The best Polar watches have a bit of a cult following: they are known to be the go-to watch for any athlete – let them be runners, cyclists or triathletes – who need accurate workout and recovery data to train more efficiently. The two latest addition to the Polar roster, the entry-level Polar Pacer and the flagship-like Polar Pacer Pro, aim to continue the tradition of bringing more data to people in an accessible way.
The tandem running watch announcement is not a new thing from Polar. The Finnish brand tends to announce most of its watches in this fashion: look at the Polar Vantage V2 and Polar Vantage M2. Will the Pacer duo replace the Vantage series? We aren't sure, but the Pacer family does resemble the Vantage setup a lot.
The most important question: will the Pacer and Pacer Pro help Polar stay relevant in an increasingly busy fitness watch environment? One where exciting upcoming brands continuously push the boundaries of what people should expect from fitness wearables? There is a lot riding on the Pacer watches for Polar.
Whatever the future holds for Polar, there are at least three things that got me excited about the Pacer and the Pacer Pro. Admittedly, being a multisport watch junkie I am, I'm super excited about the Polar Pacer Pro and I can't wait to put it through its paces. That said, the beginner-friendly Pacer also looks interesting and is significantly cheaper than the Pacer Pro.
Polar Pacer and Polar Pacer Pro: Price and release date
Both the Polar Pacer and Polar Pacer Pro have been announced on 13 April 2022 with the Polar Pacer Pro being available from today at Polar (opens in new tab) and retail stores worldwide for $339/£259/AU$449 in Carbon Grey, Snow White, Midnight Blue, Autumn Maroon, and Aurora Green. Aurora Green will be available later this year.
The Polar Pacer is available for pre-order for $/220£169.50/AU$295 in Night Black, Cloud White, Deep Teal, Purple Dusk, and will start shipping in May.
Polar Pacer and Polar Pacer Pro come with custom-made silicone Polar wristbands that "ensure a superior fit and optimal heart rate measurement", according to Polar. Polar Pacer works with any standard 20mm wristband with quick release spring bars, and with the included SHIFT™ adapter, Polar Pacer Pro users can also attach any standard 20 mm wristband.
A new collection of Polar Pacer and Polar Pacer Pro accessories and wristbands will be available in mid-May.
3 reasons why you should be excited about the new Polar running watches
1. They come with an updated display
We haven't got a lot of technical details available about the watches yet, but Polar says the displays of both watches have been updated so they can be read better even in broad daylight.
What we know is that the Pacer and Pacer Pro have "bright and power-efficient" MIP (memory-in-pixel) reflective colour displays protected by an "ultra-thin" Corning Gorilla Glass 3.0 screen.
Seemingly, neither of the watches is touch-enabled, a surprising move from Polar in a wearable market where many watches come with AMOLED touchscreens and mega-long battery life. That said, I found the touch-controlled Vantage V2 a bit laggy to use, so maybe it's for the better the Pacer Pro uses buttons-only navigation?
2. They have a faster processor and improved antenna design
Both watches are powered by a high-performance CPU that is said to provide twice the processing speed compared to older Polar watch models. This is excellent news as one of the most annoying things about the Vantage series was the delay between user interaction and feedback from the watch.
Polar states the watches' processes are powered by a 192 Mhz CPU backed up by 5MB of RAM to provide a "fluid and smooth user experience, seamless menu transitions, and workouts that start at an amazing speed." The new antenna design offers accurate GPS with "no compromises in battery life" with up to 35 hours of training with full GPS and heart rate tracking.
3. You can now measure VO2 max by walking!
After reading through the press release and watching the presentation yesterday, what got me most excited wasn't the physical design or the myriad of performance features.
[For the record, I'm excited about the performance features.]
No, what got me all giddy was the fact that the Pacer and Pacer Pro can measure VO2 max in 15 minutes – via walking! The new Walking Test is an "uncomplicated test to estimate aerobic fitness by going for a 15-minute brisk walk on a flat path."
What?! What a revolutionary thing. I love running, but I can't wait to test my oxygen uptake by taking a pacey stroll.
Polar Pacer and Pacer Pro: Additional information
There is a lot I haven't talked about here, and there are quite a few features I need to verify when I finally get around to testing the watch(es). These include:
- Running essentials: Everything runners need from start to finish includes pace, time, laps, and a stopwatch.
- Phased training targets: Users can plan various workouts based on heart rate and speed zones for guided runs or set simple goals like “run 30 minutes.”
- Multiple running profiles: Whether they run across the city or on a track, users can define specific settings for different runs, including trail running, track & field, and indoor running.
- Route tracking: The built-in GPS provides accurate speed and distance measurements to follow every stride, and track runs anywhere.
- Running Performance Test: A maximal exertion test to estimate VO2max, fitness level, maximum heart rate, and personalise heart rate, speed, and power zones.
- Running index: After every run, users get a score based on the relationship between heart rate and speed to see how their running performance develops over.
- Sleep tracking features: Automatic sleep and recovery apps, including Nightly Recharge™ and Sleep Plus Stages™, track the quality and duration of sleep, and how well the body recovers.
- Music controls: Users can connect to the music app on their phone to navigate around playlists and adjust volume straight on the watch. Still no music storage, though. :(
- Smartwatch features: Current and forecasted weather conditions, push notifications, and 3rd party compatibility to connect with your favourite running apps.
- Battery life: Up to 35 hours of training time with full GPS and HR tracking enabled and up to 100 hours (7 days) in power-save mode.