I bought my first GPS watch back in 2014 and, up until six weeks ago, it was the only watch I’d ever run with. It’s a Garmin Forerunner 15, an incredibly basic, now discontinued model that wasn’t even the best running watch seven years ago. But in the past two years my running has transitioned from casual, fun runs to more serious, focused training, and the need for a running watch upgrade has only become more and more apparent. So I set out to test the best running watches on the market by rotating through a group of six best-sellers.
How I tested:
- Each watch was rotated in for at least three runs of varying types and distances during the middle chunk of a half-marathon training schedule.
- GPS accuracy was tested against my phone’s GPS, specifically the Nike Run Club app.
- I wore the watches on both my right and left wrists to judge ease of use for both lefties and righties.
- One major testing category was “run harmony” which basically means “how much does this watch add to my running experience while I am actually running.” Is all the info I want or need readily available at a glance mid-stride? Does it notify me when I’ve hit certain goals or lap markers? Is there an auto-pause feature?
- Thanks to NYC spring weather, I was also able to test in both super-sunny hot conditions and cold, gray afternoons that necessitated running gloves.
- Every watch on this list is compatible with both Apple and Android phones.
Here are my reviews for the best running watches, including five extras you should definitely consider.