The 8 Best Garmin Watches of 2019

From smartwatches to fitness trackers

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

  • Best Fitness Tracker: Forerunner 935 at Amazon, "All the best activity tracking capabilities paired with plenty of smart features and GPS."
  • Runner-Up, Best Fitness Tracker: Vivosport at Amazon, "Also offers some smartwatch features like music playback controls and smart notifications from your phone."
  • Best Smartwatch: Vivoactive 3 at Amazon, "An excellent blend of smartwatch features, a slick design, and a reasonable price."
  • Best Hybrid Watch: Vivomove HR at Amazon, "Offers some of the same features as a smartwatch while maintaining a more classic, analog watch design."
  • Best Budget: Vivofit 4 at Amazon, "Offers a suite of fitness tracking abilities while boasting a battery life of over one year."
  • Best Value: Forerunner 35 at Amazon, "Affordable tracking in a smartwatch package."
  • Best for Athletes: Fenix 5 Plus at Amazon, "A robust timepiece that’s ready to track a wide variety of activities."
  • Best for Kids: Vivofit Jr. 2 at Amazon, "If you’re looking for a way to encourage your child to stay active, the Vivofit Jr. 2 can do the job."

Our Top Picks

Best Fitness Tracker: Forerunner 935

If you want all the best activity tracking capabilities paired with plenty of smart features and GPS, then the Garmin Forerunner 935 is hard to beat. As a fitness tracker, the Forerunner 935 is our top pick, but do keep in mind that it lacks onboard music storage.

One of the best selling points for the Forerunner 935 is its stellar battery life. The watch can get up to two weeks per charge in smartwatch mode. And, though GPS severely reduces that life, the Forerunner 935 can still muster up to 24 hours of battery life with both GPS capability and heart rate tracking enabled. All that, and it has a 1.2-inch color display to show your activities, smart notifications, calendar info, and more.

Because the GPS function lasts a long time, a lot of your tracking can include positioning data. So, whether you’re running, golfing, hiking, skiing, biking, or open-water swimming, the Forerunner 935 is able to track your activity and highlight where you’ve been.

You can also check out our list of the best fitness trackers available online.

Runner-Up, Best Fitness Tracker: Vivosport

If you’re not after a traditional watch design, the Vivosport is a very capable fitness tracker that offers a solid feature set including a suite of sensors, a handy 0.38-inch color display, and a swim-ready construction.

The Vivosport comes in multiple colors and sizes, each with a polymer case and silicone strap. They all also include heart rate monitoring and GPS. The basic smartwatch mode will last up to a week on a single charge, while GPS mode can last up to eight hours. If you only use the GPS during workouts, then you should be able to go a few days in between charges.

The Vivosport can track steps, speed, reps at the gym, running, and biking. While you’re exercising, it can also monitor your heart rate and let you know when you’ve reached specific heart rate zones. Beyond that, it also offers some smartwatch features like music playback controls and smart notifications from your phone.

Best Smartwatch: Vivoactive 3

Vivoactive 3

Courtesy of Amazon

For an excellent blend of smartwatch features, a slick design, and a reasonable price, the Vivoactive 3 is our top pick. The Vivoactive 3 offers a classical watch design and fits standard 20mm watch bands. There are a variety of configurations for the Vivoactive 3, some using polymer cases and others using a mix of polymer and steel. However, Garmin’s smartest version, which features music playback and Verizon connectivity, is built with a polymer case.

The Vivoactive 3 features a color screen with a 1.2-inch diameter. The screen uses a transflective memory-in-pixel display, which is visible in bright conditions without the need for any backlighting. Beyond being readable in sunlight, the display also helps the watch run for up to 5 days per charge.

The Vivoactive 3 has GPS tracking, a heart rate monitor, smart notifications from your phone (with the ability to send text responses and reject phone calls on paired Android devices), apps for calendar and weather, support for Garmin Pay, and many activity tracking tools. Whether you’re running, golfing, cycling, or swimming, the Vivoactive 3 can help track your activity.

You can also check out our picks for the best smartwatches available today.

Best Hybrid Watch: Vivomove HR

If you're the type who prefers a classy watch face to a high-tech screen, then that's where a hybrid smartwatch can come in. These devices offer some of the same tracking features and notification functions as a smartwatch while maintaining a more classic, analog watch design.

The Vivomove HR is Garmin’s shot at this corner of the market. There are both Premium and Sport versions available, with the key difference being that the Sport model is more affordable and lighter thanks to a polymer case, whereas the Premium model has a stainless steel case. Both have stainless steel bezels around the watch face.

There are multiple color options for each model, and they come with different strap types. Each watch is rated to withstand five atmospheres of pressure under water. A "Smartwatch Mode" enables the heart rate monitor, smart notifications on the mini OLED display, and some light activity tracking. The battery can last up to five days in Smartwatch Mode and continue to function for two weeks after that (with more limited features) before needing a charge.

Best Budget: Vivofit 4

One problem with a lot of smartwatch and fitness trackers: they're always running out of battery. Some smartwatches even require a daily recharge, like your phone. That’s not the case with Garmin’s Vivofit 4. The Vivofit 4 offers a suite of fitness tracking abilities while boasting a battery life of over one year.

As far as smarts go, the Vivofit 4 is fairly simple — it mostly functions as a watch and a step counter, though the small color display can also show the weather. There’s no GPS or heart rate tracking. But, if your goal is to simply make sure you’re getting up and moving around often enough, the Vivofit 4 can help. Because of its long battery life and ability to be worn in pools and showers, you can keep the Vivofit 4 on 24/7.

This tracker has a built-in accelerometer that allows it to accurately track and identify your movement, so it can recognize and classify all the different activities or exercise you do. It can also track sleep to see if you’re tossing and turning or resting peacefully. So, if you're just looking for a streamlined activity tracker without all the bells and whistles, the Vivofit 4 is a great budget option from Garmin.

Best Value: Forerunner 35

For affordable tracking in a smartwatch package, Garmin’s Forerunner 35 is your best bet. It features a display, heart rate sensor, GPS, and smart features.

The Forerunner 35 has a boxy design that includes a 128 x 128-pixel display measuring 0.93 x 0.93 inches. The display can show the time, text notifications from your phone, your activity data, and let you control your music playback on Android phones.

When it comes to tracking, the features are a little more basic than higher-end models. The heart rate monitor can run 24/7, which allows you to track activities as well as sleep. It can also track reps, running, laps, cycling, and your speed and distance. Though it can’t track swimming, the watch is rated to withstand five atmospheres of pressure and can last up to nine days on its battery (or up to 13 hours with GPS enabled). The Forerunner 35 is only available in black but can be configured with different color silicone bands.

Best for Athletes: Fenix 5 Plus

If you’re serious about sports and want a robust timepiece that’s ready to track a wide variety of activities, then the Fenix 5 Plus is where it’s at. This is a premium smartwatch loaded with features and featuring stainless steel, titanium, and even sapphire crystal lenses designs depending on your selection.

The Fenix 5 Plus offers a 1.2-inch color display that uses transflective memory-in-pixel technology to make it easy to see in sunlight and also easy on the battery. With GPS disabled, the Fenix 5 Plus can last for 12 days on a charge, and it can run for 18 hours with the GPS turned on. That’s plenty of battery for adventure and activity, and the 10-atmosphere water rating means you can take it even more places.

The Fenix 5 Plus comes with smart features for pairing with your phone, as well as local storage for music. It tracks your heart rate and a range of activities from steps and reps to floor climbing, yoga, and more. That’s just the beginning, with loads of additional features for running, golfing, outdoor recreational activities, cycling, and swimming.

Best for Kids: Vivofit Jr. 2

Garmin has something special in store for kids with the Vivofit Jr. 2. It's available with fun designs for kids, including Disney Princesses, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Avengers, Star Wars, and more. The silicone design is easy and comfortable for kids to wear, and the five-atmosphere rating means they won’t have to worry about getting it wet. With a battery life of up to a year, you don't have to worry about charging it either.

The Vivofit Jr. 2 works as a watch for your child, and it also tracks steps, monitors restfulness during sleep, and keeps track of active and inactive time. If you’re looking for a way to encourage your child to stay active, the Vivofit Jr. 2 can do the job. It includes a 60-minute activity goal, a reminder to move after periods of inactivity, and a reward system that offers your child in-app coins they can use to show you how active they’ve been.

Our Process 

Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular Garmin watches on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 30 different watches overall and read over 24 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.