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Garmin’s new Marq 2 smartwatch lets you steer a boat from your wrist

With five different editions, the new Marq range is aimed at luxury watch enthusiasts with deep pockets

“We aim to be the market leader in every market we enter”, Garmin’s Vice President of Outdoor Brad Trenkle tells me, as we sit in a Lisbon hotel discussing the brand new Garmin Marq 2 range.

That’s no small feat when you consider the company’s new premium smartwatch has five specialist editions – Adventurer, Athlete, Golfer, Captain and Aviator – and each one competes in an entirely different space. But, when you look at the features offered by these watches, it’s obvious they’re built upon decades of experience in those respective industries.

Among other functions, the Captain will show vital data such as water depth and engine RPM when connected to your boat’s compatible devices and it will even let you alter the boat’s course via the watch’s autopilot app. It’s a similar story with the Aviator edition: it offers invaluable features such as an HSI (horizontal situation indicator) course needle and airport information directly from your wrist.

There’s no doubt these are impressive tools when put in the hands of the right user but what if you’re not a pilot or sailor? Does it make sense forking out upwards of £1,600 on the new Marq?

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Garmin Marq 2 hands-on review: Key specs and price

  • Size: 46mm diameter
  • Display: 390 x 390 pixel always-on AMOLED display
  • Weight: from 85g
  • Battery life: Up to 16 days
  • Waterproof to 10ATM (100m)
  • Multi-frequency positioning
  • Garmin Pay
  • Music playback, including Spotify
  • UK price: From £1,600

Garmin Marq 2 hands-on review: Design, key features and first impressions

The answer to the above question will depend on your viewpoint but, unless you’re a luxury watch aficionado, potentially not – and that’s fine, because that’s precisely who Garmin is targeting with the new Marq range.

Aside from some of the niche features I’ve already outlined, the Marq 2 primarily differentiates itself from other Garmin devices – and in terms of its different editions – via its design and build quality.

The new range is built from what Garmin describes as “grade 5” titanium, which it claims is “five times stronger” than stainless steel, and you also get a sapphire glass lens as standard. Both are intended to make the new watch highly durable. Each of the new Marq editions also offers a slightly different strap, activity button and bezel combination, and you’ll also have different watch faces available to you, depending on which you choose.

Importantly, they all look superb in the flesh; not one would look out of place in a premium jewellers or watch shop, although the Athlete does stand out as being the only variant with a silicone strap. And even if you never plan to set foot on a plane again in your life, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to own the all-titanium Aviator – it really does look the part.

The range’s appearance is also benefited by the fact the new Marq watches come with a touchscreen AMOLED display, as you get with the Epix. That’s a real game changer when it comes to using some of the more complex features on the Epix such as maps, so I’m confident it will elevate the experience you get with the new Marq range, too. By comparison, the previous-gen Marq device uses the same memory-in-pixel display you find in Garmin’s Fenix devices.

In terms of software, the main new headline features is a jetlag adviser, which Garmin claims can help minimise the impact of jetlag by recommending “light exposure, a sleep schedule and exercise”. That definitely sounds like a useful feature if you’re a jetsetter who’s regularly on the move, but what if you don’t fly very often? Arguably, then, it’s a little niche.

Aside from that, most of what’s on offer will be familiar to you if you’ve used a Fenix 7 or Epix smartwatch. There’s multi-band GNSS, along with Garmin’s SatIQ feature, which automatically enables the former only when necessary in order to maximise both battery life and tracking accuracy. Last, but not least, there’s an almost endless list of features to keep you up to date on your fitness and general wellbeing, including recent features such as training readiness and HRV status.

However, aside from a few design and software flourishes (there’s a different charging connection, for instance), it’s difficult to make the case that the Marq range offers anything drastically different to what you’ll get with Garmin’s superb all-rounder, the Epix.

Garmin Marq 2 hands-on review: Early verdict

You might think that would make it a difficult sell but I suspect its superior build quality, careful branding and the aforementioned flourishes are enough to draw the attention of luxury watch enthusiasts, where the Fenix and Epix ranges might not.

Until I’m able to put it through its paces, my main reservation about the Marq series, though, is whether it’s truly built to last the test of time. It’s all well and good being built with high-grade materials but what about repairs and software updates? You’d expect a Rolex to last you for decades; the same is unlikely to be true of these new Marq 2 smartwatches.

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