The Garmin Marq Athlete is the cheapest watch in the new range of five smartwatches and it costs £1,399.99. The most expensive – the Garmin Marq Driver – costs £2,249.99. We mention this first to give you an indication of what to expect from the line, because it’s quite a leap compared with Garmin’s previously top-of-the-line Fenix 5 Plus range, which is hardly cheap but managed to stay in triple digits at least.
That this is something new should be immediately apparent at first glance. All five of the Marq watches are spectacularly good-looking and will probably do a better job than any past smartwatch in convincing those who are committed to the style cachet of luxury analogue watches to make the switch to smart.
If you opt for the Driver, Expedition, Aviator or Captain versions of the Marq, you also get some clever new features related to their specialisms. So the Driver has 250 preloaded race tracks on board, while the Aviator can show your flight path on a colour map and direct you to a nearby airport in an emergency.
The Athlete version, however, has a very similar feature set to the Fenix 5X Plus, the most advanced multisport watch in the Garmin’s existing line-up. It shows your VO2 max and recovery time on the bezel, which is a nice touch.
There’s also colour maps and the ability to create running routes on the fly; performance metrics like your training status, VO2 max and race predictions; and you can sync up a compatible device to get info on your running technique like ground contact time. The Marq Athlete also has a PulseOx sensor, which can tell you how well your body is adjusting to higher altitudes.
The smart features of the watch are also impressive, with detailed notifications, Garmin Pay, and the ability to store and stream music. The latter links to a Spotify Premium account so you can wirelessly sync and update your playlists on the watch.
Battery life is good at 28 hours of GPS and nine hours of GPS plus music. We say good rather than great because that’s actually less than what you get with the Fenix 5X Plus, which has 32 hours of GPS and 13 of GPS and music.
It’s a fine set of features, but like we say, the key differentiator in the Marq Athlete from the Fenix range is its stellar design, though the Fenix 5X Plus is hardly an uggo itself. Whether the design alone is enough to convince people to part with more than a grand will be interesting to see, but it’s certainly the case that the Marq Athlete is the closest Garmin has come to matching the looks of a quality analogue watch with a sports tracker.
Buy Marq Athlete from Garmin | £1,399.99