MARQ: A Modern Tool Watch Years in the Making

For the first time in decades, authenticity and functionality have returned to the tool watch category. For Garmin it is the brilliant culmination of a 30-year vision. An inspiration for new adventures and a celebration of those who confidently break new ground. In March 2019, we first announced MARQ Driver, MARQ Aviator, MARQ Captain, MARQ Adventurer and MARQ Athlete and have since introduced MARQ Commander and a special-edition MARQ Captain: American Magic Edition, developed alongside the world-renowned American Magic sailing team. We’re pulling back the curtain and giving a look behind the scenes as to how the collection came to life from the early stages through the years of development and testing and finally production and announcement.

THE IDEA:

MARQ came from the simple idea of combining cutting-edge technology with high-end materials. We wanted to bring craftsmanship and long-lasting beautiful materials to the smartwatch space. We knew watches could be more than an extension of your phone. We wanted a watch that was “smart” but also made a statement about your passions in life. Instead of doing a one-size-fits-all design approach, we wanted to create watches that had a strong personality – where the design focused on a specific activity such as flying, racing or sports. Mirroring Garmin’s business segments: aviation, automotive, fitness, outdoor and marine, we decided to take specialized technology from each and create a line of authentic tool watches with 21st-century functionality.

Early sketches of the watch bezel.

THE NAME:

When we set out to name our most prestigious collection of luxury tool watches, we sought to encapsulate decades of life-changing innovations in a single word. One that represented the superior craftmanship, connectivity and quality that had been achieved. A name that would convey the impact of its arrival onto the scene.

Inevitably, it became clear. Introducing this collection would be a marquee moment in high-tech fashion, representing where Garmin had been and where we are going. Those who wear MARQ wear the exploits of countless pilots, sailors, adventurers and athletes who have trusted our products with their lives in the most challenging places on earth. Simply stated, MARQ is an indelible stamp of credibility. Forged from our DNA. Authentic in every detail.

THE TIMELINE:

-Initial Proposal: October 2016

-Base Design Finalization: March 2017

-Colors/Materials/Finishes Finalized: August 2017

-Strap/Bracelet/Packaging Development: 2018

-Software Development/Testing: 2018-2019

-Product Announcement: March 2019

THE RESEARCH:

Our research started with a core group of people who were passionate about watches. We analyzed industry trends and decided to focus on bringing technology to the tool watch space. We knew there was a market for people who wanted real tools on their wrist with a high level of craftsmanship and premium materials. We visited many industry events, and met with watch enthusiasts and watch dealers around the world to understand what their needs were in addition to their clients. We had to rethink many aspects of our product offering, including packaging and how we presented it on our website. Every experience surrounding the watch had to be substantially elevated. We navigated the world to find the most premium materials. MARQ integrates revolutionary technology with superior design materials such as titanium, sapphire, ceramic, diamond-like carbon coating, jacquard-weave nylon and Italian vacchetta leather.

The jacquard-weave nylon band found on the MARQ Captain watch.

Our customers are using these watches as tools in their flying, driving, sailing and outdoor adventures. Materials, finishes, software and design are all executed with the goal to create a watch that performs. We had to find partners that were experienced in high-end watch manufacturing, which took years of work and relationship building to develop the capabilities we needed to execute our vision. We struck new partnerships in ceramic manufacturing and titanium forging and finishing. To create the nylon strap on our MARQ Captain, we ended up in a small village in the south of France. We worked for many months to combine the quality of their traditional jacquard weaving with our QuickFit attachment mechanism for quick and easy watch strap changes. After much experimentation and refining, we created a new type of nylon strap that honors the rich history of weaving but executed in a modern design. The process for creating these superior watches is unique, using optical bonding and alignment, water pressure testing, and thermal, shock and abrasion trials. The result is a demanding material design, taking the known Garmin reputation for quality to the next level and beyond.

THE TESTING:

We not only test the durability of our products in a state-of-the-art lab, but we also test out in the field with real people who are flying, driving and running. The testing for MARQ was especially complicated because we had so many different use cases. We had to create new GPS software to adjust for high-velocity activities like driving and flying. We tested the Driver on the tracks across the world and the Aviator on many flights. Each watch was tested in the environment where we expected it to be used. We had a group of early beta testers who were located across the world to test our products in different environments. Each activity was tested and refined before releasing and then updates were pushed out to improve the experience throughout the life of the product. In addition to beta testers, Garmin has an avid group of athletes, pilots, hikers and drivers from whom we gather feedback. The hardware is also tested in the lab with pull, drop, sweat, UV, chemical and many other tests to ensure our products will stand up to the test of time in the most demanding environments.

The MARQ collection is destined for those who aspire to the lifestyles we have redefined over decades of innovation. These magnificent luxury tool watches are our tribute to their rightful rewards. To explore all the watches in the MARQ series, visit Garmin.com/MARQ.