Garmin’s new luxury smartwatches bring serious heat to Apple Watch Ultra

If you want to impress your fellow yacht owners, these are the smartwatches you'll want to wear

Garmin MARQ watches second generation
(Image credit: Garmin)

I'm quite fascinated by the luxury watch market, where some people will happily pay more for a horrible-looking fashion crime than I'll earn in my lifetime. It's home to some very beautiful and desirable watches too, and it's a market that Garmin previously targeted with its very good-looking MARQ smartwatches.

Now there's a new generation, and it's clear they're looking to fiercely rival the Apple Watch Ultra, offering even more levels of luxury and performance. They seem a shoo-in for entry into our best smartwatches buying guide.

Different watches for every kind of wearer

There are five watches in the new MARQ range, and the names make it pretty clear who they're aimed at: there's the Athlete, the Adventurer, the Golfer, the Captain and the Aviator. It's fair comment to say that these watches are aimed at people of the male variety: while of course there's nothing to say that women can't wear big chunky watches, the marketing is all rich-looking guys with faintly pained facial expressions.

They're nice, though. They're tough-looking without being ridiculous, to the point where I'd say they actually look quite discreet. There's nice and impressively subtle use of colours on models such as the Athlete with its little hits of neon, and there are also some strong resemblances to iconic analogue luxury watches in models such as the Captain. Prices range from $1,900 to $2,400 / £1,599 to £2,099 and each one is made from Grade 5 titanium with a large, crisp AMOLED display.

All of the models here deliver vital signs tracking, energy monitoring and even Jet Lag advice to help you avoid the worst downsides of travelling, and the other features depend on the model – so the Athlete gets VO2 max monitoring, stamina monitoring, training readiness and other key fitness features while the Adventurer comes with topographic maps, round-trip routing and a new orienteering feature. The Golf edition has a virtual caddie and markings for you to track which hole you're playing, and the Captain has an autopilot that can connect to the navigation system in your boat. Because if you're in the market for watches at these prices, you're bound to have at least one.

All of the models here deliver vital signs tracking, energy monitoring and even Jet Lag advice to help you avoid the worst downsides of travelling, and the other features depend on the model – so the Athlete gets VO2 max monitoring, stamina monitoring, training readiness and other key fitness features while the Adventurer comes with topographic maps, round-trip routing and a new orienteering feature. The Golf edition has a virtual caddie and markings for you to track which hole you're playing, and the Captain has an autopilot that can connect to the navigation system in your boat. Because if you're in the market for watches at these prices, you're bound to have at least one.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).