Garmin Fenix Chronos first look: Fenix 3 gets a luxury makeover

IFA 2016: This is Garmin's best-looking sports watch yet
Garmin Fenix Chronos ups the style

I think Garmin is finally getting to grips with how to make an attractive looking wearable. The Fenix Chronos collection is essentially the Fenix 3 HR wrapped up in sleek, high-quality materials. But we hope this attention to design begins to filter through to the rest of the Garmin watch and fitness tracker family.

The Chronos comes in three models. There's the pricier titanium version, plus a steel model that comes with either a brushed stainless steel band or a vintage leather strap. Up close, unsurprisingly, the titanium version is the one that really stands out. It's a gorgeous looking watch and it's lightweight to wear. There's the kind of fantastic build quality you'd expect to find on a watch that costs more than $1000.

The stainless steel Chronos is a looker too, with its chronograph-style bezel and chunky metal links on the band. It's the same steel used in Breitling watches and I'm told it's being manufactured in Switzerland, the spiritual home of traditional watchmakers. These are big watches too, not for dainty wrists, but you wouldn't be ashamed to roll up your shirt sleeve and show them off in a business meeting.

Read this: TomTom Adventurer hits the outdoor watch sweet spot

You still know it's a Fenix though, for one reason – and that's the display. Garmin sticks to a 1.2-inch Chrona Display, which employs transflective tech similar to that used on the Sony SmartWatch 3 to improve visibility in bright outdoor light. Like the Fenix 3 HR, it's a step up from the Fenix 3's display in terms of screen quality but it still lacks the vibrancy or sharpness of an Android Wear watch or an Apple Watch.

It does mean the battery life remains strong for sports mode tracking though. You get 25 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode and up to 13 hours in GPS mode. Compared to previous Fenix watches, though, that is down from 40 and 16 hours.

There's an obvious concern that adding these kind of luxury materials to an outdoor watch might mean something that's not best suited for a morning hike or trail run in tough terrain, but that's something Garmin has taken into consideration. There's tough sapphire glass protecting the touchscreen display and Garmin is offering a silicon strap with every Chronos, letting you swap out the bands with the simple quick release mechanism.

Garmin has thought about comfort as well, with little touches like making a flatter optical heart rate sensor on the back of the watch and adding a polymer strap on the inside of the band on the titanium Chronos, so that the metal is not right up against your wrist.

Early verdict

Garmin's ambition here was to put its popular outdoor watch into a more luxurious frame and it looks like it's successfully achieved that. This is arguably the company's best-looking sports watch so far. Yes, it's still a Fenix watch at heart, but with that stunning exterior, it's an approach we can definitely get on board with.

The Fenix Chronos collection launches in September priced at $1,499.99 for the titanium band, $1,099.99 for the stainless steel band and $999.99 for the leather strap model.

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