Best Open Water Swim Watch Reviews

Finding the best open water swim watch for your triathlon needs can be difficult when every brand claims its watch to be superior to the others.

This article aims to help you by giving you straight facts about the different watches, their benefits, and drawbacks, hopefully allowing you to come to a satisfying conclusion for yourself.

8 Top Rated Open Water Swim Watches

Below is the collection of top-rated open water swim watches which would maximize your swimming experience in triathlon. These watches are cream of crop, you can say.

Image Product Price

GARMIN FORERUNNER 935 – Best Value Triathlon Watch

Garmin Forerunner 935

  • Built-in activity profiles.
  • Advanced triathlon features.
  • Built-in altimeter, barometer, and compass.

Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS Smartwatch

Garmin Forerunner 945

  • Highly accurate.
  • Music capability.
  • Notifications & Advanced Metrics.

Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR

Suunto Spartan

  • Steel Bezel material.
  • Water-resistant up to 100 m.
  • The mineral crystal glass casing.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (40mm, GPS, Bluetooth), Aqua Black (US Version)

Galaxy Active 2

  • GPS enabled.
  • Sleep tracking.
  • Pace coaching feature.

Fitbit Ionic Watch

Fitbit Ionic GPS

  • Light in weight.
  • Impact proof build.
  • GPS, Bluetooth, and maps system.

We tested them far enough from sunny days to rainy ones. Without further ado, let’s get started and review some of the awesome watches out there.

1. Forerunner 935 – Best Tri GPS Watch

  • Built-in activity profiles.
  • Advanced triathlon features.
  • Built-in altimeter, barometer, and compass.

Forerunner 935 - Best Tri GPS Watch

Garmin Forerunner is another excellent addition to the watch catalog by Garmin. The Garmin Forerunner 935 is one of the best, if not the best, Garmin swim watch that has graced the Watch wearing world.

Stay hydrated and monitor your swim with ease by pairing your open water adventures with one of the best swim watches available. These innovative timepieces not only track your performance in the water but also help you stay on top of your hydration game.

Besides its excellent performance tracking features, the Garmin Forerunner 935 also provides a fantastic offering of dedicated pool smarts, making it a very well contender for the best Garmin open water swim watch among its peers. The design suits the idea of running triathlons, so rest assured, you can trust that it will serve you faithfully in open waters.

The Garmin forerunner 935 provides fit for the title of the best open water swim watch. It offers built-in activity profiles for both open water and pool swimming if the thoughts of ocean inhabitants touching your feet make you queasy. 

Another great feature is the Garmin Connect application, from which you can either create your very own workout sessions or download pre-made sessions if you do not have the time to spare to make one.

Not only that, but the watch is even able to detect stroke type along with metrics like length, distance, stroke counts, and pace. If this was enough to mark it, the best open water swim smartwatch, additional features such as time and distance alerts, the countdown starts, and open water metrics.

Garmin Connect App - Garmin 945

The most notable feature of the Garmin Forerunner 935 is probably its training status function, which automatically evaluates your recent workouts giving you that extra sense of insecurity about how well you performed your exercises! 

Numerous performance indicators complimenting this feature would ensure that you don’t get fed random information, making it an actual best contender among its other Garmin brothers and the best open water swim watch.

An overall excellent watch made with quality in mind; the Garmin Forerunner 935 exceeds all expectations by excelling in almost every category required to take the mantle of being the best. Its durability in water has excellent tracking for all its features, especially the open water features and long-lasting battery life, even when constrained by GPS use (up to 24 hours).

Minor issues such as the circular face and the slight input lag pose some degree of problems for this Watch, but it’s an excellent watch for the price and sure to help you in your open-water endeavors. That is why it is in my picks for the best water swim watch.


  • Comfortable to wear.
  • Long-lasting battery life.
  • Excellent heart rate monitoring.


  • Slight lag on switching screens.

Read in depth review of Garmin Forerunner 935, if you do want to. Worth reading!

2. Forerunner 945 – Best Tri Watch

  • Highly accurate.
  • Music capability.
  • Notifications & Advanced Metrics.

Forerunner 945 - Best Tri Watch

Garmin Forerunner 945 is the ultimate multisport Watch that is the jack of all trades but master of a few of them. This Watch tracks an absolute godly number of sports and outdoor activities coupled with the fantastic built-in quality of life features make it an overall beast of a watch perfect for the mantle of best open water swim watch.

The training status feature would allow you to evaluate your recent exercise history and performance and give you a heads-up if you are training productively, overreaching, or peeking. The ability to download tons of awesome apps makes this Watch a good runner for our best open water swim watch.

If that’s not enough, its battery life will last around almost 36 hours with GPS mode and up to 2 weeks with standard mode making it excellent for extended use in your underwater adventures. While it is undeniable that this Watch is on the expensive end for most people, it has many great features and services to account for this price and is one of the best, if not the best, Watch you buy for yourself for your underwater expeditions.

Some of the fantastic features of this beautiful watch include a 24/7 heartbeat meter for runners and swimmers alike. This vo2 max meter will help you train smarter by predicting how you could perform based on uncontrollable heat and altitude factors.

Its excellent features, coupled with great accuracy and versatility, make it an absolute fan favorite and combined with its maker, Garmen’s trusted brand. It is not wrong to say that this Watch is a good contender for the best open water swim watch and regular swimming watch in the market.

Swimming in a pool is trackable and convenient, but swimming in the open water when you have an unreliable watch is very irritating. The best open water swimming watch is hard to find, even though several popular brands are present. Still, they aren’t all reliable and deserving of the name of the best open water swimming watches due to technical problems in them. 

It is because I’m in open waters; unlike in swimming pools, it is hard to track your location through GPS and hard to measure the distance if the software in your Watch is weak. Thus it would help if you had the best Watch for open water swimming, the one in which the GPS reconnects instantly after the Watch is out of water.

Some of the watches suited best for open water swimming are the ones that aren’t from some local brands. Like Apple, the ones that have been around for a while are best for open water swimming. This Apple watch is best for open water swimming if you’re an Apple fan.


  • Excellent Battery life.
  • Accurate GPS tracking.
  • Excellent for running and sleep tracking.


  • Controls might feel a little off.

Read in depth review of Garmin Forerunner 945, if you do want to. Worth reading!

3. Suunto Spartan – Sport Wrist HR

  • Steel Bezel material.
  • Water resistant up to 100 m.
  • The mineral crystal glass casing.

Suunto Spartan - Sport Wrist HR

Bringing something different to the mix, the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR might be the companion you need to accompany you on your underwater adventures. The most notable feature of the Spartan swimming sports watch is the optical heart rate sensor.

However, it is better than any additional equipment you would rather wear to check your heartbeat. Overall, the plethora of features this fantastic Watch provides is a good runner-up for our best open water swim watch amongst its peers.

Besides its more than the suitable optical heart-rate sensor, its water resistance, which is up to 100-meters, makes it excellent for open water swimming and gives it extra points for our ranking in the best open water swim watch list.

If that does not sell you, it also has other great features, one fan-favorite being the heat map it provides. This feature makes it so much easier to find training spots with the Movescount app complimenting this by providing you the ability to create routes.

The most notable feature is that it allows you to filter by sport. Finding your preferred training spot has never been this easy through the aid of this feature, allowing it to engrave itself a perfect location in our best open water swim watch list.

While the spartan lacks comfort, you would expect a great watch; this small detail is shortsighted by the numerous pros to buying this excellent watch. Its superior battery life, tons of apps with unique uses, and a unique heart-rate sensor which may not be the most accurate but certainly saves you the trouble of buying and wearing additional appliances for one single feature.

Making it an overall excellent watch in terms of capability and versatility all for a reasonable price. Thus, it is not wrong to say that this Watch is one of the best you can get for both your swimming needs and your triathlon needs.


  • Comfortable to wear.
  • Excellent GPS navigation.
  • Battery Life up to 12 hours.
  • Multiple apps to choose from.


  • Controls feel a little bit sturdy.

4. Galaxy Active 2 – Swimmers Choice

  • GPS enabled.
  • Sleep tracking.
  • Pace coaching feature.

 Galaxy Active 2 - Swimmers Choice

A brand that is well known in the world right beside Apple is Samsung. It has been in the market for a long time and produces the best phones and heart rate monitors for swimmers.

Samsung’s Watch that is best for this purpose is Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (40mm, GPS, Bluetooth), Aqua Black. It is less in price and has revolutionary features that aren’t there in any other watches, like sleep tracking, Bluetooth, and its reliable size of 40 mm; it has a stylish Black finish.

There are numerous features in this Watch, such as its in-built pace coaching to motivate you to achieve your running goals; this will also keep track of those goals. It has the most long-lasting battery of all watches as it can go five days without a single charge. This Watch is not only connected to your phone but allows all other QI-compatible Samsung devices.

One of the features that make it the best is its sleep tracking feature, which tracks your sleep and has multiple options that can help you with stress. The Samsung ‘Calm’ mode can aid in meditation and, like it says, calming you down by playing soft music.

All in all, these features make it the best waterproof activity tracker because of its versatility, such as it can track your heart rate and immediately let you know of any extreme highs or lows.


  • Continuous heart rate detection.
  • Available in multiple colors.
  • Smart & sports watch combined.


  • Fitness tracking can be faulty

5. Fitbit Ionic GPS – Best for Workout

  • Light in weight.
  • Impact proof build.
  • GPS, Bluetooth, and maps system.

Fitbit Ionic GPS - Best for Workout

As the name suggests, Fitbit has the master of sports gadgets and has introduced the most innovative watches in the market. If we talk about best waterproof fitbit, it is none other than the Fitbit Ionic Watch.

This watch is a compact of your fitness world as it tracks runs, swims, workouts, your activity all day, and even your sleep. Its battery is less impressive than Samsung with only four days of running time on a single charge, but it is pretty good and can depend on how much you’re using it.

This Watch can enable you to use many apps to stay in touch with the news, sports, and even know the weather. Its build and screen are resistant to damage because of its gorilla glass.

Moreover, It has some standard sport’s watch features like monitoring your way and pace; its in-built GPS works all day long for that purpose. Fitbit comes with multiple bands to choose from whatever band you feel comfortable in, whether a small band or a huge band. I prefer the small one as I have a weird phobia of dropping my Fitbit. but to each their own.

Now to share some features that are so cool that it would make you want a Fitbit for Christmas, such as its storage that can save up to 300 songs, so no longer deleting songs off your workout playlist; you can also download the playlists from Pandora.

In my opinion, it is a go-to watch for sports enthusiasts and the best open water GPS swim watch as well. Apple and Android can connect to iPhone 4s and above, Mac OS X 10.6 and more, and Android 4.4 and others.


  • Auto track exercises.
  • Resistant up to 50 m.
  • Store over 300 songs.


  • Battery issues sometimes

6. Fenix 5X Plus – Best for Multisport

  • Sapphire lens.
  • Long battery life.
  • GPS and map features.

Fenix 5X Plus - Best for Multisport

Though it is a bit pricey, we would say that it is worth every cent. It might just be the best open water watch because of its many features, such as its Ox Acclimation sensor that measures your blood oxygen saturation levels; this feature is perfect for hikes on high altitudes.

Its design is impact-proof and waterproof, so you never have to sweat about breaking your watch underwater. Most times, it happens due to the pressure of the water or the glass comes off.

With its sapphire lens and stainless steel design, it is invincible. This Watch is not only best for open water swimming but also best for fun as it can store up to 500 songs and is Bluetooth enabled. It’s GPS and Topo map features that you always stay on track and know the best routes to walk and run on.

Its price is hardly the problem when you find out that it’s a bank on its own due to its contactless payment solution feature and allowing you to leave your extra card or cash at home so that you can focus on swimming and nothing else.

It works about 20 DAYS in its smartwatch mode, making it the most reliable smartwatch and 14 hours with GPS. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of the best open water swimming watch.


  • Resistant to damage.
  • Contactless payments.
  • Wrist based heart rate monitoring.


  • Not so compatible with iPhones.

7. Garmin Swim 2 Swimming Watch

  • Built-in GPS.
  • Turn-based pacing alerts.
  • Full-color Garmin chroma display.

Garmin Swim 2 Swimming Watch

One of the best manufacturers of sports and multisport watches hence in our picks for best open water swim Watches, Garmin brings another great addition to the family with the Garmin Swim 2. As the name implies, it excels in all things related to water bodies and might just be the best swim trackers.

The name itself implies why it is the best watch for open water swimming. Designed for the activity of swimming, it distinguishes itself almost splendidly among its other tracking peers with features that will measure your swimming performance practically correctly. The Garmin Swim 2 can measure lap count and recognize all four strokes, making it one of the best open water swim watches.

It utilizes gamification to motivate better performance and the SWOLF scoring feature, which combines your stroke rate and overall speed. Its easy accessibility makes it a fan favorite among customers combined with the reliable Garmen brand with the Garmin Connect App’s addition allowing you to exploit the Watch to its fullest potential. Now wouldn’t you agree that it is an ideal choice for a swimming buddy?

The Garmin Swim 2 is a watch designed to help the water-loving people out there who want to explore both the open sea and their local swimming pools. Its notable features include its excellent tracking in both open water and swimming pools coupled with its modest price at an exceptional value.

This Watch does not fall short of any of its peers and may as well as be our top-pick, were it not for the other contenders on this list. Overall, it’s an excellent watch, and a must-buy if you can spare the time and the money for it.


  • Can follow sleep, stress, and steps.
  • 24/7 wrist heart rate monitoring.
  • Rigid and sleek design.
  • Features for staying on pace & logging drills.


  • Not long lasting battery life.

8. Apple Series 5 GPS Watch

  • Built-in compass.
  • Bluetooth Enabled.
  • ECG app to monitor heart activity.

Apple Series 5 GPS Watch

This Apple watch is GPS enabled; it is 44mm in size and supports Bluetooth to connect your device of choice. It’s stylish in design. The watch has fantastic features like an ECG app, sensitive electrical, and optical heart sensors.

If you are a person who tends to get lost. With this great watch, you have a built-in compass and a thousand possibilities to find your way back. Its screen is broad and extensive with an on-retina display.

The Apple 5 series is a great watch. Its battery life, GPS systems, software, downloadable apps, and much more make it a very appealing option.

All in all, series 5 is the best apple watch open water swim workout. Get yours with confidence!


  • Waterproof up to 50 m.
  • Recognizes stroke types.
  • Maps to help you around.


  • Battery issues

FAQs about Best Swim Trackers

Can all water-related activities be done using Garmin Watch?
Yes, all activities are possible, and this Watch will track them; it’s the best Watch for open water swimming, but scuba diving can be a little risky when you exceed the depth limit.
Would I need a water-resistant case?
No, you do not need a water-resistant case unless you plan to go diving in deep waters.
Can I call on the Watch?
You can accept and reject your calls on the Watch, but we suggest using your smart or Apple watch if you want to talk.
Do I need my phone to listen to music?
No, you do not need a phone, your watch will have your completely downloaded Playlist which you can hear to like an old mp3 player, remember those? Have fun swimming.

Final Verdict

This was our list of some of the best open water swim watches available at the moment, that we tried to judge from every aspect, and give you a detailed overview of each. Just pick the one that suits your needs the best way possible, while also keeping your budget in check!

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Jordan Carter

Eric Jordan

Writer | Triathlete

A writer by passion and a triathlete coach profession. In his free time, he swims, runs, cycles, and helps newbie athletes to achieve their goals.

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