Watch and Learn


Power & Motor Yacht - - TESTED NEW ELECTRONICS -

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; 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

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