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Life of adventure.
While we don't deny the positive impact that wearables have on our fitness levels and training regimens, it does seem a bit prohibitive to pop hundreds of dollars on a giant, fluo monstrosity whose utility ends as soon as the workout does — especially if the thing's aesthetics are as office-appropriate as a mustard stain on a lapel. Garmin's Fenix 3 Sapphire Training Watch addresses the concerns of the endurance athlete who also has to be, you know, a real person in between workouts. Of course, the fact that it says "Garmin" on it means it's not just a pretty face and, compared to the standard Fenix 3, the Sapphire model has a host of upgrades that recommend it for an active lifestyle, not just a single activity.
The Sapphire's first obvious upgrades include a fashionably rugged, full-grain leather strap. If a dashing professor turned bull whip-wielding archaeological adventurer had access to a smart wearable to keep track of his biometrics while looting exotic locales, this would be it. Despite the workmanlike leather band, the Fenix 3 Sapphire's titular Sapphire lens is a sparkling dome of pure, academic class that keeps the digital Chroma Display safe and sound during dimly lit temple runs and bright, sunny workouts alike without blowing the Fenix 3's cover at formal occasions.
The Sapphire's less readily apparent upgrades include a few that our adventurous professor would definitely appreciate. While not in the field, the new Golf Mode would allow him to hobnob with collectors and deans on the links, propping up his underdeveloped game with the ability to download distance info for 40,000 international courses when paired with a smart phone. The other new activity-specific feature would be more useful while navigating lethargic jungle rivers on a SUP, as it counts paddle strokes, rate, and distance per stroke. Regardless of the situation, though, the new Fenix 3 boasts enhanced functionality when paired with a separately sold HRM-Run heartrate monitor, including lactate threshold, stress scores, and audible prompts.
Despite the host of functional and aesthetic updates, the Fenix 3 Sapphire's internals are virtually the same as the standard, fitness-look version. It's a Garmin, so the key element is, of course, an EXO+ GPS and GLONASS antenna that powers all of the unit's location-marking, activity-tracking, and route-planning capabilities. It can tell you how fast you're going, how far you've gone, where you are, where you're going, when you'll get there. It also charts elevation gain, what type of swimming stroke you're doing, how many ski runs you've taken, how soundly you're sleeping, estimated calories burned, and literally dozens of other metrics. It can even come up with a digital partner for you to race against, let you race against yourself, or let you see how much faster you cycle than run the same course.
Once it has tracked all of these things, it can save them or automatically share them with your phone, tablet, or computer, so you can see what you've done, the progress you've made, and start planning for the future. Among other things, it's compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 LE, which lets it communicate with various other metric-tracking devices. You can even get e-mail, text, and stock alerts while you're on the move if you can't stand be disconnected even when you're in the wilderness.
- Item #GRM006L
- Q & A
Favorite Watch Hands Down
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Upgraded from the fenix 2 after how much I was using it and had transitioned from my purely ultra-running watch to my running and everyday watch. The fenix 3 has only made it all the better with leather straps, color eInk and metal finish. I originally purchased the silver bezel but the contrast of silver on black made it look like a dive watch and visually bigger. I pulled a non-warranty exchange to the dark grey bezel and love it. Blends in to normal wear but great for every activity in my life as well: camping, sailing, running & bike commute. Smartphone alerts are a nice added touch and reminds you quickly to dial back how much your phone really wants your attention. Additionally, the NATO strap - when worn like shown -doesn't dig into the table or wrist, making it the perfect desk to trail companion.