Exclusive: Garmin is making serious sports watches “more fashionable” – and that’s important

Woman wearing green Garmin Vivomove Sport watch
(Image credit: Garmin)

 Garmin has registered a new patent for tech that will make its watch faces more attractive when not in use. The goal is to create a watch that’s more attractive than the company’s more ‘functional’ looking wearables.

The document, patent application 20220221825, explains that adding decorative elements to a watch face would “make the device look more fashionable and less technical”, but isn’t typically possible because it would obscure the digital display.

The document describes a display that uses two textured layers: one that allows light to pass through from both directions, and one that transmits light from underneath, and reflects at least some light from external sources. “The transmissive and reflective layer includes a first texture and a contrasting second texture that, in combination, present a decorative pattern or image that is seen on the face of the device,” the patent explains.

These two layers are sandwiched together with transparent adhesive, and sit on top of a light-emitting screen.

Beauty and brains

There's already a handful of Garmin watches that use ‘hidden’ displays, including the Garmin Lily and Garmin Vivomove. The new technology sounds similar to the displays used by these devices, but may also work well with color AMOLED displays like those of the Garmin Venu 2 and Epix rather than just monochrome LED displays.

It’s interesting to see Garmin developing technology that could bring its ‘fashion’ focused watches (like the Lily) and its best GPS watches (like the Fenix 7) closer together. Ultimately, it may be possible to build a serious multisports GPS watch that looks just like a conventional timepiece for use during the day, but can also display full color maps and extensive workout stats at the press of a button.

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.