Especially in the current economic environment, many people will think twice before investing their hard-earned money in anything, let alone a wearable, no matter how feature-rich or capable they are. If you're an athlete on a budget looking to get a new running or triathlon watch, you must have wondered: are Garmin watches worth the money?
The best Garmin watches come at a price, and they usually represent the gold standard in their respective categories? Looking for the best outdoor watch? You can't get anything better than the Garmin Fenix 7X. Best triathlon watch? The Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar is your best option. Because Garmin practically dominates the performance wearable market, it's no wonder the company's watches sell for such steep prices. But is this the only reason why Garmin watches are so expensive?
Price as a marketing tool
If you aren't into marketing, you might not have known that selling a product for a certain price can affect its value perception. Most products are sold for more than how much it costs to make them; that's probably obvious. However, this markup depends on many factors, including the product's research and marketing costs, the materials used and even where it sits in the company's lineup.
In Garmin's case, the US-based company has always been at the forefront of wearable innovation, and its products are coveted for being the most accurate wearables money can buy. Therefore, Garmin can sell its products for more as long as there is a demand, and there always is.
Garmin has a lot of watches, and pricing them right is part of its strategy. When some Garmin watches are nearly identical in terms of physical appearance and features – e.g. Garmin Forerunner 945 and Garmin Forerunner 745 – by pricing them differently, Garmin communicates their position in its broader wearable ecosystem, so you'll know which one's better, just by looking at their price tags.
Let's not forget about R&D costs
Now, we aren't suggesting that Garmin sells its watches for a lot of money for no other reason than they can. The company is always busy innovating and bringing new features – both physical and digital – to the market before others do. For example, at the moment, the Fenix 7X is the only multisport watch that combines the solar-harvesting Power Glass with the durable Sapphire lens. Not to mention, said Power Glass is more sophisticated than the one found on the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar version.
Garmin isn't always the first one to roll out features, just like how Apple wasn't the first one to introduce the concept of the tablet in the form of the iPad; but even if it's lagging behind the competition, the way Garmin integrates new features is almost always flawless. Or, if it's not flawless initially, the company usually fixes it via software updates.
Constantly updating products also costs money. Garmin's products tend to stand the test of time and work perfectly even after years they've been released at no extra cost to their users. If anything, we should be grateful for Garmin's business model as after buying the watch; you won't have to pay a penny to access any of the advanced features, unlike if you buy – let's say – a Fitbit Charge 5 or a Whoop 4.0.
Should you buy a Garmin watch?
Not everyone needs a Garmin watch, and not everyone who needs a Garmin watch needs the best Garmin watch. It might be tempting to get the top-of-the-range Forerunner for 'just a little bit more', but, in reality, most runners and triathletes are best off using something like the Garmin Forerunner 255S (or the standard Forerunner 255 if you need something bigger).
As for whether Garmin watches are actually worth their price, that's a trickier question. Just like in the case of any wearable, most people are better off waiting for prices to drop before getting a new Garmin, especially considering the software updates mentioned above. Most electronic products are launched almost half-baked and get fixed over time, and although no Garmin watch ever felt like an unfinished product, it's true that they only get better as time goes on.
For the best prices, check out T3's best Garmin watch deals roundup, where prices are always displayed based on your location!