Garmin’s new Marq series is pricey. From $2,499 for the Marq Athlete to $4,199 for the Marq Driver, they are well beyond what you’d expect from the brand, which got started in GPS navigation products three decades ago before branching out into other business segments like wearable tech. Now that we’ve addressed the elephant in the room, let’s see exactly what’s going on.
Luxury smartwatches aren’t new – brands like Louis Vuitton, Montblanc, and TAG Heuer have offered them for several years – but it’s Garmin’s first foray into this space. It’s also noteworthy that Garmin is a tech company that’s moving into the luxury space, instead of a luxury brand that’s exploring wearable tech like what we’ve previously been seeing.
“We felt that the luxury market wasn’t offering customers the smart features that are already present in other product categories, so there was an opportunity to integrate such functions into a luxury platform,” says Clifton A Pemble, Garmin’s CEO. Said platform is the Marq. It comes in five different flavours: the Athlete is the general sports watch; the Aviator, a GMT/pilot’s watch; the Captain, a marine specialist; the Expedition, an outdoors timepiece; and the Driver, a driver’s watch.
Offering five different models may seem like a curious decision, but Brad Trenkle, vice president of Garmin’s outdoor business division, explained that this was necessary. “We considered offering a single model, but it just wasn’t possible. The watches need different features and quick touch access to other functions, which would clash with one another. A strap that’s designed for the high-vibration environment inside a car, for example, will be different from another that’s meant for the open water.”
Despite being specialised in various activities, the watches were conceived to be worn from the boardroom to the yacht. To that end, the Garmin didn’t just focus on functionality, but also design and craftsmanship. It extended beyond obvious areas such as case finishing. The Marq Captain, for example, features a strap sourced from southern France that’s woven so tightly that it’s practically waterproof and salt-resistant. Throw in the advanced biosensor technologies Garmin is known for, and you have a complete package that will appeal to enthusiasts who are looking for something a little more than what’s already available on the market today.
More than just a foray into the luxury space, this is also Garmin’s statement – the brand turns 30 this year, after all, and the Marq is the culmination of the expertise the brand has developed so far.