Thanks to technologies such as GPS and the advanced possibilities to measure speed and distances, a triathlon watch can be very useful for every triathlete. In this blog I give a brief explanation of the different functions of a triathlon watch and I explain a number of watch brands.
The difference between a triathlon watch and a regular sports watch
Whereas sports watches were previously only able to display time and heart rate, the functions of these watches are now much more extensive. Especially due to the built-in GPS and the advanced tracking functions that can be found in many triathlon watches. You could see it as a smart watch specially designed for the multisport triathlon. These watches are therefore perfectly capable of registering the multiple disciplines, which is the difference with a normal sports watch. I certainly dare to say that a triathlon watch contributes to a more effective training for your triathlon.
The different functions of a triathlon watch
Just as a triathlon consists of three different disciplines, a triathlon watch also works in three different modes. Namely swimming, cycling and running. To be able to train effectively, it is important to be able to follow all those three components carefully. Of course, you want to know as precisely as possible what your average speed is for each different part. Thereby, it is also important to know how much rest you should have in between your training sessions. Many triathletes underestimate the importance of rest. So, a triathlon watch that can remind you of this is very useful. Thanks to the connection that is possible between a triathlon watch and the various training apps, it is very easy to accurately track all your training results.
The different brands and types of triathlon watches
There are different types and brands of triathlon watches on the market. The price of a watch depends on the different functions. Starting from around € 250,- for a good triathlon watch. However, you can make it as pricey as you would like. I’m a fan of the watch brand Garmin myself, but the watch brand Polar is also known for their triathlon watches of good quality. I am not a big fan of the Apple triathlon watches since the connection with Training Peaks is not optimal. There are of course several more brands on the market, but for now I will stick to the watch brands I just mentioned.
Garmin Fenix 6 PRO
This might be the best Garmin triathlon watch so far. The Garmin Fenix 6 PRO has everything that triathletes (and basically every athlete) need for the best results.
Garmin provides you the data of other athletes so you can find the most popular routes nearby you. One of the biggest advantages of the pro is also the map function, which has the entire map of Europe.
Two reasons why it is not the universal best triathlon watch is because it is not compatible with Huawei phones and can be kind of intimidating for casual triathletes.
Garmin Forerunner 935
One of my personal favorite models from Garmin is the Garmin Forerunner 935. This is a very advanced triathlon watch that has many different functions. This watch is able to keep track of the average heart rate and speed and the Garmin 935 can also make a prediction of your end time. In addition, this watch also has a length tracker and a SWOLF tracker. These functions enable you to accurately measure the length and number of swimming strokes. This makes this triathlon watch an excellent tool to improve your swimming technique.
This Garmin triathlon watch also feels great on the wrist because of the narrow design and light weight of the watch. When using GPS, the battery can last up to more than 10 hours. A very suitable watch for the fanatic triathlete and the long distances. However, all the advanced functions of the Garmin Forerunner 935 do have a price tag. This triathlon watch costs around € 450,-.
Garmin Forerunner 735XT
A cheaper alternative to the Garmin 935 is the Garmin Forerunner 735XT. This model is available for less than € 300 and has about the same functions as the Garmin 935. The difference is mainly found in the shorter battery life (on average 8 hours with intensive training and use of GPS) and the lack of possibility to connect with WiFi. For triathletes with a less higher budget, this triathlon watch is a good option.
Polar Vantage V and Polar Vantage M
The both Vantage models from the watch brand Polar have a lot in common. In fact, the Polar Vantage V can be seen as a more extensive version of the Polar Vantage M. In addition to registering the average speeds on the various components, like this is the case with the other watch brands, the Polar Vantage V can also register your running power. Thanks to a built-in barometer, the power of your running steps can be measured while running. The Vantage V also has a so-called “Recovery Pro function”. This function indicates whether you have taken sufficient rest time in between your training sessions or not. Due to the more extensive functions of the Vantage V, it also costs a little bit more in contrast to the Vantage M model. For example, the Polar Vantage V costs around € 450,- and the Polar Vantage M costs around € 250,-.
Which triathlon watch for a starting triathlete?
As a starting triathlete, it is understandable not to immediately opt for the most expensive model. The Polar Vantage M and the Garmin Forerunner 735XT are both triathlon watches that offer all the necessary functions for a reasonable price. Therefore, these watch models are the triathlon watches that I would recommend for a starting triathlete.
Which triathlon watch is my favorite?
My personal preference goes to the watch brand Garmin. The newest model (the Garmin Forerunner 935) is currently my favorite. This due to the many advanced functions, the fine fit and the watch design itself.
A training schedule for your triathlon
Curious how far you can go? Do you think you can do half a triathlon or maybe even a whole triathlon, but you don’t know where to start? Find more information on the triathlon coaching page.