You want to start running and ask yourself: What watch do I need? We reveal what to consider when choosing – and present 9 models
Of course, you don’t want to run best times when you start running. And even as a passionate runner, you don’t have to take split times when you do your laps. But of course you are interested in how long it will take you, whether you may have accelerated and the number of kilometers you have covered. You need the right running watch for this. But which is it?
It is less a question of which watch is generally the best, but which watch is the best for you. Because regardless of whether you are a beginner or professional runner – everyone has very different ambitions and needs. This has to be clarified first.
What functions does the running watch have to have?
The functional width of the running watch depends on what you want to use it for. Do you want to go jogging once or twice a week? Do you plan to start right away and take part in competitions in the near future? Do you want to listen to music on the go?
As a beginner, you may not know all the possibilities of modern watches – be it a GPS sports watch, a smart watch or an activity tracker. So here is a quick overview.
- GPS: If you want to know how long, how far and how fast you run, you need a watch with a GPS sensor. It’s in almost every modern sports watch.
- Heart rate measurement: If you want to control and monitor your training according to your heart rate, you should pay attention to this feature. Almost every watch can be paired with a chest strap that measures the heart rate. More convenient – but also more prone to errors – is the pulse measurement on the wrist, which is now being installed in more and more models.
- Battery life: A watch should last 5 to 6 hours in GPS mode. Top models last up to 20 hours. As a beginner, you don’t need that.
- Navigation: Some watches have a navigation function, some with a map display. Good for trail runners who take long tours through unknown terrain, not necessary for beginners. Practical, however: The “Back to Start” function usually navigates you back to the starting point of your training with arrows.
Price: How expensive should a running watch be?
This cannot be said in general, it in turn depends on the desired function selection and the manufacturer.
As a rule, however, the more expensive a watch is, the more functions and sensors it contains. The battery life is usually better with more expensive models. Additional lifestyle functions are also integrated in high-price models, e.g. Play music and replace the credit card.
Which sports watches are recommended for beginners?
The offer is huge, each model has its advantages. But a few stand out from our perspective. Here are our recommendations for entry-level watches. Sorting takes place from cheap to expensive – in the end, the price is often the decisive factor.
This classic stopwatch just measures time.
Order here: Casio F-91W
Such a simple digital clock is recommended for purists who only want to keep an eye on the time while running. A stop button enables individual laps to be stopped, so that you can even do speed runs on measured distances such as a race track.
Sigma iD.RUN HR
Relatively simple watch with GPS and heart rate measurement.
Order here: Sigma iD.RUN HR
The Sigma iD. With GPS and heart rate (on the wrist), RUN HR provides the most important functions for runners. Even if the usual outliers are involved in the optical heart rate, the measurement results are OK. If you don’t mind the outdated display, you can use the Sigma iD. Train RUN HR well and do not have to do without anything that is really crucial in training. The battery life of 5 to 6 hours in GPS mode is fine. For iPhone users, the watch can only be used if they are not bothered by the fact that they have to synchronize the watch on the computer.
Wrist pulse measurement, GPS, lap function and simple operation speak for this model.
Order here: Polar M200
As an entry into the world of Polar runners’ watches, the less than brand new Polar M200 from 2016 already offers a heart rate measurement on the wrist and an integrated GPS antenna. Everything on board, you could say. There are drawbacks in terms of quality and display resolution. The Polar M200 is convincing: all basic functions, simple operation, integrated fitness tracker, waterproof housing, smartphone notifications, evaluation with Polar Flow program. There are minus points for the simple workmanship, the scratch-sensitive surface and the low display contrast.
Huawei Watch GT2
Successful mix of sports watch and activity tracker at a fair price.
Order here: Huawei Watch GT2
The smartwatch from Huawei is particularly convincing with a particularly long battery life for a smartwatch. The larger version should take 30 hours. It beats all other smartwatches and most sports watches by a long way. We recommend the Huawei Watch GT 2 to all those who want a successful mix of sports watch and activity tracker with extremely long battery life for a manageable amount of money.
Garmin Forerunner 45
Our price-performance tip: Here beginners get everything they need.
Order here: Garmin Forerunner 45
Garmin’s entry-level sports watch looks significantly more valuable than the price suggests. And there is also an incredible amount in the narrow housing: in addition to GPS, the watch also supports the Glonass and Galileo satellite systems. A maximum of 13 hours of activity is possible in GPS mode. In addition to running, there are also other sports profiles for cycling and many indoor sports. Top: A coaching function offers training plans. It shows smart notifications as well as monitoring activity and sleep as an activity tracker.
Multi-sport watch in everyday design with many motivational features.
Order here: Suunto 3
The Suunto 3 is a multisport watch and records almost every sport reliably. Whether running, swimming, cycling or in the gym. Nice gimmick: A built-in training function (“adaptive training instructions”) suggests units based on your personal fitness goal and constantly adjusts the plan. In combination with the extensive activity tracking functions, the watch can certainly be a very motivating companion on the wrist.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
Smartwatch for everyday use or sports watch for running? The Watch Active 2 is both.
Order here: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
If you choose a smartwatch as a sports watch, you have to live with the fact that it is a compromise. Logically, a smartwatch was also designed as a smartwatch. With a shorter battery life (it lasts 4 hours fully charged in GPS mode) and operation via the touch display, you have to live there. That being said, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 with built-in GPS sensor is a pretty solid compromise that recreational athletes can use to record and evaluate their units while running, cycling, and swimming.
Garmin Forerunner 245/245 Music
The complete package with all functions for beginners to ambitious runners.
Order here: Garmin Forerunner 245
This multisport watch has almost all functions and sensors currently available that are significantly more expensive. Highlights include the three supported satellite systems (GPS, Glonass and Galileo), the long battery life (up to 24 hours in GPS mode) and the music function (only in the Forerunner 245 Music). Sophisticated coaching and activity tracker functions analyze the training sessions as well as the daily movement and give tips for stress management. With this watch, athletes (from beginners to ambitious) have the coach directly on the wrist
Apple Watch Series 5
The Apple Watch as a sports watch? Yes, it works surprisingly well.
Order here: Appple Watch Series 5
As a smartwatch, the Apple Watch is the clear market leader and offers all the lifestyle functions you could wish for. You can pay with it, listen to music and even make calls in the cellular version without the smartphone being nearby. Even as a running watch, it’s not a bad choice as long as you don’t mind the two biggest shortcomings too much: 1. Typical smartwatch, the battery is the biggest weak point of the Apple Watch. The battery never lasts longer than a day. If you run, you can hope for a maximum of 4 to 4.5 hours of running time. Daily charging is therefore mandatory. 2. Operation is via the touch display, which can be annoying when running. Important: does not work with Android smartphones.
Are you just missing the watch to start running? Voila! Whether simple or fully upgraded, whether cheap or expensive: you will find the perfect sports watch for every taste and budget in our tips. Have a good start!