Sports watches are an essential accessory for any active person, and these devices do so much more than tell the time. Moreover, the range of features on some models can be overwhelming, making it tricky to find the best sports watch for your needs.
So, to help with this process, we tested dozens of high-end watches and selected the ten top-ranked sports wristwatches for the modern athlete.
- Best Sports Watches: Our Evaluation Methodology
- – Durability
- – Functionality
- – Design
- 1. APPLE WATCH SERIES 7
- 2. Samsung Galaxy WATCH 3 LTE Smartwatch
- 3. POLAR GRIT X
- 4. GARMIN FENIX® 6
- 5. SUUNTO 9 PEAK GRANITE BLUE TITANIUM
- 6. FOSSIL HYBRID SMARTWATCH HR COLLIDER
- 7. GARMIN INSTINCT® SOLAR
- 8. SUUNTO CORE ALPHA STEALTH
- 9. FITBIT CHARGE 4
- 10. LUMINOX NAVY SEAL 3603 WATCH
Best Sports Watches: Our Evaluation Methodology
Before we look closer at the best timepieces for sports and workouts, we should first mention the elements that separate the best from the rest. In other words, here are the crucial features to consider before splashing the cash on your new training companion.
For starters, check if your new timepiece suits your lifestyle and training activities. Namely, divers and swimmers will require maximum water resistance, while runners and hikers need something that handles sweating and shaking.
In short, durability is crucial, and it only comes as a combo of high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship. Also, the best sports watches are not the cheapest out there, so double-check the sturdiness to avoid throwing away your hard-earned money.
Nowadays, tech-savvy sports watches allow you to wear a mini-laptop on your wrist. Advanced versions offer a vast selection of features because they come equipped with fast processors and many sensors.
To name a few, we could mention features like sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, GPS, goal tracking, and so on. Likewise, many models come with altimeters, barometers, and compasses, while others provide social media compatibility. The range of options is almost endless, so do your homework before purchasing a new sports watch.
Finally, we should also say that sports watches in 2021 come in various shapes and sizes. Some models focus on minimalism, while others cram lots of information into relatively small-sized displays.
Also, the choice of colors and shapes differs from one brand to another, separating the best-designed timepieces from mediocre competitors. So, check the aesthetics and see if the look and feel of the watch suit your overall style.
1. APPLE WATCH SERIES 7
It’s no secret that Apple Watch is the most-selling wearable device, and it took the world by storm after appearing for the first time back in 2015. With each series, Apple Watch pushed the boundaries of what’s possible, and Series 7 also uses the same philosophy.
As expected, Apple Watch Series 7 attracted a lot of attention when it appeared in October 2021, with impressive sales numbers and millions of units sold. Among other things, the new Retina display, improved durability, and super-fast charging attracted people worldwide.
Design-wise, the seventh iteration of the iOS-powered watch continued down the well-trodden path, but the number of customizations is almost endless. For instance, you can opt for leather links, Milanese loops, modern buckles, or classic sport bands. Also, Apple Watch lets you choose between aluminum, titanium, or stainless steel cases.
On the inside, Apple Watch Series 7 is also heavy on features, with a 64-bit dual-core CPU running the show. In addition, you’ll get 1GB of DRAM with at least 32 GB of storage. Finally, the watch comes with watchOS 8 preinstalled, allowing for effortless pairing with an iPhone.
Thus, you can track workout activity and send data to the Health app with no hassle. Voice commands are also at your disposal, and you can boost functionality by installing compatible apps from the App Store.
2. Samsung Galaxy WATCH 3 LTE Smartwatch
The next entry on our list is a direct competitor to Apple Watch, given the fierce rivalry between Apple and Samsung. Well, Samsung Galaxy Watch3 raises the game to a whole new level by introducing several breathtaking features. It might look like a classic timepiece, but this wristwatch is the latest say in technology and innovation.
Primarily, it all starts with a massive display equipped with a rotating bezel, but we should also mention the slim frame of the Watch3. As a result, the third generation of the Samsung Galaxy watch is compact and lightweight, ideal for runners and fitness fanatics. In addition, the premium leather strap is comfortable and long-lasting. But, of course, there are more than 40 combinations available to customize your Watch3, together with more than 50,000 watch faces.
As for the sports-related features, this pocket-sized beast brings heart rate monitoring, SpO2 measurement, real-time feedback on oxygen consumption, and so on. Likewise, the watch comes with an integrated sleep tracker and IP68 rating.
Samsung Galaxy Watch3 offers compatibility with many apps and services, including Spotify and social media. Moreover, seamless integration with Galaxy Ecosystem will make your life easier and turn exercises into super-enjoyable activities.
3. POLAR GRIT X
Now we move on to the pioneers of wearable sports tech, the famous Polar Electro. Since 1977, this company has been creating advanced heart rate monitors and wearable trackers. Well, the cool-looking Polar Grit X multisport watch is the culmination of years of research, and it offers everything you could ever need from a sports watch.
Primarily, this timepiece is compatible with Polar Flow, the high-end training platform that will guide you through training with the help of the Smart Coaching system. But, of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and Polar Grit X also features a built-in GPS, altimeter, and a compass.
On top of that, Polar Grit X comes with military-grade durability. In translation, it can handle extreme temperatures, humidity, dust, and it’s also drop-resistant. Best of all, this outdoor watch weighs only 64 grams, making it one of the lightest sports watches on the market.
If you plan on using this watch for cycling or ultramarathon, you’ll be glad to hear that Polar Grit X offers ultra-long battery life and several power-saving options. As such, it will never leave you stranded, and it also shows a 2-day forecast alongside the current weather.
4. GARMIN FENIX® 6
Another serious contender for the top spot is the sixth iteration of Garmin Fenix, the best multi-sport watch for outdoor activities. Even though it comes at a relatively high price, Garmin Fenix 6 is worth every penny, especially if you enjoy exploring unknown terrains.
Arguably, it might not have the most attractive design with its minimalist interface and clean layout. Nonetheless, Garmin Fenix 6 offers lots of customization options, including the Pro and Sapphire Editions. For instance, the Sapphire version comes in carbon gray with a cool-looking black band.
Garmin Fenix 6 is as rugged as outdoor watches get, but it also has the intelligence of a super-computer. For instance, it offers adjusted pacing guidance and plenty of statistical information. In addition, believe it or not, the incredible Fenix 6 features more than 2,000 preloaded ski resort maps!
Likewise, Garmin Fenix 6 has an excellent battery that offers up to 14 days of use between charging. All the while, the compact stainless steel body with a scratch-resistant sapphire lens will monitor your body and provide accurate insights. In conclusion, Garmin Fenix 6 is a safe bet for anyone interested in buying one of the best watches for surfing, skiing, hiking, or biking.
5. SUUNTO 9 PEAK GRANITE BLUE TITANIUM
The next model on our list of the top sports watches comes from a Finnish company with more than 80 years of experience in watchmaking. Moreover, Suunto still handcrafts many of its models, and this brand sells high-end watches in more than 100 countries. Even though the company has a rich portfolio, the sturdy-looking Suunto 9 Peak Granite Blue Titanium is a cut above the rest.
Namely, this hi-tech timepiece is the toughest watch in Suunto’s history, given that it uses sapphire glass and grade 5 titanium. So, it can take a beating, making it perfect for outdoor adventures and rigorous training. To be precise, Suunto 9 Peak Granite Blue Titanium comes equipped with more than 80 sport modes, GPS navigation, and weather functions.
Overall, this watch is extra thin and compact, with a sleek and attractive silicone strap. But, as expected, you can also opt for various faces and customize your Suunto 9 Peak. In total, it weighs only 52 grams, but it still fits a 240×240 matrix display with an LED backlight and automatic brightness.
Needless to say, Suunto 9 Peak has all the bells and whistles you could need from a sports watch, including sleep tracking, activity monitoring, altimeter, and a digital compass. Plus, it can go up to 100 meters below the surface.
6. FOSSIL HYBRID SMARTWATCH HR COLLIDER
Founded in 1984, Fossil Group Inc. is an American enterprise with a diversified portfolio, with premium watches as their top-selling products. Although Fossil hasn’t been around the watchmaking industry as long as some other names on our list, it still knows a thing or two about making high-end timepieces. After all, Fossil Group owns the famous Zodiac Watches, a renowned Swiss brand.
Therefore, quality shouldn’t come into question with Fossil, and the same applies to their Hybrid Smartwatch HR Collider. We listed this model because it offers an endless list of functions and features, such as customizable buttons, interchangeable bands, heart-rate tracking, visualized workout routes, and many more.
Within the 42mm case, you’ll find a proprietary operating system and a battery that can power the watch for up to two weeks, depending on the usage. Also, the Fossil Hybrid Smartwatch HR Collider is water-resistant, and it’s capable of handling up to 3 ATMs of pressure.
Thanks to seamless connectivity, users can receive notifications, alerts, emails, and text messages. Likewise, Fossil Hybrid Smartwatch shows multiple time zones, controls your music, and tracks your workouts.
7. GARMIN INSTINCT® SOLAR
Another American multinational company on our list is Garmin Ltd., the world-leading brand in GPS technology, navigation, and wearables. Thus, we had to include two of their products on the list of the best sports watches in 2021. Like the Fenix 6, Garmin Instinct Solar is an advanced little beast, and it comes packing.
For instance, this model interacts with GLONASS, GPS, and Galileo, your three best friends when lost out in the wild. Also, Garmin Instinct Solar comes equipped with dozens of built-in sports apps, allowing you to raise your training to new levels.
As the name implies, this watch harnesses the sun’s power, extending the battery life and making Garmin Instinct Solar a must-have gadget for trail running or cycling. After all, Garmin engineered this timepiece to be as tough as nails by using a fiber-reinforced polymer case and Corning Gorilla glass.
More precisely, the dependable Instinct offers thermal, shock, and water resistance (up to 100 meters). In addition, we should mention the accurate heart-rate monitor and PulseOX sensor to check how your body absorbs oxygen at high altitudes. For example, this handy gadget calculates your daily stress level score. So, Garmin Instinct Solar is a wise investment for anyone interested in staying healthy and getting some outdoor time.
8. SUUNTO CORE ALPHA STEALTH
Since we listed two Garmins on the list, it’s only fair to include another Suunto sports watch. After all, these brands are in the league of their own regarding endurance, reliability, and outdoor performances. For instance, Suunto Core Alpha Stealth has everything you could wish for in an outdoor watch.
Primarily, this model complies with military standards (MIL-STD-810), and it can survive rain, humidity, pressure, shock, dust, and even freezing. In short, high-quality composite materials and mineral crystal glass make Suunto Core Alpha one of the elite sports watches on the market.
With 67 grams, this watch is not the lightest out there but offers more than enough comfort. More importantly, you’ll get an arsenal of features, including a barometer, compass, altimeter, and weather functions. For instance, Suunto watches are famous for their accurate and often life-saving storm alarms.
In addition, we should also say that Suunto Core Alpha Stealth has one of the best designs you’ll find in 2021. The all-black color scheme suits it perfectly, making the Alpha stealthy and discreet. Nevertheless, you’ll know you can always count on it when the going gets tough.
9. FITBIT CHARGE 4
If you are looking for the best smartwatch for fitness and running, the fourth generation of Fitbit Charge might be right up your alley. This compact and well-designed watch will help you take your game to a new level, and best of all, you’ll often forget that Fitbit Charge 4 is on your wrist.
In a way, Fitbit Charge 4 is more of a tracking wristband than a traditional sports watch, especially not a rugged, outdoorsy type. Even so, it deserves a place on our list because it comes equipped with a staggering array of features.
To mention a few, we should say that Fitbit Charge 4 comes with 24/7 heart-rate tracking, sleep monitoring, menstrual health tracking, and even guided breathing sessions. Likewise, it calculates all-day calorie burn, cardio fitness score, and oxygen saturation.
We should also mention that the fourth iteration comes equipped with real-time GPS tracking, more than 20 exercise modes, and personalized reminders. As expected, these features will be music to the ears of fitness fanatics out there.
On top of that, Fitbit Charge 4 offers a 7-day battery life, alongside Spotify compatibility and various other integrations and customizations.
10. LUMINOX NAVY SEAL 3603 WATCH
Last but not least, we’ll look at Luminox Navy Seal 3603, a premium wristwatch for swimmers, divers, and military personnel. This Swiss-made timepiece is a no-nonsense watch, and it comes backed by years of experience and craftsmanship.
Namely, the 45mm case features the famous Always Visible technology, allowing the Navy Seal 3603 to glow for up to 25 years. Also, this exquisite dive watch comes with impressive water resistance of up to 200 meters. The secret lies in CARBONOX, a proprietary case material combined with the Swiss Quartz movement.
Unlike tech-oriented smartwatches and wristbands we mentioned earlier, Luminox keeps things simple and only tells time and date with this wristwatch. Well, what more could you need when doing laps in the pool or jogging around the park?
Most importantly, this cool-looking watch will last for a lifetime. Even the rubber strap feels extra-durable and resilient. Swiss watchmaking has a reputation to preserve, and it doesn’t need low-quality models just to step into the market. Instead, almost every Swiss watch is an art piece, and Luminox Navy Seal 3603 is another sports watch that oozes class and elegance.
As you could’ve seen, it’s tricky to decide which are the best sports watches for hiking, running, surfing, or diving. In many cases, premium models are like a jack-of-all-trades, covering a broad range of outdoor activities and exercise modes.
For that reason, the unofficial king of sports watches in 2021 is the Apple Watch Series 7. Yet, all the other models on our list belong to the cream of the crop, and none will leave you stranded out in the open. Also, the premium quality of these timepieces will make them last a lifetime.