Apparently Garmin is a Luxury Watch Brand Now
Garmin has announced the launch of its new premium smart watch, the Marq Collection. The collection of watches, ranging in price from $1,500-$2,500, is certainly a move into the luxury watch market by Garmin, which has been a leader in the fitness-focused smartwatch space for years.
But these watches take it to a whole new level. We’ve highlighted releases like Louis Vuitton’s Tamour Horizon smartwatch, which retails at $2,500, and Tag Heuer and Montblanc have also played in the luxury smartwatch space with their Connected and Summit collections, respectively. Both of those collections start at about $1,000.
Before shitting on them, let’s take a look at Garmin’s 5 new smartwatches.
First, all of them have an always on display, GPS and heart rate monitor, activity tracking, built-in music storage, and max battery life of 12 days. The case measures 46mm x 14mm (diameter x thickness), and has 22mm lugs. The display size is 1.2 inches in diameter, with 240 x 250 pixel resolution. They all weigh about 128 grams (for reference, my Black Bay 58 weighs the exact same).
Above: the Marq collection, as ordered below
The Marq Athlete ($1,500) is the cheapest Marq watch. It’s purpose is in the name: it’s got running and cycling apps, maps, and other performance metrics.
The Marq Expedition ($1,750) is designed for hiking. What some in watch circles might call a field watch. It has topographical maps, a compass, and an expedition app mode that extends battery life by weeks for longer trips.
The Marq Captain ($1,850) is designed for sailing. It’s probably the closest the collection has to a “dive watch”. The bezel has a “regatta timer”. There’s also 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 Aviator ($1,950) features pilot-specific functions. For the purists, that means a 24-hour bezel and GMT function, and light titanium bracelet. There’s also emergency navigation guides to the nearest airport, a map, course needle, weather reports, and flight logging.
The Marq Driver ($2,500) is the chronograph/ racing watch of the group. 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. But if you just want a good, old-fashioned tachymeter, there’s that too.
For reference, an Apple Watch costs about $400. According to WPP’s annual study, Apple is the second most valuable brand in the world. So why anyone would buy a “luxury” product from Garmin, a brand literally no one associates with that term, is beyond me. Plus, the Apple Watch isn’t a 46mm hunk on the wrist that looks like shit. It’s a svelte squircle that comes in two sizes and looks decent on anyone’s wrist. Additionally, wearing the Apple Watch is a status symbol in its own right (more of the “I wear $100 leggings and go to SoulCycle every Saturday” statement, but still). Not quite as noticeable as the AirPods, but twice as expensive.
I’ve been bearish, and will continue to be bearish on the “luxury smartwatch” sector. I just don’t know who it’s for. I own a smartwatch (an Apple Watch) and a few mechanical (“luxury”) timepieces, put would never smash the two together to see what pops out the other end.
The Verge kind of nailed it with their take:
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.
Like, why couldn’t one watch run all of the apps featured on these watches? There is no logical reason, except that Garmin is trying to pander to mechanical watch lovers and purists.