Just because you are a tennis player, a swimmer, a mountain climber, or an all-around sportsman, you should not have to forgo the basic need of telling the time without wearing your day to day watch. Your dress and style watches are not made to deal with what the best sports watches are designed to deal with.
Your day to day is certainly not durable enough to work within any of the circumstances you place yourself in sports-wise, no matter how good.
The sports watch goes way beyond the basic realms of the stopwatch. Especially with the developments in smartwatch technology bringing new features, functions, and durability to the classic watch format. Watches that can follow you down into the deepest depths of the ocean like the Citizen Promaster diver, or pieces that help you around the track with real-time details on your laps like the Polar M400 watch.
These are just some examples of sports watches that have niche specifications, but you need to be on the lookout for a watch that suits your specific needs.
Things to Consider when looking for the Best Sports Watch for you
There is so much more that goes into the making of a fine sports watch than many people are actually aware of. The designs of many watches made for the purpose of swimming or tennis or running laps puts the general consumer off of the product in a lot of cases. Thanks to sports stores making cheaper timepieces that are merely just stopwatches with a watch band.
Do not be dragged into this scam.
Below, we address all the things that make a good smartwatch an amazing addition to your collection for active use. We believe that when you are putting in the time to take care of yourself, time should be working on your side.
Telling the Difference
The marketplace today is filled with a ridiculous amount of cheap plastic timepieces that are just digital watches with a stopwatch feature. Again, do not get pulled in by these. They are cheaper than the best sports watches around for the simple reason that they do not fall into that category.
The same can be said about the smartwatch sports pieces. There are many cheaper alternatives around. The best way to tell the difference between the great pieces and the cheaper knock-off products is to look into the lens that they come encased in and other functions that are available.
You need to make sure that these lens’ are durable and will last. And the watch needs to have more than a pedometer and a stopwatch. It is that simple.
Advantages of the Sports Watch
The sports watch is for the out and active sports person within you.
A great sports watch should have features that are beneficial to its wearer. So keep that in mind when you are deep in your search. There are watches out there that work to specific specifications for a multitude of sportsmen.
If you are a swimmer, make sure to look out for a watch that has the largest measurement of water resistant depth. Watches that are branded more toward divers will give you the best water resistant hold out of any timepiece on the market.
The closer to being waterproof, the better.
Runners need a watch that is as close to being perfectly accurate as it is possible to get. Stopwatch capability, lap rendering statistics, and heart rate monitor are all needs and wants for a runners watch.
We would say that the most important feature of the watch of a runner is to get a piece with a breathable watch band. A tight clasp of course, but something that will reduce the inevitable sweat build-up on the wrist. If you are not sweating, you aren’t doing it right.
Many of the best sports watches, the real high-end pieces, come with apps for your phone to track your workout statistics and general health. Those can also come with workouts, step-by-step personal training assistance, with tips and instructions to aid your routines. When looking for a watch to guide you through your workout, these app paired personal trainers are the only way to go.
What makes a Great Sports Watch
Dependent on why you are looking for a sports watch (i.e. for a swimmer or a hiker) the bezel can be the make or break for a good catch.
Having a sturdy and easy to read bezel on your watch is a necessity for any swimmer who wishes to know the time underwater.
A well-marked bezel in any watch is a good standard of its worth.
The big difference between a sports watch and a regular watch can be determined straight away by its look. The digital time display is a big giveaway.
If you are a swimmer or a diver, the classic watch display is perfect for you, coupled with a great bezel. As a workout watch, you are better with a digital display.
Yes, yes, we said earlier how you need more than just a stopwatch to make a great sports watch, we know. But you do need one.
A solid stopwatch is the make or break in a sports watch, so make sure that you get one that will treat you right and stay accurate for as long as you need it to be.
Analog watch vs. Smartwatch
With the rise of the smartwatch wearables this last decade, the marketplace has opened up. There are so many options to choose from and different features to adapt to your style and routine. It is forever a great thing to work at staying in shape. And now it is amazing to have such a comprehensive tool to help us all in doing just that.
The analog watch is tried and tested. Durable design and keeps you on time as well as it can. Very low-tech, but it does the job even now when new technologies are available.
Moon and tide graphs, pedometers, and the ease with which they can reach deep under water. Solid water resistance in any you find on the market. But what you buy is what you get.
Whereas with a smartwatch, paired to your phone, you have everything that an analog watch can offer and so much more. Workout statistics sent in real time, a personal trainer there on your wrist, and the ability to answer calls, texts, and emails whenever you please. This smart wearable tech helps to keep your world organized regardless of what you are doing or where you are.
The choice is yours.
Old school or new school.
Best Sports Watches on the Market
Garmin Fenix 3 HR
Not just a giant name in the world of portable satellite technology devices – Garmin also operates a large section of the best smartwatches available on the market today. The Garmin Fenix 3 HR is one of the best examples of everything that this company can bring to the table. Working as both a fantastic outdoor watch and also as a beautiful day to day watch.
This smartwatch’s design works best for the active sportsman. Its many workout functions, and its superb water resistance depth makes it one of the best watches for under $500 present on this list. The tough-acting smartwatch is always in need and this one constantly finds itself on lists such as this one all the time for exactly that reason.
- With an omnidirectional EXO antenna – constructed of stainless steel – the Garmin achieves a constant and powerful GPS/GLONASS satellite reception. This helps enhance your smartwatches signal and spatial awareness. No matter where you are, the signal will continue to develop and follow you to the best of its ability. A great feature for outdoor watches.
- This Fenix 3 HR works with a battery life that is the envy of many of its competitors. It adapts to different settings no matter how long you require it to be functional. In normal swatch mode, the battery lasts up to 2 weeks. In full GPS mode it can last up to 16 hours and in the UltraTrac battery saver mode it lasts up to 40 hours.
- The Garmin Fenix 3 HR can only reach a water resistance depth of 100 meters. Boasting itself as one of the great all-purpose outdoor watches on the market today, what a Citizen Promaster Diver is not.
Garmin Fenix 3 HR Special Edition, Titanium w/ Titanium DLC Band
- Omni-directional stainless Steel exo antenna, with GPS/GLONASS satellite reception, has the ability to track in more challenging environments than GPS alone
- Elevate wrist heart rate technology measures heart rate at the wrist
- Fitness training Features like advanced running dynamics with vertical oscillation and vertical ratio, Vo2 Max, recovery advisor and more
- 1.2-Inch Sunlight-readable Garmin Chroma display with high-strength domed sapphire lens
- Outdoor navigation Features like 3-axis compass, altimeter and barometer and tracback Feature
Casio G-Shock Rescue – Digital Watch
A Casio will never give up on you. There are more elegant watches out there, sure. Some with features that could outshine an all new and advanced smartphone. That is true. But a Casio watch will make it its duty to outlive those watches and still be able to accurately tell the time. They have an incredibly liable range and are always worth a chance to grace your wrist.
Now, why is the G-Shock Rescue on this list specifically? Simple.
This watch embodies everything a great sports watch needs. It has a durable design, keeps its accuracy almost to a fault, and cannot be beaten for affordability. The blazing red color that the G-Shock Rescue comes in is a bit much, but that’s the classic Casio scheme.
- The G-Shock’s greatest asset is that it is incredibly shock resistant. It is in the name. They’re built with this primary focus in mind. This feature makes the G-Shock one of the best outdoor watches available on the market today.
- There are many other features that bring out the great sports watch within the bright red G-Shock. With the moon and tide graphs, world clock readings, an auto electroluminescent backlight, and a low temp LCD. The bare essentials.
- Due to its super shock-resistant casing, it does sit a little clunky on the wrist. This is not for everybody, so keep that in mind.
Casio Men’s G7900A-4 G-Shock Rescue Red Digital Sport Watch
- Shock-resistant sport watch featuring moon/tide graphs, low temp LCD, auto EL backlight, flash alert, world time, and daily alarm
- Also includes chronograph with 12 and 24-hour formats
- 50 mm resin case with mineral dial window
- Japanese quartz movement with digital display
- Red resin band with buckle closure
Invicta Men’s 9404SYB Pro Diver
A solid diver’s watch is a hard item to come across. There are many on the market to choose from that boast of being the best one for you. The real high-end picks, like the Citizen Promaster Diver watches, are obvious no-brainers for the prospective consumer. But there are some brilliant alternatives that come out cheaper overall.
Watches like the Invicta 9404SYB Pro Diver work incredibly well for a diver, at a more affordable price. This watch also looks great for day to day usage with its classic Rolex-like design. It is an elegant piece and works hard to keep time on your side.
- The colors that are used on this watch give a better indication of time spent under watch. Two-tone unidirectional bezel allows the markers on the white watch face to better pinpoint the accuracy of your dive-time. Also, the markers work with a luminescent green for those deeper dive readings.
- With an automatic self-winding movement, the Invicta works hard to keep you in check and on time.
- The Invicta can take you to a 200m water resistance depth, making it unwise to use for scuba-diving.
- At 40mm it sits rather small on the wrist.
Invicta Men’s 9404SYB Pro Diver Automatic Self-Wind Stainless Steel Watch
- Dive watch featuring two-tone unidirectional bezel and white dial with pale green luminous hands/hour markers
- 40 mm stainless steel case with mineral dial window
- Automatic self-wind movement with analog display
- Stainless steel band featuring fold-over clasp with safety
- Water resistant to 200 m (660 ft): In general, suitable for professional marine activity and serious surface water sports, but not scuba diving
Casio G-Shock GA100A-7A
Another Casio for the list to remind you of their importance in the world of sports watches. Not only because they are some of the most durable timepieces ever to have been constructed, they are fantastic watches overall as well.
The G-Shock GA100A-7A is a great example of what Casio’s heavily shock resistant range can bring to the wearer. All the durability and stability of a Casio is present, along with a whole host of extra functions and features to bring out the best of your sports activities.
- The G-Shock GA100A-7A offers the wearer an option to alter around 48 different time zones. Making it quicker and easier to change the time wherever you find yourself.
- Water resistant for up to a depth of 200m underwater.
- With a 51.2mm resin casing, this watch sits on the wrist rather weighted and bulky.
G-Shock GA100A-7A X-Large Men’s White Resin Sport Watch
- Shock-resistant sports watch featuring white-and-blue dial with LED light, countdown timer, and stopwatch
- 51.2 mm resin case with mineral dial window
- Quartz movement with analog-digital display
- Also features world time (48 cities + UTC), daily alarm with snooze, speed timer, and resin band with buckle closure
- Water resistant to 200 m (660 ft): In general, suitable for professional marine activity and serious surface water sports, but not scuba diving
Suunto Traverse Smartwatch
Suunto is a brand known to few, but those of you who are in the know rarely veer from the range. Suunto design and manufacture a whole array of sports person, diver, and outdoor watches that are all durable and stylish pieces backed by a simplistic operating system.
A great feature that is available for the Suunto range is that you can add a 3 to 4 years protection plan on any of the Suunto models. So if you already find yourself sold on the design aspects of their gear, remember that little nugget of information.
- The watch’s GPS and GLONASS navigation work beautifully within this watch’s system. Simply, upload a route that you would like to follow into your watch, and the combined GPS/GLONASS systems take care of the rest.
- One of the most remarkable features the Suunto Traverse smartwatch is its battery life. The watch works for up to 100 hours between charges. Which, for a smart sports watch, is rather impressive.
- The over-simplicity of the Suunto Traverse is something very useful to some. But for others, when coming across this smartwatch, more is expected out of this smartwatch’s operating system. This is not a piece of high-end tech with all the fixings included.
Suunto Traverse Graphite
- Upload routes to your watch, and you’re ready to explore new terrains with the help of GPS and glonass Satellite navigation systems
- Follow your Progress with distance and altitude statistics, save points of interest and re-trace your steps using the breadcrumb trail
- Barometric Trend helps predict weather changes, and storm alarm alerts you when it’s time to find shelter
- Sunrise and sunset times keep you informed of the Available daylight hours. Up to 100 hours battery life
- Stay up to date with GPS timekeeping, incoming calls, texts and push notifications from your Smartphone to your watch
Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch
Obviously, like the Casio, the FitBit is not really seen as a contender in the race of best sports watch because it has a very public image of only being a pedometer. Either that or a heart rate monitor that fixes itself into the watch band. These little wearable devices have their place in any sportsman’s collection, but having a device that incorporates all of those features for just a little more of the budget is more of the ideal when it comes to wearables.
The FitBit Blaze is constantly finding itself on lists such as this one. Saying how it is one of the best sports watches on the market today or that it is one of the best watches under $500 available. We wholeheartedly agree with that and need to keep this momentum going. Hopefully to change the image of the FitBit for the better.
- FitBit Blaze comes with a FitStar function which brings a personal trainer to your wrist. Bringing you personalized workouts and step-by-step instructions as to how to work them. Coaching you all the way through.
- One of the biggest cons to the Blaze is that the GPS system is not housed within the device. It is instead found on the FitBit app. One of the advantages of owning a wearable is that you don’t have to check your phone for such things. It’s a little disappointing.
Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch, Blue, Silver, Large (US Version)
- See simplified heart rate zones for quickly checking exercise intensity during workouts with PurePulse(TM) continuous, wrist-based heart rate monitoring (no uncomfortable chest strap required)
- Use multi-sport tracking to track runs, cardio, cross-training, biking and more. Effortlessly and automatically record other workouts to your dashboard with SmartTrack
- Enable connected GPS to map your routes and see run stats like pace and duration on display (when your phone is nearby)
- Track steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes. Stay connected with call, text & calendar alerts and notifications from your favorite apps like Gmail, Facebook and more (when phone is nearby).Start a FitStar workout on your wrist and get step-by-step instructions and graphics to ensure you complete each move correctly
Suunto Unisex Ambit3
This unisex piece, the Suunto Ambit3 is another great addition to the Suunto sports watch range. With brilliant additional features added to the Ambit3, this watch is easily added to this list along with the Suunto Traverse.
With a separate heart rate monitor that comes with the Ambit3, it helps any sportsman in need of real-time statistics and constant help should you need it in the middle of your workouts.
- With a built-in sturdy running power meter, you can measure your running distance so as to have a statistic to fight against.
- On a hike, your ascent and descent are measured by the built-in barometer. All of these stats go straight to the phone that you have paired the Ambit3 with.
- Like the Suunto Traverse, the Ambit3, unfortunately, has a simplistic operating system. For people who are after a smartwatch for all the fixings included, this is not the wearable for you.
Suunto Unisex Ambit3 Vertical Multisport GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor/Altimeter/Compass/Temperature/Sunrise-Sunset and Storm Alarm for Planning and Tracking Your Elevation Gain with Ease
- Housing Material: [bezel] steel, [case] polyamide
- Strap Material: silicone
- Face Material: mineral crystal
- Pedometer: yes, daily step count
- Odometer: yes, GPS-based distance and speed
ETEVON Captain Sports Watch
ETEVON are not very well known for their watch craftsmanship, but they are equal to those over at Casio when it comes to a durable and helpful sports watch found on the cheap side. Where the Casio’s on this list fall short, the ETEVON rises high. See for yourself on these pros and cons we have found for you.
And it has to be said, who does not want a watch called the Captain.
- The ETEVON’s watch face displays a dual-time function, a calendar date feature, and an hourly chime. With a snooze enabled alarm system too, you are covered with the time.
- The movement of this watch is highly frost and shock resistant. So high temperatures and extreme weather cannot affect it.
- Unfortunately, this sports watch only comes with 98FT waterproof protection. Meaning that it only works up to a water depth of 30 meters.
ETEVON Men’s ‘Captain’ Stylish Outdoor Sport Watch with Thicken Silicone Strap – 30m Waterproof – EL Luminous – Multifunction – Dual Time Display – Quartz Analog Digital Wrist Watches for Men – Black
- FASHION CAPTAIN DESIGN: 45mm stereoscopic dial with scratch-resistant acrylic crystal glass window; Quartz analog and digital display with LED back light; 3mm thicken silicone band with stainless steel buckle.
- PRECISE TIME KEEPING: Imported Japanese movement ensures precise time keeping within ±1s deviation per day with long lasting Japanese MAXCELL lithium battery of 2 years life.
- MULIT-FUNCTION OF WATCH: Including 12/24-hour format, dual time zone, EL backlight, calendar (date, week and month), hourly chime, alarm with snooze, 1/100 stopwatch with split time.
- REAL 30M (98FT) WATERPROOF: Hand washing, taking shower, raining and swimming are all no problem! In addition, the watch, with excellent shockproof and anti-frost performance, is suitable for all kinds of sports and outdoor activities
- ETEVON AFTER-SALE SERVICE: Comes in a sport style gift box. No extra wrapping needed. 90 days money back guarantee for any reasons & 12 months replacement or full refund for quality issues & 24 months maintenance for quality issues
Garmin Vivoactive 3
The Vivoactive is an incredibly helpful sports watch. The smart tech that is found within this wearable takes everything good about the Garmin brand and puts it to good use for the wearer.
What’s more is that the Vivoactive 3 is a beautiful watch with a gunmetal finish. Making it look good enough to act as anyone’s day to day watch.
- Comes complete with built-in sports apps to help you along with your workout activities. The apps include instructions on yoga, running, strength training, you name it.
- Has a high-resolution color touchscreen with a highly durable lens. All notifications are sent to your wrist in high-resolution.
- The watch band, unfortunately, is not incredibly breathable.
Garmin vívoactive 3, GPS Smartwatch with Contactless Payments and Built-in Sports Apps, Black/Gunmetal
- Garmin Pay contactless payment solution lets you pay for purchases with your watch (available for supported cards from participating banks)
- Personalize your watch with thousands of free watch faces, apps and widgets from our Connect IQ store. Memory/History : 7 timed activities, 14 days of activity tracking data
- More than 15 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including yoga, running, swimming and more. Lens material: chemically strengthened glass, bezel material: stainless steel, case material: fiber-reinforced polymer with stainless steel rear cover
- Monitor your fitness level with VO2 max and fitness made estimates, plus keep an eye on how you handle stress (see garmin.com/ataccuracy)
- Get connected features such as smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, LiveTrack and more when paired with a compatible smartphone
Timex Ironman Sleek 50
Here, Timex released a sports watch that is perfect for the overactive sportsman. The design takes into account that its wearer needs durability, breathability, and an accurate time display. As the title of this product suggests, the ‘Ironman’ is designed to be able to race alongside you in one of the infamous Ironman Triathlons.
If you are not training to race in the infamous triathlon challenge of swimming, then cycling at a great distance, and then running a marathon, this watch is still helpful. For exactly the reasons mentioned above.
The Timex Ironman is waterproof, shock-resistant, and incredibly durable. It earns its place on this list over and over again.
- More than just a stopwatch. The Ironman Sleek 50 comes with the ability of a 24-hour countdown watch with stop and start possibilities. It can count up to 99 laps and features a 100-hour chronograph with split and lap times available on the fly.
- This watch, thanks to its namesake, is water resistant at up to 100 metres in depth. So, whether you are in the shower or swimming your morning laps, the Timex Sleek 50 will have you covered.
- Though it can be given a lot of kudos for the watch’s simplicity, there is so much more you should expect from a sports watch. Not just a stopwatch with extra features.
Timex Men’s T54281 Ironman Sleek 50 Full-Size Black/Silver-Tone Resin Strap Watch
- Lightweight Performance Design
- Sports Stopwatch with 50 Lap Memory & Interval Training Timer. Strap Length: 8 inches
- Countdown Timer & Alarm
- Durable Resin Strap with Buckle Closure
- Indiglo Light-Up Watch Dial. Water resistant to 100m (330ft): in general, suitable for swimming and snorkeling, but not diving
Garmin Forerunner 235
And lastly, we look at the Garmin Forerunner 235. This watch is the perfect match between the runner and the wearable that is available to them. It is sleek and breathable and wants nothing more than to enhance your track capabilities.
- The battery life of this Garmin can last up to 9 days between charges in watch mode, and up to 11 hours in GPS mode with full HRM active.
- The screen of the Forerunner is at least 44% larger than other Garmin watch faces. Which is a plus for some people and can be too bulky for others.
Garmin Forerunner 235, GPS Running Watch, Black/Gray
- GPS Running Watch with Wrist-based Heart Rate and display type is sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel(MIP)
- Customize Your Watch and Your Training, Larger Screen – a 44% Larger Screen than the 225 but the Same Physical Size
- Audio Prompts – Receive Audio Prompts from Your Connected Smartphone That Include Laps and Lap Times. Smartwatch Mode: Up to 9 days. GPS mode: Up to 11 hours
- Smart Notifications – See Incoming Email, Text Messages, Call Alerts, Calendar Reminders and More from Your Compatible Smartphone
- Battery Life 11 Hours Training, 9 Days Watch, Activity Tracking, Notifications + Heart Rate. Refer user manual below.
Now that we have taken you through some of the best sports watches on the market, both in the smartwatch and analog watch department, we feel that there is one definite stand-out winner in this roundup.
The Garmin Fenix 3 HR shows the best and most desired aspects of a sports watch out of all the ten watches that we have curated above. The battery life of up to 2 weeks alone is enough for anyone to want to invest in this smartwatch.
But then, as we discussed earlier in the article, the Fenix displays excellent GPS/GLONASS systems that never quit on you. The watches display is made to withstand a real beating, encased in a high-strength sapphire lens which holds an astounding level of durability against all environmental factors.
But it all depends on your specific needs.
Regardless of what kind of sports watch you need, always remember to keep your eyes open for strong lens’ for durability, a powerful operating system, decent smartphone pairing, and if you have not got a watch with a pedometer, you have not got a sports watch.