First let me say that these are a comprehensive review of each watch and I am not a guru about watches and everything that they seem too offer these days. This is just a list of the 4 best watches for travel that I like to use and the pros and cons of each. Before starting the review of each, I should say that there are just certain qualaties that I need in a watch and that’s what I mainly look for when I am checking out new watches.
Therefore and with no further ado, this is a short list of the top 4 watches that have taken a look at and that I would take with me on any trip or for just wearing around town.
Here is what I look for in a watch:
Durability: The watch has to be able to take a decent beating. I am not the easiest person when it to watches. I am often banging into this wall or that or tripping on something so the watch must be able to take a bit of beating. That’s why those more expensive “high end” travel watches are not for me. I would cringe every time I put a scratch or even a dent on a watch I spent $3000 or $4000 dollars on.
GPS: Lets just say I have absolutely no sense of direction. If I think I need to go left, it always ends up I should have gone right. Therefore, any watch I take with me has to have a GPS. This way I at least reduce the time I go in the wrong direction. It also helps that I don’t have to take out my phone everytime I am looking for where I need to go
Battery Life: If I have to recharge the phone every night or if I have to be concerned that the battery is going to run out while I am using it after only a short time, its not for me. I will never remember or have the self discipline to hook the phone up to a charger every night.. I usually due it once I look at my watch and see there is a blank screen as realize the batteries need recharging
Display: Has to be easily readable.. I bought a Suunto Core a few years ago and although I likes Sunnto watches in general (see list below) this was was not one of my favorited watches. It is just way too hard to read in either day or night and is now collecting dust in one of my drawers at home.
Compass: I have always liked having a compass on a watch. I am really into photography and so know where the sun is going to either set or rise helps a lot in getting set up for the shot. The same holds true for both the moon rise and moon set. I also like it because as I mentioned earlier I have no sense of direction so having some basic assistance in knowing at least which cardinal direction I am going helps
Suunto Traverse Alpha
I have always been a big fan of Sunnto watches although there was one or 2 that I have liked all of them. However with the Travese Alpha, although not the least expensive of the ones listed here, has a lot of going for it. This watch although it seems to check all the boxes for what I am looking fo still has a couple of drawbacks that are concerning.
First the good stuff, it has the all important GPS and as an added bonus a large screen with which to see it. It also has the ability to display the sunrise and sunset times right on face, a big plus for the photographer in me. It also has the digital compass and a good battery life. Depending on what you mode you have it in, but will basically last a good 2 weeks before you have to recharge it. This watch also has well built quality feel to it and its pretty easy to right out the of box so I don’t have to belong to the mensa club in order to figure it out.
What I didn’t like about this watch as I mentioned earlier was the pric .. . I also am not a big fan of the app for the Sunnto watches. They use the Movescount app which I find basic and not very intuitive. I would like to be able to name the GPS tracks that I do. Instead you have to go by the date that you recorded your trail.
As of now the best price I could find on Amazon was between $350-$450 depending on which model and place you get it from,which isn’t bad at all for a watch that does all this.
Garmin Fenix 5
This watch I consider a sports watch first and foremost and for me this is what I would prefer in this type of watch. They also make this watch in 3 different sizes (51mm 47mm 42mm) so be sure to check out which size fits your wrist the best.
What I like about this watch is that has a great design and I like that you can change out the bands quickly because it has the quick fit bands. Their is a caveat to this however but I will explain about that later. I also like the mobile app that Garmin has for this watch. It seems more user friendly and robust then the Suunto. The battery life is good as well with a 1 – 2 week timeframe before having to charge. Not that I use it much, but the heart rate monitor is on the bottom of the watch and its pretty accurate. You could get the chest strap but I don’ t really see the need for this in my case.
What I did not like about this watch is the fact that you need to pay an extra $100 in order to get the Sapphire version which makes the glass more durable. Since this one of the key features I would like its disappointing that I need to pay extra from what is already an expensive watch. Also the GPS seems to be a little less realiable in more rural settings then others. It does fine in urban settings so if you don’t plan on going too far off the beat and track then this may not be an issue. Also the charge cord seems to be proprietary so if you lose it, you cannot go get a 3rd party replacement.
I mentioned the quick fit bands earlier and if you want to change bands, you would have to get them from Garmin as I had hard time finding bands from a 3rd party.
This watch costs between $550 – $650 at Amazon which is spendy but there is a lot to like about this watch and Garmin is really good about updating there mobile app and keeping it current so your watch is always up to date.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
A friend of mine had recommended that I look at this watch as he has one and because he knows how much I am into watches and I am looking for in one. He was kind enough to let me borrow his so I could if I liked it before buying one
My initial impression was the nice screen that it had.. Really bright and easily readable. An although it took me a bit to get used to I liked the touch screen. I was also impressed with what you got for the price. I found it on Amazon for $279.00 but a couple of the places that sold it were out of stock, which in this case I think of as good sign.
What I didn’t like about this watch, due to the fact that I am an Apple guy, is that it was more complicated than it should be. I also found this watch to be more of a phone than a watch and I think this is part of the reason that battery life was not as good as a couple of the other watches that I have used. I also found that I had to turn it toward certain angles when it was bright out in order to read it.
But I have to say that at this price its a hard watch to pass up. With the Garmin Fenix 5 being almost 3 times the price, I am not sure that is THAT much better of a watch, but that also depends on a persons economic situation and what they find to be important or not important in a watch.
Fossil Gen 3 Smartwatch – Q Explorist Black Silicone
This was an unusual watch for me as I never really considered a Fossil watch to be the type of watch I would want for my purposes. However after reading a few articles about the watch while looking into another, I thought I would give it a try.
My first impression was how different it was from other Fossil watches I have owned in the past and how much of what I wanted in a watch was there. What I liked about it was the fact that you change the face of the watch so easily and make it look so completely different.. Although this was not part of my criteria for having a watch of this type, it was certainly fun to play with. I also like the touch screen ability that was apart of it. It was also nice to have Google Assist and the not have to be concerned when it got wet or if I went it in the water with it. And finally the app set up was very easy to use.. As you may have noticed by now, I didn’t mention any of my preferred criteria above and that is because it did them all adequately well, with the exception of the battery life.
If you are a apple person this phone as few issues due to what they say are iOS restrictions. For example you cannot make phone calls or send texts because of this. This is not a huge deal for me as I do not get a watch dependent on this criteria although I am sure it would be nice to have it possible .. There also seems, at least to me, a steep learning curve figuring out all this watch has to offer and how to manage it. It is because this watch has so much to offer that the battery life is not what I would like it to be. Also, and this is being maybe a bit picky but I wasn’t a big fan of the wrist ban. Finally, it does not look or feel that its as durable as some of the other ones I looked at.
The watch goes for about $175.00 on Amazon