Garmin Descent MK1 dive watch with fitness features released

Garmin has today released their first dive watch called the Garmin Descent MK1 which is basically a Garmin Fenix 5x with scuba diving options. I for one am personally surprised at this move as Garmin have not gone into this area before and with Suunto being a leader in dive watches this is a brave, but bold move to combine a fitness and dive watch into one wearable unit which I think is a unique thing and something that could shake up the diving watch market.

Must read review: Garmin Fenix 5x review

Garmin Descent MK1 fitness features

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Garmin Descent MK1 Features

  • Screen is a 1.2” colour display and TOPO mapping – depending on location of course
  • Physical size: 51 x 51 x 17.8 mm
  • Weight – Steel with Silicone band: 101 g Titanium with Silicone band: 94 g Titanium with Titanium band: 145 g
  • Built-in sensors include 3-axis compass, gyroscope and barometer and altimeter as well as GPS and GLONASS capability that lets you mark your dive entry and exit points for surface GPS
  • Supports single-gas, multi-gas, gauge and apnea diving, including nitrox and trimix; plan your dives directly on the device
  • Dive log lets you store and review data from up to 10,000 dives — and share online via Garmin Connect™ and its included mobile app
  • Features Elevate™ wrist heart rate technology with multisport activity profiles, performance metrics and smart notifications
  • Battery life: up to 21 days in watch mode, 12 days in smartwatch mode, 40 hours in dive mode and 20 hours in GPS mode4

Essential reading: Garmin Vivosmart 3 review

Garmin Descent MK1 Build and design

The Descent Mk1 dive computer is available in two models:

  • Stainless-steel bezel with treated silicone watch band

or a

  • Deluxe Titanium bezel version with brushed DLC Titanium bracelet.

Both models feature the same fiber-reinforced polymer case and both support  Garmin’s Quickfit straps for easy changing and come with 2 sets of bands with one being longer to fit over dry/wetsuits. Both versions of the Descent MK1 are 51 x 51 x 17.8 mm which is the same size of the Fenix 5x, but both versions differ in weight.

  • Steel with Silicone band: 101 g
  • Titanium with Silicone band: 94 g
  • Titanium with Titanium band: 145 g

Garmin have switched back to the charging port found on the Gamrin Fenix 3 to charge the Descent MK1 and I am fond of this because of the cradle.

The Garmin Descent MK1 features a bright, high-resolution, full-colour Garmin Chroma Display that is featured on the Garmin Fenix 5x which is 1.2 inches with LED backlighting. It also features the same sapphire screen for added scratch resistance on both models

Garmin Descent MK1 diving watch

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Garmin Descent MK1 diving features

The Garmin Descent MK1 comes with some core diving modes/features

  • Single Gas – Normal mix
  • Multi-Gas – Mixed gas mix
  • Gauge – No gas dive
  • Apnea – Free dive mode
  • Apnea Hunt – Spear fishing
  • Plan Dive – Dive planning mode

Essential reading: Apple Watch vs Fitbit Ionic vs Garmin Vivoactive 3

The Descent MK1 supports five different gases plus air, including nitrox and trimix

You can set the audible tone and vibration alarms to provide reminders at critical points in your dive. The Descent comes with a time to fly alert which is useful if you are on a diving trip and catching a plane soon.

The Garmin Descent MK1 does not have any wireless air gauge integration at this stage and from what I understand Garmin have no plans to introduce it at this stage. I think this is a big miss as others like Suunto include wires air gauge sensors and have done for sometime now

Garmin Descent MK1 dive watch

Garmin Descent MK1 Navigation features

Garmin say the Descent MK1 features high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS satellite tracking for map-based surface navigation whilst on the surface and it also provides a full set of ABC (altimeter, barometer and compass) sensor capabilities for topside navigation. You cannot use the GPS whilst you are underwater, but it will record a GPS postion whilst before you go down and when you surface to.

Garmin Descent MK1 Navigation

Garmin Descent MK1 Wrist-based heart rate

The Descent Mk1 dive computer uses Garmin Elevate wrist-based heart rate technology track your heart rate during a dive when in contact with your skin, obviously this will not work when wearing a wetsuit or dry suit. This is a step change from the Garmin Fenix 5 series that does not track your heart rate via the wrist for water based activities. I am going to be interested to see if the Descent MK1 tracks HR via the wrist when swimming.


Garmin Descent MK1 wrist heart rate

Garmin Descent MK1 fitness features

As I have already said the Descent MK1 is a Garmin Fenix 5x with diving features and this is no different when it comes to tracking other sports. The Descent MK1 will let you track running, swimming, cycling with all the advance data you get with the Garmin Fenix 5x.

Garmin Descent MK1 Batter life

Garmin say the Descent MK1 will last up to 40 hours of battery life in dive mode, up to 21 days in watch mode, up to 12 days in smartwatch mode and up to 20 hours in GPS mode (all depending on settings).  This is pretty similar what you get with the Fenix 5x, albeit not the dive mode. I am very keen to get one to test real world usage.

Garmin Descent MK1 pricing and availability

The Garmin Descent MK1 is going to come in 2 models and is priced

  • Stainless-steel bezel with treated silicone watch band – $999
  • Deluxe Titanium bezel version with brushed DLC Titanium bracelet. $1199

The Garmin Descent MK1 is going to start shipping within the next 5-6 weeks and it will be available just in time for Christmas 2017

So what do you think to the Descent MK1? Do you think Garmin are onto something here? leave a comment below

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  1. As a fenix 5 user, I would buy this in a heartbeat if it had air integration. I just can’t go back to the old way of not having Air Time Remaining on my wrist.

  2. As a tec-diver myself, air integration is irrelevant, because gas switching between multiple deco tanks you’d have to have a sensor on every single tank, which would get absurdly expensive real quick, and then the added steps involved in switching between them. Not to mention durability issues like when cave diving, staging decos, or extreme depths. Air integration is more of a recreational diver feature that tec-divers don’t use, considering this device will do trimix it’s obviously geared more towards that level of diver.

    That said, I swim, cycle, run, etc… almost everyday, but only dive a couple times per year. It would be nice if i could do everything in one package though. As I’m currently trying to decide between buying a MK1 or a 5X my questions are: Does the MK1 truly do everything the 5X does plus diving, or do you give up some 5X features to make room for the diving? And is the size and durability truly the same?

    • Hi, Thanks for the comments, interesting to hear from a tech diver.

      As far as I am aware the MK1 has everything the 5x has in terms of fitness features.

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Jon Ratcliffe
I have a huge passion for technology having worked in the sector for over 18 years in a variety of roles. I cover Wearables, tech and smart home. My reviews and information will talk about how the product works in reality and not just what the marketing departments want you to think.

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