No, Garmin watches aren't ugly – and they're about to get even prettier

Man wearing Garmin Marq Adventurer (Gen 2) watch
(Image credit: Garmin)

Buttons and touchscreens might not be everyone's cup of tea, but are smartwatches and GPS running watches inherently ugly? I don't think so – and even if they were, change is on the horizon.

A colleague and friend of mine has recently written an article on Advnture's sister site TechRadar about the ugliness of smartwatches, calling out Apple, Garmin, and Fitbit specifically. Yes, even the new Garmin Marq range.

Though he appreciates their usefulness, he's not a fan of them for more formal situations. James Bond, he says, would never strap on a Garmin no matter how practical it might be.

Quite apart from the matter of product placement (Bond would wear the watch of whichever company placed the highest bid, shameless as he is), the Seamaster watch sported by Daniel Craig isn't tiny. Its 42mm case is only 1mm smaller than my Garmin Fenix 7S. 

Woman wearing Garmin Fenix 7 watch

Many Garmin watches now come in three sizes: S (small), regular, and X (large) to suit different people and preferences (Image credit: Garmin)

Perhaps the issue isn't size, but the nature of the face. An analog watch is undeniably more traditionally worn with a suit than a digital timepiece, but there are exceptions and alternatives.

For example, the Garmin Lily (the company's first watch designed specifically for women) has a display that's completely hidden until you press a button at the bottom of the face. At all other times, it's a subtly patterned metallic circle with no hands, markings, or anything else. Pick one of the models with an Italian leather strap, and it's pretty discreet. Yes, it's marketed as a women's watch, but there's no reason at all why a gent couldn't wear it – particularly the black and gold version.

Woman wearing Garmin Lily watch

The Garmin Lily doesn't resemble a smartwatch until you press the tiny touch-sensitive button that actives its hidden LED display (Image credit: Garmin)

Then there are hybrid watches, which not only hide away their digital faces, but add physical hands for a more conventional look. Right now the only Garmin watches that fit that bill are the Garmin Vivomove series. These are fairly simple when it comes to sports tracking tools, but have a slim, minimalist look that wouldn't be out of place with more formal clothing.

Judging by recent leaks, Garmin will soon be adding yet another watch to that lineup: the Vivomove Trend. We don't know too much about it yet, but judging by testing documents published by the FCC, it looks like it might be the first Garmin watch with wireless charging.

Fossil also provides hybrid smartwatches, including many that combine classic style with digital features. I doubt many people would identify the Fossil Neutra Gen 6 or Stella Gen 6 as smartwatches at first glance.

If you'd prefer something more like a traditional field watch (check out our roundup of the best field watches if you're curious), then the upcoming Garmin Instinct Crossover might be more to your liking when it arrives. Again, there have been no pics published yet, but it looks set to be a rugged hybrid watch, with patented tech that stops its analog hands moving out of alignment even when you give it a solid whack. I'm sure Q would approve.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 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), usually wearing at least two sports watches.