Garmin Quatix 6X Solar review: the ultimate marine multisport watch

The Garmin Quatix 6X Solar smartwatch is honed for marine use, packed with sensors and ruggedised with salt-resistant titanium. We hit the high seas to test it out

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar Review
(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
T3 Verdict

The Garmin Quatix 6X Solar packs plenty of features for water-lovers in addition to the land-based tools of the 6X range. It's a potent – though single-minded – mix of tools, tech and data that will suit boat owners, SUP riders and kayakers alike.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Enormous battery life

  • +

    Brilliant navigation toolbox

  • +

    Wrist-based boat autopilot

  • +

    Excellent data presentation

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Overkill for landlubbers

  • -

    Complex and costly

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The Garmin Quatix 6X Solar is the latest in the Garmin 6X line, and clearly intends itself to be taken seriously. It's a big, beefy 51mm watch, liberally bestowed with titanium furniture, that packs not only Garmin's 6X platform but an enhanced overlay for 'marine' activities too. Those include niche but really-quite-cool wrist-based autopilot control, dedicated marine mapping abilities and bespoke sailing tools, all paired with Garmin's solar-boosted battery that runs for weeks. 

The result is a good looking – if large – multisport watch with GPS/GLONASS/Galileo navigational array, Wifi, Bluetooth and music integration with playlists from Spotify, Deezer, and even on-device music storage of up to 2,000 songs. 

So how does it match up against the rest of the best outdoor watches available? Read on for our full Garmin Quatix 6X Solar review. 

Update: there's a new marine smartwatch in this lineup – read about it in our Garmin quatix 7 Sapphire review. It adds a stunning AMOLED screen, although that does have an impact on battery life...

Quatix 6X Solar vs Fenix 6X Pro Solar

The Garmin Quatix 6X Solar is essentially Garmin's new flagship outdoor watch, albeit with a heavy watersports spin. However, that spin does introduce some changes that might surprise the unwary. On the face of things, the Quatix is based on the Garmin 6x platform, and thus comes with all the sensors, coaching, app integration and eleventy-billion included sport tracking profiles all set and ready to go. 

Oddly, Garmin appears to have broken the previous convention of 'Pro' designation bringing maps, music and WiFi, as the Quatix 6x includes all of these things anyway. Just like the previous top dog, the Fenix 6X Pro Solar, the Quatix sports a Power Glass face, boosting battery life enormously. The Garmin Instinct Solar uses the same technology to have an 'indefinite' battery life in Battery Saver mode.

Also like the Fenix 6X Pro Solar, the Quatix 6X Solar weighs in at a claimed 82 grams, and has the same display size and resolution of 1.40" ( 35.56 mm) 280 x 280 pixels. Indeed, side by side the two appear to be based on the same fibre-reinforced polymer case. 

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar Review

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar Review: Build quality and ergonomics

As noted above, the Quatix case appears to be identical to the Fenix 6X Pro Solar, with our test model coming with a shiny-finish titanium backplate and chromed buttons as opposed to the Fenix 6X Pro Solar's matt black pushers. With the same 6X 'quickfit' strap platform as the rest of the range, you can switch between the high-end titanium links and a silicone version in seconds, as well as a wide range of aftermarket straps to tweak the look. That ability is also potentially vital if using the Quatix's wrist-based HR for running or similar activities, which works perfectly with the silicon straps, but less well with a looser metal strap. 

The main physical difference is the bezel, which is resplendent in brushed titanium, and does deliver a high-end look without being too flashy. The Quatix has to reject the benefits of Sapphire glass due to the battery-preserving power glass, so be prepared to treat it with some care or risk picking up scratches.  Overall it's a nice looking watch in a well-considered package – albeit a substantial-sized one. 

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar Review: Battery life

Battery life is a key strength of the Quatix 6X Solar, and clearly an area that Garmin has decided (quite rightly) to excel in, banishing the bad old days of GPS watches that gave just a few hours use between charges. The Quatix 6X Solar packs in a quite ludicrous battery life thanks to that tiny solar boost, up to 46 days.

 Indeed, the discerning battery-usage-fiend might notice that these figures are precisely the same as the... Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar, which given the identical charger cable, size and weight might indicate that the very same battery lurks within this shiny exterior. That may be speculation, but it's no bad thing – the Quatix is just as frugal in everyday use as the Fenix 6X Pro Solar, needing very little contact with a USB charger in daily use. This is useful enough on land, but on an extended sailing voyage would be extremely useful indeed, offering up to 46 days in expedition mode. 

The full list is below, but in summer conditions you'll be self-sufficient for a week at least between charges, unless you're burning through the GPS and apps. 

Maximum battery life breakdown:

  • Smartwatch – 21 days +3 days
  • GPS: 60 hours +6 hours
  • GPS and music: 15 hours +1 hour
  • Max battery GPS mode: 120 hours +28 hours
  • Expedition GPS mode: 46 days +10 days
  • Battery saver watch mode: 80 days +40 days

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar Review: Modes

As with the rest of the Garmin 6X line, there are pre-installed profiles for pretty much every sport you could wish for, just with a bit of added marine flavour. This takes the robust form of Boating, Sailing and Sail Racing profiles, which rack in quite an array of tools, as well as related watersports sub-profiles such as fishing, rowing, paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing. 

On the sailing front you've got tack assist, a virtual starting line and countdown timer, while on the boating side there's an anchor alarm, boat data streaming and in a highly Bond-esque twist, autopilot control. A tide tables feature is particularly handy too, but requires a Bluetooth phone connection to sync (as do smart alerts in less nautical situations).

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar Review

(Image credit: Garmin)

As you'd expect, the Quatix supports Bluechart G3 coastal charts as well as land-based maps (including ski pistes and golf courses around the globe), and enables waypoint marking on them, pretty useful in many leisure-boating situations, and ideal as a navigational backup in SUP, kayaking and canoeing adventures. 

The marine goodies don't stop here though, with a Fusion-Link Lite app to link into common boating onboard entertainment systems and SailAssist race assistance to boot. There are caveats to all this of course – you'll need a compatible Garmin Chartplotter installed to link the watch and stream NMEA 2000 boat data, and of course a Fusion-Link entertainment system to control with the app. 

While these are pretty common installs on a certain class of boat, they're far from universal, leaving lots of smaller craft out in the cold. To be fair, the big benefits of this remote operation really only come into play on larger craft, where popping up to the bridge to tweak a course heading or log a waypoint might become a bore.   

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar review: Health tracking

The Quatix 6X Solar is no slouch when it comes to health tracking, as you'd expect at this rarified price point, offering all the benefits of wrist-based heart rate (which works underwater, swimming fans), as well as Pulse Ox8 blood oxygen saturation for advanced sleeping monitoring and acclamation. Recovery times from dedicated exercise periods are clearly indicated, while performance indicators such as Vo2 Max and resting heart rate recovery time (HRR) are usefully provided without forcing you to hunt around for them.   

There are a veritable host of wellness trackers too, from the potentially useful 'abnormal heart rate alert' through to 'sleep' and 'hydration' tracking, or 'relaxation reminders' – which sound pretty stressful. There's a step tracker (inevitably), and that ties in with Garmin's app to provide activity achievement badges and the like. While this is all fair enough in some use cases – maybe entry level fitness, golf and boating for the active retiree – it does jar a little with the more technical aspects of the 6X line, and the Quatix in particular. That said, presumably the assumption is that users will simply pick the bits they like out of the enormous potential list and ignore the rest, in which case you'll be happy enough. 

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar Review

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar review: Activity tracking and precision

As with the other 6X units, the Quatix 6X Solar is a highly-competent GPS tracker, picking up satellites quickly and easily. Switching between modes – such as land based maps and boating maps – can take a few seconds, but no longer than it does to cast off. A little boating extra is the waypoint marker function (hold the top right button) which when at sea becomes a MOB (man overboard) marker, creating and activating a waypoint on the watch from where the person fell in. This allows you to navigate back and rescue the person, although if the MOB is you, you'll probably just be getting a stress tracking alert. 

Joking aside, the wrist HR is as good as any of Garmin's dedicated multisport watches, so keen runners and swimmers alike are well catered for. The large screen makes it easy to absorb a lot of data with a quick glance, and even operating complex navigation on the move is relatively doable. 

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar review: Verdict

The Garmin Quatix 6X Solar is a bit of a puzzle, not because of any shortcomings, but due to the quite niche USP. For pleasure boaters with sizable craft, Garmin plotters and Fusion entertainment systems then this is an absolute no-brainer multisport watch buy. 

But there are quite a few caveats in that statement. The watercraft specialism also adds more complexity to the watch, layered on top of the already very functionally dense 6X platform, which either adds more options to your toolbox, or adds confusion, depending on your viewpoint. 

This is a bit of a shame, as the rest of the watch is just as good/effective/accurate as the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar, for example, and comes in at a similar price point. However, for dedicated coastal SUP/sailing/kayak folks then the Bluechart G3 mapping on offer here should be a convincer too, and the battery life is compelling for absolutely anyone (as are the land-based activities, coaching tools and NASA-grade sensor array). 

In short, the Garmin Quatix 6X Solar probably does have a genuine claim to be the ultimate marine multisport smartwatch, but is somewhat single minded as a result – closet landlubbers might be better consulting our best outdoor watch guide for an alternative.

Mark Mayne

Mark Mayne has been covering tech, gadgets and outdoor innovation for longer than he can remember. A keen climber, mountaineer and scuba diver, he is also a dedicated weather enthusiast and flapjack consumption expert.