Best ABC Watches for Style and Performance

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If you’re in a rush and want to find out what the best ABC watch is, we recommend the Garmin Fenix 7.

There’s nothing quite like a watch when it comes to spicing up an outfit. However, as an outdoor enthusiast, style should only be part of the equation for you, coming after the watch’s ability to withstand wear and tear and track vital data. That includes navigation, measuring altitude, and tracking barometric pressure changes to help you predict back weather.

We know how important it is to have the best ABC watch, which is why we’ve reviewed 8 of our favorites below. Whether you like something more refined, rugged, or budget friendly, there’s an option for you.

In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following best ABC watches:

The ABCs

man with tattoo on arm with casio watch

If you’re specifically looking for the best abc watches, chances are you already know what those letters stand for. However, if you happened to stumble across this article out of curiosity, here’s a brief rundown of what we’re talking about:

“A” stands for altimeter. An altimeter is a device that’s used to measure your altitude, usually by using a GPS, a barometer, or both to create an accurate reading.

“B” stands for barometer. A barometer measures air pressure, and can be a helpful tool to figure out your altitude, since air pressure changes at various elevations. You can also predict weather changes with it, as lowering air pressure is usually indicative of bad weather, and rising air pressure means good weather is on the way.

“C” stands for compass. A compass indicates what direction you’re travelling and is an invaluable tool for navigation.

All of these features are essential when you’re trying to find your way through nature, especially if you’re up in the mountains.

GPS and Mapping

If you’re getting an abc watch, it’s likely that you want to use it outside for hiking, camping, or some other sport. As such, navigation is going to be one of the most important tools in your arsenal, which is why your watch needs to be up to the job.

GPS and mapping capabilities vary widely across the different models we’ve reviewed below, but the key point is that all of them have it. Something like the Garmin Marq is going to give you highly detailed topographical maps with personal location information. On the other hand, I’ve had a Garmin Instinct for years that only gives me basic coordinates about my location. You’ll pay more for an actual map on your watch, but it’s just one of those features that might be important enough to spend a little extra for.

Smartphone Connectivity

white watch partially submerged in water

As it is with most things, modern watches are basically just accessories for your smartphone. So if a watch isn’t able to connect to a phone for some reason, it’s practically useless as far as most of us are concerned.

As a Garmin owner myself, I can tell you that the Connect app is an invaluable tool for tracking important metrics. Heartrate, respiration, calories burned, miles hiked, and other fitness data are all stored on my phone in an easy-to-read report. Without it, I feel that the watch would lose at least half of its value.

Because of that, we made sure that all of the products in our review are smartphone compatible, aside from the Casio Pro Trek, which is nice affordable option if you only need something basic.

Dimensions

The size of your watch face can be one of the trickiest things to get right. Some people like the oversized effect (45mm and higher for men) while others like the style of a mini watch (36mm and under for men, and 23-25mm for women). Others like to stick to the average, which is 37-39mm for men, and 26-29mm for women.

It mostly comes down to personal preference, and whether the individual appreciates a smaller, minimalistic design, or a heavy, rugged look. Many of the watches in our review land somewhere between 30-35mm, which is actually somewhat small for an outdoor watch. Garmins, especially, fit this range most often.

If you want something bigger, I’d suggest going with a Suunto. Many of their watch faces are between 40-43mm, creating a stylish design that’s easy to read in all settings.

Weight

person wrist garmin watch

My wife hates having anything heavy stuck on her wrist, while I enjoy the heft of a solid watch. Weight can be a make it or break it factor for many people, so it’s best if you think about your personal preferences before getting an abc watch. Have you owned a watch before? What did you like or dislike about the weight and dimensions? Would you get something similar to it, or would you want to go bigger or smaller?

Many of the best abc watches are going to be on the larger side, but there are some that keep things a little more modest. The Garmin Marq and Fenix, for example, are on the smaller side, making them great options for those of you who want something a little lighter and less bulky.

Battery Life

I’ve owned a few Garmin watches in my life, as have my wife, my friends, and family members. We’ve all gotten different models, but there’s one thing that we all agree on – battery life is essential!

When you’re out camping, you need a watch that will survive a few days without access to electricity. If you’re a triathlete, cyclist, runner, rock climber, or standard outdoor enthusiast, you want your watch to track important metrics for several hours at a time. If your battery has a max lifespan of 8 hours, chances are that won’t be enough for you, even if you aren’t going on an overnight trip.

Getting an abc watch with solar charging capability is a great way to help it stay alive for longer. I’ve found that solar isn’t good enough to keep a watch fully charged, but it can at least extend your battery life by a few days.

The Best ABC Watches – Reviewed

Garmin MARQ Adventurer Watch

  • Battery Life: Up to 12 Days
  • Display Size: 1.2 Inches
  • Altimeter: Pressure Based
  • VO2 Max Estimate: Yes
  • Smartphone Compatible: Yes

One of the most technologically advanced watches in our review, it’s no wonder why the Garmin Marq is so well loved, despite the high price tag. And I mean really high price tag. I’m sure the Italian vacchetta leather band contributes significantly to that cost, but the built-in technology is what’s truly impressive about this product.

The full color display is impressive enough, but when you pair that with the highly detailed topographical maps, navigation becomes a lot easier – and more fun. Connect to three major satellite systems (GPS, Glonass, and Galileo) for accurate data wherever you go. And naturally, the Marq maintains its position as one of the best ABC watches by providing a top-of-the-line altimeter, barometer, and compass. For even more effective navigation, there’s a 360-degree compass etched onto the bezel, along with an orienteering feature. Pair that with a topographical map and a classic compass, and you’ll have a much easier time taking a bearing.

The Garmin Marq comes with all the fancy software that you would ever need to use in daily life. Garmin Pay lets you breeze through checkout lines, thanks to the collaboration of participating suppliers. ClimbPro gives you the ability to view gradient, elevation gain, and distance related to current and upcoming hikes. And Trendline gives you information on popular routes taken by other Garmin users who track their walks and hikes using Garmin Connect.

Custom watch faces are also available at the Connect IQ store, giving you plenty of options for customization. Overall, the Marq is the perfect balance of elegance and performance, tracking all your vital data sets while looking amazing in the process.

Pros:

– Luxury design
– More features than you’ll know what to do with
– Great for navigation
– Garmin Pay
– Customizable
– Water resistant down to 100 meters

Cons:

– Price

Garmin Enduro Titanium GPS Watch

  • Battery Life: 50 Day in Smartwatch Mode
  • Display Size: 1.4 Inches
  • Altimeter: Pressure Based
  • VO2 Max Estimate: Yes
  • Smartphone Compatible: Yes

You’ve probably realized it by now, but you’re going to see quite a few Garmin watches in this review. I’ve used the brand for years, so perhaps I’m a bit biased, but it’s certainly not a baseless favoritism. Generally speaking, Garmin is one of the most intuitive watch brands out there, especially for people who are new to having an ABC watch. They’re also quite durable, and one of the more accurate options, in my opinion.

Are they expensive? Well, they certainly can be, as you’ll notice with the Enduro titanium watch (and the Marq that we just reviewed above). However, you do get what you pay for, and that holds especially true for this timepiece.

With a bezel made from scratch resistant titanium, the Enduro is lightweight and durable. This makes it perfect for rugged activities like mountaineering, rock climbing, and hiking, where you’re likely to scrape the watch against something hard and unforgiving. However, it’s technically a watch designed for running sports with features that measure time spent at aid stations, trail run VO2 max, and ClimbPro. If you’re not a runner, don’t worry – the Enduro can track a lot more than running activities.

Keep an eye on your heart rate, water intake, altitude, blood oxygen, and position while you enjoy the outdoors. And when you’re ready to return to civilization, wear it with confidence to social gatherings, work, or just around the house. The watch has a design that looks good anywhere you go, while remaining comfortable and durable.

Pros:

– Durable bezel
– Holds a charge well
– Sporty design
– Great for all types of sports
– Health data

Cons:

– Watch band wouldn’t be my first choice

Suunto 9 Peak Titanium

  • Battery Life: 50 Hours in Endurance Mode
  • Display Size: 1.7 Inches
  • Altimeter: Pressure Based
  • VO2 Max Estimate: Yes
  • Smartphone Compatible: Yes

Most will agree that Suunto is top of the market when it comes to aesthetics. Without fail, they continue to create some of the most attractive watches on the market, which is one reason to like the Suunto 9 Peak. As one of the best ABC watches, it has all the features you’ll want to have to help you navigate the wilderness.

In terms of sheer durability, it’s not going to be the same as a Garmin. As I’ve said, Suunto is more concerned about style than making something nearly indestructible, so it’s not going to be as good for extreme sports with heavy wear and tear. However, it does still have a titanium bezel and durable band to make it adequate for some mild roughhousing.

The design is lightweight and modern, with a face thin enough to slide under your jacket sleeve without catching. It also won’t catch on anything else, like your backpack, when you’re trying to slip your arms through the straps.

Unfortunately, Suunto isn’t known for creating intuitive technology. It’s going to be harder for a newbie to use than anything created by Garmin, but once you get over the learning curve, it won’t be as big of a hassle. The touchscreen is a nice addition, and all of the functions related to the GPS are highly accurate – exactly what you’d hope to see in an ABC watch. With a 170 hour battery life, it will also see you through extended camping trips, backpacking or mountaineering excursions, or daily life when you forget to charge it as often as you mean to.

Pros:

– Great battery life
– Aesthetic
– Accurate GPS
– Thin and lightweight
– Touchscreen
– Health data

Cons:

– Not very intuitive
– Some functionalities are disabled during exercise

Garmin Venu 2

  • Battery Life: 11 Days in Smartwatch Mode
  • Display Size: 1.3 Inches
  • Altimeter: Pressure Based
  • VO2 Max Estimate: Yes
  • Smartphone Compatible: Yes

One of Garmin’s more affordable options, the Venu 2 is really oriented towards style and customization. While it’s still a durable watch, it’s not going to take care of you in the same way that the Garmin Enduro will. Likewise, while the GPS and navigational systems get the job done well, they aren’t going to give you that pinpoint accuracy that you can expect from the Garmin Marq.

My point is that the Venu 2 won’t really exceed your expectations, but it will certainly meet them. It’s lightweight with a thin enough profile to slide under you coat sleeves without catching on the fabric. I also find it to be one of the most visually appealing watches in this review as well, especially when you consider the sheer number of faces that are available for download.

The Venu 2 is what I would call an “urban watch,” designed primarily for urban hobbyists. It’s great for golfing, running, walking, and mild hiking, but I’m not sure I would trust it with more rugged pastimes. If you enjoy mountaineering, backpacking, or rock climbing, I’d suggest going with something a bit more robust, like the Garmin Fenix mentioned below. The Venu just isn’t durable enough for me to feel confident recommending it for heavy wear and tear activities.

Pros:

– Attractive design
– Slim profile
– Customizable
– Good navigation system
– Tracks a wide range of activities
– Reasonable price

Cons:

– Not as durable

COROS VERTIX 2

  • Battery Life: 90 Hours with All Systems On
  • Display Size: 1.4 Inches
  • Altimeter: Pressure Based
  • VO2 Max Estimate: Yes
  • Smartphone Compatible: Yes

If durability and navigation are features that you value, you’re going to love the Coros Vertix 2 watch. Unlike the previous Vertix model, this one can communicate with all 5 major satellite systems to create a highly accurate navigational tool. That means you’ll have GPS, Glonass, QZSS, Beidou, and Galileo on your wrist, guiding you wherever you need to go. So whether you find yourself caught between two mountain peaks, a couple of skyscrapers, or an endless forest, your watch will always be able to tell you where you are.

The battery life on this watch feels practically infinite as well. If you look at the specs, it’ll say that it can last up to 140 hours when you’re using full GPS, which is actually less than the Suunto Peak mentioned above. But if you’re using it normally, with the GPS off? Try 60 days’ worth of life. Naturally, you’ll be using features that will reduce that number, but even so, it’s a great option for extended adventures that take you far from a charging station.

But really, the Vertix 2 is one of the best ABC watches because of one key feature – price. Is it still an expensive watch? Most certainly. However, it’s cheaper than any of the Garmins we’ve reviewed so far, and it doesn’t compromise on any of the features. It might not look as good (personal opinion), but cheaper is cheaper.

You get quite a few customization options with it too, including the ability to turn on a “left-handed” setting. It’s something my wife really appreciates, since she’s a lefty herself. And though the watch face is pretty average, it feels bigger, since the bezel is narrower and has a smaller profile.

Pros:

– Highly accurate navigation
– Can be set as either right or left handed
– Good size
– Durable
– Very customizable
– Stellar battery life

Cons:

– Map feature not integrated into all workouts

Suunto 9 Baro

  • Battery Life: 120 Hours
  • Display Size: 2 Inches
  • Altimeter: Pressure Based
  • VO2 Max Estimate: Yes
  • Smartphone Compatible: Yes

I mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again: Suunto really likes to make attractive products. And the Baro 9 is top of the line for me, when it comes to aesthetics. The watch face measures in at a massive 2 inches, which is one of the largest that you’ll find. Some people don’t like the bulk on the wrist and want something a bit daintier, while others like having a big screen to look at. I happen to fall into the latter category, so I’m a fan of the Baro’s size.

It has a bright screen, making it easier to read when you’re in the midst of direct sunlight. The battery life is also average, if not slightly better than average, allowing you to wear it for a handful of days straight without needing to recharge it. And since the bezel is made out of titanium, it’s practically indestructible while remaining lightweight.

Unlike most Suunto’s the Baro is actually pretty easy to use. The features are all easy to navigate, and the watch will store your biodata in a way that’s simple to read and understand. Quite a bit of technology was put into this watch to make the barometer the best it could be – thus the name “Baro.” I’d say Suunto did a pretty good job in this regard, though unfortunately, that didn’t necessarily transfer to the GPS itself. In terms of navigational accuracy, it’s nothing to sneeze at, and I’d probably go with a different watch for treks well off the beaten path.

Pros:

– Attractive design
– Large watch face
– Accurate barometer
– Simple interface
– Tracks biodata well

Cons:

– GPS isn’t as accurate as some other watches

Garmin Fenix 7 Multisport GPS Watch

  • Battery Life: 18 Days in Smartwatch Mode
  • Display Size: 1.3 Inches
  • Altimeter: Pressure Based
  • VO2 Max Estimate: Yes
  • Smartphone Compatible: Yes

A crowd favorite for a reason, the Garmin Fenix 7 combines utility with style for a very reasonable price. As a middle road option in terms of price, you’ll get a touchscreen and button control along with a multicolored display that tracks all of your favorite activities.

Track your heartrate accurately, even when you’re in the water. Measure distance swam with slightly less accuracy, though still close enough for most people to get a ballpark estimate. You can even track golf yardages, and other more obscure athletic data without too much difficulty.

The Fenix 7 is highly durable and comes with a battery life that’s better than average. It also connects to GPS, Glonass, and Galileo to provide highly precise navigational data whether you’re on a mountain peak or in a city. The three-axis compass and barometric altimeter are also upgrades from previous models, enhancing your overall data set so you know what the conditions are with pinpoint accuracy.

But watches are more than just timepieces now, especially when you start to enter the price range that the Fenix falls into. Play music, respond to texts, and answer calls all with a few flicks of your finger. It’s a much more versatile option than, say, an Apple watch or other smartwatch equivalent.

Pros:

– Durable
– Accurate navigation
– Can track a variety of activities
– Touchscreen
– Smartphone compatible

Cons:

– Rare button errors

Casio G-Shock Carbon Mudmaster GWG2000 Watch

  • Battery Life: 6 Months
  • Display Size: 2.4 Inches
  • Altimeter: Pressure Based
  • VO2 Max Estimate: No
  • Smartphone Compatible: No

More of a middle road option in terms of price, the Casio G-Shock Carbon Mudmaster isn’t the cheapest watch in our review, but it sure is durable. It’s also not the most attractive watch, and it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that you’ll find on the other products we’ve mentioned. However, it is good at what it does, and really, do you need a built-in flashlight, kill switch, or stealth mode?

The Mudmaster is a very straightforward, no-nonsense design. What you see is what you get, and you can change the settings by using the buttons located around the bezel. For an ABC watch, it’s convenient that the buttons on the right side are for the altimeter and compass. It also tells the time (obviously), measures the temperature, and can act as a timer or stopwatch. There aren’t any frills or high-tech software, so you won’t have a three-week learning curve like you would with a Suunto.

If it doesn’t sound like much, that’s because it isn’t. But still, that’s the tradeoff you make when you opt for something so focused on durability and resistance to shock, mud, and water. It might not have all the functionalities that you’re used to, but it covers the basics with flying colors. It’s also nearly indestructible and can be used underwater down to a depth of roughly 200 meters.

Pros:

– Shock and water resistant
– User friendly
– Very durable
– Accurate altitude and GPS
– Tide/moon monitoring

Cons:

– Not as stylish
– Lacking many advanced features and tracking

FAQ

What Should I Look for When Buying a Watch?

When buying a watch, it’s important to find something with a comfortable fit. That includes the quality of the band, as well as the size of the watch face itself. Ideally, it will have a long battery life, and have the ability to track all of the metrics that you want to record and observe.

In terms of style, comfort, and functionality, we believe the Garmin Fenix 7 is the best ABC watch. However, if you’re looking for an ABC watch and nothing more (no activity tracking, or biodata collection), the Casio G-Shock Carbon Mudmaster is going to be your best option.

Final Thoughts

At one point in the not-too-distant past, watches were only good for telling time or as a statement piece. Now, modern watches are tiny computers that we depend on to measure our heart rate, blood oxygen, distance traveled, and calories burned. In particular, the best ABC watches are a vital addition to any outdoorsman’s arsenal of tools. Being able to measure altitude and barometric pressure are invaluable assets in the mountains to give you a head’s up on weather changes or dangerous altitude thresholds. And of course, the importance of a compass can’t be understated.

With all that in mind, we believe the Garmin Fenix 7 does it best. It accurately measures everything you would need it to (and more), while staying within a fairly reasonable price range. For an ABC watch that can be worn in the most rugged terrains or at your next social event, the Fenix will have your back.


Spencer Yeomans

Spencer Yeomans

A lover of the outdoors, and especially the mountains, Spencer has always enjoyed pushing people to step outside their comfort zones. His mission is to help others get out of their homes to have fun and stay active in nature.

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