When it comes to purpose-built smartwatches, Garmin is the industry leader, and within the brand’s vast lineup, the Descent series is its collection of dive computers. While they still offer all of the same health and fitness tracking features that you would expect from a modern well-equipped smartwatch, the Garmin Descent models also include an assortment of integrated dive-specific modes and sensors, which makes them fully capable of functioning as highly competent dive computers. As its latest release of 2023, Garmin has launched an entire assortment of new Descent models, and alongside the all-new Garmin Descent Mk3 series that offers twice the water resistance of the previous generation is the Descent G1 Solar – Ocean Edition, which features components made from 100% recycled ocean plastic.
Similar to the previous generation, the new Garmin Garmin Descent Mk3 series consists of both the standard Descent Mk3 and the Descent Mk3i, with the latter of the two being the one that supports air integration with the updated T2 auxiliary tank accessory. Additionally, while the standard Descent Mk3 is only available in a 43mm format, the Garmin Descent Mk3i is offered in both 43mm and 51mm case sizes, along with the choice of either Carbon Gray or Bronze titanium bezels for the 43mm variant or a Carbon Gray DLC titanium bezel for the larger 51mm version. Furthermore, should you opt for the full-size 51mm model, you also get the addition of a built-in LED flashlight with strobe settings, along with the option of a matching DLC-coated titanium bracelet instead of the Garmin Descent series’ standard silicone rubber strap.
One other major key difference between the standard Garmin Descent Mk3 and the Descent Mk3i dive computers is that the more advanced Descent Mk3i models also include SubWave sonar technology that offers diver-to-diver messaging and Diver Assistance to tank pressure monitoring, which will be added to the Garmin Descent Mk3i watches as part of an upcoming update. The SubWave technology used across the new Descent Mk3i and Descent T2 transceiver devices works with other connected divers up to 30 meters away, and in addition to allowing users to exchange preset messages, it is ideal for divemasters who need to keep tabs on multiple other divers for safety reasons.
The Diver Assistance feature will allow Garmin Descent Mk3i dive computer users to request assistance directly from their wrists, and when an alert is sent to other SubWave-connected divers in the area, those with other Descent Mk3i smartwatches will be able to view that diver’s depth and distance and monitor them until assistance is no longer required. Additionally, the Dive Group Tracking feature on the Garmin Descent Mk3i series allows a divemaster leading a group to keep track of up to eight divers at the same time and view data from their Descent T2 tank transceivers (with a range of 10 meters) to keep tabs on metrics such as tank pressure, air consumption rate, and remaining air time.
The cases of the new Garmin Descent Mk3 dive computers are fitted with extra-bright AMOLED touch screens that are protected by scratch-resistant sapphire crystals and DLC-coated titanium bezels. Additionally, the new models from the Descent Mk3 series also feature leak-proof metal button structures, allowing them to remain fully operational and sealed against moisture, even when pressed at the Descent Mk3 series’ maximum depth rating of 200 meters. This increased water resistance represents twice what can be found among the previous Descent Mk2 series, and the built-in diving applications include modes for everything from freediving and spearfishing to more technical forms of scuba diving with mixed gasses (including nitrox and trimix) and even settings for use with a closed-circuit rebreather. Furthermore, despite its vibrant AMOLED color touch screen, the Descent Mk3 is still able to offer users up to 48 hours of battery life when in Dive Mode.
Just like other modern Garmin smartwatches, the displays of the new Descent Mk3 series are user-customizable and DiveView maps offer bathymetric depth contours for more than 4,000 pre-loaded dive sites to help locate specific sites such as shipwrecks and spearfishing hotspots. Built-in sensors include an altimeter, barometer, compass, and even an underwater compass, and satellite-based surface GPS helps divers track entry and exit points for their dives, in addition to facilitating all of the Descent’s various other modes that are dedicated to sports such as running or cycling. Additionally, free divers can use the variometer tool to monitor their descent and ascent rates using tone and vibration feedback, and after users complete a dive, the built-in dive log allows users to review data, track gear, take notes, and share details through the Garmin Dive smartphone application.
The other new dive computer launched alongside the Mk3 series is the Garmin Descent G1 Solar – Ocean Edition, which takes the core blueprint of the original Descent G1 Solar that debuted last year in 2022 and gives it a case that is made from recycled ocean plastic. Just like the standard model, the new Descent G1 Solar – Ocean Edition is based upon a 45mm reinforced polymer case with a sapphire crystal and a water resistance rating of 100 meters, although the 100% of the material used to make the watch’s housing, bezel, and buttons come from recycled ocean-bound plastics. Just like the original Descent G1 Solar, the light-powered feature offers users up to 25 hours of battery life when in Dive Mode, and a whopping 124 days of autonomy when in smartwatch mode and using its solar charging function.
While the Garmin Descent G1 Solar – Ocean Edition lacks the various SubWave-enabled connected features of its Mk3i siblings, it still offers all of the Descent series standard dive computer and smartwatch functions, including all of the same diving modes and 30+ other sport-specific applications. Aside from its use of recycled ocean plastic and its new Dark Lakeside and Azure Blue colorway, the new Descent G1 Solar – Ocean Edition is very much the same affordable dive computer as the standard model, and it is tested to the same U.S. military 810 standards for thermal, shock, and water resistance.
Prices for this latest batch of Garmin Descent dive computers start out at $699 USD for the Descent G1 Solar – Ocean Edition or $1,199.99 USD for the standard 43mm Garmin Descent Mk3. Additionally, the Garmin Descent Mk3i costs $1,399.99 USD, and that same price applies to either of the two available colorways for the 43mm version of the model. Lastly, the 51mm Garmin Descent Mk3i is accompanied by an official retail price of $1,599.99 USD when purchased on its standard silicone rubber strap or $1,799.99 USD should buyers opt for the op-of-the-line version that comes with a matching DLC-coated titanium bracelet. While it is certainly possible to get yourself a capable dive computer for less money these days, one of the biggest benefits of having a smartwatch that doubles as a dive computer is that it will track all of your various health and fitness metrics, along with offering superior analysis of how ready and rested your body is before embarking on your next underwater adventure. For more information on the Garmin Descent Mk3 series and the Descent G1 Solar – Ocean Edition, please visit the brand’s website.