Best Fitness Watches
Is it a watch, a fitness tracker or other smartphone? Innovation has certainly made wearable tech part of everyday life. For anyone looking to improve their fitness, fitness watches provide added information and motivation to keep moving and pushing harder each and every day. Fitness watches are convenient and cost-effective compared to medical office technology. They allow you to track various fitness metrics that you would otherwise need to see a doctor or fitness specialist for data collection.
If you track fitness metrics, having a fitness tracker that gives real-time and accurate data is a fundamental reason most people are buying a fitness tracker. And while a fitness tracker doesn’t need to be stylish, it won’t hurt to have a watch that goes from the office to the mountains. Below we have listed the top ten best fitness watches in the market today including detailed criteria for each product to help you decide which one suits your fitness needs best.
- Suunto Ambit3 Peak
- Good battery life
- Multiple fitness metrics
- Garmin Forerunner
- Apple Nike Sportwatch
- Easy toggling
10 Best Fitness Watches
Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Suunto is a brand known for dive computers and precision instruments including dive watches. The brand history lends itself to integrating technical data into durable wearable tech.
Push features for incoming weather keep you safe and healthy. Bike power support is available via Bluetooth Smart.
Designed by those and for those who love being out in the elements. The Suunto is a smartly designed fitness watch for everyone from the weekend warrior to a career triathlete.
- Advanced training metrics
- Lightweight waterproof design
- High end cost
Garmin Forerunner 920XT
Garmin is a leader in GPS technology and innovation. Garmin fitness watches are no different when it comes to integrating a lot of technology into a small device.
Race predictors for serious cyclist and runners with additional attachments and pairing. Running dynamics metrics measure cadence and ground contact time to help stay on pace.
A good investment for serious athletes who want to as much information as possible to improve results. The Garmin Forerunner 920 XT is a fitness watch that will provide results for years.
- Advanced training metrics
- Lightweight waterproof design
- High-end cost
Apple Nike+ Sportwatch
Both Apple and Nike have their names on this watch, but really, this watch is using Apple’s technology to work and track your progress. Apple, of course, is a famous manufacturer of high-quality technological products. Not only do they continue to use inventive technology to make their products better while also offering new and innovative products on a yearly basis, they are also well-known for having some of the best customer service around. You’ll be able to call them anytime you need assistance, and Apple is always quick to help with returns or replacements of its products. Apple did a good job with this watch, and Apple is one of the first brands on the market that decided to make a smart watch that was targeted towards athletes. Smart watches for athletes didn’t exist until Apple thought of it and then did it, and they do have a decent watch with their product here.
When compared to some of the other products on this list and other brands, it’s obvious that some other manufacturers of athletic smart watches have been doing this with more focus and force than Apple. However, Apple has made a good watch here, with only one major drawback: the battery life on this watch isn’t great. If it had a better battery life, this might be one of the best watches on our list here, since it has a lot of great features. It does the job of giving athletes what they need while still making a watch that is very easy to use. All of that is a real plus since their isn’t a huge learning curve with this watch, just like there isn’t much of a learning curve with many of Apple’s other products.
Apple as a brand has always done a good job of taking the innovation of other brands and then refining them, adding their own unique ideas to the product and then creating something that’s got a very large mass market appeal. Combining their branding technique with the use of Nike’s name makes this an attractive and appealing watch simply based on those two brands. And you won’t be disappointed by either company if you select this watch. You’ll be able to customize this watch pretty much endlessly, since there are a wide variety of apps for it as well as data management concepts. It also syncs very well to your smart phone, which makes it easy to use, and the interface is quite simple.
Apple has made this watch to be very simple and easy to use, which is a real bonus. Of course, Apple’s been known for doing that to their technological products for many years now. You get an intuitive watch you can customize to no end, and that makes it a fun product to have. It’s easy to get this watch to do whatever you need it to do. While new apps does require a little bit of time learning new things and figuring them out, by design, the interface is simple and easy, and most of the apps are pretty easy to figure out. Plus, if you are a fan of Apple products, this shouldn’t be a difficult product to use.
Apple’s watch has a bevy of features, and some fall under the hardware category, while others are software. Since you get a customizable watch you can endlessly update with an infinite amount of apps, the features on this watch also seem to have no limits, which is really a nice bonus if you want a good, all-around watch. In reality, the apps you’ll get on this watch use sensors and antennae to help track your data and activity. And you also get some fixed hardware in this watch that works very well, with nice sensors and good technology that keeps track of just about everything. This watch can track sleep data, time, step count, GPS distance, give you GPS navigation, measure altitude, measure temperate, heart rate, and other concepts. All of these measurements work very well since Apple gives you a watch that uses built-in internal sensors as well as the GPS tracking technology, so you get pretty reliable and accurate readings with this watch. As far as the software in the watch is concerned, you’ll get so many customizable options with this watch with all of those apps, it would be difficult to ever get tired of this watch. You’ll be able to track just about anything and customize your work outs however you’d like with this watch. So, you’ll get a whole bevy of app features whenever you need them.
While the thing we like least about Apple’s watch is its short battery life, if you are able to get past that and you really love Apple products, then we’re pretty certain you are going to love this watch, too. Since it offers a lot of customizable apps, you’ll be able to track just about anything endlessly with this watch, and get everything you need and want out of your work outs. Another very nice thing about this watch is how accurate its readings are. In comparison to some of the other watches on our list, this is a very accurate watch, and you’ll get readings that are very close to reality. We could only find that the Apple Watch GPS distance data might be off from time to time by, at worst, 1%. That’s not too bad, and makes this watch far more accurate than some of your other choices. Having that level of accuracy with your GPS combined with a lot of customizable features certainly makes this a nice watch to have on when you are trying to track your work out progress. Plus, the watch is also pretty easy to set up, especially if you have an Apple iPhone. This watch connects and syncs easily to any Apple iPhone, making it simple to use. However, if you don’t have an Apple iPhone, then move onto a different watch, since you won’t be able to set this watch up at all. With an iPhone, this is one of the easiest watches to setup, and you’ll be ready to use it anytime and sync it to your phone easily. Since everything is so easy to track with this watch, you’ll love using it and working out with it.
- Steel bezel for easy smart watch toggling
- Traditional and stylish appearance
- Water resistant, not waterproof
Casio G-Shock Mudmaster
Casio G-Shock is known for durable activity watches. For a reliable watch in almost any adventure, G-Shock continues to prove why it’s a leader in the sports watch industry.
A digital compass for navigation through tough terrain. The double LED light illuminates the watch at night for improved readability.
The G-Shock Mudmaster is an old school sports watch that will take some serious abuse and continue to provide reliable data. While many athletes love the G-Shock brand, this is not a true activity tracker.
Fast processing of data All the required features of a fitness tracker Large easy to read screen Long battery performance Quick to recharge Waterproof and durable. Check the strap is tight enough for monitoring heart rate.
Chianruey Fitness Tracker
A very popular product in the UK and USA and in Canada if you have any problems obtaining this watch the Aneken Smart Bracelet is a comparable performer.
An impressive combination of features which are a Bluetooth version, with a transmission distance which reaches 32 feet ( 10 meters), a fast CPU in the form of the NRF2832 from Nordic, a sensor system from Kionix, a silicon HR-sensor, very nice OLED screen measuring 0.96 (inch). The battery is long life and offers a good capacity at 7.oAH so that's a working rate of up to 10 days. Recharge takes only 2 hours and the weight of this product is 0.82 ounces a lightweight 23.5 grams.
For easy vision a waterproof curved color screen.
waterproof in the shower and for swimmers but limit to a depth of two meters.
Tracks your heart rate and sleep duration.
Gives data on the natural quality of your sleep.
Nice temperature display.
Tracks your calories.
Continuous reliable heart rate monitoring.
A good accurate step counter and a reliable GPS.
This watch offers fourteen useful varied sports modes
Process data very rapidly.
USB charger for quick convenient recharging.
It can be connected easily to any PC or power source which works with a standard universal USB.
Available at a sports people friendly price.
Fast processing of data
All the required features of a fitness tracker
Large easy to read screen
Long battery performance
Quick to recharge
Waterproof and durable.
Check the strap is tight enough for monitoring heart rate.
Huawei Watch 2
Huawei is an emerging Chinese brand, currently considered in the top 3 for smartphone and wearable tech. Huawei is aggressively seeking to improve its products to be more competitive on the Android and iOS platforms.
Download additional Android health apps for extra fitness tracking. NFC and Google assistant to pay on the go without your phone.
A stylish smart watch with many features for a mid-level fitness buff. Ceramic bezel gives a real watch look with a rugged design for moderate activities on land.
Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch
Fitbit is the leader in fitness trackers and has crossed over to the smart watch market. For those who love the original Fitbit series, the new smart watch design delivers more than ever.
Various color finishes make it a stylish accessory for work or play. Access to the plethora of apps the App Store offers.
The Fitbit Blaze gives the stylish looks of the Apple Watch with the reliable data known expected from the Fitbit line of activity trackers. Expect more smartphone features as Fitbit integrates more apps with the tech.
Garmin Fenix 5
Garmin, as a brand, is well-known for producing high-quality outdoor products, and they have a nice focus on sport watches. Their Fenix 5 watch is no different, and you’ll get outstanding customer support when you purchase this product. Garmin makes sure their products are very high-tech and include all the latest features in their designs. You’ll not only be able to track your workout progress well and know where stand at all times with that, but you get a lot of safety knowing you’ll be able to track your location with the GPS and compass features on this watch. You’ll be able to track all of your exercise progress and even use personalized apps from their app store. You can track different types of sports and workouts as well with this watch. Garmin is well-known for making some of the best products you can expect, and you’ll get a lot of great customer service and support if you settle on purchasing this watch. Basically, Garmin will always be able to lend a helping hand whenever you need it if you decide to purchase their watch.
You’ll get a lot of great extras and features with Garmin’s Fenix 5. This watch offers a bevy of features, and really, we can’t think of one thing it is really missing. That’s nice, since you’ll be able to use pretty much anything you can think of with this watch, and you’ll get great functionality. The Fenix 5 doesn’t really seem to be missing anything, since it has all of the workout progress tracking technology you can think off, maps you can use, and a great GPS feature built into it. You can track just about anything you’ll need to with this watch, and you are also able to use several of the applications that you can download to the watch. In fact, this watch comes with so many features, it’s very hard for us to think of what else it could possible need. Garmin’s Fenix 5 watch offers more features than most of the other products on our review. Honestly, you may not really need all of the features that are compacted into this one watch, but we can’t complain about the extra bonuses. It is really nice to have every feature you can think of designed into this one watch. Also, the fact that so much is compacted into this watch, and the watch is still very small and lightweight, makes it a great option.
Garmin’s Fenix 5 watch is an excellent technological opportunity for you to grab a nice working watch. Garmin has done a great job over the years of updating this watch, making this product better and better as the years pass with more technology and more applications. Because of all of this hard work, Garmin’s produced a very nice watch here, and their watch comes with an extra-long battery life, a built-in heart rate sensor, and it is also a pretty compact watch by design. You’ll also be able to pick from two different sizes with the Garmin Fenix 5, which means you’ll be able to get a great fit and the right size in this watch. Not all watch manufacturers offer their watches in different sizes, and the fact that Garmin does means this watch is a huge plus since it will fit comfortably. Plus, Garmin designed this watch with a very nice user interface that uses the latest technology, and it’s also very easy and simple to use. You’ll be able to easily access extra apps when you want it, and also customize the watch with a lot of ease. The watch is designed to be simple even with all of its functionality, so it’s great if you are looking for a watch that will be easy for you to use and understand. Garmin’s been around for so long, in fact, that they’ve been able to use a lot of technology updates to create a great watch. They also have a nice reputation for actually listening to their customers and making their products better, so that people want to keep buying the products they put out on the market. This watch will allow you to use extra apps either through your PC with the Garmin Training Center, or online with Garmin Connect, so that you can track, monitor, and personalize your workout progress. You’ll also get a great GPS system and the ability to plan routes and maps when you use this watch. That means you get a lot of great features, and you’ll have everything you need in one small, compact sports watch.
Apple 7000 Series Smart Watch
Apple is known for its sleek efficient designs and smart technology. The Apple wearable tech continues to improve in both function and design.
Various color finishes make it a stylish accessory for work or play. Access to the plethora of apps the App Store offers.
The Apple Series 7000 Smart Watch is everything you want in a smart watch, integrating phone, text and fitness needs into a sleek design. For all this watch offers, it doesn’t have a rugged design for hardcore athletes.
TomTom Runner Cardio
The TomTom brand started in 1991 as a Dutch start-up for PDAs and has morphed into a global brand for wearable tech.
Stores up to 500 songs and includes Bluetooth headphones. Audio feedback gives real time performance information.
The TomTom Runner Cardio offers the plethora of fitness tracking metrics but isn’t always reliable with real time data. Some might be disappointed with a toggle button instead of a touch screen.
Criteria for Evaluation
Pricing and brand recognition
A fitness watch is an investment. Even lesser known brands will cost a couple of hundred dollars. Plan on spending anywhere from $180 to $600 when shopping for a fitness watch. Don’t assume that just because something is a big brand name like Apple, Fitbit or Garmin, that the fitness watch meets your needs.
Most brands have a background in either smartphone tech, GPS tracking or standard watches. As they integrate into fitness watches, some brands will be better than others at certain functions.
Set a budget and shop wisely. Even the most expensive brands have deals on Amazon that include free shipping.
Functions and fitness measurements
Determine what functions are most important to you. Common functions include heart rate monitor, calorie tracker, movement tracker and GPS location. But these certainly aren’t the only functions relevant to all fitness activities.
Let’s take a look at some of the metrics and ancillary functions your fitness watch may have.
Heart Rate Monitor
Keeping track of the number of heartbeats per minute helps you know if you maximize your cardiovascular workouts. Know that heartbeat metrics are less accurate the farther from the heart you are and rarely give true beats per minute (bps) reading during the activity. Heart rate is still a great function to keep you moving in the right direction of fitness, closing in on more consistent and accurate data.
Everyone has the friend who is counting daily steps. You can opt to measure movement throughout your day to keep yourself making more discipline activity choices like taking the stairs or walking to the park instead of driving. At the same time, you can focus on the movement during an activity. Many devices will track movements ranging from walking, running, biking and swimming.
Don’t we all want to know exactly how many calories we burned so we don’t feel too guilty about that Friday cheat-day dessert? Once again, realize that your fitness watch isn’t an exact measurement but should be within 10 percent. The fitness watch is using an algorithm to calculate these numbers based on your age, gender and height/weight basis. Metabolisms do vary which is another reason for the accuracy range.
Fitness trackers use GPS to determine your location. This is great to map out your running route, making sure you ran the distance you intended. It also can be a fundamental safety feature for hikers and adventurers to not only help keep you from getting lost but help others find you if you do.
Sleep trackers monitor your sleep cycles. Not getting enough REM sleep means you are probably waking up and still feeling tired. Understanding how long it takes for you to move through each sleep cycle and how much sleep you actually are getting help you adjust habits such as reducing caffeine or changing your bedtime.
Some fitness watches also allow for more accurate and more metrics with attachments. Heart rate chest straps and VO2 monitoring are common attachments for serious athletes seeking performance data. Skin temperature and perspiration are additional metrics with armbands. These additional metrics help you ensure your body is maximizing oxygen consumption and sweating effectively to keep your core body temperature regulated properly.
Not every fitness tracker is waterproof. This feature is a must for those who spend time at the beach, lake or pool. Most people don’t need a dive watch. Having a waterproof watch to 30 meters is normally plenty to cover their lifestyle needs with some fitness watches extending to 200-meters depths.
Battery Life: Just like your smartphone, your fitness watch’s battery life will depend on how many functions are working at any given time. Usually, GPS mode sucks the battery life out faster than other metrics. Ideally, your fitness watch should get through the day of activity and still have 20% battery life. The fitness watch should also be easy to charge.
Ease of use & reliability
Technology is no help if you can’t use it. Fitness watches have a lot of integrations, but if something is too hard to use, it probably won’t get used at all. Some people are just techier than others.
This is why a fitness watch that has smartphone integration should easily sync with your phone. Apps and push notifications should work seamlessly between phone and watch. The apps themselves should be easy to use and easy to read on the fitness watch.
As a fitness tracker, the information to should be accessible quickly and easy to understand. Real-time data and GPS tracking make the fitness tracker a better tool for athletes to monitor progress.
It should be easy to toggle through apps and get the data needed at any given moment. Fitness watches should have adequate battery life when in fitness mode.
Of course, as with anything new, there are always questions. Part of the ease of use means there is a reliable body of support, either through customer support at the company or a large body of peer-reviewed support. Getting accurate answers quickly builds is important for any technology product.
Additional features to consider
While athletes have been training for decades without the use of high-tech metrics, more information helps fine-tune workouts and maintain the motivation to push harder. Using your fitness watch isn’t going to make you a better athlete.
Setting realistic goals and using the fitness watch to measure your progress is what makes you a better athlete. Before you even buy a fitness watch, develop a fitness plan.
Are you trying to lose weight? Do you want to run your first 5K? Are you a conditioned athlete trying to shave off 10 seconds per pool lap? Do you plan on exploring new mountain biking terrain? Will your activities be on land or in water – or both?
Setting your goals and your motivation will give you clarity on how to best use your fitness watch. Once you have these clearly laid out, you can select the proper fitness watch for your needs and goals. As many coaches will tell you, winners keep score.
Your fitness watch helps you keep score on your daily progress. Don’t only compare yesterday to today. Set benchmarks such as 30 or 90 days to see where the real progress is. Use that to motivate yourself and set new, more challenging goals.
And if you find yourself stuck, find a support group (either in person or online) to share your goals and results with. Accountability partners, coaches, and friends are important factors in any successful fitness regime.
Q: What do fitness watches do?
Fitness watches seem to be Inspector Gadget do-all gizmos to help with all fitness needs. While the options vary, and we are yet to find one that will blend the protein shake for you, except at the very least for fitness watches to track steps and distance.
Most fitness watches are equipped with GPS and can also remember routes and trails for training metrics. A rudimentary heart rate monitor and calorie tracker also help maximize workout output by keeping you on track for a cardio workout.
Some fitness watches have a sleep tracker, perspiration, skin temperature and blood oxygen levels.
Q: What does a sleep tracker do?
We’d like to convince you that the sleep meter helps you burn more calories while sleeping, but that would be just plain crazy. What isn’t crazy is monitoring sleep patterns, making sure you are properly cycling through the sleep cycles. Sleep trackers do just that.
Sleep trackers monitor when you hit different sleep cycles and how long you stay in them. Know when you are in light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep along with total sleep. This information helps determine if you really are getting enough quality sleep; if you aren’t, you may want to make some lifestyle adjustments.
Q: What’s the difference between a smartwatch and an activity tracker?
A: An activity tracker, also known as a fitness band, specifically measures fitness metrics. Yes, it may tell the time as well, but it is designed to measure movement, heart rate, and calories.
A smartwatch is designed to pair with a smartphone and has many other integrated features and apps beyond fitness. It received text and email notifications. It notifies you of phone calls and integrates with Bluetooth technology.
A technology builds, higher end watches and activity trackers merge, becoming more similar with each generation. Even as the two mesh together, there are differences in durability with smartphones still being vulnerable to extreme athletic activities.
Q: How do fitness watches calculate calories?
Fitness watches take into account your height, weight, age and gender and use this information with step count, heart rate and potentially perspiration to estimate the calories burned during activity.
As with other metrics, calories burned is an estimated metric on fitness watches. They aren’t 100% accurate, just as your calorie count is not 100% accurate in telling you exactly how many calories are in the brownie. But both bits of information certainly help in maintaining a healthy balance between caloric intake and calorie usage.
Q: What is a route tracker?
Route trackers use the GPS in your fitness watch to see where you are in your normal running, biking or hiking routes. It records your pace so you can see how you fare from one day to the next on the same route. Some trackers integrate buddy systems that let friends and family see each other in real time during a training session or a race.
Q: Are fitness watches gender neutral?
Yes. Most fitness watches don’t come in men or women’s models. That being said, certain fitness watches and smart brands have sizing options that allow a more tailored fit on smaller wrists. Look at the product specs to determine if the fitness watch is one-size-fits-all or has other options.
Q: Do fitness watches really work?
Yes and No. We aren’t trying to be coy in this answer, but yes, fitness watches collect and track data. While data such as heart rate, core temperature and calories burned are not 100% accurate, regular use will calibrate your workout specifics.
At the end of the day, the fitness watch should serve as a reminder for fitness goals. When you are conscious of caloric intake versus what it takes to burn those calories, you are better able to adjust your daily habits. Additionally, if you find yourself on a Netflix binge, a fitness tracker will remind you to get up and get active.
Higher end fitness watches with attachments help individuals or athletes with specific training goals monitor metrics more accurately. The most common attachment being a heart rate monitor attached to the chest for more accurate detection compared to the wrist.
There is no “best fitness watch” on the market. Features and benefits range from real-time activity measurements, smartphone features and even whether or not it sync completely with your other tech. Finding the best fitness watch for you means establishing fitness goals, setting a budget and determine what type of tech syncs with your existing technology. A fitness watch is an investment and its also something you’ll more than likely be wearing beyond your workout sessions, so make sure you like the look and feel of it as well. Now you have read our top ten best fitness watches in the market today you have a better idea for which one suits your needs best. Once you find the watch for you, spend the time to learn how to use it properly so you get the most out of your workouts and your investment.