How to choose the right fitness watch for you

First published: 01-05-2019

From first timers to PB smashers, professional athletes to fancy dress fun runners, ‘when’s the next one’ to ‘never again’ … we salute you, London Marathon runners. Well done to everyone who took part in our capital’s flagship 26.2 mile race, and congratulations to elite men's winner Eliud Kipchoge, elite women's winner Brigid Kosgei, men's wheelchair winner Dan Romanchuk and women's wheelchair winner Manuela Schar. Whilst running shoes are obviously the most crucial item of clothing if you’re tackling a challenge like this, you’ll notice few people cross the line without checking their fitness tracker watch.

One of the biggest, and priciest, watch trends in recent years, we’ve decided to cut through the fitness watch market and give you our top three recommendations to suit your budget and style. After road testing them all, here’s what we pick:

#1 Entry level

Casio’s Steptracker will keep you on course for your 10,000 steps a day with its built-in accelerometer, while its stopwatch function, memory capacity for 200 lap times and countdown timer is great for interval training and logging your fitness goals progress. Big positives are that it’s lightweight and nicely backlit for dark evenings, negatives are lack of heart rate monitor and GPS. However, for the price, this offers incredible value for money and is an ideal toe in the water.

#2 Mid tier

Stepping up in price, the Polar Vantage tracks steps, distance, calories and sleep for a holistic view of your daily fitness. Continuous heart rate monitoring gives an accurate view of calorie burn and because it’s water resistant, you can track your swimming distance and strokes too. Clear display, though the model is large for smaller wrists. Sync to the app to tailor your training and analyse your results, though we’d say you need to be serious about fitness to get the most out of this device.


#3 Blowout

It’s staggering what’s packed into this GPS smartwatch from Garmin. Not only will it track your steps, heart rate, training route, elevation gain and performance but it’s also equipped with music storage (headphones available separately) and contactless payment. Connect to the app for personalised training programmes and analysis, and pair with your phone for notifications on the go. For outdoor adventurers and fitness fanatics, this is the ultimate all-in-one high-performance smartwatch. Our only niggle is that it’s not got a touch screen interface and it may be too chunky for some, but overall, it’s worth every penny.

Ultimately, it all depends on your fitness level and goal. For the occasional runner and gym goer, Casio is a great value choice, and if you train regularly and want a great all-rounder, go for the Polar Vantage. Deeper pockets will not regret the Garmin, especially if you’re thinking of going for the London Marathon 2020. Keep moving!

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