At Garmin, one of today’s most prolific smartwatch makers, a current product strategy seems to be an effort to make a timepiece for all tastes and flavors. Common among many of Garmin’s smartwatches is their core functionality, a focus on being a GPS-based activity tracker, and leveraging the brand’s many years of experience producing user interfaces. Almost everything else can vary between the U.S.-based electronic maker’s variety of smartwatch devices. I’ve covered a number of Garmin watches on aBlogtoWatch over the years, including Garmin’s current most high-end device collection known as the MARQ.
Today, I look at something a bit different with the Garmin Vivomove Luxe. The Vivomove family has a few versions in various sizes, which currently top out (price-wise, that is) with the Vivomove Luxe. These come in 42mm-wide cases in metal (as opposed to plastics or other materials), are coated with 24k gold (for the yellow gold models), 18k rose gold (also pictured), as well as natural polished steel. The Vivomove Luxe also benefits from having a synthetic sapphire crystal over the dial — which is the same highly scratch-resistant crystal material used for most luxury timepieces. The cases are water resistant to 50 meters.
On the wrist, the Vivomove is supposed to look like a traditional timepiece in both style and appeal. Garmin did its best to design it in a form that feels more like a traditional fashion watch, as opposed to hiking equipment. Naturally, the Vivomove Luxe is a solid choice for a woman wearer interested in adding a smartwatch to her professional or social attire. That is, more or less, the selling point from Garmin’s perspective, i.e., to offer people the ability to track their sports and activities while not immediately announcing that fact by their choice of watch.
Then comes the clever trick dial, which superimposes traditional hour and minute hands over a “hidden” color AMOLED display. The Vivomove has no pushers on the case, and all features must be operated by pressing or swiping the sapphire crystal (or using the Garmin Connect app). When you want to activate the watch, you need to raise and turn your wrist, or give the screen a couple of healthy taps.
I found that the Vivomove was a bit stubborn to “wake” when lifting your arm; likewise, when pressing, you need to use some force to get the product’s attention. This is probably because Garmin didn’t want people to accidentally activate the screen in order to save battery life. The screen itself is mostly responsive, and swiping left to right is how you scroll through the basic features. You also swipe up and down at times or hold down on the screen for various options and other displays. I’m not still entirely confident in working my way around the interface, but I think that, after a few weeks of wearing the Vivomove, I’d pick up a bit more. I do really like the colorful screen and the enjoyable interface designs.
At 42mm-wide, the Vivomove Luxe is not too thick at 11.9mm. Even though this can be classified as a unisex watch, the coloring and style are admittedly on the feminine side. The sizing, however, is not too bad as this is one of the few smartwatches that doesn’t look too large or too techie when worn on women’s wrists. One the right strap (easy to remove and replace), all of the Vivomove Luxe models would also work for a man.
Being a bit more accustomed to all-digital Garmin smartwatches, the Vivomove forced me to contend with less functionality, but I didn’t really miss much. What is interesting is that the Garmin Connect app allows you to have multiple devices that contribute to your activity goals. That means you could, theoretically, wear a sportier Garmin watch while running or working out, and then the Vivomove Luxe when in more social contexts, but still track your steps, movement, heart rate, and more. This way you can benefit from having more than one smartwatch to wear but not have to lose out too much when it comes to actively tracking and recording your activity data. You can even still track runs and other specific “activities” on the Vivomove Luxe operating system.
Personally, I’m less interested in smartphone notifications on my smartwatch than some users. If you are interested in a messaging experience on your smartphone, then the Apple Watch or a Google Wear-based device is going to be a better match. While you can get messages through your Garmin watch, I’ve not really spent time seeing if you can respond to them. Garmin excels at activity and exercise tracking, the reliability of its devices, and the focus of the devices to do what they do quite well. I like that I can input information, such as how much water I am drinking, into the watch, and also see useful information such as weather data or my current heart rate easily with just a few swipes on the dial.
Garmin is excellent at making smartwatches, but they still have a lot to learn about timepiece design, in general. As a traditional watch, the Garmin Vivomove Luxe isn’t very legible because the hands on the screen are virtually the same color as the screen (worse on some models) and don’t offer enough contrast. That means your eyes struggle to see them. That said, the Vivomove Luxe isn’t really supposed to be a traditional timepiece. Rather, it is supposed to be a modern GPS-based activity tracking smartwatch disguised as a traditional watch. I do think that, while Garmin is off to a great start when it comes to applying fashionable traditional watch design elements to their collection, the company has a bit more to learn in this department.
Battery life is claimed to be up to five days in smartwatch mode and up to about two weeks in “watch mode.” With the bright screen and connectivity, along with the smaller case size, I’d say that is fair. To charge the watch, Garmin supplies a cable that attaches to the rear of the watch. It works well enough, but I wouldn’t trust it to stay connected if it was charging in a bag (though the connection is a lot stronger than some of the others I’ve tested on other watches).
Garmin delivers on its promise to offer a “premium” wearing experience (suitable for formal, work, or social occasions) with all the core functionality consumers expect in a reliable Garmin sports and activity tracking smartwatch. The Vivomove Luxe is, however, still a better device than it is an object of beauty or fashion, though Garmin is on the right track and getting close. I think that for many people who are interested in the Garmin world of products and software, but don’t want to advertise “hey, look at my exercise smartwatch on my wrist,” the Garmin Vivomove Luxe is a solid smartwatch option. Price is $499.99 – $549.99 USD depending on the strap choice. Learn more at the Garmin website here.