As mentioned in my 2018 Gear post, I love my Garmin 935, but it’s not the watch for everyone. The following are a list of sports watches that I would recommend to others.
Garmin 935 Watch: is a do everything watch which is light enough that I don’t mind wearing it everyday. It has decent integration with my phone and provides every fitness and activity tracking feature I want. I appreciate the alert on the watch when it loses bluetooth connection with it’s paired phone that reduces the likelihood of leaving the phone behind. The Garmin 735 is a less expensive version of the 935. The 945 is a successor of the 935 with additional sports metrics and SpO2. All the Fenix 5/6 models have at least the same features as the 935. Some models have additional features such as downloadable maps. Fenix 5 have metal cases rather than the 935 plastic. This makes them more durable, but also heavier.
The Garmin Vivoactive3 (and now the Vivoactive4 and soon the Venu) are cheaper, smaller, and I think more attractive to the 9×5. I would recommend this watch to anyone who doesn’t watch to track multi stage events such as triathlons and are willing do without some of the more advanced fitness metrics.
Garmin Instinct is a watch designed for people who are more interested in trips into the back country than doing a triathlon. It looks like an old Casio G-Watch. Has most of map/routing features of the Fenix 5 but lacks many of the more advanced sports metrics
Suunto Spartan Trainer is a lowest cost decent triathlon watch from a major sport/fitness brand.
Apple iWatch is now the most populate smart watch. It has great integration between the iPhone and the the iWatch, but the combination of it’s poor battery life, touchscreen interface that doesn’t respond to sweaty fingers, and the so/so accuracy recording high excursion exercise stopped me from using an iWatch version 2 I won in a raffle. The Version 4 has a battery which can last up to 2 days and more accurate heart rate sensor. A downside compared to most sports watches is that the heart rate and GPS data is often not properly recorded for the first 1-2 minutes.
I generally don’t recommend Fitbit unless people want basic activity tracking and have friends already in the Fitbit eco-systems. Years ago I started with Fitbit, but I was disappointed using any of the models for more than basic activity tracking. I think Garmin is superior at every price point.
Amazfit Bip is amazing given it’s $99 retail, and often sale price of $69. Decent phone integration / notifications, warns you when you loose connection with your phone (why doesn’t the iWatch do this yet?!!), always on display, great battery life: 4 days if using all the feature and some runs using GPS to >30 days if you don’t use GPS and display updates 1/minute. Only downside is the heart rate sensor is extremely poor, often off by +/-25% making it completely useless.
Sigma iD.Tri is reportedly to be the cheapest Tri Watch (~$220) in the EU… a bit harder to get in the US. Not integrated as well as Garmin, Sunto, Polar, or Apple.
Ray Maker’s Buyer’s Guide is an incredible resource for anyone who need good recommendations / reviews related to Tri gear (cycling, running, swimming).