Prince William still wears a four-year-old Garmin watch – and that's a smart choice

Prince William shaking hands with a member of the public while wearing Garmin Forerunner 245 watch
(Image credit: Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince William has been spotted wearing a Garmin Forerunner 245 watch – a model first released in 2019, designed for intermediate-level running. My colleague Jane McGuire on Tom's Guide thinks it's time for him to upgrade, and makes some good arguments in favor of switching things up, but I think hanging onto the older GPS watch is a smart move – and more of us should follow suit.

I'm as excited as anyone by the prospect of a new watch. Probably more in fact, which is why I've been breathlessly sharing every scrap of news regarding the forthcoming Garmin Forerunner 965 and 265.

However, grabbing brand new tech as soon as possible isn't the best choice for the environment. Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is a huge problem, and according to the European Commission, more and more is being created each year. Everything from fridges to computers and smartwatches gets dumped in landfill, where it can release hazardous materials.

Making new GPS watches requires rare earth metals, including lithium and cobalt. Lithium is becoming increasingly scarce, largely due to growing demand for electric car batteries, and according to the World Economic Forum, there could be global shortages of the metal as soon as 2025.

Most of the world's cobalt is sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo, sometimes under appalling working conditions. Only a tiny amount of the material is needed to make rechargeable batteries, and battery makers have made efforts to source their cobalt more ethically, but it all counts.

Garmin Marq Adventurer (Gen 2) watch with box and replacement strap

It's easy to replace the strap on your Garmin watch if it becomes damaged, and the watch body is built to last years (Image credit: Future)

Then there's the matter of plastics. Pretty much all GPS watches are made with some quantity of plastic, which is pretty much impossible to recycle once the device reaches the end of its life. Many manufacturers also package their devices in plastic, though Garmin is an exception, and uses cardboard almost exclusively these days.

It's also aiming to source materials more sustainably, support recycling, and monitor the impacts of its products on the environment, as explained in its environmental policy.

Why upgrade?

In any case, is upgrading a four-year-old watch actually necessary? As many of of know from personal experience, Garmin watches are built to last, with scratch-resistant and shockproof cases and bands that are easily replaced if they become damaged. A friend of mine snapped the strap on his Vivomove HR last week, and was able to pick up a replacement online, despite the watch approaching its eighth birthday.

Garmin is also good at supporting older watches with software updates that add key features and fix irritating bugs. Sure, William's Forerunner isn't going to get all the same bells and whistles as the latest model (partly due to hardware limitations) but it's not going to be miles behind either.

Sticking with your old watch is the most frugal option too. There are cheap GPS watches around, but sticking with the one you already own is always going to be the most affordable thing to do.

When he does choose to upgrade, there are some environmentally friendly ways to deal with his Forerunner 245. He could send it to a specialist WEEE recycling facility that can separate the different materials, donate it to a good cause, or even repurpose it into a bike computer. See our guide what to do with an old Garmin watch for more ideas.

We might sell our old watches too, but earning a little extra cash that way probably isn't going to be on the future king's list of priorities.

Cat Ellis

Cat is Homes Editor at TechRadar and former editor of Advnture. She's been a journalist for 15 years, and cut her teeth on magazines before moving online. She helps readers choose the right tech for their home, get the best deals, and do more with their new devices.