Garmin is one of the most respected smartwatch brands on the current market.
Their watches are considered to be some of the best premium options available in the market. Not only do they look good, but they also perform well in real-world scenarios thanks to their excellent operating system and reliable build quality.
But Garmin wasn’t always a smartwatch company. Their areas of expertise have always been with GPS and other professional navigation equipment. This is one of the biggest reasons why Garmin leads the pack when it comes to GPS implementation in their smartwatches.
In this article, we will be going through Garmin’s rich history and achievements. We will also be going through Garmin’s smartwatch collection and go through the reasons that make them such a great smartwatch company. Keep on scrolling to find out more.
Garmin Brand History
Compared to most smartwatch companies such as Amazfit, Withings, and TicWatch, Garmin is a much older company. They were founded in 1989 in Lenexa, Kansas, and were initially known as ProNav. And as their name suggests, ProNav (Professional Navigator) primarily focused on GPS and other tracking devices.
ProNav initially only conducted business with entities such as the U.S Military. By the year 2000, Garmin was one of the leading developers of GPS devices in the world, with over three million units sold and around 50 different GPS models in their catalog.
After a few years, ProNav rebranded into Garmin, which was derived from the names of their two founders, Gary Burrell and Min H. Kao. The goal of this move was to expand their product catalog and reach a wider audience outside of professional navigation equipment. But of course, their new products still integrated their GPS Technology.
Today, aside from professional aviation, marine devices, and other devices that utilize location tracking, Garmin is also well known for products such as activity trackers, sports watches, and premium smartwatches that incorporate their previous innovations.
Some of Garmin’s popular smartwatch lines include the vívoactive®, Instinct®, Venu®, Forerunner® and Fēnix®.
Garmin Watch Collections
Garmin has a long history with fitness trackers. They have been producing successful products such as the Garmin Vivosmart and Vivosport. With their expertise, they eventually developed a product that would fill the gap between fitness trackers and smartwatches.
The result is The Garmin Vivoactive 4. This device utilizes Garmin’s proprietary OS that is found in Garmin’s higher-end smartwatches to deliver traditional smartwatch features such as smart notifications. But unlike competing smartwatches, the Vivoactive 4 places more emphasis on GPS and fitness tracking.
One of the key features of this watch is the Garmin Coach. It allows you to create adaptive training plans that tailor advice based on your performance as recorded by the watch. Additionally, the Garmin IQ store has a huge range of fitness-related apps that can be readily downloaded to the Vivoactive 4.
The Vivoactive 4 isn’t perfect, especially when it comes to the build quality. Unlike Garmin’s higher-end models, the Vivoactive 4 has a plastic build. It is sturdy enough for daily use but not as accident-proof as its more expensive siblings.
Also, the screen isn’t utilizing AMOLED, which means it won’t be as sharp or as vibrant compared to its competitors. However, it does use a transflective display, which makes it very usable in bright sunlight.
Garmin claims the device has a battery life of up to 8 days in smartwatch mode and 6 hours when continuously using the GPS. Overall, the Vivoactive 4 is a compelling purchase, especially for fitness and sports enthusiasts.
The Garmin Instinct is one of Garmin’s unique watches. Unlike most of their offerings, the Instinct has a more basic vintage Casio-inspired look and functionality. It also places heavy emphasis on durability, navigation, and fitness.
The Instinct has a boxy design with five buttons on the sides. The buttons are very important since the Instinct does not feature a touch screen.
And speaking of the screen, the Instinct features a monochrome screen instead of the usual vibrant AMOLED screens found on most smartwatches. This helps give the Instinct a retro look, which will appeal to those looking for a more simple smartwatch.
The Garmin Instinct does feature some essential smartwatch features, such as smart notifications support. However, the smartwatch features are quite limited due to the Instinct’s OS and lack of a touchscreen.
However, the main focus of the Instinct isn’t the consumer-level smartwatch features. The main appeal of this watch is its fitness tracking and GPS features. And thanks to its conservative spec sheet, the watch can last up to fourteen days.
This can come in handy during emergency situations. Overall, if you are looking for a more basic watch that has more fitness and exploration functions, then the Garmin Instinct is a great choice.
Garmin Vivomove Luxe
The Garmin Vivomove Luxe is part of Garmin’s luxury hybrid smartwatch series. There are two models in the Vivomove series, the Luxe, and the Style. The Vivomove Luxe is the higher-end option, which features a more premium build quality. The Luxe, in particular, is available in an 18 and 24K gold finish.
What makes the Vivomove Luxe unique is its design. At first glance, it pretty much looks like any luxurious analog wristwatch. The design is very clean, with no buttons to indicate that it is a smartwatch.
However, double-tapping the screen will reveal the hidden tech inside. The hands move to reveal two OLED screens. The screens are colored and are capable of displaying icons, making the Vivomove Luxe a full-fledged smartwatch.
Additionally, some features such as the stopwatch and the battery meter can trigger special movements from the hands. This adds to the immersion of the experience.
Also, since the Vivomove Luxe is a hybrid smartwatch, you can expect better battery life compared to traditional smartwatches. It can last anywhere from five to seven days, depending on the number of features that you use.
And lastly, the Vivomove Luxe comes with a smartphone app that is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. It heavily focuses on fitness tracking and presents several data, such as exercise records and sleep records.
Overall, the Garmin Vivomove Luxe nails a lot of the features that a hybrid smartwatch should have. It is minimalist enough and can pass as a regular wristwatch but has the features to compete with most smartwatches.
The Garmin Vivomove 3 is part of Garmin’s hybrid smartwatch series. It combines the look and feel of traditional wristwatches with the features of modern smartwatches. Like Garmin’s other hybrid smartwatches, the OLED display can be accessed via double-tap, which triggers the hands to move and reveal the display.
However, the main difference between the Vivomove 3 and newer models such as the Vivomove Style or Vivomove Luxe is that it is not as full-featured as the newer models. The OLED display is only located at the bottom portion of the screen and is only a monochrome display. This may or may not be a downside, depending on how complex your smartwatch needs are.
In terms of its features, the Vivomove 3 has all the necessary fitness and health tracking features that the newer models have. The watch can monitor heart rate, respiration rate (24/7), and stress. It also offers relaxation reminders, relaxation breathing timer, sleep, hydration, and menstrual cycle. The number of fitness and health tracking features that the Vivomove 3 has is quite impressive especially given how limited the OS on this hybrid watch is.
Also, the Garmin Vivomove 3 can receive notifications such as incoming calls, text messages, calendar alerts, and more. The Vivomove 3 is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Additionally, since the Vivomove 3 is not a full-fledged smartwatch, it does not consume as much battery as traditional smartwatches. It also means that the battery won’t die while you are sleeping, which dramatically increases the accuracy of its sleep tracking feature. The battery life of this watch is expected to last anywhere from five days to a whole week, depending on the features that you use.
The Garmin Vivomove 3’s build quality is also top-notch. The bezel material is stainless steel, and the lens material is chemically strengthened. Also, the frame is made of fiber-reinforced polymer.
Overall, if you are looking for an even more minimal smartwatch than the Vivomove Style and Luxe, the Vivomove 3 is worth a look.
Garmin Legacy Hero First Avenger
The Garmin Legacy Hero Series First Avenger Edition is a special collaboration between Garmin and Marvel. It is part of Garmin’s Hero Series that features several heroes from Marvel’s Comic Book Universe.
The main attraction here is the Captain America-inspired design. The aesthetics of this watch are based on Captain America’s appearance in Marvel’s comics. However, Garmin masterfully balances the superhero-inspired look with the classy smartwatch elements. As a result, the Garmin First Avenger still looks like a classy smartwatch instead of a toy.
The Captain America theme also extends beyond the physical design of the watch. Both the software side of the watch as well as the companion app received the Captain America treatment.
Several watch faces are exclusive to this smartwatch. New animations are also added to activities and applications such as the daily goals.
Also, as expected from Garmin, the specs are no slouch here either. The Garmin Legacy Hero First Avenger has a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 lens material, stainless steel bezel material, and fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover case material. It also features a leather and silicone strap.
It can also pretty much do all the fitness and health tracking that the other Garmin watches provide. Overall the Garmin Legacy Hero First Avenger delivers all the smartwatch essentials while adding hardware and software aesthetics that should appeal to fans of Captain America.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is similar to Garmin’s other premium smartwatches. It has advanced training features and the latest tech that would satisfy the needs of casual users, enthusiasts, and professionals. It is also equipped with Garmin Coach to help optimize your training routines.
But what differentiates this watch from the rest of Garmin’s offerings is its music features. It can seamlessly integrate with music streaming services such as Spotify It also has plenty of storage if you prefer to listen to your own music library.
Additionally, this watch has safety features to help avoid accidents when doing activities while listening to music. And in case you do get into an accident such as a hard fall, the watch will automatically send your location to your emergency contacts.
With all the features that this watch packs, it still manages to last up to six hours in GPS/music mode and seven days in smartwatch mode. If you are looking for the perfect music and workout buddy, the Forerunner 245 Music has your back.
Garmin Brand Reputation
Garmin is a highly reputable brand and is one of the forerunners of GPS innovation. Their GPS has been used by the U.S Military, which further adds to the reliability of their equipment. They have also been ranked as one of the most reputable US-based tech companies.
The quality and innovation in their products are always preserved regardless of what they are making. Even when making consumer-level and fashion-focused products, Garmin never fails to deliver. In the watch, GPS, and fitness tracking market, Garmin is synonymous with high-quality equipment. Because it markets high-end feature-packed smartwatches, it’s also known for being pricey compared to the competition.
For reference check out our recommended smartwatches under $200, – while we’ve recommended Garmin across a wide variety of sports and outdoor activities, they do not have many budget models that make the cut on a limited budget.
Is Garmin A Good Smartwatches Brand?
As mentioned earlier, Garmin is pretty much a tech giant when it comes to professional equipment such as GPS. The same can be said with their consumer-level smartwatches.
Garmin watches are often well built, regardless of the price. Whether it is utilizing metal or plastic, you can expect great reliability out of your smartwatch.
The Garmin Instinct, for example, is designed to withstand accidents that would normally destroy most smartwatches.
The only thing to note is that these watches usually come with a high price tag.
The Garmin Vivomove Luxe, for example, can be bought with exquisite materials, which further adds to its asking price.
Garmin watches are often more expensive than watches such as the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Smartwatches.
Based on its sports and outdoor adventure features, Garmin smartwatches often compete directly with Polar, Coros as well as Suunto and G-Shock.
But, of course, most consumer-level watches won’t have the same build and reliability as Garmin watches. If you buy a Garmin watch, you can expect a quality watch.
Where To Buy Garmin Smartwatches?
Where Are Garmin Made?
Garmin watches are manufactured in Taiwan, China, and the U.S., including at its Olathe headquarters.
Garmin Watch Warranty
All Garmin watches have a two-year warranty.