Considering the popularity of chronographs, altimeters, and regatta timers on wristwatches, you’d be forgiven for thinking we live in a world full of race-car drivers, airplane pilots, and ship captains. In truth, most of the apparatuses on traditional tool watches are primarily decorative. Garmin, the Kansas-based tech firm famous for its high-end GPS equipment, hopes to change that. It introduced its Garmin Marq series, a new lineup of smart tool watches that suit just about every need, and every lifestyle.
The series includes the Athlete, Expedition, Captain, Aviator, and Driver. Each features classic elements of traditional tool watches, as well as high-tech digital upgrades. “The tools today have moved on,” says Todd Register, the lead on the Marq series and creative leader of outdoor at Garmin International. “We have these pretty high-end functions for those who want to climb mountains and drive race cars. But at its core, Marq is a great everyday lifestyle tool as well.” Streaming music, health statistics, Garmin Pay, and notifications all feature alongside more adventurous tools, such as GPS-enabled regatta timers, emergency access buttons, lap timers, and VO2 max scales.
“We’re trying to combine both old and new [technology] together in interesting ways,” says Register. “We wanted the watches, from a design perspective, to feel familiar.” To that end, four of the five Marq series watches feature traditional tool watch markings—a 360-degree compass bezel on the Expedition; a ceramic regatta timer on the Captain; a mirror-polished 24-hour GMT bezel on the Aviator; and a carbon-coated tachymeter on the Driver. On the Athlete, there is a bezel that integrates the watch’s smart technology to show recovery time and VO2 max—a marriage of both old and new. “You see a range, from existing markings of tool watches to new ones in the lineup, and we combine that with software to do some interesting things,” says Register.
Perhaps the biggest appeal of the Marq series is that—unlike a lot of other smartwatches on the market—form is every bit as alluring as function. Four years of development went into the series before its debut, and the high attention to detail shows in its hardware. Elements like brushed-titanium cases, DLC carbon coating, Italian leather and woven jacquard straps, and Garmin’s quick fit system, which allows for a seamless swap between straps. It’s smart technology with the trappings of its high-end mechanical brethren. “Some people just want to wear a nice watch,” says Register. “If you can give them that, they will appreciate the convenience and the health metrics that can come with it.”