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Garmin’s $1,500-plus Marq GPS smartwatches take on the luxury watch world

Garmin’s $1,500-plus Marq GPS smartwatches take on the luxury watch world


Garmin is gunning for mainstays like Rolex, Breitling, and Omega

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Image: Garmin

Garmin is taking its fitness-focused smartwatches in a more premium direction with its new Marq line. It’s a series of luxury watches that will cost between $1,500 to $2,500, and they are targeting the high-end watch market that might ordinarily spring for an upscale mechanical watch like a Rolex, Breitling, or Omega instead.

A more luxurious spin on Garmin’s GPS watches

To that end, Garmin is releasing five smartwatches in the Marq line, each is meant to fill a different role where traditional timepieces would typically live, including driving, piloting a plane, boating, and hiking. Garmin’s also following in the footsteps of companies like Tag Heuer and Louis Vuitton by offering the build quality, materials, and price of a high-end mechanical watch merged with the internals and flexibility of a smartwatch. So while each of the Marq watches has different unique features, they all share titanium cases, sapphire crystal, and Garmin’s suite of smartwatch features, like notifications, activity tracking, heart rate sensors, and built-in music storage.

From left to right: The Marq Aviator, Expedition, Driver, Captain, and Athlete.
From left to right: The Marq Aviator, Expedition, Driver, Captain, and Athlete.
Image: Garmin

The five watches are as follows:

  • The Marq Driver ($2,500) is meant for racing. It comes preloaded with data for more than 250 tracks, and it offers unique features for tracking lap times, top speed, and other racing-related features.
  • The Marq Aviator ($1,950) features pilot-specific functions, including emergency navigation guides to the nearest airport, a map, course needle, weather reports, and flight logging.
  • The Marq Captain ($1,850) is designed for sailing. It has a special regatta timer, tack assist, autopilot and boat data functions, along with a “man overboard” feature that helps mark a person overboard and navigate the wearer toward their location.
  • The Marq Expedition ($1,750) is designed for hiking. Think of it as a luxury version of Garmin’s existing GPS watches. It has topographical maps, a compass, and an “expedition app” mode that extends battery life by weeks for longer trips (at the expense of other features).
  • The Marq Athlete ($1,500) is the cheapest Marq watch. It’s designed for, well, athletes. It focuses more on fitness features, offering performance metrics, running apps, and maps for finding the best cycling or running route.

The watches look pretty nice. Each has a design meant for the particular field (the aviator looks like a pilot watch, for example). But by limiting the unique functions and apps to the specific models, it feels like Garmin is sort of missing the point of having these watches also be smartwatches. The biggest downside to a mechanical watch is that a pilot watch will never be useful for say, diving since it lacks the physical complications and dials to track that kind of data.

A smartwatch doesn’t have those. In theory, there’s no reason why all of these watches couldn’t run all of these apps, creating a tool watch that works for every type of function instead of splitting them up across five models. As it is now, they feel stuck weirdly in the middle. Garmin’s watches lack the longevity and style of a mechanical counterpart, but they are needlessly stuck with many of the boxed-in limitations. Still, it’s interesting to see yet another smartwatch manufacturer take a shot at the luxury watch world.