The best Garmin watch 2023: all the latest models tested

Collage of the best Garmin watches
(Image credit: Future)

When you're looking for the best Garmin watch, there are lots of factors to take into account. What is your preferred sport, what level are you at currently, what do you want to achieve, how frequently do you train? It's also important to think about how long you'll be able to go between charges, and how much of a beating your watch is likely to take, and last but not least, how much cash you have to spend.

It's tough to pin down a single watch that will work best for everyone, but we've tested all the current models and put together this guide to help you pick the right one for you. Our current top pick is the Garmin Forerunner 955, which is a versatile, powerful watch that'll help take your training to the next level whatever your sport.

If you're only interested in running then you can't go far wrong with the Garmin Forerunner 55, which is excellent for beginner and intermediate level athletes and is excellent value to boot.

Whatever your needs, read on to find the best Garmin watch for you. We test new watches all the time, and will update this guide with new entries as they're released. We'll soon be testing the new Garmin Vivomove Trend, and will bring you a full review when we've put it through our paces

The best Garmin watches

Garmin Forerunner 955 watch on woman's wrist

The Garmin Forerunner 955 might look unassuming, but it's a sports tracking powerhouse (Image credit: Future)

1. Garmin Forerunner 955

The best Garmin watch all-round, with super accurate GPS and excellent training tools

Screen size: 1.3in | Screen type: color memory-in-pixel | Battery life (GPS): 42 hours without solar | Battery life (standby): 15 days without solar

Extremely tough design
Super accurate GPS
Excellent recovery tools
Shorter battery life than expected
Undeniably expensive

It might look unassuming with its plain resin case, but the Forerunner 955 is our pick for the best Garmin watch of 2022. Released earlier this year, it offers all of the company's best training tools in a neat package that's surprisingly compact and lightweight to wear.

It offers the best GPS tracking of any watch we've tested to date (and there have been a lot), and its advanced training tools are very impressive. It was the first watch to include heart rate variability (HRV) and training readiness scores to help you understand how your body is responding to life and training, and it also delivers a daily morning report to help you prepare for the day ahead.

Navigation is excellent, and whichever type of workout you choose to track, we think you'll be impressed by the sheer depth of data available afterwards. If you're purely a runner then the Forerunner 55 is a much cheaper alternative, and the Forerunner 255 will suit entry-level triathletes well, but if you enjoy getting stuck into a wide range of sports then the 955 is the one for you.

Our only real criticism is that the battery life wasn't as long as we'd expected, but opting for the solar edition stretches it out further between charges.

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 955 review

Garmin Fenix 7 GPS watch

The Fenix 7 is the best Garmin watch all-round if you're aiming to take your training to the next level (Image credit: Future)

2. Garmin Fenix 7

A Garmin watch to push your fitness to the next level, with improved recovery tools

Screen size: 1.2in /1.3in / 1.4in | Screen type: color memory-in-pixel | Battery life (GPS): up to 122 hours | Battery life (standby): up to 1+ year

Extremely accurate GPS
Useful training tools
Choice of case sizes
Extra tough design
Colors sometimes look muddy
One of the most expensive options

The Garmin Fenix 7 takes our award to for the best Garmin watch overall. If you're interested in taking your running, cycling, swimming or hiking to the next level, it's the ideal training tool for you.

We were particularly impressed by the new real-time stamina tool, which shows how much energy you have remaining in real time during a workout. If you're starting to run low then you might choose to dial back the effort a little or bring things to an end sooner, but if you've still got plenty in the tank then you might choose to push yourself a little harder.

GPS proved particularly accurate, and during an intense indoor cycling interval session, we found that changes in heart rate were detected by the Fenix 7 almost as swiftly as a chest strap heart rate monitor.

During our tests we found that the watch's blue backlight tended to make colors look a little muddy, particularly when navigating using the watch's on-board maps and GPS, but that's a fairly minor complaint. if you'd prefer to have a watch with an OLED display, take a look at the Garmin Epix, which is otherwise nearly identical.

Read our full Garmin Fenix 7 review

Garmin Venu 2 Plus with white strap

The Venu 2 Plus is the only Garmin watch to feature a built-in microphone, so you can take calls and use your phone's voice assistant from your wrist (Image credit: Future)

3. Garmin Venu 2 Plus

The best Garmin watch for everyday style, with a stunning display and handy built-in microphone

Screen size: 1.1in / 1.3in | Screen type: color AMOLED | Battery life (GPS): up to 22 hours | Battery life (standby): up to 12 days

Vivid AMOLED screen
Receives phone calls on your wrist
10-day battery life in typical use
Accesses your phone's voice assistant
Only one case size

If you're considering trading in your Apple Watch for something more sports-focused, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus could be exactly what you're looking for. It's packed with all the fitness tracking tools you'd expect from a modern sports watch, but also includes lots of useful extras that make it an ideal watch for everyday wear.

The bright AMOLED display is crisp and easy to read in all conditions, and in our tests we found it much easier to read messages and view maps on the Venu 2 than many other Garmin watches. We also appreciated the addition of a microphone to the left-hand edge of the case, which allows you to answer calls and access your phone's voice assistant without digging your handset out of your pocket. If cash is a little tight, you can also pick up the regular Venu 2, which has all the same features except for the built-in mic.

There's only one case size available, and if you're used to the Apple Watch's wireless charging then you might find it frustrating to mess about with a fiddly charging cable, but with a battery life of up to 14 days, you won't need to charge the Venu 2 Plus anywhere near as frequently as one of Apple's devices.

Garmin Enduro 2

The Garmin Enduro 2 is a watch built with tough multi-day events in mind (Image credit: Future)

4. Garmin Enduro 2

A top quality multi-sports watch that makes no compromises for long distance events

Screen size: 1.4in | Screen type: color memory-in-pixel | Battery life (GPS): up to 714 hours | Battery life (standby): up to 550 days

Exceptional battery life
Great GPS accuracy
Super bright flashlight
Costs almost $1,000
Only one size

The Garmin Enduro gives you the training tools of the Fenix 7 with the battery life of the Instinct 2, and it's a joy to use. This is a watch that makes no compromises. It's big and bold (which is necessary to accommodate its large solar cell). with a titanium bezel, sapphire crystal lens, and an enormous 1.4in screen for displaying stats and maps. It's even packing a bright LED flashlight that's incredibly handy for early morning and late evening runs, or around a campsite.

GPS accuracy is exceptional (with Garmin's SatIQ automatically switching between satellite tracking modes to maximize battery life), and although the display isn't as bright as that of the Epix (Gen 2), it's still bright and detailed enough to make navigation a breeze.

The only question is, are you really going to be off-grid enough to justify it? The Enduro 2 can run for weeks between charges even with regular GPS use, but if you're not planning any ultra runs or long backpacking expeditions, a Fenix or Forerunner might be a better option.

Read our full Garmin Enduro 2 review

Garmin Instinct Crossover watch on woman's wrist

(Image credit: Future)

5. Garmin Instinct Crossover

A hybrid digital/analog sports watch that's not just a funky face

Screen size: 0.9in | Screen type: grayscale memory-in-pixel | Battery life (GPS): up to 25 hours | Battery life (standby): up to 28 days

Fun and different design
Excellent battery life
Superb location tracking
No multi-band GPS
Not great for maps

The main selling point of the Garmin Instinct Crossover is its hybrid face, which marries physical hands with a digital display. It works well (the hands even have special shockproofing to prevent them being knocked out of alignment) and is something fresh, fun, and different. Many people have compared it to a Casio G-Shock, and it's easy to see why.

Like all Instinct watches, the Crossover has fantastic battery life; we tested it for around a month and only charged it twice despite pretty heavy use. It doesn't have multi-band GPS, but established a lock quickly nevertheless, and proved to be one of the most accurate wearables we've tested to date. Not just a funky face.

It's not the best watch for navigation, though. You can transfer maps via Garmin Connect, but the Crossover's memory-in-pixel display is grayscale and relatively small, which makes to tricky reading. The biggest problem, however, is the hole in the center where the hands are mounted, which chops out a few important pixels of your route. If you know where you're going, though, it's a great option.

Read our full Garmin Instinct Crossover review

Garmin Forerunner 55 watch with black strap

The Garmin Forerunner 55 is an affordable GPS watch that'll suit beginner and intermediate runners alike (Image credit: Future)

6. Garmin Forerunner 55

The best Garmin running watch for new and intermediate level runners, with great training tools

Screen size: 1.04in | Screen type: color memory-in-pixel | Battery life (GPS): up to 20 hours | Battery life (standby): up to 14 days

Affordably priced
Workout suggestions
Recovery time guidance
Well designed controls
Not the best display for maps
No touchscreen

The Forerunner 55 is Garmin's entry-level running watch, and very reasonably priced, but we'd happily recommend it to intermediate level runners as well. You're getting a huge amount for your money here – despite its modest price tag, it's a very accurate GPS watch with impressive heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, recovery stats, and training tools including workout suggestions and recommended recovery periods.

OK, its color memory in pixel screen isn't as vivid as the AMOLED display of the Venu 2 Plus or Epix, but it's still clearly visible in most lighting conditions, with a backlight for when things get gloomy, and all your stats are clearly presented with graphs and charts to illustrate trends over time.

Although it was only released in 2021, you can already snag it for much less than its list price, making it a particularly great deal. If you're not sure which Garmin watch to choose, this one should tick the most important boxes.

Garmin Forerunner 255 GPS watch

The Garmin Forerunner 255 offers superb location tracking thanks to its multi-band GPS (Image credit: Future)

7. Garmin Forerunner 255

A superb entry-level triathlon watch with super accurate GPS

Screen size: 1.1in / 1.3in | Screen type: color memory-in-pixel | Battery life (GPS): up to 30 hours | Battery life (standby): up to 14 days

Very accurate location tracking
Light and comfortable
Choice of sizes
Impressive battery life
No touchscreen
No solar option

The Forerunner 255 is the next step up from the 55, and is the best Garmin watch if you're looking to take the next step and add cycling or swimming to your regular run training. This is an excellent entry-level triathlon watch with an extensive range of training tools for all three sports (plus others) and the ability to switch between sports at the press of a button for triathlons and duathlons.

When we tested the Forerunner 255, we were particularly impressed by the accuracy of its multi-band GPS, which gave the most precise results of any GPS watch we've tested to date. Even during an out-and-back race that passed through a mile-long tunnel, the results were accurate to within a few meters.

The Forerunner 255 offers great battery life as well, though we would have liked to see a solar option to extend it even further. The lack of a touchscreen also takes a little getting used to, but this is a superb Garmin watch for the price and comes highly recommended.

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 255 review

Garmin Instinct 2 watch with white strap

The Garmin Instinct 2 has a slimmer design than the original Instinct, but is still seriously tough (Image credit: Future)

8. Garmin Instinct 2

The best Garmin watch for outright battery life – especially if you opt for one of the solar models

Screen size: 0.79in / 0.9in | Screen type: monochrome memory-in-pixel | Battery life (GPS): up to 48 hours | Battery life (standby): up to indefinite

Super tough build
Excellent battery life
Extra training tools for runners
Great GPS accuray
Screen not great for maps

If you're hard on your watches, then the Instinct 2 is the best Garmin Watch for you. Like the original Instinct before it, this watch is built like a tank with a tough resin case topped with Gorilla Glass and a design made to shrug off bumps and knocks. After several camping trips and a spot or two of mountain biking, we can confirm that it works.

The Instinct 2 also offers remarkable battery life, particularly if you opt for one of the solar models, which feature Garmin's Power Glass. Provided you're able to get outdoors and soak up a little sunshine, you'll notice that the battery meter barely drops, even with GPS active. Garmin itself claims that the solar edition of the watch can run indefinitely if it catches enough rays, though admittedly you'd need to keep all its most interesting tools switched off to achieve that.

GPS is excellent, as we've come to expect, and during testing we particularly appreciated the watch's new training tools, including suggested running workouts. The only real drawback is that the monochrome memory-in-pixel display isn't great for displaying maps. There's very little detail, and no hues to differentiate different parts of the landscape. If you don't need help navigating though, the Instinct 2 comes highly recommended.

Garmin Venu Sq 2

(Image credit: Future)

9. Garmin Venu Sq 2

A compact everyday watch with a stunning screen that takes the fight to Fitbit

Screen size: 35.9mm / 1.41in diagonal | Screen type: AMOLED | Battery life (GPS): up to 26 hours | Battery life (standby): up to 11 days

Slim, lightweight design
Excellent GPS tracking
Striking AMOLED display
No animated workouts
No map support

The Venu Sq 2 is a smart, square-faced watch that's a direct rival to the Fitbit Versa 4, with superior fitness tracking chops. In our tests, we were particularly impressed by its dual-band GPS, which locks on super fast even in tricky locations with tall buildings or tree cover.

The biggest upgrade from the original Venu Sq is the addition of an OLED display, which looks absolutely stunning and makes it easy to check your health stats at a glance thanks to clear text and graphics. Touch controls are responsive, but the inclusion of two physical buttons on the case means you can also operate it with cold, wet, or gloved hands.

Our biggest complaint with the Venu Sq 2 is that there's no support for maps. Its high-resolution AMOLED screen would be ideal for navigation, but sadly there's no way to transfer your routes from the Garmin Connect app. Hopefully that's something Garmin will change for the third generation watch.

Read our full Garmin Venu Sq 2 review

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).