Garmin’s Descent G1 Solar - Modes
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Ultimate Dive Watch Under $1,000: Garmin Descent G1 Solar Review

Although I’ve spent years snorkeling, free diving, and exploring the ocean, it wasn’t until recently that I officially got my scuba certification. Scuba opens up an entirely new underwater world but it’s a lot more involved than free diving.

As opposed to simply strapping on a mask, scuba requires careful monitoring and calculations to ensure that you stay safe. And after doing a couple of dives without a watch — having to rely on other people — I quickly discovered the importance of having your own. Because although you always dive with a group or a buddy, you are solely responsible for your own safety.

In short: Not only is Garmin’s Descent G1 Solar ($650) a fun way to keep track of your dives, but it allowed me to feel like I was in the driver’s seat when it came to staying safe. It’s a fully featured smartwatch, with dive functions, and so much more.

Garmin’s Descent G1 Solar Review

Garmin’s Descent G1 Solar - diving smartwatch
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

The Watch Features

The Descent has all the features you’d expect in a smartwatch, and then some. It has lots of preloaded activities like running, biking, hiking, swimming, standup paddling, surfing, yoga, skiing, and much more.

It has other helpful health features like a wrist-based heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, hydration tracking, women’s health tracking, and body battery energy monitoring. Traditional smartwatch features include step count, smart notifications, and Garmin Pay contactless payment.

Like some of Garmin’s other water-specific watches, the Descent offers tide data and is compatible with Surfline. But what sets the Descent apart from the crowd is its dive features.

The Descent can be used for all types of diving: free diving, single and multiple gas dives (including nitrox and trimix), gauge, apnea hunt, and closed-circuit rebreather. The watch features a dive compass to keep you on course, and it keeps track of your entry and exit points with advanced satellite connectivity.

Garmin’s Descent also has a built-in dive log that’s able to store up to 200 dives, and a compatible app through which you can save and share your dives. It also has customizable dive modes, so you can set up the screen to display the info you want to see during your dive.

Garmin Descent G1 Solar Specs

Garmin’s Descent G1 Solar - review

  • Material: Fiber-reinforced polymer (case and bezel), silicone strap
  • Size: 45.5 x 45.5 x 15.2 mm
  • Display size:  23 x 23 mm, two window display
  • Display type: Monochrome, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
  • Water rating: 100 m
  • Battery life: 25 hours (in dive mode) to 48 days (in battery-saver mode)
  • Weight: 66 g

Testing the Garmin Descent Dive Watch

Garmin’s Descent G1 Solar - testing
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

I really enjoyed that the watch had everything I need, right in one place. I know a lot of dive watches are dive-specific— I appreciated that the Descent could track my runs, surfs, dives, sleep, and everything else so I didn’t have to worry about switching watches.

The watch is bulkier than my Garmin running watch, so I most likely will continue to wear my running watch for training and races but it’s nice that both watches can sync to the Garmin app, so all of my data is stored in one place and is easy to keep track of.

Garmin’s Descent G1 Solar - dive information
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

On the home screen, I set it up to display dive time, depth, temperature, and my air, which were things I constantly wanted to be aware of. I programmed the watch conservatively and it notified me when to begin my 3-minute safety stop as well as the required surface time between dives.

Although my BC had a simple dive computer programmed in, it was nice to have one right on my wrist with all the information I could possibly want in one easily accessible spot.

As someone who often forgets to charge things, I was a big fan of the Descent’s long battery life. It lasts up to 25 hours in dive mode, up to 124 days in smartwatch mode when solar charging, and up to 39 hours in GPS mode when solar charging, which was a huge win for me. And, for anyone who’s outside and in the water frequently for long hours.

Garmin Descent Dive Watch Conclusion

Garmin’s Descent G1 Solar
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Like all things Garmin, I’m a big fan of the Descent watch. Figuring out how to use it was straightforward and being able to store all my data in the app was a simple way to keep track of my dives and workouts.

I liked that the watch allowed me to feel in control of my safety and as a new diver; it was nice that I could program it conservatively because I’m one to err on the side of caution. Although using the watch was easy, I know there are lots of features I have yet to discover — which I’m excited to figure out and use soon, both in and out of the water.

Finally, we can’t leave without talking about its price point. While $650 is a lot to drop on a watch, when it comes to dive watches, the Descent G1 is one of the more affordable options.

If you look at other popular dive watches like the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Deepquest Ceramic, Christopher Ward c63 Sealander Elite, or the Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic, they range from $1,000 to $4,000.

The Garmin Descent G1 has everything I could ever want or need in a dive watch, plus all the traditional smartwatch features, available at an affordable price — a win in my book.

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getting ready to dive with Garmin’s Descent G1 Solar
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)
Rebecca Parsons

Rebecca was born and raised in Orange County, and she has spent countless hours exploring the California coastline. She loves surfing and standup paddling and recently relocated to Oahu, Hawaii to chase her childhood dream of being a professional beach bum. When she’s not in the ocean, you can find her running the local trails or sleeping under the stars alongside her adventure pup, Koa.