boat in the 25 ft range to do some club racing.

      In my experience, the majority of amateur sailors operate on a shoestring budget not much higher than what a serious amateur in any other sport operate on. Pros are bankrolled just like everywhere else.

    • I can buy a 25ft sailboat for $1,800?

    • Dave Lusty

      Yes you can. My 20′ yacht was £1200 8 years ago and now worth about the same. With boats it’s the cost of maintenance and berthing, not the purchase price. It’s often said that owning a yacht is like standing in a cold shower ripping up £50 notes 🙂

    • okrunner

      Reginald is right, you have to understand this market. And, don’t discount Garmin selling these in a high end watch store. I know lots of pilots that yearn for a Brietling and will save until they get one. Maybe having the Garmin Aviator next to it in store will get them to consider it. Crazy as it seems, I have a high end TAG that I rarely wear as I wear my now old 3HR all the time. Had I had the option in that same TAG store, maybe I’d bought a Garmin Athlete and stuck with one watch despite the fact that I had always wanted a high end mechanical watch. Garmin won’t sell a ton of these but there are lots of folks who think nothing of dropping $2,000 on watch. Further, as an attorney, I chuckle at the number of friends who just have to have a Rolex. They drive a beat up BMW worth $5,000 but have to have a $10,000 Rolex, because they’re an attorney, you know. All this not to mention the number of penniless people I see sporting a $1,500 to $2,500 Macbook (along with their $1,200 iphone) when a $400 computer from Walmart will do all they will ever really need. Garmin is taking a cue from Apple and testing the waters. I don’t blame them. I like to think I’m older and wiser but I’ve purchased my share of expensive crap “just because.” Maybe I can sell my TAG and a Mont Blanc or two and trade for a Garmin. Garmin sucks! lol

    • Neil Jones

      People are fixating on the top $2500 price. Take a look at the Athlete which comes in at $1500 and feature-wise is going to be the best match for most people on here. That’s twice the price of the Fenix 5+ when it was launched. I’m sure there’s plenty of people who’ve updated their fenixs every year; buy a Marq Athlete, skip a year and you’ve cut even (like phones, the annual changes seem to be becoming more incremental these days). Making the comparison to mechanical watches bought as an investment isn’t the way to go, they’re apples and pears. One’s a device to primarily tell the time for many years, the other’s a fitness/activity tracker that also happens to tell the time, in the same way a similarly priced premium phone that many people will replace every year also has the ability to tell the time. Of course Garmin’s clearly after a bit of that premium pie, but no one’s reason for buying a Marq is going to be the same as their reason for buying an Omega/IWC/Rolex etc.

    • Mitch Cordill

      I agree with Dave. While I am not 100% convinced Garmin will succeed with these, I am interested in the Athlete version. Lots of people spend $1500 a year to go to a gym. It just so happens that I get to wear mine on my wrist.

  5. Rob

    Can you say that the Athlete Edition is the Fenix 6 (Fenix 5 Plus replacement/update)?

  6. MJ

    Well you will have 5 years of Warranty in Norway….

  7. David

    The scary thing about these new watches, considering the effort clearly behind the launch etc., is they are likely representive of the next 24 months at least of Garmin fitness watch design. The next version of the Felix and Forerunner will likely maintain the same dull screens, same unintuitive UI etc. simply packing ever more “features” into the watches that few will truly use. I honestly believed a big change was coming from Garmin but a even worse GPS chipset wasn’t it. In the meanwhile alternatives like the Apple Watch will be gaining battery life and enough serious features to continue winning away all but the most diehard athletes.

    • J. E.

      As a running, swimming, cycling focused athlete, I actuall see it a bit differently. I think garmin has one of the best interfaces on the market. But that is only the case if you navigate the watch using buttons which is what it was developed for. Of course, touch screens or digital crowns / bezels are really nice and would totally trump buttons but all of them are just not really usable while running – ever tried to do anything on an Apple Watch with trembling sweaty fingers after a hard Intervall? I hope garmin will keep their button based interface at least on the running / triathlon focused watches. But I can totally see how the interface can be frustrating during more casual use.

      Similar argument with the display. Yes it is dull and has low resolution. But it is unbeatable in sunny conditions. This is due to using transreflective displays which unfortunately have lower contrast and less brilliant colors. It is currently just not possible to crate a watch with a “nice” apple watch like screen that can go for more than a week on a single battery charge (including workouts). Again this is more interesting for sports which is what the forerunner line is geared towards and I can totally see how everyday users might prefer a nicer screen.

    • gin

      Agree with J.E.
      However, I do wish that data screens could be configured on the app!

    • J. E.

      Oh, yes definitely. Actually having the option to do both, would be best.

    • Mike S.

      Apple Watch is not going to be gaining any *significantly* better battery life in future versions. They can only tweak things to try and get a few more hours out of it.

  8. gingerneil

    Nice wrap up photo – BUT THE FIRST WATCH ISN’T LINED UP STRAIGHT! Please retake this so I can sleep tonight.

    • It’s actually debateable whether the 1st or 2nd watch is out of line. Maybe both. I agree, it’s unacceptable.

      (Funny tidbit: Below the first watch you’ll find a small CO2 bottle holder bracket and a thru-axle spacer adapter. To ensure it matched heights of the other watches.)

    • gingerneil

      Arrrghhh! Damn you – I hadnt noticed the second one ! 🙁

  9. Interesting that the Driver is the most expensive variant. I wonder, will they be publishing a list of try tracks they are supporting?

    I wonder as well if it will work for autocross or similar where the course varies from the “official circuit”

    Sold my track toy this fall.. but I could see this being very very popular with the local driving clubs.

  10. Chuck

    As others have said, if I’m spending this much on a watch, it’s going to be a quality timepiece that I can keep for years. For sport/smart watches, however, I’ll spend the least I can to get the features I want with acceptable quality/looks. There’s no way that I’d sink $2500 into one of these when the battery/technology will fade soon enough (and I’m not sold on Garmin’s long-term reliability anyway). Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

  11. quest

    Is there any news about Fenix 6? Is it make sense to wait for it this year or better to buy the Fenix 5x Plus version? What is your oppinion?

  12. Stefanos

    So which one is the thinnest and how thin is it?

  13. René

    Do you think any of these grates will come to the F5 Plus, like Body battery?

  14. Dembo

    I like the battery replacement option – is there such an option for the Fenix 5 Plus series? Would be nice for us IM distance athletes who need every ounce of power we can get for the long day.

  15. BartMan

    Looking at screenshot it seems there are some minor changes to interface as we know it on Fenix 5 line (6.0) – am I right? Sidenote: pretty long time since Garmin released last stable FW for Fenix 5 Plus, recent betas were just minor fixes. Maybe we will get some MARQ interface look&feel in FW 7.0.

  16. minimaLL

    How likely is it that the new metrics/unannounced fitness-features (firstbeat technology)part of the MARQ Athlete edition will be implemented to lower garmin watches by software updates?
    It seems unfair to me that a dedicated sport/triatlon watch (FR935) got less training data than a luxury item, despite the considerable extra price gap..

  17. Taff Tanner

    Do they come in their own lockable safe? As for that kind of money I would hope so…..

  18. tuto

    So it is, new Garmin’s overpriced beta cycle just begun. :-))))

  19. Henrik Christensen

    If I but one in the US and get US maps – can I change to Europe maps later? Any other issues US vs EU? Watch-wise that is 🙂

  20. Digital Fury

    While I refuse to give one more cent to Garmin because they keep delivering buggy and hardware defective products, at least these are interesting.Clearly some Rolex inspiration in them. I would say I’m part of the intended market segment – i.e. luxury watch that is also a smart device. The Apple Watch is not really a luxury product, Swiss companies and other such as Montblanc (German) have released weak products up to now. Will have to see them in real life to judge the quality of the material and fabrication.

  21. mbirth

    What I don’t get: Why make watches at this price point that are basically the same but each has very specific features? In their current lineup, the D2 Delta was the top of the line. It has all features of all other watches combined. (Apart from the diving features of the Mk1.) One step below, there’s the Fenix 5 Plus series which is everything but the aviation and diving features.

    Now they’ve come up with 5 expensive watches that each have distinguished features. But did they never consider that there might be people doing multiple things? If you are a pilot that does lots of sailing you now have to choose between the Aviator or the Captain. If you are hiking but also doing marathons, it’s between the Athlete and the Expedition. If you are an aviation geek, throw in the Aviator to that mix. But whatever you choose, you’ll always miss out on some features that would be useful to you. Or do they really expect people to shell out $4k for two watches?

    It’s just beyond me why they didn’t make a firmware that has it all and where you can switch between the different modes/feature sets.

  22. Oscar

    For a watch that is this expensive the graphics look really bad. Compare the amount of polish Apple puts in how you see things in the watch and then the UIs that Gramin uses

    • The key difference is that the Apple Watch’s battery lasts roughly 1-2 days, and has an always-off screen.

      This comes in at a few weeks (up to a month), and has always on. Different things for different folks.

  23. RTellis

    It’s be nice if those smaller strap lugs would make it to the next generation Fenix. It’d make the current F5+ work better for me, and make the F5S+ less ungainly looking.

  24. neoraptor

    Do you have additional information about the GPS refresh rate for the driver model?
    Because the classic 1Hz will not be enough to have accurate timing and trace when driving at 250-300kph.

    • Funny enough had that conversation just two nights ago with them after I noticed a line item in some software update release notes discussing it.

      Essentially they’re doing higher sub-second resolution for the on-device bits (such as what you’ll see in real-life on the watch), but the actual recording is limited to 1-second still. It’s a bit fuzzy to me still, but that’s what I got.

  25. Are you able to show what the ski maps look like or do you need to be in a resort? Quite an interesting, if rather niche idea given most punters ski 1 or 2 weeks a year, unless you are an instructor or seasonnaire!

    • Based on my button pushing, I’m not seeing anyway to pull up ski resort maps without being on said ski resort (GPS is leveraged).

      That said, I might be going skiing this weekend, so we’ll see.

  26. DCR, I am pleasantly surprised to find out that you are an aviation geek as well. I am a pilot and i have been using the D2 series watches since D2 Bravo. I currently own a D2 Delta. The features that you have listed (Direct-to, NEXRAD, airport/navaid databases) have been a part of the D2 series since D2 Charlie. The Direct-to and airport database features were there since the beginning (D2). I am very curious to find the key differences between this watch and the previous version. Thanks for the reviews.

    • Hi Krish-

      The ones that are unique to this unit are ones I put in the little bulleted section:

      – GMT Time Zone Watch Face with bezel (Displaying current time, GMT time + 2 additional time zones)
      – Direct-to Emergency navigation via single button press (long hold Start/Stop button)
      – Preloaded aviation maps & airport database

      As you noted, the other features have been there previously. The lsat one that was questionable to me not having a D2 was the full map + aviation bits. Did the D2 Charlie have full local resolution maps as well? I’ll tweak if so. They sent me a list of things that were unique, and I removed a few that I didn’t actually think were unique to this edition, but the nuance of the overlays of airport data atop fullres local maps was questionable.

      Fwiw, the NEXRAD data here looks higher res than I can find photos of for the D2D, but perhaps that’s just poor online sites.

    • mbirth

      The D2 Delta 4.50 firmware already has all those features. So while they’re added compared to the other MARQ models, they’re not “new”.

    • Krish

      Like mbirth said, all of the features already exist.

    • Cool, good to know – I’ll update the section. I was trying to compare versions from Garmin’s site, but hadn’t thought to look at them sliding the new features into the firmware of the D2. Good call!

    • Tim Collins

      As a professional airline pilot (A346/A330) who has used Garmin watches for some years, I can firmly state they don’t work in the kind of aeroplanes I fly. Whatever features they may attempt to offer, if the GPS can’t get a signal (and it has no chance in an airliner flight deck), the watch is junk. Pretty junk, in this case, but junk nonetheless. If it gets to the point where they can datalink the watch to the aircraft’s navkit, it’ll still be junk as the interface is so much less usable than the big units in the console. It may work in a light aircraft, but your wrist is not an ideal mount for any kind of data display, particularly if you need to release the stick to interact with that display.

    • To be fair, your plane isn’t designed to work with it though – and I’m glad for it. Honestly, if there’s anything we know about commercial aviation – the last thing we want is a random captain deciding to connect his random watch and start dorking with it.

      The main point of the Aviator is for more general aviation that have Garmin avionics gear setup in it to use with it. That’s what the D2 series does today. It doesn’t sound like you’re as familiar with how that works, but what you described above is essentially how it’s leveraged – as a datalink for a bunch of ancillary tasks. Is it absolutely needed? Of course not.

    • Tim Collins

      Well, I’m not someone who’s in the habit of dorking with anything, especially not in the flight deck! You’re right, I’m not familiar with the D2 or how it interfaces with Garmin’s light aircraft equipment, but my point was mainly that a watch is not the right kind of display device to interface with any part of an aircraft’s equipment, and I really don’t see why Garmin has gone down that route – unless it’s to appeal to people who’ll never actually try and use it in that environment (and I don’t underestimate the size of that potential market!). If you have anything that the watch can interface with on your aircraft, you already have a far better display available to you. If you don’t, the watch isn’t going to be able to tell you very much in a way that you can exploit. I just don’t get it, I guess!

      The other varieties I can see much more use for – indeed, I could quite see myself dropping the cash on the Driver version!

    • I suspect some of the people in the comments section here could give insight on why thought bought the existing versions. I think Garmin is onto the 3rd or 4th edition now – so it must be fitting the needs of some market if they keep updating it.

    • Tim Collins

      Well, many of my colleagues run Breitlings with so-called aviation features that they never, ever use! It’s the old pilot thing about big watches. It’s a possession to be shown off, not a tool. I’m sure that’ll be the case with many of the buyers of these devices. However, as I say, the Driver does interest me as someone who does occasional track days – my Porsche doesn’t run Sport Plus with its circuit database! But I can’t pretend that it would be anything but a vanity purchase.

  27. Mitsu

    “The next version of the Felix and Forerunner will likely maintain the same dull screens”

    Tradeoffs.

    If you want a vibrant always off OLED screen and don’t mind charging daily or every 3-4 days, there are plenty of options. Especially if you aren’t an athlete.

    If you want an always on screen and would rather charge every 2-3 weeks, Garmin offers you the best tool.

  28. Volker

    Change of gps chipset only for battery reasons? I was hoping for better GPS accuracy due to L5 signal evaluation.

    The price is…very getting used to

  29. Cyrille

    Just received my Fenix 5 Plus shop on Garmin website : came in this new beutiful box.

  30. Steve

    Deer Garmin- How can you release a new, high-end watch at this price point and not include LTE? I’m still rocking my 735XT and see no reason to upgrade to anything until I have real mobile connectivity on my wrist(to keep my wife happy) while out on a long run without my phone. I’d have considered splurging for the Athlete Edition (because I like toys) if it had it.

    Also, are the internals different for the various editions? As a fellow avgeek who has started/stopped on the PPL multiple times, if I got the aviation edition (v2 with lte next year…) will it do everything the athlete edition will do including connecting to external sensors?

    • Getting LTE into a device is a mess. Not so much technically, but because of carriers.

      Garmin spend years trying to get what became the Vivoactive 3 Music LTE out the door. And now that it’s out the door, it’s the ugly stepchild. It’s tied to a single carrier in a single country. And has tons of wonky limitations, some driven by Apple no less.

      The reason Apple (and to a slightly lesser degree other handset makers) can make it work is that Apple basically looks at the carriers and says: Do as I say, or you don’t get the iPhone. And donezo.

      But even that’s still messy. For example – I buy an Apple Watch LTE in the US, and it won’t work when I travel to Europe (cellular won’t). Inverse is true too. And if you live where I do in the Netherlands? You can’t even buy a Apple Watch cellular edition here.

      Don’t get me wrong – I’ve long argued for LTE on the wrist, but actually getting to that point is proving really difficult.

      As for internals the same – sorta. They’re the same as far as we know. So the Aviator will have almost everything the Athlete does for things like sensors and such. I’d need to double-check if it has the extended FirstBeat stuff or not.

  31. José

    I understand Garmin trying to sell a premium product at a higher price point, but given Garmin’s track record (Vector 3, etc.), I don’t think they can demand a premium. I’d be really upset to spend so much on a watch and then spend months/years trying to get it to work. Even just the chance it’ll be like their recent products drives me away from a premium price point. I’m sure Garmin must think this will work, but I also don’t feel like Garmin appreciates/understands the negative customer experience folks have had.

    • Digital Fury

      While I agree, I think it will depend on how many potential customers for these are new to the brand. Having been burned by the Fenix 5 and Vector 3 debacle, with no recall or refund from Garmin, my general stance towards them is that they can go f themselves. I’m buying from their competitors.

    • José

      I think even Garmin loyalists will take a pause. Isn’t Garmin generally known for having a lot of features, but being buggy? Is that something that folks will accept at such a higher price point?

      I also think these will sell more to customers in the existing Garmin ecosystem. I don’t think many folks interested in a smart watch would want anything other than an Apple Watch, unless they aren’t part of the Apple ecosystem. If you aren’t using Apple, then maybe this would be the best smart/fitness watch? For a fitness watch, I can see folks spending $1500. The question is how these compare to other fitness watch options. Are there enough extra features in comparison to make it worth it? Besides price, what are the negatives/compromises? I think Garmin’s recent history and issues with Vectors and Fenix watches will work against them. Are folks willing to pay $1500 to be beta testers again?

  32. Brian

    I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford a Garmin ever again…

  33. fl33tStA

    small question: Bluetooth 4 or 5? 😇

  34. Freek

    Thanks for great review! I really like the VO2max and recovery time indicators and the “long push” screen on the Athlete.
    Couple of questions though
    – any sign of native support for running power meters? Especially with optical HR not being perfect yet (impacting the Firstbeat metric accuracy) and the GPS-pace not being stable either, my experience is that Stryd at least is very consistent run to run, and power zones make more sense than HR zones.
    – the new GPS chipset May have another advantage – in cold weather my watch switches off at 40% battery with GPS on, that might be massively improved with lower battery use GPS chipset?
    – will some of the firstbeat algorithm improvements make it to older watches?

    Freek

  35. Miquel

    Do you think they are a preview of the Fenix 6? If so, when do you expect Garmin will announce the Fenix 6 lineup?

  36. Volker

    I don´t understand, why Garmin decided to test a new GPS chip set on such a high priced model. Such a beta test is better done on a model for the mass market.

    Will the buyers of that high priced model like to be testers for the new GPS chip? I don`t think so…

  37. Rob Montgomery

    Not too often a new Garmin is announced and I have ZERO urge to buy it, haha.

  38. Dave Lusty

    Any thoughts on that crazy new “altimeter” setup? Looks like a removable plate and a drain hole on the bottom. Anything else under those holes such as a depth gauge?

  39. Neil Jones

    Sorry if I missed it, but when are Garmin looking at releasing these things?

    • Dave Lusty

      You have to click through a few times to get to the actual product page (Garmin website hopeless as always!) but they are there now and available Q1, so nowish depending on region. link to buy.garmin.com

    • Neil Jones

      Q1 makes it sound that they’re confident that they can iron out the glitches and have a relatively stable and tested fw ready in the next 2 weeks which seems ambitious based on the way things sound right now. Maybe they’ve adopted Tacx’s alternative definition of time as part of the acquisition.

    • It’s definitely the next few weeks. I was teetering back and forth on whether to make this a full review or just a preview thingy.

      Ultimately, it came down to the fact that while they may be only days away, I wasn’t quite confident that it was days or a week or two. Either way, it’s very near term.

  40. Louis

    They should have a specific one named for Triathletes, that one will sell like hot buns out of the oven.

    MARQ Kona Special edition

  41. morey000

    so, for $1500- does the OWS mode work? (unlike the 5+)

    and (just a comment), I’m surprised there’s no dive watch version to update the Descent Mk1.

    • Unfortunately I haven’t had a time/place to take it OWS yet. However, I might in a few weeks. TBD.

    • Dave Lusty

      Regarding the Descent that’s why I asked about the “altimeter” holes above. That’s definitely very different to the Fenix 5+. I’m assuming either Ray doesn’t know or can’t say and both are plausible because Garmin may have added a sensor but not yet written the software so wouldn’t mention it. I think that by January there will be a new dive watch but I think it will be the entire Fenix 6 range. Possibly with a new Descent too just for marketing purposes and with a different strap (probably bundling the drysuit strap extension).
      Suunto had better hope I’m wrong on that one because I think if the Fenix had dive functions it will really eat into the low end Suunto dive market – especially since the lawsuit they can’t claim to be superior and accurate any more. That would make it a choice between a $600 Suunto dive only watch or a $700 Fenix 6 that does almost everything and that probably a large part of the dive market would already own.

    • Reginald Brown

      Dave, you seem to be referencing the Descent…which is a Fenix with dive functions. Then you say “if the Fenix had dive functions it will really eat into the low end Suunto dive market” But again, you’re already referencing the EXISTING Fenix with dive functions, as the Descent is literally a 5X with dive functions.

      Another site claimed that Garmin addressed the lack of a dive version being the styling. The extra stuff necessary would increase the case size, and they were shooting for Fenix 5 case size, not 5X case size. Hence the lack of a Descent follow-up in this line.

    • Mike S.

      OWS? Occupy Wall Street?

      Ah, Open Water Swim. Never mind…

    • Dave Lusty

      @Reginald no I was talking about a world in which every Fenix 6 has dive capability. Right now people are choosing between a Suunto dive watch and the only Garmin dive watch. That means Suunto has both cheaper dive watches/computers but also more fully featured ones for the price of the descent. Once every Fenix has dive functionality the low end Suuntos which only do diving won’t stand a chance because for a few bucks more you can get the same dive functionality but with everything else a Fenix does on top. Serious divers will likely still get the Suunto high end for the extra dive functionality, but the vast number of recreational divers won’t.
      As of right now, the Descent has competitors on all sides. Garmin and the Fenix 5+ competes on both functionality and form factor while Suunto compete on features and price. This makes the Descent really, really niche for people who really definitely want both sides in one watch. I wouldn’t buy one because I have the smaller, lighter, more functional Fenix 5+, and I also have a Suunto for diving. If Fenix 6 has dive functionality my Suunto will no longer be used and I’ll replace the 5+ but the Descent is not an alternative I’d consider.

  42. Adam

    I’m curious about the Aviator model. Does the bezel spin on it, or any?

    I’m not a pilot but I do travel a lot and would like a classier looking Garmin that resembles many of the higher end GMT style watches. Right now I have a F5 and use it for cycling. Is this essentially everything an F5 would have, plus some new apps, packaged in a more stylish housing and generational upgraded hardware?

  43. Pierre

    Hey Ray, thanks for the review, great work as usual!

    Just one question: these won’t have the ECG (similar to Apple Series 4), or is the hardware in place and the functionality may come at a later date through a software upgrade?

    Genereally speaking, do you know if Garmin has any interest in developing an ECG testing similar to Apple on their future products (Fenix 6 or other…)?

    Thanks!

  44. Patrick Myers

    “but I didn’t get the feeling the software was as final as I’d like it to be able to make accuracy/stability judgments as I would on a truly final product. It sounds like they’re close, but not yet there.”

    Given Garmin’s recent track record on this sort of stuff, there is NO way I’m paying $1500 for a product that still won’t be rock solid until months after its release. By my read of the forums, they have barely ironed out all the kinks on the Fenix 5 Plus, and that was released 9 months ago.

    • José

      What, this doesn’t give you confidence?

      “There are some unannounced fitness-features Garmin says will arrive in the coming months it’ll support”

  45. TJ

    Great initial write up! Can’t wait to see how the battery/GPS shakes out with the new chipset. Backcountry snow, or hiking around mountains in the summer, Expedition mode sounds… “sounds” nice. Have had a 3HR for a while now… mostly not to buggy, been contemplating the 5x… this is interesting, but like all technology, how updated will it stay? The 3HR had decent battery life for the first year, then after some sort of update, I only get 4 or so days in *normal* watch mode (no link to phone for messages/emails/etc). That’s disappointing. I don’t want to drop 2k and have a battery life of 4 days within a year or two.

    Another comparison (besides the DSLR)… what is your current phone? What was your last phone? I can still use my 6s… but I got an X when it came out. Bigger screen, better battery life. Apps function the same. Don’t need an XS or whatever the new ones are. Similar comparison to the 5x vs MARQ. Will see how it shakes out… I am OK buying a $500-800 watch every 3 or so years… $1500-2000 every 3… not sure about. If it can last longer, if Garmin can update technology internally with apps/keeping battery life… then maybe one of these will last 5yrs. 2 iPhones in 5yrs = $2k+…

    Someone else said it best here… these are not mechanical watches. Some of those are works of art, and will hold value. These are much different types. You can’t have a Ferrari and a Ram 3500 in the same vehicle. These watches are not the Breitling/Tag/etc of the world, and comparing them makes no sense. Or if you do… keep the comparison equal. What ever their “smart” watch line is… from what I have seen, is horrible. I would rather pay 2k to Garmin vs more than that to one of the others.

  46. I think the comments here (which I identify with) are reflective of the fact that Garmin may be going after the luxury market, not encouraging current customers to “bump up.” The value in upgrading from my Forerunner 935 just isn’t there, but the feature set here blows away smartwatches from TAG and other traditional makers who have moved into the smartwatch market. It seems like too much of a stretch to me—Apple has moved into the luxury market, but not without missteps (the original Watch Edition) and Apple already emphasized design (and implicitly used that to justify premium prices). This will be interesting to watch, but my guess is that this is a one-time thing and they very quickly go back to making non-luxury devices.

  47. Patrick

    interesting that garmin recommended you use a different GPS mode for that area. i’d have thought by now this could all be automatic so the watch gets it right rather than the user having to guess and experiment to get the primary function to work properly!

  48. Renton

    Garmin wants to beat a new record: the most expensive and bugged watch at the same time! Just joking, but there are so many bugs to solve in Fenix 5 plus series… Surely i wouldn’t pay so much money for this device knowing a little bit how Garmin is quick to solve all bugs that always are present in all watch they sell, most of time they simply do nothing and let out a new model and so on…

  49. Donna

    Hi Ray, I’m worried about the GPS chipset but I’ll wait & see what they go with on any future editions of the 935. On a side note, the pictures below your Athlete & Expedition Edition Details when you show your run actually show one of your bike details. I only noticed because your battery was at 13% and I was wondering how long 13% was going to last you on a run. 🙂

  50. augie

    what is the weight on the athlete edition? have you tested the battery claims?

  51. Craig Nerwich

    Hi Ray

    great review once again…
    Not sure if i missed this anywhere in the review but is the screen resolution /clarity etc the same as the Fenix 5X or has it improved at all

    • Mike S.

      I was going to post this question as well.

      One thing that disappointed me about my Fenix 5X is that most watch faces look terrible unless they are mostly data fields. Analog watch faces look especially bad. This seems to be due to the low resolution and colour options.

      Of course the OLED screen on the Apple Watch is beautiful and the watch faces are excellent compared to the Fenix. But the tradeoff for having this screen is greatly reduced battery life.

      I don’t want Garmin to start putting OLED screens on their watches. But a higher resolution screen that doesn’t kill battery life would be welcome.

    • Mike S.

      Ray, is screen resolution something that you would add to the list of specifications in the Product Comparison tool? I’d be interested in comparing this among watches myself. Backlight brightness too.

      Also, is there a link to the Product Comparison tool on the home page? I usually have to find it by looking up a watch review.

      Thanks.

  52. Stéphane

    Hi Ray,

    The gold Apple Watch Series 1 was much more expensive, over $10,000 dollars and was functionally *identical* to a $350 model, which was totally ridiculous. The Garmin Mark Series has a more reasonable price and is absolutely not functionally identical to a $350 Garmin device….

    So maybe Garmin will be more successful with their luxury MARK Series?

    • Stéphane

      Actually the Apple Watch Hermes edition which costs between €1300 and €1500 euros is very successful…

    • Digital Fury

      I wouldn’t claim that it is “very successful” simply based on its lack of availability to buy and/or long delays to get one. While I have seen tons of people with an AW, I have never ever seen somebody with an Hermes edition.

    • Digital Fury

      And price alone doesn’t make a product a luxury item. A gold polished turd is still a turd, even if expensive.

  53. Benedikt

    I think, they will sell. They are an option for people having the money which want to separate themselves from the regular Fenix users.
    I don’t believe they are meant to be sold in large numbers, they are to complete the portfolio on the upper side. Don’t know the proper English name, I would call it a “C item” in terms of economics.

  54. Simon Long

    I bought the Titanium version of the Fenix 5 Plus last year. I returned it 24 hours later…

    I guess the MARQ watches address one of my two big gripes – that the Ti version of the F5+ was just a plastic body with Ti panels stuck onto it, which didn’t feel worth the £1000 I spent on it – I’m assuming that the MARQs have full metal casings.

    But the other big gripe was the display – for a watch costing that much, a basic requirement was that the screen is easy to read in all lighting conditions. The screen on the Fenix is fine in bright sunlight, but in darker conditions, it is basically unreadable unless you turn the backlight on. Someone spending a four-figure sum on a watch probably expects it to be readable without having to press a button – I know I did!

    The tech on Garmin smartwatches is great, but the screen lets it down as an everyday watch, for me.

  55. Luke

    I noticed that none of these watches are SCUBA capable. Any idea if Garmin is planning on updating the Descent MK1 to a newer version? I’m surprised that none of the watches at this price point (targeted to people with disposable income) have SCUBA capability, does this mean they’re abandoning SCUBA (or just that they see the Descent as a separate arm)?

    • I haven’t heard of these being dive focused under the covers. It’s certainly plausible, but I suspect Garmin will probably wait a little bit longer there for what would presumably be the MK2

  56. Richard Merrell

    As a racing driver, the Driver seems pretty pointless. There are lots of more effective (and much cheaper – AIM SOLO 2 $399) devices for racing – without trying to look at your wrist whilst driving. Added to which, I’ve never had a Garmin device that’s worked anything close to properly at launch. Yup – the Ferrari driver who wants a toy for his track day might buy this for bragging rights (and bypass the “no timing” rules at track days) but no serious competitor is going to buy it.

    • Richard Merrell

      That track list is a little odd too. As I understand it, Rockingham UK is closing. Silverstone is actually at least 3 circuits: GP, International and National (the latter two often operating at the same time). Knockhill Scotland is actually still in the UK 😉 Castle Combe UK (not Comb – though many people in the U.K. misspell it Coombe). Donington has two versions of the circuit – only one listed. Brands Hatch, on the other hand, rarely uses the GP circuit but seems to have that and the Indy (short) circuit listed. And Anglesey is missing altogether.

    • Digital Fury

      Was thinking about this too. It seems just to be a marketing “make believe” gimmick. If you actually take the time, money and effort to go to the Nürburgring, surely you will take with you a more specialized device. Many high-end cars have such capabilities in their onboard computers anyway.

    • Tim Collins

      I imagine the track list will be updateable or modifiable. Misspelling Castle Combe is common, but at least that one has a read across for cycling as there are cycle races there most weeks!

  57. Thomas

    So it’s essentially a F5 with updated firmware. But display is the same…./&%¤!? I get the nicer materials. But why on earth didn’t they update the display…?

  58. André Berger

    I like the physical designs of these watches and the interface changes like the world map and the region selection on the driver edition.

    It’s probably a lot to ask for, but I would like to see Garmin offering more options for customization in the Fenix series beyond just the size, strap/band and bezel colour. A modular approach would be super nice, where I could buy a base Fenix watch but upgrade with a blue ceramic bezel like on the Captain Marq. If the hardware inside the watches is the same it would also be nice to have the possibility to buy the software or parts of it separately, like a “expedition firmware package” to get those software features added later to a watch. And I like the idea of a replaceable battery.

  59. George A Kalogeris

    Display size 1.2” (30.4 mm) diameter ONLY!!!
    Display resolution 240 x 240 pixels ONLY!!
    Display type sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) NO OLED !!!
    Weight
    94 g !!!

    THESE ARE ALL BAD for me

    • The thing is, an OLED screen means two things:

      A) Always-off display (only turned on when you raise your wrist)
      B) Usually 1-3 day battery life

      I honestly haven’t heard anyone ask for that yet tradeoff yet in this market segment.

  60. Tom

    thanx for the nice preview/review and all the nice pictures!

    in my eyes the fitness model is the best looking and with about 1.500$ the price is quite fair.
    at the moment i have the fenix 5x plus and in my eyes thats the best smartwatch on the market by far.
    the apple watch is a nearly unwearable design for a guy and recharging every single day is a joke.
    i’ll wait 1-2 years and then go for the next fitness edition.

    • Mike S.

      I guess you are the target market for this watch then. Myself, I can’t justify the price over a Fenix 5X.

    • Tom

      yep. i think today there are a lot o people worlwide who would spend 1.500$ for 4 years using the watch – 375$ a year. there is zero justification spending 1.500$ or an iphone or 3.000 or a macbook pro every 2-4 years but they sell millions. same with mechanical watches: rolex raised the price for the steel submariner by factor 6 since 1990 (1.600$-9.000$) and sells more of them they ever did.

  61. Eh?

    Just a pedantic note regarding the Expedition model – the new feature should really be called an “Orienting lock” (because that’s what it does) not an “Orienteering lock”. Orienteering is the sport and, while orienting your map is a big part of the sport, the feature Garmin have introduced probably wouldn’t be of a lot of use to anyone competing in an Orienteering event, if I am reading your explanation of it correctly.

  62. Donnie Barnes

    I’m going to Nepal in 6 weeks to trek to Everest Base Camp. I’ve bought every Fenix since it’s introduction on the day it was launched, and currently wear a Fenix 5X+ daily.

    The Expedition looks better. It has a few more features. It has a smaller screen, it costs a LOT more, and it’s likely going to still be buggy as hell during my trip. I’m not even sure why I care about a 4 week expedition mode that’s *that* limited.

    I also can’t for the life of me understand why they are staying with a charge cable design that requires you to remove the watch to charge it (and might easily pop off even if you DO remove it and try to charge it while you’re still moving by sticking it in a backpack or whatever).

    In short, I want a bigger screen model, I want to *know* it’s going to be less buggy than new Garmin things always are. Oh, and you want me to pay for the rest of the world maps on top of the high price tag? No freakin’ way. I REALLY want to want this. I can afford it. I have a legitimate use for “expedition” features. And yet, this isn’t a likely purchase for me.

    And the dealer thing? Insanely stupid. I can afford any watch I really want and I own a Rolex and a TAG. And both purchases were made in SPITE of snooty watch dealers, not because of them. I’ll likely sell the TAG and likely never buy another Rolex for that reason. Dumb, Garmin. Dumb.

  63. Niklas

    So Garmin celibrates 30 years with the new MARQ-series? Well, I think I will stick to my Fenix 5X for a while, until Garmin will came out with a new Fenix watch with a much more reasonly pricetag.

  64. Steven Warshauer

    Great review as usual. When will the Marq line be released? I have a Fenix 5X Plus and one of the main reasons I am considering purchasing the Marq Athlete model is for the improved Heart Rate sensor. If it is really better and more accurate, I may bite the bullet and go for it. Thanks again for your review.

  65. Paddy

    I wonder if the back optical HR sensor has been improved with better build material like using ceramic cover instead of the plastic like on the Fenix 5 Plus.

  66. Wow, with more memory/storage added, I wonder if the MARQ series has worldwide language support for notifications, or if they’re like all the older watches where it only supports the local language where the watch is sold?

  67. Michael Coyne

    I’m a little baffled about them not including any LTE features in this lineup… also about them worrying about battery life. I feel like they’ve got a plenty-good lock on the customers who care about battery-life (Ironman distance people). Of course there’s the ultra-marathoners, but their needs get so crazy that they’ll be made happier by a port location that lets you charge and wear the watch at the same time or bands that act as a secondary, hot-swappable battery and other such crazy ides than by ANY increase in the internal battery, because it’ll never be enough…

    Like even if they have no accuracy issues, I feel like that’s just not a good use of resources…

    UNLESS of course switching chipsets lets them churn out that eery level of open water swim GPS accuracy that you showed on Apple Watches. That is where they’re losing their lock on a lot of athletes, not battery life.

    Same goes for Apple Watch apparently having better Optical HR these days.

    And of course, it’d also be really nice to ditch my phone on training rides/runs/swims, which I could do with an Apple Watch, but not a Garmin yet. Yes, there are Garmins with Pay and Music now, but without the Phone part of the phone, I still can’t ditch my phone, so the fact they can do Pay or Music is irrelevant because my phone which I still HAVE to bring for the Phone part can do both, and better. I mean, Samsung Pay on their phones can even do Magnetic Strip Technology so they even work everywhere you could swipe a normal card( not just places with newer readers capable of NFC tap&pay stuff), so I can use that pretty much everywhere including my local aging thrift store. It’s very fun to see people’s surprise tapping a phone where it really shouldn’t work, and it does.

    Sooo… I’m just really not seeing much of a game-changer here. If they add the Final Phone feature (the actual phone part) then the other phone features gain meaning, otherwise they’re kinda useless.

    Again I know this is their luxury lineup, but I hope this isn’t indicative of the features of the year at large.

    Apple watch battery might only be enough to get me through a Half-Iron, and I got a Forerunner 935 in hopes of doing a Full. But here I am, a couple big surgeries, a couple job changes and life changes, 3 years (and other excuses) later, and I’ve done one Half and am signing up for another Half. But at this rate, I’m not entirely sure I’ll do a Full. Even if I do, it seems like something I want to do once or twice in my life, but not all the time. Half and lower seems more my distance. So I’m honestly wondering if an Apple Watch makes more sense in the future…

    Went with Garmin in part also because I like Android phones from a strictly phone standpoint, but once my phone is older too, if the watch is enough better at things like openwater swim tracking and optical HR I could see myself switching phones for that too…

    Cmon Garmin – I’m beggin ya don’t make me think about switching phones 🙁

  68. giorgitd

    Wow. Just…wow. So, I often choose where to spend my $ based on my perceptions of the seller. During the same time that I’ve returned two pairs of V3 pedals for non-functioning (sold the third replacement pair) and my FR920XT is crapping out the barometer (for a second time) THIS is what Garmin has been devoting intellectual capital on? What we do as endurance athletes is a tiny, tiny slice of the world for certain. But I could not look at myself in the mirror if I bought another device from Garmin. I know that they have done the economics and repelling me is more than offset by attracting the top 1%. Noted. Just not appreciated.

  69. Wayne

    As a person that owns many luxury watches I don’t see where this fits. It’s too much money for a product from Garmin which certainly will be buggy at release. Garmin has a history of treating their early adopters as beta testers and I’d be quicker pissed to spend this money to beta test. Garmin really needs to focus on software/firmware quality. In 2019 their sleep tracking is extremely poor, they’ve got to do better. I would purchase the athlete version but for double the price what am I getting over the Fenix line? Doesn’t seem like enough to justify the price bump

  70. Volker

    The sales figures of the Chronos, which is not just low-priced, must have been good, so that Garmin throws 5 different Marq models on the market.

    Yippie or Yuppie, that’s the question ?!

    Old wine in a new bottle? Ok, a new (beta?) gps chipset, a little different look, little new features and a slightly overpriced price…

    For me: Yuppie

    But hey: perhaps maybe it was made just for them and thats the intended customer…

  71. SW

    Will the updated optical HR sensor finally be able to perform HR measurements for swimming ?

  72. f|33tStA

    240×240 screen resolution for this price is again horrible if you wear (varifocals) eyeglasses :-\

  73. Lee B

    I am a big Fenix fan but think Garmin have gone a bit mad with these watches and the price point is crazy.. i have owned the Fenix range back from the 2 up to the 5x Plus but have dropped back to the standard Fenix 5 as found i don’t use or need all the new features on the newer Garmin’s.

    I race ultras, hike, bike and train daily in gym and all the Garmin pay, music, maps and other features just never get used.

    When i am out hiking the Garmin map 64st is weapon of choice (and paper maps), for multi day adventures the Fortrex is used.

    Simple truth is no single watch can meet all demands for all activities so better to spend cash on a stable Fenix 5 and other kit made for specific tasks!!!

    Don’t lose your way Garmin and try to become a luxury watch maker because these high-end so-called smart watches are a flop in most instances….

    • Digital Fury

      While I tend to agree, what if you *also* want your watch to be more a luxury item, than simply built out of mass market materials?

  74. Andy Banks

    Any chance we’ll see the ski maps available for the 5X+ ? Possibly as a to purchase item?

  75. Pawel

    Garmin states that Athlete is capable of Running Dynamics :
    “Fine-tune your form and progress with advanced running dynamics¹ that track your pace.”.
    Ray, would you check is that done by watch themselves or any external device is required (HRM Run, HRM Tri, pod, etc)?

    Preview as always was great.

  76. usr

    Surprised that they don’t name some extended Virb integration for the “driver”. Action cams are the closest thing to a market presence Garmin already has with the gasoline crowd. But maybe they figured that the subset of track racers who like to film their exploits has little overlap with the subset that frequents luxury watch dealers. Hot-hatch vs Ferrari? Might be a turn-off for the latter to be binned together. (that culture/those cultures are perfectly alien to me)

    The pricing makes sense, much of the difference to a high end Fenix probably goes to the dealer margin anyway, because the economics of selling luxury watches cannot be compared to those of sports gadgetry.

    I think that this might be the main reason behind the separate MARQ line: Garmin *wants* presence where luxury watches are sold because they can make sense to the clientele: you cannot take your boat/plane/Everest into the board meeting, but you can show off a watch that says “I’m about more than just golf”. But if they would try to push a regular model into luxury channels, it would fail there because the customary margins would be obvious. Even the richest don’t like getting ripped off, there is no exclusivity in paying 1000 for a watch that regular people get at 600 from where they buy running shoes. I suspect that the only chance to get luxury dealers to put Garmins on their shelves is to have a separate line that is excluded from low margin channels. It’s much more valuable for a company to extend their customer base than to squeeze some additional profit from their existing customers.

    • I think we’ll see some additional bits on the Driver edition over time. For example, the VIRB can connect to ODB BT devices, and that’d play well extremely well here for pulling in all sorts of automotive stats.

      I asked Garmin about it, and they noted that while it’s not in the watch today, it’s definitely something they’re looking at.

  77. Lars Pehrsson

    I dont understand why Garmin didn’t use the Broadcom BCM47755 GPS chip. Not only is it accurate down to 30 cm (1 foot for the imperal impaired), it should also use less than 5 mA.

    • Does any other mainstream watch vendor use it?

      Generally speaking, when I talk to wearables companies on GPS chipsets, there’s a bit of safety in numbers that occurs.

    • Fredrik

      Imperal impaired. Yes, the British Empire fell long ago and most of the world has moved on.

      I have not used the old “imperial” metrics since 1789. The French modernised our way of measuring beyond using the varied lengths of the human body.

      I have no respect for countries that stubbornly stick to their old inefficient ways knowing that there is a better system that everyone else uses. The ingenious modern metric system.

    • What does that have to do with Broadcom GPS chipsets?

      As for the watch, you can change it to Metric or Imperial or half-way in between if you want. Chose whatever makes you happy. Life’s too short to overthink what other people use to measure their 40 minute run.

    • Paul S.

      Most Americans don’t give a damn about your “respect”.

      There are two kinds of countries in the world. One has landed men on the moon, sent machines to explore the outer solar system, invented GPS and a whole host of other contributions to humankind. The others exclusively use the metric system. (Well, at least they think they do. Their air traffic controllers use feet and knots and speak English.)

    • Dave Lusty

      To be fair knots are part of the ISO standard and have nothing to do with imperial measures. Metres don’t make sense for navigation purposes because coordinates are an angular system not a grid system. For really long distances compasses and charts can be problematic too because on a spheroid a straight line isn’t always the shortest route…

      I’m not sure why the anger about imperial either, presumably he didn’t have his coffee this morning 🙂

    • Mike S.

      And that’s due to sticking to the imperial system? That’s a new one.

    • Paul Warren

      I suppose that there might be some “imperial impaired reason” behind the fact that smallest auto pause speed is 1.6 km/h in settings of my FR935 :)…that make me, a fully metric Finn, to have a unpleasant feeling that the thing in my wrist is internally using imperial units as a base of all calculations…that is not a case, isn’t it?

    • Paul S.

      If you look in the .fit files off your 935 (you need some kind of fit reader to do it), or at a gpx from older devices (can do that with a text reader), everything is metric. They don’t use statute or Fahrenheit internally.

    • Neil Jones

      I’d expect that internally the unit will use its own arbitrary units for processing and will only convert these to either metric or imperial when the data is exposed, such as written to a fit file or viewed on the watch. So although the threshold for autopause is 1mph, this was probably just arbitrarily decided upon by the dev team but in the watch itself is probably represented by something more obscure like 56.72 units/second.

  78. Thomas

    I ordered one! I don’t mind paying extra for nice materials. In fact I was looking at TAG Heuer watches, but I always ended up with missing out on 24/7 HR (I am an athlete and keep track of my resting HR). Also notifications is a thing I really like. So here we go with Garmins Marq series. I think may be the thing. Funny enough their timing is spot on for me 😉

    I am dissapointed about display size. But hey no one else but Ray has seen the actual quality. So it may be it’s good afterall. I remember the difference between Fenix 5 and Fenix 5 plus. Although they are identical in size, the F5plus has quite a bit better display. It may be the same here too? Also a thing; I don’t want charge my watch every day or 2. So I really like up to 12 days. If that “costs” a slightly more monochromic display I can live with that.

    Let’s see where it all stands once it arrives in the beginning of april…

    Cheers

    • Reginald Brown

      Which one did you go with? I think they’re a beautiful series, but the Athlete seems a bit like an odd duck in the bunch, and that sounds like the one that would fit the bill for you.

      What’s your evidence that the F5 has a better, or even different, display? I have never found any evidence that any of the 1.2″ 64-color displays are any different than each other. Maybe different backlights. Were your comparisons a sapphire vs glass? That makes a huge difference given the differing light transmission properties of glass vs. sapphire crystal.

    • Thomas

      I went for the Athlete version. I was very much attracted to the Aviation model too. But then in the end; I am an athlete. So I prefer these functions in the watch. Though as I get it, the all have the same feature set. But only Athlete version has the Vo2max (don’t care much about this one) and the recovery timer on the watch. I don’t need the aviation stuff.

      Note you can buy the titanium band separately and swap the black silicone band. And then the Athlete version could look really classy with a touch of a sportsmann added to it 😉

      I don’t have any evidence other than my own perception regarding the display on F5 vs F5+. But to me the colors are quite a bit more vibrant on my F5S+ than the previous F5 and F5S i had.

    • Thomas

      *on the watch face

    • Thomas

      Yes as I recall it, the F5 and F5s was with sapphire glass. That gave quite dull colors. That may be the reason why…

    • Reginald Brown

      Yeah, that would absolutely explain it. Sapphire has higher reflectance, and it allows less light through. The difference is pretty large, it’s a tradeoff for sure, though I actually kind of like the sort of shine that you get in an off angle from the light reflecting off of it. But for sure, it will have the effect you’re talking about. Allegedly there are advancements in the process of creating the sapphire crystal that will improve upon that situation in the future.

  79. Jon Briafield

    Wow, gonna be an epic fail at this price!!

  80. Havelaar

    These watches are a good example for the weird place in which the market economy is in for several years now. Prices skyrocket, whereas product improvements are only marginal, if there are any. Sometimes basic functionality on 5 to 10 year old products is even better than in new products costing several times more (e.g. weight of top range road bikes or heart rate straps vs wrist sensors in watches). Add to this all these bugs out of the box that often completely kill the user experience of new products. Of course, this is true not only for sports technology, but for a lot of sectors.

    I’m very interested in new innovations. But in recent years, I feel that a large number of them provides no real improvements, but rather fit in one of the following two categories:
    – provides a solution for a problem that does not exist;
    – pushes a new invention to market irrespective of its usefulness (basically: we can, so we do).

    That alone is not the weird part for me. What I find really weird in this development is that most of these products still sell very well, as if some invisible force pushed the vast majority of consumers to spend all their money as fast as possible irrespective of how little the real or even the perceived improvements over the solutions they already have at home,

    Due consideration seems basically to be limited to “I deserve to spend my hard earned money to buy always the best stuff available”, where “best” and “most expensive” seems to be perceived as the same thing. Why someone would go into the trouble to sweating blood and tears to earn that money in the first place, if it’s only for the purchase of such marginal gains, remains another question of course.

    But the real reason I point this out is that I’m quite sure that market economy will not stay very long in this phase. It seems likely to me that in the next few decades, medical technology for example will improve significantly, some of these improvements will be very attractive (not only healing deathly diseases, but allowing you to stay healthy for several years longer than you would without them), but come at a cost level that cannot be borne by society of each and everyone. At that point, I would rather prefer being one of them who have substantial savings available, rather than one of those who changed their car, tv, phone, watch or whatever every other year for the last two decades. And this will also apply to really rich people, because I’m quite sure that there will be “upgrades” for your body at absolutely every price point in the future.

    • Reginald Brown

      I think you’re talking specifically about the sports market? Even if so, sorry, you’re nuts. There have been major advancements all over the place. Even your examples are flawed.

      “weight of top range road bikes”
      If you’re talking about bikes from the major brands, that’s kind of true, but it’s because of UCI regulations. There are PLENTY of road bike frames on the market that are not designed for riding in UCI events that allow much lighter builds.

      BUT, the thing is research shows that weight basically doesn’t matter for almost anything, which is why the focus has been on aerodynamics which do matter. And there, there have been advancements, but still, you’re limited by physics.

      “heart rate straps vs wrist sensors in watches”
      So, you can still get perfectly good chest straps that give you HRV, values. What more do you want? The wrist-based sensors have improved drastically, and in many situations can replace chest straps that some of us don’t like to wear. Optical sensors are an advancement, but they have limitations (which are being overcome over time). Your preferences don’t change that. What more could you get out of a chest strap?

      I mean, there are natural limitations that a watch can only do so much, so adding marginal features is kind of where Garmin has to go. Advancements in battery life, improving Chroma displays, this will happen over time (and has been in the time period that you say nothing has moved).

      Have you considered that these products sell well because their buyers have a different set of preferences than you do? I have purchased 3 Garmins in the last few years, each with specific features I was looking for. Just because they haven’t added things that make them upgrade-worthy for you, doesn’t mean that’s the case for others.

      Here are why I made each purchase:
      1. Starting with my first ever activity tracking watch, the 910xt
      2. Moved to a Vivoactive HR because I wanted wrist-based HR, and smart features, and could continue to use the 910 during multisport events.
      3. Moved to Forerunner 645M for the music and better display – could still use the 910 for multisport events
      4. Moved to Fenix 5 Plus – convergence of the features I used across two devices (though I wouldn’t have spent the money – got it through a work rewards program)

      Each move was made for a specific reason personal to me. Perhaps what you describe thusly: “some invisible force pushed the vast majority of consumers to spend all their money as fast as possible irrespective of how little the real or even the perceived improvements over the solutions they already have at home…”

      Is really just your bias making you blind to the fact that your preferences aren’t the same as everybody else’s.

    • Havelaar

      How much of my post have you read? Because your answer addresses one line in the 1st paragraph and none of my real points.

      Anyway, take any high end road bike from 2012 and then the equivalent from 2019 and you can be sure, it weights much more and costs more than the double. My cannondale super6 himode sram red from 2011 was under 4k€ (official price list at the time) for under 6kg. Go check their top range bike in the same segment (not the aerobike segment) today and you’ll see. And by the way, weight matters for climbing.

      Heartrate wrist sensors are a typical example for solving a problem that does not exist, as cheststraps do everything and better for decades.

    • “Heartrate wrist sensors are a typical example for solving a problem that does not exist, as cheststraps do everything and better for decades.”

      Except they don’t.

      1) They don’t measure HR 24×7, and all the interesting things that come with/adjacent to it. Be it what Apple is doing with ECG, or with various alerts that are happening from other companies as well.
      2) And straps can often can be incorrect. I continue to find it funny how quickly we all forget how many people have had chest strap issues. For many years, I annually put out a post (link to dcrainmaker.com) on how to fix HR strap dropouts and spikes. Often with hundreds of comments and usually many hundreds of thousands of views each year. This was (and still is), a very real problem.

    • Havelaar

      Point taken. On the other hand battery life is way better and accuracy (take cycling for instance) is better too. In addition, some of them provide you with additional metrics like hrv or even work under water. Please take this example in the context of my entire initial post. When it comes to changing for the new 1.5k to 2.5k$ watches, we are talking about absolutely marginal gains (if any) for a price that will buy you way more value in the near future.

    • Dave Lusty

      Also, wrist sensors are more compatible with sports bras, so there’s a problem that existed and is solved by OHR.

      I’ve not once had a rash from my wrist HR either, nor have I had to shave to get a good signal.

      I do agree that the output from wrist HR is poor though. I’m one of the people who has excelent results from chest straps and they definitely don’t line up with one another. But for all day HR, resting HR and a good enough reading in the pool they have thier place.

    • Reginald Brown

      I think think that it was you who did not read my post:

      “Heartrate wrist sensors are a typical example for solving a problem that does not exist”

      So, you typified my point precisely. That YOUR preferences aren’t everyone’s. There is a HUGE problem, for me, with chest straps. I find them to be uncomfortable, so I don’t like them. Maybe there wasn’t a problem FOR YOU. But that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t an entire market of people that wanted them. It just means they don’t cater to you personally.

      With your bike example, you’ve looked at one mass producer (who was bought by a company that wants to shave money). I just looked up the weight of a 2011 SS Hi-Mod, trying to find people who have built them. Someone that actually weighed theirs on Weight Weenies in 2011, the frame was 920g at 52cm (not including the fork), I know, I know, Cannondale’s SPEC said that it was 695g, but I remember at the time that nobody was getting them at those weights. And as someone that has long been a Cannondale fan (I am still on my 2008 Supersix Hi-Mod) I’ve been following them, I remember complaints about that at the time with the Evo. The Black, Inc. frames were very light for a lot of money, though.

      An Emonda SLR Disc (a bike made to be lighter than UCI allows) is 660g. So, even if we’re going off of Cannondales spec, the Emonda is lighter. But again, that bike is hard to build up to UCI’s minimum weight, and that’s what these big manufacturers build their bikes for.

      Physics has limitations, you have to use very stiff carbon in these frames, they could make them lighter, but they would be awful to ride. That might change as people accept that fatter tires don’t actually slow them down (a theory followed by the Emonda). Yes, you are a bit faster up a very steep climb if you drop 100g off your frame. Maybe a cm or two, and I respect that it’s what you’re looking for. But there are bikes out there that you can get at a very low weight, if you’re willing to branch out from the manufacturers that plant bikes under UCI riders.

    • Havelaar

      Why does everyone focus only on one single line of my initial post without any consideration for the rest of it.

      I take your point on the upsides of a wrist based heartrate measurements for certain persons. I have more issues to accept your arguments on bike weight. My size L super6 frame of 2011 is at 700g. Still after all these years it wears out. So last year I was in the market for a new light bike in view of Alpsman and Embrunman. The 2018 5kg trek bike was at 15k€, whereas the 2015 5kg focus was at 4.2k€. Anyway lets not keep stuck with these two examples.

      The question I would have an answer to is why do consumers spend their money to swap out working products for the next generation even if the improvements are very minor knowing that we are at the edge of a revolution in biotechnologies.

      What for instance is the point of swapping out a fenix 5+ for one of the watches in this post? Would it not make more sens to keep the money until substantial progress is made?

      I understand everyone who swaps his cellphone for a smartphone or his catode tv for a flatscreen, but not all these persons who swap their galaxy 9 for a galaxy 10 or their 4k hd-tv for a 8k hd-tv.

      Spending money for minor improvements is not only pointless, it also limits your future purchasing power when the real innovations come out. In addition, it creates a market where companies shoot out half fledged new high end products every six month or so with very minor improvements instead of taking their time to work out real innovations and ensure that they are ready and fully working once they release them (which by the way is not yet the case for wristbased heartrate sensors when it comes to cycling).

    • david n

      “Spending money for minor improvements is not only pointless, it also limits your future purchasing power when the real innovations come out. In addition, it creates a market where companies shoot out half fledged new high end products every six month or so with very minor improvements instead of taking their time to work out real innovations and ensure that they are ready and fully working once they release them (which by the way is not yet the case for wristbased heartrate sensors when it comes to cycling).”

      I agree with this. Plus: The real loser in this case is the environment because people are encouraged to change their watch every 18 months and we end up with even more waste. Not to mention that charging 1500+$ for a watch which probably does not cost more than 50$ to produce is a nice kick in the guts for all the poor people who actually worked to make this product possible.

    • Reginald Brown

      Havelaar – the TL;DR of your posts is “Your preferences should be exactly the same as mine.”

      You know nothing about me, or my budget, or why I make my decisions. Don’t worry so much about what other people are doing.

  81. Anonymouse

    Note to Garmin: People who walk into high-end watch shops are looking for high-end mechanical watches, not digital/smart watches. At the price points the Marq series is at, one could buy a fairly decent mechanical watch that will last a lifetime vs a GPS watch that will be obsolete before the ball drops at Times Square. And these have buttons for the user interface? Are we still in the 1990s? I believe Garmin has missed the Marq, big time.

    • okrunner

      Ananymouse,
      10 years ago I would have told you that your are correct. Maybe even 5 years ago. But, as Reginald Brown has commented above, some here just don’t understand the nuances of the target market. Also, the bar has moved. 10 years ago and maybe 5 years ago no one would have paid $1,200 for a cellular phone or $2,500 for a laptop computer. Today, Apple is selling them by the truckloads and everyone is buying them, especially people who really don’t know they can’t afford them. Vehicle manufacturers figured in out at least a decade ago. Build it and they will buy it. I can’t count the number of people in my home town who live in a mobile home or even a camper and have two $50,000 or more vehicles parked beside it. I’ve never understood the number of 20 or 30 somethings that can’t afford a house or even a car yet own a $1,000 iphone and a $2,500 Macbook and buy a new one every year or two. Think about this, 10 years ago if I told you 4 out of every 5 high school students in poor public schools would be wearing a $300 or $400 Apple watch, you’d have thought I was crazy. But it’s the new reality. You don’t remember in the 80’s when your parents told you that you were f’n nuts for wanting those Air Jordans. Apple watches and Airpods are the new Air Jordans but now those are the low end after the Iphone, Ipad and Macbook. Kindof a tangent but you get the drift. I don’t own Dura ace, Di2 or Etap but I appreciate the trickle down in tech. I’m still on an Iphone 6 and a Fenix 3hr. But, to think this wild consumer crazed market won’t buy these may be a little naive. And, yes, they will buy them in that expensive jewelry store next to the Apple Store in the mall.

    • Havelaar

      Your examples are very telling. But that’s just nuts. What drives these people to act this way? Can’t they see that they are harming themselfs? How have we reached such a point as a society ?

    • Mike S.

      As for your Macbook example, there is a reason why people buy them repeatedly when you could get a PC for much less.

      I will always buy Mac computers. My past two Mac laptops still work to this day. They have been reliable workhorses day in and day out.

      I would much rather pay $2,000 for a Mac computer with MacOS that will last for many years than have 6 PC’s with #$%#%$ Windows that irritates me EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    • okrunner

      Mike S. Some may buy them because they believe they are reliable. However, the only Apple computer I have personally owned died at 3yrs old. Completely died, as in the entire motherboard fried. That’s never happened to any computer I’ve owned since my 1st in 1993. Repairable, hardly, a PC you could easily pop in a part and go. Not the Apple, complete new board which contained all the memory, hard drive, everything. I paid the $600, fixed it and promptly gave it to my 14 year old and bought a reliable Lenovo PC. But, you miss the point. This wasn’t Apple vs PC. People buy it (the Apple) only “because” it’s expensive, popular, and shiny not because of reliability. They replace them every couple of years. The newest tech has become more important to many, especially young, than a house, car, health, or security, and they are willing to pay outrageous amounts for it. I have no problem buying the right tool for the job and paying a premium for that tool. But, I know many many wealthy businessmen and women who do not require a $2,500 Apple laptop and never have. They make oodles of money with their cheap ten year old PCs everyday and have a house, car, and investments to show for it. But, power to Garmin for cashing in on crazy consumers. I would if I were them.

    • Paul S

      Hmm, the Mac Pro I’m typing this on (cheese grater style) is 11 years old. (Obviously all of the drives and the RAM have been replaced, and the WiFi card failed a few months ago, so I’m using Ethernet now). My MacBook Pro is 4 or 5 years old. Somewhere around here I have the original iBook, which I think still works (hard to tell, since I don’t know where the power supply is). My old Fat Mac definitely doesn’t work (blew through 5 power supplies over 10 years of use) but I still have it in the attic.

    • Mike S.

      *Many* buy them because they are reliable and are repeat customers.

      I get your point but I don’t agree with the example you are using to make it.

    • Digital Fury

      Disposable income. If you have the money, you don’t really care.

  82. Wille

    I have several nice top brand watches. I can imagine I could pay for timeless classic watch larger (significantly larger) amount of money.

    But sport watch is all about functionality. I use Garmin 5x and as long the new one won’t perform better I will not change it. Definitely “look” and “elite experience” isn’t a reason to pay more.

  83. GLT

    Good review of the new series. The lifestyle segments & feature mixes aren’t what I would have guessed for something like this.

    Makes one wonder what kind of prices a well-crafted & targeted Connect IQ app could secure with the new customers.

  84. Lykaios

    Thank you for all the info. Somewhat surprised on how many people comment without reading the full article.

  85. xchaotic

    So basically Fenix 5s just way more expensive and with worse GPS chip? Where do I sign up?

  86. Dontgetthecheese

    This is an “interesting” idea.

    So, I own a AW4 and Fenix 5+. The two combined get close to the athletic version in price. I use the Fenix to run/workout and the AW4 for everything else and the occasional walk/light run.

    In a weird way, although I use the Fenix a lot less than the AW, I like what Garmin does better as a fitness lifestyle thing. It’s weird and I have the money to buy something like this.

    But for $1,500, less with the eventual discounts, it’s a hard leap because of several things.

    1). The AW4 does just about everything orders of magnitude better than the Fenix. I recognize how that might sound but it just does. I can get built-in or via 3rd party, VO2 Max, HRV, accurate sleep tracking, 911 access, ECG, the weather, plus a bunch of other smart watch functions that the Fenix either doesn’t have or is junk on the platform (sleep tracking and weather say hello).

    2). The battery life argument is true, except it isn’t. I challenge you to spend a half hour loading podcasts into Spotify, it’ll take that long, then go on a 3 hour hike/run. Battery life will be better on the Fenix but it’ll be closer than you think. Spotify destroys the battery, plus it’s miserable to load older podcasts, and the AW4 life is better than people think. Sure, it’s no Fenix, but use it like one, meaning just a watch/pulse tracker during the day, and it’ll get you easy 2+ days.

    Now, the Fenix is the better device for sports use but it’s not $1,000 better and I don’t see how it’s close. Notice, I call this device a Fenix, because, well isn’t that really what it still is? Are they going to go ECG and not bring that down? Anything that shows up here will roll down the line eventually unless it requires a special sensor of some kind.

    I don’t know, I get it, but I don’t. If Garmin had the little things tight, which they don’t in what I have, it would be easier, otherwise, it’s a hard leap.

  87. Daniel Jessee

    I don’t understand why GPS accuracy ever takes a step back. My Suunto Ambit3 Peak from 2014 is the most accurate GPS I have ever owned and I don’t even think it has GLONASS. My iPhone SE, Wahoo ELEMNT, Garmin eTrex 20x, or Fenix 2 don’t even come close to my Ambit3.

    • MattB

      To be fair, the F2 came out in March 2014, and the Ambit 3Peak in September that year – hard for Garmin to compare its (admittedly not great) GPS to an unreleased competitor…. or to “take a step back” when they released first!

    • Daniel Jessee

      I think the Ambit2 was the same GPS chipset. And aside from the F2, all the rest were released after the Ambit3. Remember the Epix? 2015 and that accuracy was AWFUL. I returned it to REI it was so bad. In any case, reading Ray’s reviews of Suunto’s Spartan offerings as well, it seems that Garmin is not the only brand that has slipped backwards on GPS accuracy. Really I was just saying that I don’t understand how that happens – I would think that you achieve a level of accuracy with one product and either maintain or improve it.

  88. Mark

    Ray regarding your statement ” Not entirely sure why in 2019 for a fully connected watch you need a warranty card, but OK.”, I think it’s more of a marketing thing so that it’s aligned with how fine watches are packaged (you always have that warranty card).

  89. Andrew Price

    Hi Ray and thanks heaps for the helpful heads-up on these.
    I am still travelling with and old Fenix 3 and love it to bits for road cycling, hiking and remote area navigation – does all I want it to and over the years have learnt to really get the best out of it.
    Question I have is how “adaptable” these various models are to people who do the odd track day in a car or on a motorbike, or occasionally fly (usually now in the right hand seat only – sigh).
    Are the “apps” for each activity available by adding the lap/track recorder to say the Athlete version, using the IQ Connect app distribution?
    I am a bit keen on the model of “one watch, many activities covered” – do you think Garmin hear that tune?

  90. MiniEggs

    I wonder if the UK version will come with OS Maps. A £150 addition for the normal Fenix range

  91. Bryan Lennon

    Do you think this new charger can work with the Fenix 5 ? Might be the “charging cable for on the go during ultra” that we have been waiting for. Can you still test that @DC Rainmaker ?

  92. Paul C

    This is all very nice but really a couple more CIQ fields at any one time is all I am asking for from the next high end Garmin 😉

  93. Alexander Momberger

    Hello Ray, glad to see, ehm hear the revival of your podcast! Any plans to include audience-questions in the podcast?

    2 Questions:
    1. is the display the same as used in fenix 5/ fenix 5+ and fenix 5x+?
    2. In your youtube-video I saw an ‘activity-screen’ on the aviation-model that contains 6 datafields. Do the new watches allow do define activity-screens (e.g. for running) with more than 4 datafields? This is one feature that i’ve been hoping for ever since i got my fenix 5+.

    Thank you for the reply.

    • Thanks! We’re looking too include audience topics, or more wide-ranging questions in the podcast. For example someone asked about running power, and we’re going to tackle that a bit more next week (today’s episode just went out, btw).

      As for your questions:

      A) My understanding is that it’s the same. It certainly seems it to me. On the detailed list of changes I requested/received between the F5+ and Marq, that wasn’t on there. And I had asked about hardware changes as well in person, and that wasn’t listed either.
      B) No, still limited to four data fields (and just checked right this second, just in case I missed something). It’s a good question though, I’ll bring it up!

    • Alexander Momberger

      Ray, it would be soo awesome if you could pass that whish on to garmin, i.e. to have 6 Datafields for any activity.
      If I see that feature in an future FW-update, I will smile and know who to thank! 😉

  94. Tim Grose

    So the Fit Versa article (a “least expensive” device) gets 22 comments on this site. These “most expensive” ones gets 10 times that. Can’t “buy” publicity then even if I suspect most of us won’t actually be buying one 🙂

    • But the funny thing is that in the long term, I can guarantee there will be far more visitors to the Fitbit post. Always works out that way. Those visitors just don’t tend to comment as much.

  95. Eli

    I thinink you’re missing a very major point from the Choros. It was a F3 based watch when it first came out but then became a F5 watch. Will this upgrade to a f6? is this a faster cpu? is it more ram? How does it do in connect iq benchmarks?

  96. joedidder

    These are beautiful watches! I currently own the fenix 5X Plus Titanium. Purchasing the Athlete or Expedition doesn’t seem to be much of an upgrade for me. Yes, a new GPS chipset, HR sensor and a new UI. Though I also prefer larger watches; therefore, I would be giving up some size with the Athlete or Expedition. I’ll probably wait for the fenix 6, which should have some new hardware and UI.

  97. PS

    Well I am curious about the aspects of the athletes version, primarily how much connect datafields one app can hold, how much fields can be represented on screen and in detail testing of wrist HRM and stuff. Ill be waiting for the in depth review, gogo DC.

  98. Marek

    Any indication that at some point Garmin will use dual frequency Galileo for higher accuracy of positioning? Fenix 6, 7?

  99. Januszekwiatuszek

    Dear DC rainmaker,
    Could you please create separate article about new option .
    What values gaves new option for runners , how is looks?

    New Live Event Sharing Feature
    New Body Battery Energy Monitor (from the Vivosmart 4)
    New Heat and altitude acclimation feature
    New Training Load Focus feature
    New Primary Benefit (Training Effect Labels) feature
    New respiration rate feature

    Thank you

    • Yup, I’ll cover most of that in my MARQ Athlete version in-depth review, likely in a few weeks. Some of it as a wee bit fuzzy still, even for someone having a watch on their wrist.

    • Januszekwiatuszek

      Thank you super so I will wait for this review, because it is very interesting why we need this new options

  100. zoltan

    Auto Lap Splits based on position???

    So Garmin wants 1.5-2.5K bucks to offer it, while they were not willing to add it to Fenix family? They had had the solution in triathlon watches before Fenix was born.

    I am still angry with Garmin due to the lack of Auto Lap by position in Fenix 3 HR.

    • Those were roughly my thoughts as well.

      Though, if I’m understanding it right there’s a bit more nuance (for better or worse) to how they’re doing it on the Driver edition. In that case, they have the specific GPS coordinates of the line which triggers the lap (start/finish of each lap). Rather than the good ol’ autolap by position mode Garmin used to have allowed you to set that postional point (virtual line) anywhere you want.

    • the5krunner (tfk)

      the Marq has ALERT by position
      Really autolap by position? finally. it’s back? great if so.

      quite a few UK duathlons/triathlons (and I assume elsewhere in the world) are on race tracks so definitely would be handy. obviously for running tracks too.

    • It’s only on the Driver mode in the driving app, which appears to be tied to the tracks known start line. I haven’t tried it on a track with a car, it that’s my understanding poking at it and taking with the Garmin folks about it.

    • Note my understanding is the function is specifically used for all the lap repeatability metrics while racing on a track.

    • Zoltan

      If you are right, maybe the good ol’ version will be added to the next gen of over $5K

    • Mirko Surf&Run

      😉 My Garmin FR610 has autolap by position (even if I never used it)

    • Zoltan

      Why? It is so comfortable! You dont have to remember to push the Lap button at the end of each lap, ibdependently from running on a track or just around some blocks in the streets.

      The distance based auto lap is not suitable for lap recording, it is just some sort of averaging. To be honest I would not call a ‘distance based auto lap’ Auto Lap.

    • Zoltan

      I meant … indepently from whether you run on …..

    • Mirko Surf&Run

      It could be useful for autolap in a track, but when I do intervals in a track or in the road with km markers I prefer to use manual lap. Probably autolap based on position can’t be very accurate because it relies on gps that has a margin of error (usually 5 meters), but I repeat I never tried it.
      I use autolap based on distance (1 km) in long runs and easy runs and races to see what pace I am running.
      But I’m happy to know that if I want to use it, I can use it.

  101. JYU

    1) any public release date?
    2) same resolution as 5x plus?
    Thks

  102. Jonathan Zappala

    So I use gps + glonass, but now I see gps + Galileo. Which one is better or does that all depend? I live in Cleveland, OH (41.48 deg north). I do sometimes run downtown with tall buildings, and in a valley with a lot of trees. Most of the time in neighborhoods with close together houses.

    Some say gps only for my USA latitude, but should I switch to gps+Galileo? On gps + glonass there is nothing wrong with my maps, I would just like the best distance accuracy. Every time I run a 5k for instance I get 3.06 or 3.07 miles.

    • In my discussions with Garmin, they’re currently recommending GLONASS for any “urban canyon” environments.

      But I’m actually not sure I agree with that. I suspect that guidance was more relevant prior to last month. But with four additional Galileo satellites brought online to operational status in mid-Feb, things are different now. And in fact, the above run aside, on my FR935 I’m seeing really strong Galileo performance since then – even in NYC. It’s noticeable.

      Ultimately though, until a larger body of evidence is collected, I think you’re going to have to kinda test the waters. Personally, I’m using GPS+Galileo on my main FR935, and getting reference-like results on virtually all activities.

    • Jonathan Zappala

      Thanks Ray I will give it a try. I read Galileo is still in progress, good to know.

  103. elf

    Thanks for this review! I’m curious about the problems you noted in Vondelpark. I’m in a running club, and a few of the Garmin users find they get no GPS tracking through Vondelpark. Even if the GPS has worked perfectly throughout the run, it will show no route through Vondelpark when they upload to Garmin Connect.
    What’s the best way to get Garmin to look into this further?

    Thanks!

    • I’d start with Garmin support to be honest.

      That said, if you’ve got a few links to share, I’d love to take a look and maybe escalate a bit (or try and replicate).

      By and large I run through Vondelpark weekly without any major issues from all GPS vendors. I do however find it sometimes funny that the park does seem to cause minor issues with everyone. Funny merely because it’s like the easiest park on earth to track GPS in it. But definitely no complete drops of GPS. That’s super odd.

  104. LES

    I’m someone who uses androids so the Apple watch is a no go for me. I also have a collection of mechanical watches. As someone who is recently trying to get into better shape and who has become obsessed with “fitbit” type data, I’ve reached a point that I’m tired of wearing a watch on one wrist and a tracker on the other wrist. I would get rid of my watch collection and spend a fair amount of money on the right smart watch.
    This is close, but I think they missed the mark on the athlete/fitness model.
    If the athlete model looked like the driver or aviator models (ceramic bezel and metal bracelet along with the silicone band), this would be my first smart watch.
    As it is, I’m still looking for the perfect smart watch that also looks like a quality watch.

    • Neil Jones

      You can buy the metal bracelet and easily fit it to the Athlete – it’s rip-off expensive at £270/$300 but that’s still overall much cheaper than the Aviator. Depends how important the ceramic bezel is to you, but personally I prefer the look of the one on the Athlete anyway.

  105. Mario

    The OHR sensor is just a further development of the Fenix ​​5 sensor, but not a innovation like Polar Vantage V. The Sony GPS chip consumes little energy, but it is very doubtful that the accuracy is much better in the near future. Thus, I hope that for the Forerunner 935 successor and for the new Fenix ​​a more powerful chip is installed.

    • Honestly not sure anyone has seen the Vantage V optical HR sensor as the innovation we hoped it would be. I find their OH-1 sensor far better (which may well be positioning).

      As for future Garmin device GPS chipset usage, it’s highly unlikely Garmin is making a one-off GPS chipset change here. That’s simply not how Garmin works (and would be unheard of). When Garmin makes component changes for their devices, every device the company makes in that/like segment will use those components. It’s part of how they can reduce pricing compared to their competitors. Further, they wouldn’t waste all the software dev time for a new chipset for a single low-volume line that MARQ is.

  106. Thomas

    @Ray
    What vo2max will be shown on the main display; running or cycling – if you do both…?

    • Good question. Right now it’s showing running by default, but I’m not sure that’s always the case. For example, right now it thinks my cycling and running VO2Max are the same. I suspect on my next cycling workout (later tonight), I’ll do something that’ll trigger that to bump above the running. Then it’d be interesting to see if it displays the higher value.

      Note that when I say ‘by default’, once you open that widget open, then it shows the two values one after another.

    • Neil Jones

      I’m genuinely intrigued – do people’s VO2max value really change by so much they need to be to keep a constant check on it? Personally, mine pretty much sits where it is; maybe I can push it up by a point over the course of a year, but apart from that it maybe just flits up or down by one point for a ride and then goes back to what it was before. I get that it’s a core fitness metric, but – unlike the useful recovery time feature on the bottom of the dial – can’t help thinking it’s a bit of a gimmick on the watch face. Yet the over-the-top advertising blurb promotes it as the USP of the watch: “No other luxury modern tool watch with smart features shows recovery time and VO2 max scales on the bezel”. I guess it’s so I can “proclaim my current fitness” and “state unequivocally the champion’s tireless pursuit of victory”. Seriously, who writes this stuff?

    • Neil

      ^to be clear, I’m not saying that VO2max shouldn’t be available to view on the watch, just questioning why it needs to be a prominent feature on the face.

    • I agree – I don’t get why they thought it was an important metric for up top on bezel either. For most people, that metric won’t actually change much (if at all), once it stabilizes after a few weeks or months of training. Else, we’d all be pro sports athletes.

      The recovery time half makes sense a million times. Super smart. But the upper half was weird to me too.

    • Reginald Brown

      While we’re mentioning it, I already have my recovery hours as a complication on my Fenix watch face. So…I can already see that at a glance. I really think the Athlete was the afterthought of this lineup. Like they had the others and were like, “Well…athlete’s are our bread and butter, we should probably have one for them. Yeah, just throw a rubber strap on it. That’ll be fine.” I used to sail, and if I still did, I’d really be tempted by the Captain. If I had time to do lap days, I’d like the driver. The Explorer is really cool, too. I really like that strap, and priced out getting one for my Fenix, not sure I’ll spend $200, though.

      But the athlete…I just don’t see how it’s an upgrade at all to a Fenix…

  107. GrussGott

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned G-Shock watches like the MR-G series which can go for $5,000+, however for that price you’re getting hand-crafted japanese art in the case and dial – nevertheless that’s the market generally I’d think … although even MR-Gs are analog quartz watches which could easily last 10+ years.

    In any event, I think the Marq market is watch collectors generally (not just mechanical watches), and I’d definitely consider a Marq athlete for hiking, but i’m strictly a weekend warrior for a few hours. I’m also looking at a MR-G in the next month or two and a few G-Steels, and I could easily see adding this to the list, but …

    The problem for me is

    (1.) The Chronos disaster – Garmin didn’t show concern or commitment to this premium customer, mostly because …
    (2.) Garmin’s customer service is spotty, arbitrary, and not up watch shop standards
    (3.) What’s really special here? There’s a few slight extras … maybe the casework is better? Hard to say.

    So if somewhere like Topper’s is carrying Garmin now, great, but they’re certainly not the place to go for customer service, which means they’re PURELY a middle man … which means there’s a hefty markup which means stock eventually dumped onto the grey market, which means you might as well wait for jomashop to carry them.

    If you told me this watch has premium high quality casework, a 3-year new features commitment, a premium customer service commitment, and extras like global maps via a special Marq portal/website … then I’m in. As it is, there’s just not enough here so I’ll buy a MR-G and an F6

    • Neil Jones

      Yeah, as Ray said, the decision to push these out through high-end watch dealers is an odd one, and gives me a couple of concerns. It’ll be interesting to see how long these things stay at RRP (at least in EU where price fixing isn’t allowed). I’ve no insight, but I imagine that watch dealers typically deal with larger profit margins than tradition Garmin retailers would, and I’d guess Garmin would have had to allow them similar markups in the RRP to get them to stock the Marq range. So that gives jewellers much more scope for dropping prices. It’s already easy to pre-order one of these in the UK with 10% discount, and possibly a further 8.4% discount through cash back referral sites. I’d be irked if I bought one of these at RRP and 6 months later the prices had dropped by 40%.

      Second is what level of after sales service (I don’t mean tech support) could be expected from a jeweller? I don’t think watch retailers will really understand what these things are. They’ll see them first and foremost as a watch that just also happens to do “something to do with running or driving or something”, whereas a traditional Garmin retailer will understand what it’s about. Try to return it because the GPS isn’t fit for purpose and a sports retailer will at least understand your point, whereas I fear a jeweller’s view will be it tells the time like it’s meant to, so you’re SOL.

    • If there’s any comment bit I agree with the most out of the 263 comments thus far, it’s this bit:

      “If you told me this watch has premium high quality casework, a 3-year new features commitment, a premium customer service commitment, and extras like global maps via a special Marq portal/website … then I’m in.”

      Garmin didn’t do enough to make this really special. While they do commit to a specific support plan, I agree that a premium customer service angle would make sense. And as I noted above, the lack of global detail maps is a strong kick in the nuts. Given they put 32GB of storage space in these, it makes no sense that you can’t download all of North America, Europe, and large chunks of Asia into that – with the remainder on-demand.

  108. Gruss Gott

    Yeah, you’re spot on.

    As an example, I’m also a car guy and if you’re looking for a watch that connects with the romance it’s going to be mechanical chrono all the way (because they have an engine, transmission, gear train, need oil / service, etc plus can give you rough tool capabilities in the chrono). Thus the only reason to get a Garmin is if it has special tool capabilities – the track maps are kinda cool, but what does that do for me? If I can control cameras and drones then maybe, but I can’t see a car guy watch guy wearing anything other than mechanical unless it’s for a specific use-case.

    So, yeah, I applaud their push into the G-Shock type tool watch world to open up entire new market segments beyond the fitness people, but those new markets will ask for premium build, features, and service in return …

    A spendy watch is first and foremost jewelry with an emotional connection to identity –

    Garmin works for fitness folk because the tool utility is REQUIRED for that connection, so it must be a great tool watch or it’s useless.

    In the watch collector world, the tool aspects are performance art: few with a diver watch actually dive with it, few with a Tag Monaco or a chrono actually track race using it, few pilots (any?) use the Breitling slide rule to calculate their fuel, few with a Rolex Yachtmaster need it for yachting … instead these features evoke the romance and are a daily reminder of identity.

    Thus I’d say the Garmin Marq series is more like a G-Shock MR-G, attempting to swap out the g-shock durability and analog design for smart watch features. This could work for me because I try to sneak away from work for a trail run so having my Marq always ready to go could make it a nice daily if it comes with a lot of other things too …

    If not I’ll just wear a nice mechanical and put on an F6 for the run or do what I do now: polar chest strap connected to my phone, although I’d like to up my data game.

  109. TAFB

    The pictures of the Athlete version show an analog “Marq” watchface with arrows that point to certain values on the bezel for VO2max and recovery. The other versions also show similar analog “Marq” watchfaces. I am not a fan of skeuomorphic designs and HATE the fake watch hands on a digital watch. Do you know whether Garmin offer a digital version of the watchface with the same setup (arrows pointing to the metrics on the bezel)? I assume that developers would be able to create watchfaces to make use of the bezels in the same way – but it would be nice to have an official Garmin version.

    • So I dorked around a bunch this morning, and don’t see any other watchfaces that take advantage of that. Only that one watch-face, even all the other analog ones don’t show the little arrows.

      The digital ones don’t either, and I can’t seem to enable that data bit within the customize section. Not saying 100% you can’t do it as perhaps I’m missing it, but I’d put it at a strong 99%.

  110. CuseRunner

    The Expedition version is sweet looking. I wish I could justify the upgrade from my Fenix 5.
    I’ll be waiting patiently for the Fenix 6.

  111. Alberto

    Is it my idea or they got back one generation with the charger using the same as the FR 235 and FR 735?

    • It’s half-way in between. It has the clip-on style of the FR235/735/etc…

      But it’s got the deeper roundish quad-pins of the newer style Garmin devices (Fenix 5/FR935/many others).

      So depending on how you look at it, the best or worst of both worlds, compatible with neither.

  112. Alberto

    Also: Why there aren’t going to the retailers that normally sell other Garmin products?

    I mean: If you bought all your boat gear in one place, Why are you going to travel to even another city to buy a watch?

    In my country most (if not all) of the Garmin Marine retailers are, well, near the cost, and most of the high end retailer watches are on the capital, which does have a coast (of a non navigable river… so no Garmine Marine retailers).

  113. chester

    How strong is the notification vibrations? I found that the Fenix 5 has a weak vibration and at times i dont feel the notifications at all. Hoping Garmin improved the vibrations or made them stronger or give us the options to set the vibration strength.

  114. Jiri

    Ray, are there preloaded maps on all models? Does all models have ability to upload maps?
    Thanks

    • Yup, all models have pre-loaded base maps for the region you bought it in. Some models like the Aviator and Captain units also have purpose-specific maps (like Aviation and Marine maps).

      And I think Athlete also has topo maps too that the others don’t (don’t have the others handy at moment to check).

    • Jiri

      Would not it be logic, if Expedition have topo maps, too?

    • Yeah, I’m pretty sure it had it too if I remember. I may have taken a photo amongst my 2,839 photos I took.

  115. mbirth

    Hi, is it maybe possible for you to upload the GarminDevice.xml from the different models somewhere? You can erase the serial number, unlock codes and StoreKey as I’d only be interested in the various part numbers.

  116. JML

    I want to buy it. Called 3 places in their dealer list and couldn’t find any. Buying a Fenix 5x plus instead 🙁

  117. Fabio

    I hope they fail, or we will be seeing all the sports watch companies keeping the best features to their 2k+ watches.
    No tech value to justify those prices but luxury fashion, imho. <- and although I am not used to the luxury market, I think those watches have no luxury appeal, besides a fancy strap (we should be talking about free battery replacements for 10 years or things like that to position Garmin on that market, I doubt they will successful enter on those conditions)

    Maybe I am the only poor athlete out there, but I already find difficult to justify to myself spending 600+ US$ each year on my Garmins 5XL "like" (I mean from Fenix to Fenix 3 to Fenix 5 to Fenix 5XL to Fenix Plus, series…)

    Curious to see how things will proceed…
    …as always, congrats on the great review!!!

    • Reginald Brown

      There will always be a market for the less expensive watches. Even if Garmin abandons the niche, it’s not going away. Polar, Suunto, Coros, maybe Wahoo one day, will all occupy the space if Garmin leaves it empty, though I doubt they ever will.

  118. Francisco Escalante Plouin

    I have a question does the extra strap on the expedition is the same strap on the athlete one???

    Which ones is worthier? Athlete or expedition?

  119. Thomas

    @Ray
    Can you comment on the color of the start/stop button? On Garmin’s pictures it looks like green. On your pictures it looks more like yellow’ish…? What color does your eyes tell you?

  120. Carsten

    Super nice review..:-) One question regarding the bands. Will they fit the fenix 5 plus series..?

  121. Peter

    There is no reason to buy MARQ. They are expensive, have similar features as cheaper FÉNIX or Forerunner and are larger and probably less durable than them. I repeated it a hundred times. Still, I want them.

    • Neil Jones

      I think apart from the totally valid “I just want one” justification, there is actually another one – people who want (need?) to wear a quality/premium-looking watch for part/all of the day but also want the 24/7 metrics of the Fenix/FR.