Garmin MARQ Specifications & Opinion – The First Fenix 6?

 

Garmin MARQ Specifications – The first Fenix 6?

Today marks the announcement of the Garmin MARQ which is a high-end Garmin Fenix device with premium construction and a few new components and features.

The MARQ is a similarly positioned product as the Garmin Chronos from a few years back. The Chronos was a premium Fenix model too, except the price premium for the MARQ has got greater and Garmin has cleverly tailored different MARQ versions for a different end-use market. That’s no different to the Fenix which has the Tactix, D2 Descent, Quatix variants. But what is different, this time, is that there is a premium version of each one rather than one single premium version and thus we see Athlete, Driver, Expedition, Captain and Aviator versions.

Another thing that is different this time around is that the MARQ has been developed and rolled out, effectively, by a new team within Garmin. So there could be some interesting nuances that we learn as they pop out over the next few weeks, indeed I already have some information that I have shared on the MARQ’s new extended Firstbeat features and there is more information to follow as well on that and other topics

Firstly the MARQ is more of a “premium Garmin Fenix Plus 5.5” than a Garmin Fenix 6. New hardware and new software features are being tested out in what will be a low-selling, premium product. That’s an ideal format to reduce the impact of any errant and unexpected behaviour. ie the bugs won’t affect many people. The new hardware/software is somewhat disguised in the updated, premium shell. For example, according to dcrainmaker, the MARQ contains the expected new iteration of the ELEVATE sensor but, somewhat unexpectedly, there is a radical move with the GNSS chip provider changing to Sony. Both of these sensors will be in the Fenix 6 for sure.

Of Concern – “GPS”:

There are two unknowns to consider here

  1. Is the Sony chip inherently hard to get accuracy from? (Edit: Answer= NO.)
  2. Will it support dual-frequency GALILEO to deliver true accuracy improvements from 2020 onwards (Edit: Answer=NO)

The GNSS chip is almost certainly the CXD5603GF which is almost certainly used by Polar’s Vantage, Suunto 9, Suunto 5, Polar Ignite and the Coros APEX. AFAIK, This is the only Sony chip that supports GALILEO and super-low power consumption; it is precisely these two technical features that will drive the GNSS accuracy of the near-future and extended battery life of today for the MARQ. The integration of the Sony chipset into all these vendors’ products has proved tricky, only recently with Coros and Suunto delivering notable positive GNSS performances.

Whilst the antennae design is also important to GNSS accuracy, there seems to be anectodal evidence that many metal-shelled sports watches have difficulty gtting accurate positional fixes for sport. The MARQ has a full metal shell, replacing the ‘plastic’ of the Fenix 5 with Titanium this time around.

Let’s see what Garmin can do with bedding down the Sony chip. If neither they nor Polar can do it, then no-one can.

Let’s also see if they can deliver on dual-frequency GALILEO to bring about REAL improvements in positional accuracy. Garmin is notoriously quiet on issues relating to GNSS accuracy.

Of Concern – oHR

The oHR sensor clearly looks new. However I am FAR FROM CONVINCED that this design will improve accuracy.

The optimal design configuration for an optical HR sensor is known to be a multi-sensor radial array. I’m positive that Garmin has not implemented it here. Look at the picture above!

The existing Garmin sensor is better than many when it comes to accuracy but I am just not convinced that this will change accuracy levels and it looks like Garmin are going to be pushing the amrketing messages around their blood oxygen (SpO2) sensors that are built into the oHR array. SpO2 DOES have highly niche sporting uses but is more suited for medical insights. SpO2 is NOT SmO2.

One benefit of a Spring release is that many athletes will be exercising in warmer conditions and warmer conditions mean better blood flow which means a better chance of accurate readings which means that it might get a good reception from those more concerned about oHR accuracy.

Let’s wait and see.

Edit: The same NEW ELEVATE sensor is used on the Forerunner 945 and, for me, this gives best-ever-GARMIN results for oHR. Don’t expect perfection, do expect user-to-user variation in accuracy.

Other Hardware Changes

‘Hardware’ always sounds a bit geeky, yet it is fundamental to what the device can deliver.

The specs show improvements in storage to 32Gb. This sounds a lot but once you get some maps and your full Spotify collection onboard then many of you will need even more storage.

I’m guessing, as well, that there will be a slightly more powerful processor on the inside than the Fenix 5 Plus. That info will filter through from your friendly neighbourhood CIQ developers, I would say that a better processor is ‘almost certain’.

It’s tricky to know if the battery has changed at this stage. I would guess that it is the same/similar to the Fenix 5 Plus (not 5X Plus) battery and that the stated battery life increases come from power savings made by the Sony GNSS chip.

Software & Feature Changes

The MARQ is running the same look-and-feel firmware that many of us are used to in recent Garmin watches. But that firmware also has a few tweaks and these have certainly been continued with the new Garmin Edge 530/830 and new Forerunner 945. I hope to elaborate more on this (see below) with some new content which I might add in this post or in a separate one depending on how much time I have.

Other than the hardware changes and enhanced Firstbeat physiology sections there does NOT appear to be so much that is new to the MARQ.

I strongly suspect we will see more in the future! But for now there is the new respiratory rate data, this will almost certainly come from HRV data from a chest strap whilst exercising. It’s been possible to get this information from chest straps for many years but no-one seems to have done it.

Well, they have now!

I guess it’s ‘interesting’ to have.

But one thing that intrigues me is the LIVE EVENT SHARING FEATURE. This is almost certainly NOT LIVE TRACKING and not GROUP TRACKING. It’s almost certainly similar to those though! Most likely it will be a form of group tracking but for races. So, whilst YOU determine who can see your position through GROUP TRACK and LIVETRACK I would imagine that LIVE EVENT SHARING is based on you agreeing to share your position publically and, in return, you can see other people who have agreed likewise.

That does NOT sound that interesting to me as I am unsure how many people would agree to share that information and, furthermore, I’m not entirely sure how they will share it as sharing requires a cellular connection and the MARQ does NOT have one. I, for one, never carry a phone during an ‘event’. Still, I’m sure many of you do.

HOWEVER. LIVE EVENT SHARING could be interesting if Garmin share more than your position. Let’s say they share average HR, cadence, speed and power information averaged for every minutes. That could be interesting and could also be a feature that Garmin can tinker with and better adapt for either sports teams or for a TV audience down the line.

Garmin Marq Specifications (Athlete model)

Source: Garmin

Here are some headline specifications for you (ATHLETE Variant). There are subtle differences to all the MARQ variants to better tailor them to their target audience.

  • BLE and ANT+ sensor support with sync over WiFi
  • Full ABC onboard sensors with GNSS including Galileo and GLONASS
  • Weight 94g…not bad
  • Battery life: Smartwatch =<12 days, GPS  =<28 hours, GPS + Music =<9 hours, UltraTrac =<48 hours
  • Screen 1.2” (30.4 mm) diameter @240px x 240px
  • Water resistance to 100m
  • Pulse Ox
  • Quickfit 22mm bands
  • Topo maps (Expedition model)
  • Yep it does what the Fenix 5 Plus can do: Garmin Pay, Group Track, Live Track, running dynamics, power meter support, etc etc

This separate post covers all the official FEATURE differences. Some of these features you will NOT have read about if you are reading about the MARQ close to the initial announcement. This was all intended by Garmin to be drop fed in the weeks following the announcement but you have most of it now 😉

 

Garmin Marq vs Garmin Fenix 5X Plus vs Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

 

Garmin MARQ Pricing

  • MARQ Expedition – $1,750
  • MARQ Athlete – $1,500
  • MARQ Driver – $2,500
  • MARQ Aviator – $1,950
  • MARQ Captain – $1,850

 

There is more detail to come on the First beat stuff but for now, you can read this

 

Garmin MARQ – new Extended Firstbeat features

 

Q: Will this be a success as a premium branded watch

  • A: I’m not sure. The CHRONOS did well, so Garmin has a track record of starting to encroach into the premium watch space. OK, it’s a different price point than for the Chronos but the fact remains that Garmin will know more than we do about the demand for this kind of product and they seem to have invested heavily in all these MARQ variants.
  • A: It will do well as a premium branded SPORTS watch, in my opinion. There are simply a fair number of people who are not price-sensitive and just want ‘the best’ and/or a premium finish. These people will throw away their Chronos now and buy a Marq. Similarly, in a few years time, they will think nothing of binning the Marq for whatever comes next.
  • A: Once again though the downside is that pesky screen which Garmin seem reluctant or unable to address. It’s just a bit ‘cheap and cheerful’. The same screen is fine for me on my 945 but I’d be a bit embarrassed with those colours and resolution on a $2500 watch. The screen is nowhere near as good as that on the Apple Watch, clearly the trade-off is battery life – but even the new Polar Ignite has a great-looking screen that’s reasonably power-friendly

Q: Garmin MARQ Review to follow?

No. I can’t afford one! But, don’t worry, we will get to see the new features and new hardware components on other new Garmin models this year and next.

Q: So is the Garmin MARQ Athlete the Garmin Forerunner 945

A: No. It kinda is a premium 945 I suppose. Remember that the 935 is based on the Fenix 5 rather than the Fenix 5 Plus. But we will still see an affordable model for triathlon.

The MARQ EXPEDITION appears to be the true equivalent to the Fenix 5X Plus ie the premium hiking/outdoors model.

Excited?

You should be. This is not the end. Garmin has more releases scheduled for April and May. That will include the Forerunner 245, Forerunner 245 Musicand more.

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14 thoughts on “Garmin MARQ Specifications & Opinion – The First Fenix 6?

  1. This is just a big old slap in the face from Garmin.

    240×240 screen res–really? On a minimum $1500 device!
    A basic Silicone Strap on the base athlete model? Couldn’t you pack a leather one with it at that price point?
    That Sony GPS unit…

    Seriously, just on that last one alone, you are out of your mind to pay a dime for a 1st gen unit that so far across every other watch that has used it has come back subpar at best and useless at worst. Ray mentioned that Garmin even admitted to him they were taking a gamble here. It’s about battery life here but over accuracy?

    Look, I don’t do these types of long excursions where extended uses of GPS are needed, but common sense here should rule. If you’re willing to put an inferior unit in your luxury device, and a luxury device made for people that have money to burn AND are fitness oriented, which by the way, would be the only people looking to buy a luxury SPORT WATCH, don’t you think they have do/done their homework? Or do they genuinely believe in the adage “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

    I don’t think so. And while this might be the first announcements and not something Garmin believes the population will buy (also damn the weight of those!), it’s a silly opener.

    • You’re looking at this backwards. The base Fenix 5 model is the most expensive. The Marq is the cheapest. The target market for the base Fenix 5 can barely afford one and it’s a huge decision that takes months to justify and sometimes begging of spouses. It may be a decision between new bike and new watch. The Marq audience will blow £2k without a second thought because it’s not an either/or for them it’s just a watch.
      Now, who do you think will be most upset by a wonky GPS track? Look at the Garmin forums, the wonky GPS track posts usually also have the tagline “such an expensive device too”. Rich people don’t add that part.

      • think i’m with dave on this one Justin. “market segment affordability”
        but hey you’re both right. 240px…pah

        i have some more stuff to come soon that everyone seems to have missed on the MARQ
        (actually, like the Chronos, I’m not that interested in it really)

      • I think you took my post as opinion, but the point you make is forcing me to address it.

        I am that target market for the Marq.

        And I’m speaking matter-of-factly here, but I could drop $2500 on the top end Marq without batting an eye, but in no terms would I do it and for the precise reasons I listed above.

        It’s a glorified mid-point device that weighs near 100g! That’s a brick on my wrist. It’s the same screen on the F5+line/Forerunner 935 with an eye-watering, price tag. It’s using a finicky, near-experimental GPS unit and you expect me to throw down thousands for a potential useless device?

        I VALUE the products I invest in; I choose the RIGHT one for MY NEEDS. It’s the reason I don’t use the Fenix 5+ line not when my near two years, 45g Forerunner 935 does everything I need it too (even though the battery is waning).

        Now, I might be the exception to the rule I’ll admit that. I didn’t come from money. I worked for it and made something, and it’s not something I like to speak about, but this point you make is a valuation statement, and it’s not true. I’m not some mindless spender on every whim. It took me five years to overhaul my road bike, which is taking place right now (and I own just the one), and it’s not even a top of the line overhaul because it would be overkill.

        So maybe I’m the exception, but I don’t think so.

        • Right there with you. The Marq prices are ridiculous – the value just isn’t there. The only Garmin that I would even consider paying over 935 prices for is the Descent…and even then, MAYBE. I’m the target market for the Marq, but I wouldn’t even consider it.

          • The segment that this watch is aimed at, will not buy the watch because it’s not a luxury watch and never will be.

            I own a Breitling and bought it for the craftsmanship and build quality. Its held its value and I will keep it to pass onto my son along with my other collection.

            The MARQ is mutton dressed as lamb and people that have the kind of money to spend will see right past the flashy materials. Apple tried the same thing with the gold and ceramic versions and ditched the idea.

            5K is right, people are getting lost in the affordability debate and not looking at the other areas of the watch that are equally as damaging

          • @ajr I accept your premise. it’s not a true luxury watch in the sense you describe.
            an alternative way to think about it is “luxury functionality”.
            sure it’s the SAME functionality as you’d get elsewhere you just get it in a pseudo-luxury package. You would NOT get that functionality with any Brietling

          • I’m that segment and I don’t think it’s a luxury watch. I bought the F5+ Ti because I wanted a lighter watch with a metal band. I’m pleased with it so far, and the addition of maps and music over my F5 with metal band is definitely worth it for me. People keep comparing to Rolex and Breitling etc. for some reason. They aren’t even close to the same price bracket. This is a slightly more expensive Fenix with a bit of design flair, that’s all.
            I do understand what Justin is saying above – it is similar tech to the Fenix 5. But the fact that you’re using the word value means you’re missing the point. The 935 is the value version – it’s made of plastic and has the same features give or take. And I love my 935. The Fenix Ti isn’t about value, it’s about a nice thing. I like the way it feels, I like the way the sapphire glass doesn’t smudge like the 935 screen. I like that it looks nice with a suit.
            There are people who sort by price low to high and work down until they find something that does all they need. There are also people who sort high to low and work down until something isn’t available that they want. I’m the latter. It’s the same demographic that buys Dura Ace even though Shimano have said it’s identical to Ultegra aside from a little carbon and Ti here and there. Dura Ace is quite successful…

    • True, a watch with a premium price tag should be made of premium materials as standard (higher resolution, leather straps) to qualify as a premium watch. They should have used ‘Marq’ branding instead of ‘Garmin” on the bezel. Ideally, they should have partnered with a premium watch maker.

  2. I think this is now going to far. The specs are incredible. Don’t get me wrong, but the price?! I’m still waiting for a relatively good price on the Fenix 5. I give the Credit to Garmin for the features and overall build quality, but do I sense that you start paying for the name rather than what this whole watch idea is all about? My opinion.

  3. This is good, but it would be great if Garmin really considered the regular folk in the market that can’t afford the premium and are settling for other brands at the cheaper price point.

  4. Anybody knows if the battery on this model if replaceable? Because at such price tag it would be a shame to through it to the bin after few years.
    Personally I am happy to see at last some smart watches done with good premium material and style; but If I were Garmin, I would have pushed it a bit further giving a better display at least to those premium models, like oled 390pix Casio’s doing for instance. This, with the battery replacement confirmation, would have made me considered buying the Explorer model.

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