Watch and Learn
GET A HANDLE ON YOUR DATA WITH GARMIN’S QUATIX 5 SAPPHIRE.
Be careful what you wish for: Wearable devices seem like they may be a great way to get more connected with your boat. After all, think of how that smartphone gives you the freedom to roam away from your computer in the afternoon (or if you fish, the morning) and get down to the dock, all while still staying in touch with your job and the people who count. But as the saying goes, freedom isn’t free. That’s where the Garmin Quatix 5 Sapphire ($850 MSRP; garmin.com) comes in. This is Garmin’s next-generation smartwatch that links to your boat’s compatible Garmin helm system and your smartphone, and exacts a special kind of charge from its wearer.
The Quatix is based on Garmin’s Fenix fitness watch. The Quatix 5 Sapphire is waterproof to more than 300 feet and has a sapphire crystal and a stainless steel bezel set on a fiber-reinforced polymer case. It comes with silicone and stainless quick-change bands that let the user alter the style of the watch—this is good-looking, rugged design. Its 1.2-inch transflective memory-in-pixel display uses ambient light to brighten to sunlight-viewable levels, but in the dark I found myself hitting a button to illuminate the display.
The Quatix 5 has built-in positioning with both GPS and GLONASS, and, aside from delivering a host of features with that functionality, the system has a real effect on battery life. When you’ve activated a feature that uses the GPS, the result cuts battery life to 24 hours from two weeks in smartwatch mode, according to Garmin. Don’t worry, though; it comes with a USB charging cable, and I kept it charged each night. I set the device to track my movements and then saved my track and watched the route populate on the chart of the GPSMap 742 multifunction display that I had synced with the Quatix.
Syncing is easy: Access the Boat Data feature and it asks you to enable “Garmin wearables” on your chartplotter (it connects via the chartplotter’s Wi-Fi—this doesn’t work with just any Garmin unit, but there are too many to list here), which is a couple of menus deep in the settings. Once you sync the watch you can access boat speed, depth, and water temperature. It’s pretty cool, and based on how things are trending in the world of consumer electronics, it wouldn’t surprise me if future software updates will bring even more functionality through the chartplotter link.
But the Quatix has plenty of features, even without connecting to the helm—a built-in GPS will do that for you. It can give you local tide information—remember Quatix knows where you are on the globe—and it can track your course, meaning the course the watch takes, rather than the boat. I can see this feature coming in handy