Although traditional dive watches remain popular as rugged and versatile tools, most serious modern divers rely primarily on a wrist-mounted dive computer to keep track of telemetry while underwater. Dive computers are generally rather specialized pieces of equipment, but for its latest release Garmin has announced a new generation of its flagship dive computer line that aims to create a more adaptable piece of equipment. This new dive computer offers full smartwatch functionality, rugged construction, and integrated solar charging for easy use even on prolonged diving excursions. The Garmin Descent G1 Solar is a remarkably versatile design, with enough capability to stand as a viable smartwatch option for the dedicated diver.
Measuring in at 45mm, the fiber-reinforced polymer case of the Garmin Descent G1 Solar should cut an imposing figure on the wrist, but offers a wearable G-Shock-esque look in images. Available in both stealthy black and a slate blue on sky blue two-tone, the case profile is defined by its bulky engraved bezel and five broad button pushers. The underlying lug structure is remarkably conventional in images, but an aggressive case side cutout and a broad flange protruding from the case at 3 o’clock help to give the design a more distinctive silhouette. Interestingly, despite being designed as a diving implement with tools for seasoned professionals built in, Garmin rates the Descent G1 Solar at 100 meters of water resistance – although this may say more about the watch industry’s fixation with massive depth rating numbers than it does about useful functionality.
The touch-sensitive 176-by-176-pixel MIP dial of the Garmin Descent G1 Solar is optimized for underwater use, but offers additional suites of features to make this a reasonable choice for day-to-day wear. Its circular subdial at 2 o’clock draws the eye immediately in initial images, allowing each customizable dial display to highlight vital information at a glance. The Descent G1 Solar offers customizable display options aimed at every level of underwater enthusiast, from recreational free divers to technical diving professionals. The amount of available telemetry is robust here, ranging from dive modes for single and multiple gas dives including options for air, nitrox, trimix, and 100% oxygen, to tracking information for apnea, apnea hunt, gauge, and closed-circuit rebreather divers. Wearers can track depth, dive time, water temperature, ascent and descent rates, current gas mix, decompression stops, and standard time during dives, and the Descent G1 Solar offers further complications tailored specifically towards spear fishing as well. Thanks to integrated GPS tracking, the Descent G1 Solar can also be used to mark surface entry and exit points automatically during a dive, and log key details such as maximum depth and overall dive time in the available Garmin Dive app. When paired with a portable satellite communicator, the Descent G1 Solar can even deliver an interactive SOS message in the event of a diving accident. Outside of diving options, the Descent G1 Solar’s customizable dial displays and solid suite of connected features makes this more than a specialist tool. For athletes outside of diving, the Descent G1 Solar offers a broad range of fitness tracking complications from in-depth sleep monitoring to heart rate tracking, recovery time monitoring, HIIT workout monitoring, daily workout tracking, VO2 max, and tailored workout tracking suites for hiking, running, golf, yoga, swimming, and the brand’s integrated Surfline Widget for surfers. The Descent G1 Solar also offers the usual smartwatch suite of mobile connectivity options, including sending and receiving messages, customizable app notifications, and hands-free payment through Garmin Pay.
Garmin powers the Descent G1 Solar with a solar smartwatch module. Although the brand keeps the details of the Descent G1 Solar’s microprocessor close to the vest, the dive computer’s battery is robust, with Garmin claiming a maximum life of four months after a full solar charge. Garmin pairs this module to an extensive sensor suite, including a GPS tracker, a heart rate monitor, a barometric altimeter, a compass, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a thermometer, a depth sensor, a pulse blood oxygenation monitor, and more. To complete the package, Garmin mounts the watch on a case-matching textured strap in silicone.
While it likely won’t take the place of a mechanical dive watch for traditional enthusiasts, the new Garmin Descent G1 Solar is a ruggedly capable dive computer with a wealth of smartwatch options that elevate it outside of the water as well. The Garmin Descent G1 Solar is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for this model stands at $649.99 as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.