Under the spotlight - 10 watches to get your heart racing

First published: 22-04-2016

hiking legs seaside mountain peak

As the days lengthen and the weather gets warmer, many people's minds start turning to how they can make the most of those extra hours of sunlight by getting active outside.

Whether your ideal day in the great outdoors consists of deep sea diving, scaling a cliff or running a half-marathon through the hills, there's a sports watch for you.

Boasting features such as built-in heart-rate monitors and GPS systems, the best products can really help you to get the most out of your chosen activity.

Best for health and fitness

Nowadays, a smart watch is a must for everyone from elite athletes to fledgling keep-fitters. It makes tracking your activity and progress incredibly easy, and provides the kind of detailed analysis that, in days gone by, would only have been available to professional sports men and women.

Leading the way

Garmin is a pioneering brand when it comes to smart sports watches and the Garmin Unisex Forerunner 225 is the brand's first product to feature a built-in heart-rate sensor on the wrist.

Garmin Unisex Forerunner 225 Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor GPS Alarm Chronograph Watch

The device measures time, steps, distance, pace and sleep. Capable of syncing with Bluetooth, it sends data to your smartphone for live tracking, allowing you to share your activity online. It also permits you to see your effort level at a glance, as the gauge shows your heart-rate zone and beats per minute, and colour codes accordingly. You can even download training plans from Garmin Connect, effectively turning your watch into a personal trainer.

For peak performance

The more seasoned athletes among you may be tempted to splash out on the Polar V800, which has numerous advanced features designed to ensure you get the very best out of your training.

Polar Unisex V800 Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor GPS Smart Alarm Chronograph Watch

This watch records details of all daily activity, as well as your work-out sessions. A great choice for triathletes, it supports multisport use, even measuring transition times to ensure no aspect of your training is neglected. The device is capable of monitoring your heart rate, both in and out of water, as it boasts a dual-mode transmitter. And, crucially, for the serious athlete, the watch can also help you understand your training load and recovery needs.

Style and substance

The Asus VivoWatch is undeniably stylish The monochrome detail helps this sports watch to stand out from the crowd.

ASUS Unisex Vivowatch Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor Alarm Chronograph Watch

VivoPulse technology detects the wearer's pulse 24 hours a day, accurately recording physical activity and sleep. The LED indicator turns green during aerobic exercise and time spent burning calories, and red when you push yourself to the limit.

Meanwhile, the Happiness Index assesses your rate of physical activity and the quality of your sleep to give you a quick summary of the overall healthiness of your lifestyle - a great motivator when you're faced with the choice of taking the stairs rather than the lift or getting off the bus a stop earlier.

Accuracy is key

An accurate and intelligent sports watch, the Epson Runsense SF-310G easily connects to your smartphone device, keeping you constantly up-to-date on your activity levels.

Epson Unisex Runsense SF-310G GPS Bluetooth Smart Alarm Chronograph Watch

This compact, lightweight device boasts an impressive active GPS battery life of up to 30 hours. Runsense tracks your long-term targets, and can help you to improve your performance via an interval training mode. You can also tailor the watch to your specific needs by selecting up to three measurements on four customisable screens.

Best for extreme sports

If extreme sports are your thing, whether climbing or fell running, you need a resilient sports watch, built for the outdoors.

The classic

Casio made their name with the G-Shock in the nineties, and they've been a solid bet for sports watches throughout their history.

One of the latest versions, the Casio G-Shock Mudman watch is the ideal companion for outdoor adventures. Sturdy, as you'd expect, it's also mud-resistant, making it the perfect device for runners who relish tackling the odd obstacle course or two.

Casio Men's G-Shock Mudman Alarm Chronograph Watch

It features a perpetual calendar, a stopwatch, alarm, countdown timer and a world-time function. The device is recharged by natural and artificial light, and has a Dual Illuminator, perfect for when dusk takes you by surprise.

In training

The Suunto Ambit2 S is another great multisport device, offering post-analysis of your training divided by activity. And, if nothing motivates you more than trying to outdo your friends, the watch makes it easy to share details of your activities.

Suunto Unisex Ambit2 S Bluetooth Graphite Alarm Chronograph Watch

In addition to this, if you require further motivation, the device is compatible with more than a thousand apps all designed to help you reach your fitness goals.

Other features include a GPS system, which lets you plan routes and record altitude, while the vertical speed and ascent and descent data is great for skiing, simply download the relevant app and you're good to go. The heart rate graphs also provide a helpful visual illustration of your activity levels.

The all-rounder

The Tissot T-Race Chronograph, is an inspired mash up of a functional sports watch and high-fashion wrist wear.

Tissot Men's T-Race Chronograph Watch

Water resistant to 100m and featuring a tachymeter - the ability to measure speed, it is a watch that works for the runner, swimmer and cyclist alike. Boasting a precise chronograph feature, it can also add and split circuit times.

Best for exploring

Sports watches can do much more than simply record distance and speed these days. The latest gadgets can also furnish you with the kind of information you need to scale mountains and stay safe in the great outdoors.

One-stop watch

With a unique widescreen LCD display, the Timex Indiglo Expedition WS4, shows you what you want to know with only one glance.

Timex Men's Indiglo Expedition WS4 Alarm Chronograph Watch

This sports watch has everything you need on your outdoor travels: a built in compass, barometer, altimeter and thermometer. It's a watch that is built to last, and is water resistant up to 50m.

Stand out

You can't miss the Sony SmartWatch 3 SWR50, a device that works equally well as a standalone product or connected to your Android phone or tablet.

Sony Unisex Smartwatch 3 Bluetooth Smart GPS Android Wear Alarm Chronograph Watch

Behind the sleek design of this sports watch is serious durability: a hardened glass surface display, a stainless steel body and water resistant up to 30m.

It includes an accelerometer, light sensors, compass and GPS and a huge range of applications available to install via Google Play Store - meaning you can tailor it to your outdoor requirements, whether that be hiking, cycling or even golf.


The Citizen Promaster Altichron is a stylish yet practical outdoor watch designed to last a lifetime. Boasting classic sports watch design, the device's Titanium casing and soft rubber strap make it comfortable, light and hypo-allergenic - ideal for regular wear.

Citizen Men's Promaster Altichron Eco-Drive Watch

It boasts a compass, an altimeter range from -1000 to 32,000 feet and can be worn while swimming and showering, and snorkelling to depths of 200m.

Whether you're a seasoned athlete or taking the first steps on your fitness journey, with a little bit of research, you're sure to be able to find a sports watch to keep you on track.


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