FITNESS

Best Sport Watches: Track and Improve Your Workouts with These Timepieces

Best Sport Watches cover photo
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Many of you will agree that the key to achieving fitness goals is to stay on top of them, which means accurate progress tracking. Fortunately, there is no shortage of sport watches to get that job done.

You can use a sports watch to time your sports sessions by using the stopwatch function. This way, you can keep a track of your activity and gradually improve your timing. A sports watch can help you record how well you have performed and what you can do to make yourself even better. You can set goals for yourself and figure out a plan to meet those goals.

More advanced sports watches these days let you record all aspects of your activity, for example the distance traveled, steps taken, calories burned etc. These watches help you in analyzing your sports activity in great detail.Today we are going to talk about the best sports watch you can buy. We will discuss detailed features, which you should look for before buying such a watch, and then list the best watches from which to choose one. Let’s get to it!

Our Top Picks

Product Name Weight WaterproofSpecific Features Price
Casio W800H-1AV
Classic
1.12 ozUp to 100 mLED light, 1/100 second
stopwatch, calendar,
alarm, long battery life
(up to 10 years)
Check price on Amazon
CakCity Digital 1.6 ozUp to 50 mLED, back LED, calendar,
stopwatch, alarm, shock
resistant
Check price on Amazon
BINZI Big Face2.64 ozNoLED, calculator, big face,
silicone strap
Check price on Amazon
Suunto Core2.26 ozUp to 30 mAltimeter, barometer,
calculator, stopwatch,
alarm, storm alarm, LED
Check price on Amazon
Garmin Fenix 5S 4 ozUp to 100 mCompass, barometer,
altimeter, alarm,
stopwatch, GPS, heart
rate monitor, measures
pace, stride length.
Check price on Amazon
Garmin Forerunner
10
1.6 ozYesMeasures distance, pace,
calories, speed. GPS
Check price on Amazon
Timex Marathon3.5 ozUp to 50 mStopwatch, alarm, timer,
hourly chime,
lightweight, LED
Check price on Amazon
Suunto Ambit3 Peak 4.6 ozUp to 100 mGPS, altimeter,
barometer, can measure
speed, distance, pace.
Long battery life.
Check price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

Before you head to the market to buy a watch or log online to order one, you should know what you are looking for. Here are the points you must keep in your mind

Smartwatch or Running Watch?

Smartwatches usually contain some tracking and running program that can help you track your steps, measure burned calories, distance traveled etc. They also offer many other features because they are basically like your smartphone, only on your wrist. You can use them to go online, use social media, make calls and download a large number of apps.

However, smartwatches tend to have smaller battery life than running watches. Also, running watches usually display running information very clearly. If you don’t really need all the features of a smartwatch, a sports watch may be enough for you.

Variables Measured

A simple sports watch is one, which displays the time, has a stopwatch, an alarm and it can be worn all day long. The ones that are more complicated let you record your heart rate, steps, calories, pace and distance. Many offer barometer and altimeters too. Even better models will let you record your swimming pace and vertical speed.

playing basketball with heart rate monitor watch

Always consider the type of sports you want to track before you buy your watch. A simple watch with just a pedometer and heart rate monitor is sufficient if all you want to do is run, but if you go cycling, too, you should go for one that has GPS and measures distance as well as speed.

Advanced sports watches come with pre-installed sports profiles and you can choose from among these. The data collected will be specific to the sports. For example, if you choose swimming your pace and stroke rate will be recorded. However, if you enter sprinting, the watch will record your stride length along with other basic variables.

Durability and Waterproofing

Many watches have scratch-resistant glass, which is extremely useful during any sports. The band should also be made of good material, and should be durable.

Sports watches are meant to be used while you are running, climbing, cycling etc. Therefore, you should always go for something that can withstand wear and tear and does not break down easily.

water proof tracker

Your watch should always be waterproof, so you can wear it all day long. If you plan to record your swimming session, you should choose a specific watch that mentions its waterproofing characteristic even at depth.

Compatibility

Some sports watches these days can be synced with your smartphone. Make sure the model you buy is compatible with the phone you already have.

Apple Watch, for example, only works with iPhone. However, most sports watches can be synced with both iPhone and Android phones.

Display Size

The whole purpose of a sports watch is that it collects data which you can see at a glance. The display needs to be clear and big enough that you can easily see the numbers even while you are performing exercise.

heart rate monitor watch cover photo

At the same time, displays that are too big look clunky and odd. Wrist size is also important here. If you have a slender wrist, don’t go for a watch which has a very big display size. In this case, it is always best to try on a watch before you purchase it.

Best Products on Today’s Market

Now that you know which features to look for in your sports watch, let’s move on to the list of the best sports watches in the market today.

Casio W800H-1AV Classic Sport Watch Casio W800H-1AV Classic Sport Watch

Price: Approx. $12

Weight: 1.12 oz

Water resistance: Up to 100 m

Specific features: LED light; dual time; 1/100 second stopwatch; 12/24 hour format; calendar

Best use: Timing your running sessions

Description: The Casio W800H-1AV Classic Sport Watch has everything you would expect from a simple sports watch. It is very durable, with a long battery life. Once you buy this watch, you can use it for up to 10 years without having to worry about changing the batteries.

The watch lets you choose whether you want to view the time in 12 or 24 hour format. The display is easy to read and the LED light ensures that you can see the time even at night. If you are training for running, jogging or any activity, you can rely on the accurate stopwatch and record the timing for all your sports activities.

This watch is completely waterproof up to 100 m, which means that you can even go diving while wearing it. The stylish timepiece is easy to use and you can navigate between the time, alarm and stopwatch quite comfortably.

PROS:

  • LED light
  • Clear, easy-to-see display
  • Calendar, stopwatch and alarm included
  • Long battery life

CONS:

  • Face is not scratch resistant
  • Not so many advanced features

Related: The Casio F91W Digital Sports Watch has an alarm, a night light and a 1/100 second stopwatch with an accuracy of +/- 30 seconds. The watch is waterproof and looks very stylish.

Check the price on Amazon

CakCity Digital Sports Watch CakCity Digital Sports Watch

Price: Approx. $12

Weight: 1.60 oz

Waterproof: Water resistant up to 50 m

Specific features: Large dial and numbers; LED light; shock resistant; stopwatch, calendar and alarm; back LED light

Best use: Running, swimming

Description: The CakCity Digital Sports Watch offers many benefits to its users. It displays the time in clear, large numbers that are easy to read in all conditions. If the light is too dim, you can simply turn on the LED light to see the time.

The watch is water resistant and you do not have to remove it while showering or even while swimming. However, the depth restriction means that this is not a watch, which you can wear, while scuba diving. In this case you need to get a specialized waterproof watch. Also, make sure that you do not press any button while you are underwater. This can break the waterproof seal and water may enter the watch. This means that you can’t set the alarm, for example, while you are inside a water body.

The 1/100 second stopwatch is accurate to +/- 30 seconds. You can use it to time your sports sessions and in this way improve your stamina. The alarm works perfectly. The watch comes with a user manual and is simple to use.

PROS:

  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Accurate
  • Water resistant up to 50 m

CONS:

  • You cannot press any buttons while underwater
  • Pressing the light button or stopwatch button makes a beeping sound which may be annoying

Related: A good alternative is the CakCity Military Watch and has a leather band and a large, stylish display. The case is made of stainless steel and is waterproof.

Check the price on Amazon

BINZI Big Face Sports Watch BINZI Big Face Sports Watch

Price: Approx. $23

Weight: 2.64 oz

Waterproof: No

Best use: Telling time during day-to-day activities

Specific features: 12/24 hour format; can illuminate at night; calculator; silicone strap; splash proof

Description: The BINZI Big Face Sports Watch has a large face, as the name indicates, which makes it easy to read the time. You can press a button to light up the display in dim light or during night time. The display looks rather stylish.

The strap is comfortable and you won’t feel any irritation to the skin. The watch is also pretty durable, with a scratch resistant display. This means that you can wear the watch during all sorts of activities without damaging it.

Perhaps the most glaring negative feature of this watch is that it is not waterproof. While it won’t stop working only because of a splash of water, you can’t wear it in the bath or while swimming. This is why if your preferred sports is something that requires submersion, for example swimming, you should go for a different watch.

PROS:

  • Big, clear display
  • Night time illumination
  • Calculator included

CONS:

  • Not waterproof
  • Face may seem too big on small wristed people

Related: BINZI Military Sports Watch looks extremely classy. With a silicone strap and a large face, this watch is definitely in the league of the most stylish watches out there. It is water resistant but cannot be worn underwater or while bathing.

Check the price on Amazon

Suunto Core Sports Watch Suunto Core Sports Watch

Price: Approx. $169

Weight: 2.26 oz

Waterproof: Up to 30 m

Specific features: Barometer and altimeter; storm alarm; timer, stopwatch, calendar and alarm; back light; large, clear display

Best use: Tracking the weather as well as your vertical ascent while climbing

Description: If you want to go for a climb, Suunto Core Sports Watch will definitely suit your needs. Not only does this watch keep time in either 12 or 24 hour format, it also has a lot of other features which can help you during your climb.

The altimeter can detect whether you are ascending or descending, and can record your vertical distance. The barometer senses small time changes in pressure, and hence will not only tell you about the current weather but also predict weather changes, so you can prepare accordingly. A storm alarm will ring when the watch senses that a storm is coming, so you can make camp in case you were climbing.

The face of the watch is also pretty durable and does not get scratched easily. This is a huge plus point because when you are climbing, it is inevitable that you will scratch the watch somewhere and a flimsy one could become useless very quickly.

PROS:

  • Altimeter and compass included
  • Scratch-resistant face
  • Thermometer and barometer guide you about the weather

CONS:

  • Strap is not very sturdy

Related: Suunto Spartan Sports HR is a high end sports watch, and has an altimeter, barometer, GPS and a compass. It is water resistant up to 100 m and therefore the ideal watch to wear during any sports activity

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Fenix 5S GPS Watch Garmin Fenix 5S GPS Watch

Price: Approx. $600

Weight: 4 oz

Waterproof: Up to 100 m

Specific features: GPS; heart rate monitor; preloaded sports profiles; can be synced with smartphone; compass, barometer and altimeter

Best use: Tracking your running sessions

Description:  The Garmin Fenix 5S GPS Watch can be used to track all sorts of sports activities; though it is mainly intended to be used to record running sessions. The compass and GPS will guide you on your path, while the watch measures different variables like your heart rate, pace, stride length and performance. You can easily view this data and use it to improve your exercise sessions.

The 42 mm watch face is large enough to display all the data clearly. You can even read it in direct sunlight, with no problems.  You can also get notifications on this watch if you sync it to your smartphone. This way, you will know if anyone called you or you received a text message while you were running.

The measurements are pretty accurate, and you can rely on them. The watch also comes with an alarm system and a stopwatch, so you can time your sessions as well.

PROS:

  • Offers many features and several variables can be measured
  • Good accuracy
  • GPS included
  • Can receive smart notifications from your phone

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Battery needs to be recharged about once a week

Related: Garmin Vivoactive HR Smartwatch offers many beneficial features that will make it much easier to track your sports sessions and get the most out of them. The watch measures heart rate 24/7 and tracks your running sessions with accuracy.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Watch Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Watch

Price: Approx. $179

Weight: 1.6 oz

Waterproof: Yes

Specific features: Measures time; distance; speed; pace; calories and records position; GPS; Goals can be set

Best use: Setting and meeting goals for running sessions

Description: The Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Watch is a good watch for recording your running sessions and meeting your goals. The watch lets you decide a pace and then when you start running, your actual pace is measured. You will then be guided about whether or not you are reaching your goal, and what you need to do to improve. In this way this watch serves very well as a motivational tool.

Garmin Connect lets you share your data so you can see how you compare to other athletes, pro as well as amateur.  The watch guides you about your position so you know where you are and how far you still need to run to meet your goal for the day. A beep lets you know when you have run a mile, and the watch shows your time for running this distance.

The display is adequate without seeming to be too huge. You can view the data easily as the font is large and clear. There is no heart rate monitor, though, so if you need that in your watch, you should go for another one

PROS:

  • Accurately measures speed, distance and pace
  • It is possible to share your data
  • Virtual pace keeps you motivated to do better

CONS:

  • Location finding takes some time
  • You can only see two variables at a time on the watch display

Related: Garmin Forerunner 230 Watch has a large screen and a battery that lasts for about 5 weeks in normal mode, and about 16 hours in training mode. You can count your steps, calories and distance with this watch.

Check the price on Amazon

Timex Marathon Watch Timex Marathon Watch

Price: Approx. $17

Weight: 3.5 oz

Water resistant: Up to 50 m

Best use: For day-to-day wear

Specific features: Stopwatch; timer; hourly chime; easy to read even in direct sunlight; alarm clock; lightweight

Description:  The Timex Marathon Watch displays time in large, easy to read numbers that can be seen even if there is direct sunlight. The light up feature lets you see the time night or in the dark. This watch is water resistant up to a depth of 50 m, which means that you do not have to take it off while swimming. However, if you plan to go diving, you should opt for another watch.

This is a simple, lightweight everyday watch that you can use to time your running or sports sessions. You can also set an alarm, or even a timer. The watch delivers what it promises; however keep in mind that this is not a high-end watch, which will track your sports activities. The watch has good value for money, though, as it is not expensive and is quite accurate in terms of time.

The user manual is easy to follow and you will be able to set up the watch in no time.

PROS:

  • Easy to use
  • Accurate
  • Stopwatch and timer included
  • Clear, bright display

CONS:

  • No advanced features
  • Band is not very durable

Related: Timex Ironnman Rugged Watch has a large display, which lights up at night. The stopwatch has a memory of 30 laps and you can set a timer as well.

Check the price on Amazon

Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS Watch Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS Watch

Price: Approx. $346

Weight: 4.6 oz

Dimensions: 5 x 4 x 4 inches

Waterproof: Up to 100 m

Best use: Tracking your climbing activities

Specific features: Has altimeter; barometer; GPS and compass; can measure speed; distance and pace; Battery life about 150 hours; can be synced with smartphone; sharing information is possible

Description:  The Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS Watch is a powerful unit, which lets you measure and record many aspects of your sports. If you are going for a climb, you can use this watch to measure your vertical distance as well as assess the weather. The barometer can detect changes in pressure and hence predict changes in weather.

The GPS offers navigation, ensuring that you know where you are and where you are headed. You can also measure your speed as well as pace in case of running.

An interesting feature of this watch is that you can string together the photos from your climbing trip or other sports and use it to create a movie. You can then share this with all your friends so they, too, know about your adventures! You can sync your watch with your smartphone and receive all your notifications on the watch, where they are visible on a glance. However, you can’t reply using the watch.

PROS:

  • Offers a lot of features. Has altimeter and barometer
  • Accurate
  • Compass and GPS included
  • Can receive notifications via phone

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Band is not extremely sturdy

Related: Suunto Ambit 2S Sport Watch is a lightweight watch that offers navigation and can also be used to measure heart rate.it can also calculate speed, pace, distance as well as calories burned.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap up

As is evident from the products we have mentioned, sports watches come in a huge variety, with a large myriad of features. You have to decide what you need, and choose a watch accordingly. While simple watches only display time and date and offer a stopwatch, complex ones can let you measure your distance, speed, calories and even the weather.

cycling with fitness watch

With all the above mentioned knowledge in hand, you can now choose which watch you want to buy. Have you used any of the above mentioned watches? If so, do let us know your experience in the comments section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

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