My Search for a New Watch: The Good, the Bad, and the Expensive

A few weeks ago I started to notice that the GPS on my Apple Watch was a bit off. It started as just one or two tenths of a mile, and then turned into a half of a mile… and finally on Saturday during the Virginia 10 Miler, my watch clocked in at 9.1 miles. Clearly something was going on. So I tried a factory reset, made sure it was updated and took it for a five miler, only to have it clock me at 3.9! I’ve had the Apple Watch Series 2 for several years, so I figured it was time to upgrade… but what to upgrade to!

There are SO many options for smart watches on the market now. But I’m secretly obsessive about researching options online before I make a purchase and so I hit the web to read reviews, take a look at specs, and figure out exactly which smart watch was perfect for my needs!

Here’s what I was looking for in a watch:

Stylish – I wanted something that I could wear as a regular watch, not just as a bulky, ugly fitness watch.

Excellent GPS – This is the reason I needed a new watch in the first place, so I wanted to make sure the one I purchased had incredible GPS location technology built into it without the need to carry my phone with me.

Music Control – I run with my phone in the back of my sports bra and my Apple AirPods in my ears to be totally wireless when I’m on the road. So it’s important for me to be able to control my music from my wrist instead of having to take out my phone every time I want to raise the volume.

Daily Tracking – I loved that the Apple Watch also tracked my steps and calories burned, and wanted a watch that would continue to track these daily things that don’t involve starting an activity.

Battery Life – This is something I compromised with in my Apple Watch. I had to charge it nightly and if I went for a long run would have to charge during the day sometimes. I wanted a watch that I didn’t need to charge daily.

Running – I needed a watch that displayed all the necessary data fields I wanted when I’m running; distance, time running, current pace, average pace, heart rate, and current time.

Other Activity Tracking – This one was HUGE. Yes, I’m a runner, but it’s nowhere close to the only activity I do! I take barre, practice yoga, weight lift, and do HIIT cardio as well as the occasional spin class, so I wanted a watch that was able to track ALL of the activities I do, not just running.

Price – I’m OK spending money on quality, but I also wanted to be realistic about my choice.

So now that I had all of my “wants” laid out for this watch, I set out asking Instagram and researching the internet for the best watches out there. I had TONS of recommendations on my page, but there were four that consistently popped up.

Here are the contenders, and why I DIDN’T choose them:

Fenix 5S: This is a BEAUTIFUL watch from Garmin. It’s so pretty, and has all the bells and whistles in a smart watch. BUT… it starts at $699. So, yeah, sorry Fenix, but this fitness instructor doesn’t have those kind of pockets (yet).

Forerunner 235: Another watch from Garmin that came HIGHLY recommended to me was the Forerunner 235. Before my Apple Watch, I actually ran with a Forerunner (one of the low end models) and loved it, so I was interested to try this one. One of my dear friends was kind enough to let me borrow hers and it was awesome… IF you’re only using it for running. It didn’t have the functionality I was looking for to record data for other exercises and so it was out of the running as well.

Fitbit Ionic: Several followers suggested I check out the Fitbit Ionic for it’s battery and because it’s touted as a “lifestyle” watch. It for sure had the things I was looking for in a watch (stylish, battery life, ability to record all kinds of activities), but I was hesitant to purchase it because of the GPS reviews. At the end of the day, the reason I was having to upgrade was due to poor GPS tracking, and I didn’t want to have to continue to deal with that in a watch that doesn’t seem to be made specifically for runners.

Apple Watch Series 4: And of course, I also received recommendations to simply upgrade from my Series 2 to the brand new series 4. It would have been easier, and the price point isn’t terrible, but while I’m a die hard iPhone fan… the fact that I’ve had to continuously upgrade my Apple products as new versions are released kept me from sticking with the Apple Watch. I decided that I was OK spending a bit more for something that was going to last a WHILE rather than upgrading only to have to do so again in a year.

So… what did I end up choosing? After lots of research, I went with the Vivoactive 3 in Rose Gold and I’m completely obsessed!! It literally met EVERY SINGLE criteria I was looking for. It’s stylish and can be worn constantly. It’s SPOT ON with GPS tracking for my runs which has been incredible. It has a huge array of other activities to track with customized data fields for all sports. I can control the music while I’m working out and the battery life is amazing. It also has some other cool things that I wasn’t looking for but already love, including the sleep tracking. My Apple Watch had this as well, but with the battery life I would have to charge it at night while I slept, so never was able to really use it. So far, it’s been three days of SOLID use and I’m only halfway through the battery on the Vivoactive 3, woo!! It’s also completely waterproof so no issues when teaching or taking in the heated studio. Who knows, maybe I’ll start swimming now!

Long story short, I did the research, and if you’re looking for a watch that can go from the gym to a night out, can handle long runs with amazing stats, or a barre class, and has some really cool features while staying under $300, then I think you’ll love the Garmin Vivoactive 3!

Do you have another watch you love? Comment below and let me know!