Garmin Unveils Purpose-Built Smartwatches For Its 30th Anniversary

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GPS tracking technology expert and wearable manufacturer Garmin unveiled a new series of smartwatches this week in celebration of its 30th anniversary. The new lineup called MARQ comprises five different models described by the OEM as "tool watches." All five models share a lot of similarities in design and specifications, but each timepiece is unique in that it employs a number of purpose-built features catering to different lifestyles.

The new Garmin MARQ series includes the Aviator, Driver, Captain, Expedition, and Athlete models. Each of these variants employs several premium materials working together to create a durable product, including a sapphire crystal lens to protect the digital display. Each model carries the internal hardware in a lightweight titanium chassis and has a ceramic bezel inlay to minimize wear and tear.

Feature-wise each new model has an always-on display, it offers built-in music storage, and is equipped with sensors for monitoring the heart rate and blood oxygen levels. The watches can offer daily activity tracking, smart notifications, and access to Garmin Pay.

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Every model can last for up to 12 days on a single battery charge in smartwatch mode, up to 48 hours in UltraTrac mode, or up to 28 hours in GPS mode.

Each new MARQ variant brings something different to the table

Aside from the aforementioned common characteristics, each model is equipped with its own unique set of features for a different lifestyle. The MARQ Aviator, for example, features a custom-built monochromatic watch face providing access to aviation maps, airport information, and Garmin cockpit integration. It also sports a GMT bezel for quick information regarding different time zones, and weather data via Nexrad Weather Radar.

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The MARQ Driver and MARQ Captain stay true to their monikers in a similar fashion. The former is pre-loaded with information for more than 250 race tracks and provides a track timer, auto lap splits, and live delta time data. On the other hand, the MARQ Captain has a watch face capable of displaying the conditions in a port, the current temperature, wind speed, and tide information. All of this is topped off with the inclusion of coastal charts and a regatta timer bezel.

For adventurous prospective buyers, the MARQ Expedition comes with its own unique set of tools, ranging from an altimeter, barometer, and compass, to communications with inReach Mini satellites, though this particular service requires an active subscription to the service. The watch also offers real-time information regarding current and upcoming climbs based on different filters like elevation and distance.

Last but not least, the MARQ Athlete built for an active lifestyle offers V02 max and recovery time information directly on the bezel. Unsurprisingly this model is equipped with a wide range of biometric sensors and provides advanced workout statistics.

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Availability, pricing & Garmin's smartwatch market performance

Garmin was unable to provide an exact launch date for the latest MARQ "tool watch" series but confirmed it will become available sometime in the second quarter of the year. Prices will range from $1,500 to $2,500 but once again, it's unclear which one of the five new models will represent the lineup's entry-level as far as pricing is concerned.

In 2018 the OEM managed to ship 1 million additional smartwatches compared to a year before, for a total of 3.2 million units. Despite this improvement, Garmin's smartwatch market share fell year-on-year from 7.5 to 7.1-percent and has been outperformed by rivals including Samsung, Fitbit, and Apple.

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Given the price range in which Garmin's new wearables reside, they are not meant to compete directly with smartwatches such as the new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active or Fitbit's recent range of affordable wearables. The MARQ watches probably won't contribute much to improving the OEM's market performance but fans of the brand might appreciate them as commemorative timepieces designed to celebrate Garmin's 30th anniversary.