- Incredibly thoughtful and premium look and feel
- The display is now much crisper
- Charging and battery life are both greatly improved
- Almost all features available on cheaper Garmin watches
- The design isn't suited to plenty of tracking activities
- No smaller case size option
When Garmin first released the original Marq collection back in 2019, it was providing an all-new premium option for those who required something different from the ruggedness of the Fenix range. There were some hits, some misses, and now the Marq is back for round two.
It arrives with a much-improved display, beefed-up battery life and a couple of exclusive features and design notes, but one thing hasn't changed - the cost.
To nab one of the five watches in the Marq (Gen 2) range - which includes the distinctly different designs of the Golfer, Athlete, Aviator, Captain and Adventurer - you'll pay around $2000/£1500.
It propels the Marq (Gen 2) right into the same space as the industry's most expensive smartwatches - devices like the Tag Heuer Calibre E4 and Montblanc Summit 3 - and settles in at well over double the also-pricey Garmin Epix 2, a device we rate as one of the best options on the market.
With all that in mind, then, we've been testing out the Marq (Gen 2) Golfer over the past few weeks to get a better idea of what it can offer.
Design and general wear
The design is the big differentiator with the Marq range, obviously. There are top-tier processes and high-end materials that cover every millimeter of this watch, and it does genuinely feel like a step up from even something like the Epix, whose design architecture the Marq range is essentially based on.
There are also plenty of subtle differences from the first generation. The case now features Grade 5 titanium, which is much more scratch resistant than the original Marq's Grade 2. For those worried about scratches, then, worry not; we've been wearing this thing for around six weeks - including very regular gym workouts - and there are no dings or scratches to be seen.
Then there are the more noticeable changes, like the display. It's something we felt let down the original model, but, thankfully, Garmin has installed an AMOLED touchscreen beauty here.
Interestingly, it is slightly smaller than the Epix 2's - coming in at 1.2 inches, as opposed to 1.3 inches, which also means the pixel density is different - but it's no less satisfying to swipe through menus and have on the wrist. The sapphire crystal screen also means improved scratch resistance, and, like the outer case, we have no complaints here.
Once you do spend a decent amount of time with it, going back to the classic LCD display tech (like on our daily driver, the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar) is pretty tough. Especially when you consider the extensive battery life you can still achieve with it, which we'll touch on later.
For as much as we love it, though, the display also isn't a reason to shell out. It's not only available on the Epix 2, but we also think it's fairly likely a Forerunner or Fenix model gets AMOLED at some point over the next year.
What is exclusive to the Marq - and probably a justifiable reason to splash the cash - is the sheer complexity of the design.
Each of the range's five devices has multiple unique elements - such as differently-shaped pushers, individual etchings, or the specific band tailoring - that make it feel like a 'proper' timepiece. If you're somebody who appreciates the finer details of watch design, there's a good chance that you'll find one in the range you'll fall in love with.
We don't think that includes 99% of people, of course, but Garmin has done its due diligence when it comes to the look and feel.
We only wish each came with the option of a smaller 'S' case size, as we see through the Fenix and some Forerunner lines. We asked Garmin about the possibility of this arriving further down the line, and, while it's not been ruled out for future Marq generations, it won't be coming through this one.
On one hand, this is fair enough - the luxury timepiece crowd, Garmin believes, is male-dominated, and, generally speaking, men prefer and can accommodate bigger watches.
But, at the same time, these are not small watches. The 46mm case is about right for most Marq users, we'd guess, but the 85g weight and sheer chunkiness mean that it doesn't feel overly natural to wear for sleep tracking or any exercise that's semi-rigorous - more on that below.
Ultimately, though, any watch at this price needs to make some kind of statement. And Garmin has achieved that, in our eyes.
As with the design, the sports tracking and general breadth of Garmin activity features are taken from the Epix 2 and built out from there. That means you're getting the full, overwhelming array here - and 90% of those sports modes are ones you'll likely never even think about.
But it's impressively complete. You get all the metrics introduced through the latest Fenix, Epix and Forerunner devices - things like HRV Status, the improved Race Predictor, Training Readiness, stamina data, and tons more.
We don't have the time or inclination to talk through every one of these, but the important takeaway is that Marq owners are getting the most complete Garmin experience to date - and with a couple of exclusive features that we'll discuss further below.
Multi-Band GPS magic
As we found with those other premium Garmin watches, the introduction of Multi-Band GPS and SatIQ has had a dramatic effect on the accuracy of things like tracking runs.
SatIQ dictates that the device will decide when to kick into that dual-frequency GPS mode, meaning it's much more efficient when you're not tracking city runs, forest hikes or mountainous ventures. If you're coming from the last Marq or another older Garmin device, this is one difference you'll notice - both in accuracy and battery life.
Again, like with the display, it's not an exclusive feature - and, as we found in our Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin Epix 2 marathon test, it's not necessarily even the very best option - but it's still a great addition.
Slow but steady heart rate tracking
We find the post-workout average and max HR figure to be pretty bang on, and real-time looks are generally always within a few beats of a chest strap, but it is noticeably slower at catching up to fluctuations than competitors like the Apple Watch.
Still, like with general activity tracking, the features that are spun out off the back of the heart rate sensor are virtually endless.
All in all, there are very few (if any) smartwatches on the market that can deliver this many tracking features and have them pretty much always line up with reality.
Sleep monitoring woe
But while things like Body Battery, Training Readiness, and the like are genuinely very useful features for everyday wear, we still don't think Garmin has truly nailed sleep tracking.
It's well-documented how fallible consumer devices are at accurately depicting your sleep stages, so that's not necessarily our criticism, but we've had more than a few completely misjudged 'time asleep' estimations.
If we were to sit down on the couch after dinner and watch a couple of hours of TV, for example, we'd wake up with a 15-hour 'sleep' - despite all the obvious movement between then and our actual bedtime.
We could forgive this happening once or twice, but it's fairly frequent - maybe once or twice a week - and Garmin feels a step behind its rivals when it comes to the very basics of sleep monitoring.
The real issue is that this starts to skew other metrics, meaning you have to write off otherwise-useful features like Training Readiness.
Our only other true gripe with the tracking experience - and it's hard to have any, given its broad nature - is how it often feels slightly overkill in such a premium design.
As we touched on when analyzing the design above, the Marq is a beautifully crafted watch, but it's also much more cumbersome than Garmin's other sports watches. And if you're used to wearing a light running watch, for example, it can be a pretty jarring experience wearing the Marq for something like marathon training. And it's not what we'd prefer.
Our takeaway is to be cautious of viewing the Marq as the ultimate all-rounder. It's still a much better fit as an idle watch that looks pretty on your wrist - and unloading the entirety of Garmin's tracking arsenal onto it doesn't necessarily change that fact.
As you would guess, you get some tailored functionality based on the Marq edition you choose, as well as the whole complement of features touched on above.
In the case of our review unit, the Golfer, it means that all the same functionality of the Garmin Approach S62, the company's flagship golf watch, is packed inside (and accessible through a much nicer display).
It's neat, and while we haven't had the chance to take it out on the golf course, we have worn it during a few sessions on the driving range. It's heavy on the wrist, and not totally what we'd personally want in a golf watch, but the functionality is unparalleled.
The same is also true for the rest of the Marq range. The Captain borrows plenty of features from the Garmin Quatix watches, the Aviator includes Garmin D2 exclusives and the Adventurer even buffs up the orienteering when using the Marq's maps.
The Athlete doesn't possess anything truly tailored to your tri-sport fans, but that's to be expected when you consider this is Garmin's base focus in premium devices.
And it does still include, at least for now, something the Epix doesn't - Garmin's new Jet Lag Adviser. We've provided a full explainer of this feature in our Jet Lag Adviser guide, but, essentially, this is designed to help you manage your training and recovery more effectively before, during, and after trips.
Garmin folks told us that this feature should eventually evolve to include and knock on to metrics like Training Readiness - meaning an upcoming trip will be factored into that overall score - but, right now, it mostly just consists of a fancy timeline and bits of advice.
It's a cool feature, and one that fits with the Marq range, but, again, we expect this to trickle down to other premium watches soon enough.
And that's it for the exclusives - which, if you're nitpicking, is a little underwhelming. There's an absolute boatload of functionality here, but the Marq does curiously miss out on some cool features that are present in much cheaper devices.
The Vivomove Trend, for example, has just become the first Garmin device to feature wireless charging, while the Venu 2 Plus is the only in-market Garmin to feature the necessary design for ECG functionality.
The Venu 2 Plus also features a microphone and speaker, neither of which is present in any Marq watch.
No watch can have it all - even at this price - but we do also think there'll be some left disappointed that Garmin overlooked some pretty basic smartwatch features.
Battery life and charging
While the Garmin Marq range does miss out on the fancy, Qi-compatible charging smarts of the company's latest hybrid watch, it does still boast a unique charging method of its own.
It means charging is much, much faster than you'll get on the Epix 2 or Fenix 7. The time it takes to go from 0 - 100% now only takes around an hour with this new-style charging puck, as opposed to between 2-3 hours with typical Garmin charging connections.
When we asked back in October, Garmin wouldn't indicate whether this was something we'd see come to future releases, which feels a bit of a shame, but it does at least remain a very good feather in the Marq's cap. Those last-minute charge cycles before a weekend away are now much easier.
The good news also continues into the battery life. Considering the always-on AMOLED display is now present, and there's the potential for more energy-sapping GPS tracking, we think Garmin has done incredibly well to deliver around 5-6 days of use with these features turned on and in use.
We found considerable battery drain in the first generation (and other Garmin devices) when features like Pulse Ox were used, and, while this and things like offline music streaming do still have an effect, it's nowhere near as dramatic.
If you want to stretch the battery life out, too, you can always turn off the AOD and get closer to two weeks.
It's what we saw with the Epix, essentially, and that means around 25 hours of exercise tracking in the All Systems GPS mode, with this dropping closer to 20 hours if you're pounding Spotify. It's mighty impressive when you consider something like Apple Watch Ultra can only manage 2-3 days.
How we test