Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our big GPS watch test 2021. Here we present all the GPS watches we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best GPS watch for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a GPS watch.




The Best GPS Watch: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a GPS watch

What are the advantages of a GPS watch over a smartwatch or fitness tracker?

Are you wondering what the difference is between a smartwatch or fitness tracker and our GPS watch? A smartwatch is primarily designed for communication and as a link to your smartphone. Fitness trackers without a link to a smartphone are also rather unsuitable, as they have a small or no display at all.

Fitness trackers have similar functions to a GPS watch: step counter, calorie consumption and sometimes also a heart rate sensor. However, a GPS watch is much more accurate and can offer many more functions.

If you do professional sports, GPS pulse watches are also much more practical because they have a larger display and navigation with the buttons is much more comfortable. In addition, the values of a GPS watch are much more accurate than those of a fitness wristband.

Did you know that athletes who run 20 to 30 km per week have a better immune system and are less susceptible to colds?

However, runners who run more than 80 km per week double their risk of respiratory illness.

Smartwatches and GPS watches should also not be confused. Smartwatches usually have a colour display, unlike GPS watches, and are operated using a touchscreen, which is rather unsuitable for unstable weather.

As a result, a smartwatch also needs to be charged more often than a GPS watch, which generally have a larger battery. In addition, wireless pairing with your smartphone is necessary if you want to use your smartwatch for your sport. Additional apps also need to be installed on your smartphone, which is much more complicated than with a GPS watch.

If you value networking and communication, you should buy a smartwatch. For simple sporting activities, a fitness wristband is worthwhile. But if you do sport regularly, want to compare yourself with other athletes and even do several sports, you should consider buying a GPS watch.

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GPS watches receive GPS signals and can thus track your route. These watches are good for athletes, especially if they want to compare themselves with other athletes. (Photo: pixabay / pexels.com)

How much does a GPS watch cost?

The price range for GPS watches is under 100 euros for some simple models and goes up to 1000 euros for professional GPS watches with special wristbands and many functions. Since there is such a wide range of GPS watches and they all have different functions in some cases and the price ranges are blurred, it is not possible to make an exact classification.

However, it can be said that heart rate watches with GPS under 150 euros are good entry-level models with which you can record some sporting activities. GPS tracking watches for children and seniors are also in the price range up to 150 euros, as they usually only have the most necessary functions and do not record any elaborate activities.

However, if you are already an experienced athlete and do this regularly, you should rather look in the price range of 200 to 400 euros. You're sure to find the right model for you here.

And if you want to own a very exclusive GPS watch, then the watches from around 400 euros are probably more for you. With the most expensive models, you can choose special wristbands and colours. You have to decide for yourself whether this is necessary.

In summary, here is a table to help you find your way around:

Price category Suitable for:
up to 150/200 € BeginnersIncasual athletesTracking children and seniors
200-400 € Regular athletesMultiple sports
from 400 € Professional athletesExclusive design and special functions

How accurate are GPS watches?

The technical development of GPS watches is currently quite precise and accurate. However, problems can still occur if the GPS signal drops out, for example in a dense forest.

To ensure that the GPS determination is as accurate as possible, correction signals are sent from geostationary satellites. These usually belong to the European or Japanese system. GPS watches that do not receive these signals can have deviations of five to 15 metres. However, the other GPS watches are so accurate that they only record deviations of up to one metre.

However, your training data may still have errors. If you enter an area where your GPS watch suddenly loses signal for several seconds, your data may be corrupted because your watch does not know what you were doing during the time without signal.

If you spend more time with your GPS watch and observe your training, you will notice measurement errors and be able to eliminate them. In general, GPS watches are quite accurate and should have low error rates.

Decision: What types of GPS watches are there and which one is right for you?

GPS watches have a GPS function in addition to the normal functions of a wristwatch, such as time, date, stopwatch and alarm. This makes GPS watches ideal for sports and outdoor activities.

You probably already know GPS from navigation devices, your smartphone or various apps. The main function of GPS is to locate and determine distances and speeds.

The easiest way to divide GPS watches is into two broad categories based on the purpose of the watch:

  • GPS sports watch
  • GPS tracking/tracking watch

GPS sports watches are often multi-sport capable, but some are also focused on just one type of sport, such as running. Depending on what you want to use the sports watch for, you should make sure that the necessary functions are available.

However, GPS watches can be used for more than just your sporting activities. There are also watches for children or senior citizens with a GPS transmitter, which allows relatives to track their loved ones with regard to safety aspects.

But to find out how to navigate the wide range of GPS watches and find the right watch for you and your goals, we will now explain the two types in more detail with their advantages and disadvantages.

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GPS watches are primarily used to track the wearer's location. This makes it possible, for example, to track the distance run in a marathon and to achieve better results based on the data.

What is a GPS sports watch and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Watches for sports show you, for example, your calorie consumption, your speed or your pace (= in what time a certain distance is covered). Due to the further development of sports watches, many are equipped with GPS functions. This means that your outdoor activities can be evaluated much more precisely and comprehensively.

In addition, you can have your activities recorded anywhere in the world. You should consider buying a GPS watch especially if you do any of the following sports:

  • Running
  • Hiking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Triathlon
  • Golf
  • Geocaching
  • Climbing

Whether you buy a GPS watch that focuses on only one sport or a multifunctional watch that allows you to select multiple sports, the GPS watch will always provide you with a comprehensive training record. Often, altimeters, heart rate sensors or pedometers are also integrated into the watches.

Heart rate measurement is almost standard with such watches. A sensor under the watch measures the pulse on the wrist. However, this is not done permanently. If you insist on a permanent measurement, you should buy a GPS watch with a chest strap.

Another positive effect of a GPS watch is that it can help motivate you to train. It reminds you of your training and can show you your goals. The manufacturers' portals are also useful, where you can compare yourself with other athletes.

A negative point is that you are dependent on the GPS signal. Before you can start your training, you have to wait until your watch has established a connection. This can cause measurement inaccuracies in your training records if the signal is not received for a few seconds. In addition, heavy cloud cover or a dense forest may interfere with the signal.

Advantages
  • Can be used worldwide
  • Extensive recording
  • Training programmes
  • Comparison with other athletes
Disadvantages
  • GPS signal dependent
  • Measurement inaccuracy
  • Price

Since GPS sports watches often combine a lot of functions and multisport modes, this is also reflected in the price. You should expect to invest a three-digit amount.

What is a GPS tracking watch for children or seniors and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Special GPS tracking watches are designed to track people in the family environment. This is not so much to restrict the freedom of the person to be tracked, but rather to ensure their safety.

These tracking watches are mainly available for children or senior citizens. Both groups of people often need special attention and vigilance. However, since it is not always possible to keep an eye on said groups of people, be it because you want to cook or your child is playing in the garden while you are in the flat, a GPS watch can be very helpful.

These tracking watches are usually very simple. They have normal watch functions with the difference that a GPS transmitter is built in. In addition, an emergency button is integrated, which the wearer of the watch can press. The receiver can then be used by relatives to locate the person within seconds or to talk to the wearer of the watch.

Advantages
  • Easy to use
  • SOS button
  • Voice function
  • Locating within seconds
  • Safety range adjustable
Disadvantages
  • Receiver device required
  • GPS signal dependent
  • Running costs

Since GPS tracking watches usually run on a mobile phone network, ongoing costs are incurred by the manufacturer. In addition, these GPS watches are not one hundred percent reliable, as they are also dependent on the GPS signal. If the wearer of the GPS watch is indoors, no more data is transmitted to the receiver device.

Another function is the possibility of setting a safety zone in which the person concerned is allowed to stay. If the person leaves the area, an alarm is triggered.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate GPS watches

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate GPS watches. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain model is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Wearing comfort and optics
  • Display
  • Waterproofness
  • Control
  • Locating time
  • Battery life
  • Connectivity and data analysis
  • Sensors
  • Functions

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Wearing comfort and appearance

Before you look at the technical details, first check whether the watch is comfortable to wear and whether it appeals to you visually.

The best way to assess wearing comfort is to try on the GPS watch in a shop. When buying online, the information about the strap material, weight and strap size is interesting to find out whether the watch offers you the necessary comfort when wearing it on your wrist.

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If you buy your GPS watch directly from a shop, you can try it on beforehand to see if it is comfortable to wear. The strap length should fit well so that the watch doesn't slip off your wrist during sports. (Photo: energepic.com / pexels.com)

The strap material is often silicone or plastic. In some cases, there are also more elegant watches made of stainless steel or titanium.

Only you can judge the best weight for your watch. It is important that it does not interfere with your sporting activities and that it is not too heavy. Most watches weigh between 40 and 60 grams.

To prevent the watch from slipping off your wrist during exercise, it is important to choose the right strap length. With some models you can choose different lengths, with others there are only one size fits all. It is sufficient to measure the circumference of your wrist, as most manufacturers specify the circumference.

The look of the watch can also be a purchase criterion for you. There are often differences in the colours and shapes of GPS watches. There is a large selection, especially for children's tracking watches. Your child will certainly be happy if you buy him a watch in his favourite colour.

Display

Since you will mainly be using GPS watches on the move, it is important that the display is easy to read. When choosing a GPS watch, it is also important to consider the size, resolution and type of display.

When it comes to the size of the display, it is also important to consider how much data is displayed on the watch at the same time and how clear the display is in general, also with regard to the display size.

The resolution of the display is also important. However, this must always be seen in relation to the display size. The more pixels are arranged over a certain length or width, the sharper the image of the display.

However, we recommend that you do not judge the watches by their values, but that you take a look at the watches yourself in the shop. Depending on your visual acuity, you can then see which display type, size and resolution you like best.

Water resistance

There are always misunderstandings about the water resistance of watches, even though it is a standard value among the characteristics of watches. What is the difference between water-resistant and waterproof?

The water resistance of watches is often indicated in bar or with the atm value (=physical atmosphere, unit of pressure). This means that the water resistance of watches depends on the pressure to which they are exposed. Accordingly, GPS watches intended for swimming must have a higher water resistance because they are exposed to a higher pressure due to the movements.

So that you know what the information on water resistance means, we have provided an overview for you here:

Classification Use Remark
Water protected (water resistant) Only splash-proof! It should be protected from water!
Water resistant 3 bar (3 atm, water resistant 30 m) The watch can withstand water splashes and sweat It can withstand a pressure of 3 bar (= water column 30 m) for a limited time.
Water resistant 5 bar (5 atm, water resistant 50 m) Hand washing, rain, washing up, showering, car washing, skiing, trekking It is tested for water resistance up to 5 bar (= water column 50 m).
Water resistant 10 bar (10 atm, water resistant 10 m) Hand washing, rain, washing up, car washing, skiing, trekking, showering, water sports (e.g. swimming and snorkelling) It is tested for water resistance up to 10 bar (= water column 100 m).
Water resistant 20 bar (20 atm, water resistant 20 m) all the above activities possible as well as scuba diving with compressed air cylinder It is tested for water resistance bi 20 bar (= water column 200 m).

Control

There are also differences in operation. To get the most out of your watch, you should also think about this point.

Some GPS watches have the usual watch buttons on the sides of the case. This ensures that you can control the watch in a familiar and intuitive way.

Other manufacturers rely on 1-button control. In this case, the watch has only one button, usually below the display, with which you can navigate the complete menu control.

In rare cases, the GPS watches even have touchscreens that enable control via the display. In addition, there are usually the usual watch buttons on the housing.

To ensure that you do not change any settings while using the GPS watch, there is also sometimes a key lock function.

Tracking time

The GPS watch, as the name suggests, relies mainly on GPS technology and many of the watch's functions depend on it. Therefore, it is important that the watch also receives a signal as soon as possible after the GPS is switched on and is fully functional.

In general, when using your watch, you should make sure that the watch or the GPS receiver is facing upwards. In addition, you should not stand under high buildings or trees. But these are just a few basic tips that have nothing to do with the technology of the watches.

In a bad position, where the GPS watch does not recognise any of the four necessary satellites, it can take several minutes before a usable GPS signal is received. Some manufacturers advertise faster GPS positioning. This promises a signal within a few seconds. However, this software usually needs to be updated regularly in order to be used.

Battery life

The battery life of GPS watches varies greatly. Therefore, you should also pay special attention to this. Always think about what you want to use the watch for. Do you only want to go running for an hour every day; do you want to go on day hikes or do you want to take part in a specific competition?

GPS operation is a real power hog, and if you also want to take a lot of measurements and constantly click around in the settings, the battery of your GPS watch can drain quickly.

The battery life of watches in GPS mode can range from eight to 50 hours.

Did you know that the fastest marathon runner is Dennis Kimetto from Kenya?

He completed the 2014 Berlin Marathon in 2 hours, 2 minutes and 57 seconds.

So before you buy, make sure you know what you want your GPS watch to do. Make sure that the battery life is up to the task and bear in mind that additional functions also consume more battery.

Connectivity and data analysis

GPS sports watches:

GPS sports watches offer a wide range of data analysis options. There is the option of uploading the data directly online to the manufacturer's platforms after each workout. Other options include data transfer via Bluetooth, ANT+ (similar to Bluetooth), USB or WLAN to smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC.

With special apps or programmes, often from the manufacturers themselves, you can then evaluate and store your data and compare it with other athletes.

GPS watches for children and seniors:

GPS watches that are mainly designed for tracking specific persons can usually be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet free of charge.

This allows you to determine the location of the child or senior citizen to the nearest metre and intervene if necessary.

In addition, certain safety areas can be saved, which triggers an alarm when the person leaves this area. The same applies if the SOS button on the watch is pressed manually. Thanks to the route recording, you can always track where your protégé has been.

Sensors

Sensors on the GPS watch play a major role, especially for sports watches, because tracking watches are mainly about checking the position of people.

Important sensors on sports watches are:

  • Activity measurement (steps, sleep, calories)
  • Heart rate measurement (integrated or with chest strap)
  • Barometric altitude measurement
  • Temperature, humidity
  • Speed

The activity and the heart rate sensors are also commonly found on the tracking watches to monitor the health of the person being monitored. However, the other sensors are rather uninteresting in this type of GPS watch.

They are, however, interesting for sports watches. The barometric altimeter, for example, provides much more accurate values in the terrain during hiking or cycling tours than just the GPS. Likewise, temperature and humidity sensors are very helpful when you are travelling in unknown and unstable areas. The speed sensor should also be integrated into almost every GPS sports watch.

Functions

To get the most out of your GPS sports watch or GPS tracking watch, check which functions are pre-set and which you can configure yourself.

The sports watch should offer you preset training plans. However, to be able to adapt your GPS watch to your needs, you must also be able to set your own training plans. This allows you to be reminded or to specify in which period of time you would like to achieve what. This makes it easier for you to train effectively and let your watch motivate you.

Of course, you should also pay attention to other functions of the GPS sports watch. A multifunctional watch, for example, offers you a variety of options for using your training watch for more than just one type of sport. Route recording or place maps are also helpful functions if you are often in unfamiliar areas. Some watches also serve as music players.

There can also be differences in the functions of GPS tracking watches, although they are very similar in this type and not as extensive as in sports watches.

With the tracking watches, you should definitely make sure that there is an SOS function and the possibility to call to and from the watch. With some watches you can also set safety zones. This should be as easy to use as possible.

Before buying a watch, you should find out which functions are necessary for your needs and get the best possible support.

Facts worth knowing about GPS watches

What is GPS and how do GPS watches work?

GPS is the abbreviation for "Global Positioning System". In German, this means "Global Positioning System". This technology was developed by the US Department of Defence and replaced the previous satellite navigation system NNSS.

After it became available to the civilian population as well, it developed into the world's most important positioning service and is mainly used for navigation systems.

GPS watches also make use of this technology. The transmitters built into the watch communicate continuously with the radio signals from the satellites orbiting the earth. The GPS receiver, i.e. the GPS watch in this case, must always be in contact with four satellites in order to ensure accurate positioning.

The signal propagation times enable the GPS watch to calculate position, speed, pace and compass direction. In some cases, GPS watches can therefore also function as navigation devices.

Interesting: The popularly used term GPS is only the satellite navigation system of the USA.

The general term for all navigation systems is GNSS (= Global Navigation Satellite System). However, since GPS is mainly used, it has become established in the language.

The four major GNSS systems:

  • GPS: USA
  • GLONASS: Russia
  • European Union: Galileo
  • China: Beidou

How do I use GPS watches properly?

Here are a few more tips on how to use the GPS watch for sport:

  • When putting on the watch, make sure that the sensors are firmly seated and clean
  • The watch searches for the GPS signal either directly or after pressing a button
  • The most important information is usually available on the start screen
  • From there you can access the other functions by pressing the watch buttons
  • As soon as the watch has detected all the necessary satellites, you can use the watch (you may have to press a button again)
  • Now you can select the mode you want to use and stop your time or measure distance
  • After you have finished your activity, you can upload your data and analyse it later

Here are a few more tips on how to use a GPS tracking watch:

  • Parents or relatives switch on their child's or senior's watch and attach it to the person's wrist
  • The person can go for a walk or the children can play outside
  • The family member carries the receiver (mobile phone or tablet with app; or special device) with them
  • If the person leaves the set safety zone or does not return, the relative can perform the
  • Locate the person
  • The map shows the exact position after a short time

How do I care for and clean my GPS sports watch?

To make sure you can use your GPS watch for a long time, make sure you clean it regularly. There are no parts inside the GPS watch that you need to maintain. However, you should regularly clean the sensors in particular.

If you have problems charging your watch, you should clean the sensors on the back of the watch. If you have a chest strap, the sensor surface must be cleaned before and after each use.

You should only wipe the chest strap and GPS watch with a soft, lint-free, damp cloth. Never use solvents, corrosive or gaseous cleaning agents, as this could damage the GPS watch.

For GPS sports watches that are not suitable for swimming, you should also avoid letting drops of water remain on the watch or even enter the display, as this can possibly discolour the display. You should also avoid exposing the display to bright sunlight and ultraviolet radiation.

Picture source: Tim Foster / unsplash.com

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