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Garmin launches Marq Athlete, a new high-end smartwatch that could replace your GPS

13 Mar 2019

New applications, such as Climb Pro, make the Marq Athlete an interesting concept for the cycling community

Garmin has launched the Marq, a high-end watch that looks to bridge the divide between wearable smart technology and outdoor living.

Set to retail from £1,399 to £2,249, the Marq is designed to be ‘the ultimate connected timepiece, equipped with the modern utility of smart features’, which Garmin saying it has taken its inspiration from its ‘long-standing heritage in the aviation, automotive, marine, outdoor and sports market.’

The range comprises five luxury watches designed for people who fly planes, sail super-yachts and scale Everest. As such, you may be struggling to see why Cyclist was invited to the launch.

To be honest, we were too – until we spoke to Garmin’s vice president of outdoors, Brad Trenkle.

‘While cyclists are quite often purists, more and more cyclists are wanting more data, not just from on the bike but off it,’ said Trenkle.

‘That’s where the Marq Athlete comes in for all cyclists. It will have the ability to collect all the data that your usual GPS computer will, acting as a hub for the data you will need for before, during and after a ride without it needing to sit on the handlebars.’

The Marq Athlete will offer similar featuers to the existing range of Garmin products, including functionality that will utilise GPS, relay live power data, analyse body biometrics and connect to third-party apps such as Strava while also harnessing the ability to act like any other smartwatch on the market.

The Garmin Marq Athlete basically has all the capabilities of your current GPS computer that sits on your handlebars. Just now it’s on your wrist and is also a fully functioning smartwatch.


The recent rise of Wahoo and other brands in the sector seems to have served as a welcome wake-up call for Garmin.

Long the unchallenged leader in the cycling GPS market, Garmin has seen Wahoo in particular grow beyond its indoor trainers to offer a range of GPS computers which have been widely well-received.

‘One thing’s true, competition is good,’ Trenkle admits.

‘Wahoo helped us realise that there is an emerging trend of more and more cyclists that are not just fair-weather riders, but ride 12 months of the year and train beyond cycling.’

The increase in competition in the sector was a driving factor behind Garmin’s recent acquisition of turbo-trainer experts Tacx and also factored in the development of the Marq.

When worn regularly, the high-end watch will use sensors on the bottom of the face to measure biometrics such as heart rate, sleep quality and stress levels.

Trenkle believes understanding biometrics is the next step for improving cycling performance and Garmin claims that by utilising this data the Marq will be able to tell the wearer things like how much rest is needed between activities, what sport you should be doing, and what type of workout you should be doing.

Garmin has also incorporated VO2 max and recovery time information onto the bezel of the watch so that it is accessible instantly. It also uses an app called Pulse Ox that will monitor how your blood’s oxygen levels are adjusting when you climb to altitude.

The device can also act as a hub to connect to other Garmin products and collect their data before pushing it through to a third-party app like Strava or Garmin’s own Connect.

Garmin Vector pedals will have the possibility to sync with the watch to give you live power data on the wrist, as will other power meters with the ability to sync to Garmin products.

It will also be able to link to your existing head unit, taking the data from your ride instantly so you can view it immediately after stepping off the bike.

Out with the old

Rather than just linking to an existing Garmin GPS and acting as migrator of information, however, the Marq Athlete has the ability to replace the GPS unit entirely.

Any data that can be seen on your Garmin on your trusty 1000 or Edge 520 can now be seen on the Marq. That’s distance, speed, power, heart rate, the entire package.

It’s also fully mapped and can download pre-made routes for you to follow.

Of course, you’ll have the annoyance of having to keep looking down at your wrist and not just your stem, but Trenkle believes that will actually be a plus point for a specific type of cyclist.

‘More and more cyclists are travelling to ride, and renting equipment. They may find that their handlebars are not compatible for a mount or are pressed for time in setting up,’ said Trenkle.

‘The Marq stays on the wrist and is worn at all times so, therefore, it can start recording activities from the get-go, no time wasted.’

Climb Pro

The most interesting application introduced with the device compared to your usual Garmin GPS unit is its new climbing feature, Climb Pro.

Trenkle explained that the Marq Athlete will be fitted with a ‘built-in elevation model that covers the entire world’ and will be able to overlay on pre-planned routes giving you live data on a climb.

While this sounds similar to Strava live segments, it’s actually a step further.

The Marq watch will not only be able to notify you as a climb is going to start but also keep a live update on how much of the climb is left to ride.

It will also relay the average percentage of the climb as well as the distance and vertical elevation remaining as you are riding, while also informing you of changes in gradient allowing you to essentially plan an effort or attack down to the exact metre.

While we have yet to try this feature, in principle it sounds very useful. At present we can ride to power and we can judge our pacing of a climb based on looking at the parcour of an ascent pre-ride but it still involves some guesswork. If the feature works as billed, the Marq will essentially do away with that.

Fine details

Made from titanium, the Marq is both very light and non-intrusive when on the wrist while still being big enough to be read clearly, something I noticed in the minimal time I got to try on the watch on the launch.

Looking at its non-cycling-specific credentials, it has a water resistance of 10 ATM, which certifies that you could dive underwater to a depth of 100m and the device will still function.

Needless to say, that means it’ll survive any downpour or shower you might encounter while out on a ride.

Connected to your bank account, the Marq will also allow you to make secure mobile payments – which means you don't have to bring along cash or a card on your club run.

Built-in storage also means you can download apps to the watch, such as Strava or Spotify while connecting to your phone will also allow smart notifications and the ability to answer calls and texts on the go.

The final significant point, which impressed me quite a lot, was the battery life. Garmin claims a fully charged Marq can last for 12 days in smartwatch mode and 28 hours in GPS mode.

The Marq goes on sale today here, with the Athlete retailed at £1,399.99. Hopefully, Cyclist will be given the opportunity to sample the Marq Athlete in the coming months for an in-depth review.

The Garmin Marq range

Marq Aviator

Designed for air travel, the Aviator will provide users with quick access to GMT time as well as two additional time zones. There will also be integrated maps, weather radar and a worldwide airport database.

Marq Driver

The Driver will be preloaded with 250 race tracks allowing car enthusiasts the change to time keep with auto lap splits and average speed.

Marq Captain

Styled on old nautical watches, the Captain can show wind speed and tide information while also able to sync to the boat for auto-captain. There is also a very useful man overboard function.

Marq Expedition

TOPO mapping, an auto-calibrating altimeter, barometer, compass, automatic wireless connectivity and Pulse OX. All you need to keep safe on even the most remote adventures.