The wearables market has exploded in recent years, with Statista claiming some 929 million connected wearable devices were registered in 2021, and this figure is expected to soar past one billion in 2022. Whether it’s a smartwatch to save you from reaching for your phone every time you get a message or receive a phone call, or a fitness-oriented watch to help you log your run times or to coach you on your swimming technique, there is a wearable for everyone and practically every scenario.
One brand that has really championed the wearable is Garmin. Already a dab hand at producing GPS-enabled devices for a range of applications, Garmin has taken that technology and integrated it into a range of incredibly accomplished fitness watches, fitness trackers and smartwatches. The American company – now headquartered in Switzerland – offers wearables to suit all budgets and all user requirements, whether it be the do-it-all Fenix 6, a fitness watch for runners in the Forerunner, or something a little more lifestyle such as the Venu.
While it’s fair to say a vast majority of Garmin’s fitness watches and smartwatches are going to appeal to those who take their fitness seriously, they could also act as a catalyst to help give you some much needed motivation to get your health and wellbeing in order. So, which are the best Garmin fitness watches and smartwatches to buy right now? We’ve put together this definitive guide to all things Garmin.
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Garmin Fenix 6
Price: From AU $999/From US $549.99
As mentioned earlier, the Garmin Fenix 6 is the company's top-of-the-range wearable. If you want to track something, the Fenix 6 will be able to.
It's available in a range of sizes – 42mm;47mm and 51mm – with each size dictating the features it will have (the 51mm is reserved for the ultra-capable Fenix 6X Pro Solar edition) as well as other features such as the lens covering the display. It's well worth taking a dive through all the configurable options available to find the best Fenix 6 for you.
But the entire range shares many of the same features, including a tough and rugged design, built-in heart rate monitor and blood oxygen level, along with built-in GPS. You get a ridiculous number of built-in apps to support tracking for various sports, including swimming, running, golfing, rowing, hiking and skiing, with extra data given for each.
The Fenix 6 can do so much that we'd almost run out of space to list it all here. But, the short version is, there are few more accomplished and competent fitness watches out there. If you want the best of the best, only the Fenix 6 will do.
Garmin Venu 2
Price: AU $629/US $399.99
The Garmin Venu 2 is likely to be the Garmin watch that will appeal to most people. It combines the very best of both smartwatches and fitness watches, combining them into one rather attractive package. There is a second variant of the Venu: the Venu Sq, but the Venu 2 offers some extra capabilities, and for us, a more attractive design, as well as some 'Premium Features'. These include a high-res AMOLED display, stainless steel construction, and animated on-screen workouts.
With the Venu 2, you can monitor your heart rate, blood oxygen, respiration and even stress levels, and you can also receive guidance and coaching for a variety of sports.
Garmin has packed an impressive array of features and tracking capabilities into the Venu 2 and yet managed to give it an entirely affordable price tag.
Garmin Forerunner 745
Price: AU $849/US $499.99
As we said earlier, Garmin makes watches for specific purposes, and the Forerunner 745 has been made with runners and triathletes in mind. It has a dedicated triathlon tracking mode, which encompasses swim, cycling and running, with a detailed breakdown of your times and performance for each discipline. There's even enough storage onboard to hold up to 200 data entries across all three too, so you can easily compare and look back at your progress.
The Forerunner 745 can analyse your data and make daily workout suggestions based on them, so it might push you to work a bit harder one day, or suggest you take it slightly easy the next. If you only practice one of the three triathlon disciplines, you'll find dedicated tracking for each of these.
Music can be stored on the watch, or you can stream from a number of apps via a connected phone. Put simply, if you're serious about running, this is the Garmin watch for you.
Price: AU $749/US $799.99
Moving from triathletes to serious endurance athletes now, and the Garmin Enduro. This is the Garmin watch for those who need exceptional training and exceptional battery life. The Enduro's party trick is its ability to draw power from the sun, giving it up to 65 days worth of power when in smartwatch mode.
It's not the most feature-laden watch in Garmin's arsenal, but it does offer GPS, heart rate and Pulse Ox monitors, as well as 24/7 fitness tracking, combined with features that those who enjoy long hikes and climbs will find useful,
With a tough, rugged weather-resistant case and a lightweight build, it's the perfect companion to wear exploring.
Garmin Forerunner 55
Price: AU $329/US $199.99
Keen runners who want a reliable fitness tracker and smartwatch, but don't need something with all the bells and whistles should take a look at the Garmin Forerunner 55. Garmin's entry-level watch for runners offers the very best 'basic' features, such as built-in GPS, training suggestions based on previous data, and of course, a heart-rate monitor.
It doesn't offer all the smartwatch features you might expect, however, such as support for payments. But you can still receive notifications via your phone and control music playback, although you can't store songs on the watch itself.
Garmin Approach S42
Price: AU $449/US $299.99
Golfers, there's even a Garmin watch for you. The Approach S42 has a number of dedicated golfing features built-in, including having maps for over 42,000 courses preloaded, so you can easily see where you need to your ball to land, as well as distances from the tee. An AutoShot feature will automatically keep tab of how many shots it takes you to get the ball into the hole, with all information displayed on the highly legible 1.2-inch display, which has been specially developed to be readable in bright sunlight.
The Garmin Approach S42 also has tracking capabilities for other sports, and will also display notifications for messages, calls and emails received on your phone. It's rather handsome too, making it perfectly suitable to wear off the course too.
Garmin Vivomove 3
Price: AU $299/US $199.99
While it's accepted that most smartwatches and fitness trackers will have digital screens to display information, some people still prefer their smartwatch to look like a regular watch, and that's where hybrid smartwatches come into play. Garmin's entry? The Vivomove 3. On the face of it, this is a regular watch, complete with analogue hands and indices. However, at 6 o'clock you're presented with a small display that can show a wide range of information, including your heart rate, daily fluid intake, sleep statistics and plenty more.
GPS isn't built-in, but it will happily piggy back onto your smartphone, and when you don't need to view any information, or you don't receive any notifications, the display hides away, allowing you to give off the illusion you're wearing a regular watch.
Garmin Vivoactive 4S
Price: AU $499/US $329.99
As the saying goes, big things come in small packages, and that's exactly the case for the Garmin Vivoactive 4S. A slimmed down version of the Vivoactive 4, the 4S offers incredible fitness tracking capabilities in a diminutive package. With an incredible array of health stats available to view, including blood oxygen, heart rate, stress, hydration, respiration and sleep, which Garmin analyses to give you a body battery score, essentially an indication of how much juice you've got in your tank.
Some 20 sports are preloaded for tracking, and with built-in GPS, you can be assured data will be accurate. You also get on-screen workouts showing you the correct form for certain movements, including yoga and pilates. Android users can reply to notifications directly from the watch too, and music can be stored for offline listening. The Vivoactive 4S is potentially one of the best overall watches in the entire Garmin lineup.
Garmin D2 Air
Price: AU $799/US $499
You don't just have to practice your sport or hobby on the ground in order to get in on Garmin's watch offering, as the D2 is a GPS-enabled watch designed specifically for aviators. A worldwide aeronautical database comes pre-installed, giving you navigation prompts, just in case you get lost when up in the sky. Detailed weather reports are onboard too, as well as in-depth information for airports, such as runway origination and length.
Multiple time zones can be displayed on the screen, so you always know the time back home, and if you want to workout when you get to your destination, a full suite of fitness tracking features are included too. So, if you ever happen to find yourself taking control of an aeroplane, the D2 Air is the Garmin watch for you.
Garmin Descent Mk2
Price: From AU $2,149/From US $1,299.99
From high in the sky to deep under the ocean, the Garmin Descent Mk2 is a dive computer you can strap to your wrist. Multiple dive modes are supported for both single and multiple gas dives (it's only waterproof to 100-metres), and you're able to add additional screens to display each mode. Easily find your way back to your boat thanks to start point tracking, and you can also use this information, including exit point, to help you work out which areas of the ocean you've covered.
Come back to the surface, however, and the Descent Mk2 has a number of built-in tracking capabilities for a variety of sports, including advanced metrics such as running dynamics, a recovery advisor, and an in-depth VO2 max metric. Skiing and surfing are both supported too, as are built-in maps with navigation for when you're out running or cycling.
Garmin quatix 6
Price: From AU $999/From US $699.99
Sticking with water, the Garmin quatix 6 is a watch for anyone with a passion for boating and sailing. Available with an optional sapphire lens and solar charging, the quatix 6 is essentially a Fenix 6 that has been repurposed to be the ultimate marine companion. It's capable of connecting with Garmin chart plotters (available to be installed in boats) to synchronise all data to the watch. And you can even use the quatix 6 to control your boat, from your wrist – talk about convenience. Other features that be controlled via the watch include your boat's onboard audio system.
As expected, the quatix 6 is also a handy fitness tracker, with multiple sports supported, including skiing (complete with ski maps) and satellite navigation.