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The Garmin Descent Mk1 Is Perfect for Spearfishing: Here’s Why

garmin spearfishing watch review
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The Garmin Descent Mk1 is a fully capable, GPS-enhanced dive computer. It also has the powerful tools of the Garmin Fenix 5’s everyday lifestyle activity tracking.

The Garmin Descent Mk1 Is Perfect for Spearfishing: Review

The Garmin Descent Mk1 combines the technology of a watch, dive computer, altimeter, HR monitor, and GPS on a color screen. It’s an all-encompassing device for spearfishers who hunt the depths for fish. And it doubles as an everyday fitness watch.

At the core of the Garmin Descent Mk1 ($1,000) is the Fenix 5X platform for everyday activity tracking. This watch records data from the gym or trail as well as the reef you are diving.

Review: Garmin Descent Mk1 For Spearfishing

The Garmin Descent Mk1 Is Perfect for Spearfishing: Review

This is a complex, powerful dive computer and GPS watch. It supports five different dive modes and a plethora of above-water features. But for this review, I took a look at the Apnea Hunt mode during trips to Southern Baja and Costa Rica.

At $1,000, this device carries a premium price. But if you like to dive and enjoy everyday functionality, it’s an all-in-one option. You’ll find this Garmin dive watch priced at $999 with silicone wristbands, or at $1,499 with DLC titanium bands.

Considering the price of a good dive computer and GPS watch can each top $500 or much more, this all-in-one device isn’t out of the realm of reality in pricing. But it’s still a high-end option.

garmin spearfishing watch review

And it’s a well-liked device among spearfishing circles. Professional spearfisher, Grant Begley commented on the Descent’s performance after a recent trip.

“With a watch that tracked everything I needed it to, I was able to focus on diving and tracking down my personal best pargo at 98 feet in Costa Rica,” he said.

pargo spearfishing
Spearfisherman Grant Begley with a monster pargo; photo Courtesy Good Time Charlie Charters

Garmin Descent Mk1 Video Review

We put together the video below for another perspective on the watch.

[jwplayer id=O5eP4Xy9]

GPS Map & Tracking

The Garmin Descent Mk1 is the first dive computer to offer GPS tracking and maps on a 1.2-inch vibrant color display. Maps and plotted points can be viewed on the screen or on a connected smartphone through the Garmin Connect app.

The Garmin Descent Mk1 Is Perfect for Spearfishing: Review

GPS tracking is automatically engaged while in a dive mode. A point can also be plotted manually on water or land. I chose to select a hot button on the watch for quick plotting.

This tracking allows you to mark landing and launching points from shore, productive reefs, and any in-water structure that holds fish.

In-Water Alerts

In the dive settings, you can set alerts for surface time intervals, multiple depth markers, dive time, and more. Quicker data readouts are displayed on the watch during the hunt on a single breath. The watch automatically records the dive as it feels the change in hydrostatic pressure.

All settings can be customized in the watch before a dive, which was one of my favorite features. I could let my watch calculate depth and time while I kept a clear and calm mind. This allowed me to dive to my lowest depth ever: 68 feet.

Dive Record Information

The Descent records all data on a dive in real time and logs it internally as soon as you hit the surface of the water. The real-time information shown on the display includes time of dive, current depth, water temp, max depth, and heart rate.

Place the watch above the surface after a dive. Then, wait for the red ring around the watch face to turn green. This tells you the GPS has marked your location.

Dive data is saved in your watch. It’s available for viewing on the device or through your smartphone via the Garmin Connect app.

Foundation of Fenix 5X Activity Platform

The foundation of this product is the Fenix 5X software. This higher-level offering differentiates itself from the Fenix 5 or 5S by including preloaded mapping capabilities. (In other words, “X marks the spot.”)

And this smartwatch technology tracks daily wellness and fitness with 26 different activity tracking options.

The Garmin Descent Mk1 Is Perfect for Spearfishing: Review

Garmin Connect App

Dive data automatically records after surfacing from the depths. This information is available for viewing directly on the watch. An easier way to view the data from this dive and all previous ones is through the Garmin Connect app.

Connect the Descent to your smartphone to view all available information: HR data, max depth, bottom time, water temp, and a GPS map with recorded entry and exit locations in the water. This log allows you to review stats in order to learn from your failures and successes in the water.

Where the Descent Falls Short

My only complaint about this watch is not related to spearfishing or diving elements. A tide tracking watch face or better tide application would make this watch near perfect in my eyes. So many divers spend time in the water surfing, fishing, and/or boating. It seems a tide chart display would be a logical addition. We hope to see it included in the next version of this otherwise amazing device.


  • Training features include wrist heart-rate technology with multisport activity profiles, performance metrics and smart notifications
  • Preloaded with a full range of performance metrics for boating, indoor rowing, interval training, golfing, outdoor recreation, cycling and swimming
  • Battery life: up to 21 days in watch mode, 12 days in smart-watch mode; 40 hrs. in dive mode; 20 hrs. in GPS mode
  • Compatible with iPhone, Android, and Windows smartphones

Final Thoughts

If you’re an active diver or spearfisher and you have the budget for it, you can’t go wrong with the Garmin Descent Mk1. The combination of the Fenix 5X platform, GPS tracking, and in-water readouts creates an industry-leading product.

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