Garmin and Polar watches go head-to-head in triathlon challenge

First published: 29-05-2012

Timepieces from the Polar and Garmin watch companies were put through their paces this week as part of a special side-by-side evaluation designed to determine the best.

The Garmin Forerunner 910XT watch was up against the Polar RCX5 G5 timepiece in the competition pitting arguably the two best triathlon specific heart rate monitors in the world.

This innovative comparison test was put together by the Heart Rate Watch Company, with president Rusty Squire admitting it was hard to choose between the two.

"There are such subtle variation in metrics capacity between these two watches with one having an advantage here and the other there that it made it very, very difficult to name a winner - it was that close," he said.

The competition began in the swim phase where the Garmin 910XT was able to count laps and strokes but lost marks for failing to transmit heart rate in the water – something the Polar RCX5 had little trouble with thanks to its transmission frequency technology.

Meanwhile, the Garmin 910XT came out on top in the swim to bike transition area, with a quick release strap proving useful. The cycling phase was a similar story with the Garmin watch able to produce impressive power data that the Polar system simply could not match.

Ultimately though, while this timepiece held the advantage during the cycling phase, the Polar watch was deemed slightly superior in the swimming and running phases.

One drawback of the Polar watch was the presence of an external GPS system, as opposed to an internal one, though this did make the watch lighter on the wrists.

Ultimately, Mr Squire admitted that while the two watches were "very close" it was "really very dependent upon what an individual's needs are in the final analysis".

He did note that in testing women tended to favour the Polar watch, while the men opted for the Garmin watch instead.

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