Garmin’s MARQ line was designed to bridge the gap between stylish time pieces from companies like Omega or TAG Heuer and smartwatches that typically focus on function over form. The MARQ collection is now expanding with a sixth addition to the line designed for those serving in the military—or at least those who fantasize about it.
The first five pieces in the MARQ line had designs and features that focused on specific sports or activities, named the Aviator, Driver, Captain, Expedition, and Athlete. The latest addition is called the MARQ Commander and carries over features like a lightweight titanium body, a durable sapphire crystal lens, GPS location tracking, smartphone connectivity which includes notifications, and an optical heart rate sensor. New features on the Commander include a special screen mode that can be read while wearing night vision goggles without experiencing bright flares or a blooming effect when the backlight is activated, and an easy access “kill switch” that puts the smartwatch into a stealth mode that disables wireless connectivity, stops GPS position sharing, and clears recent tracking data.
The MARQ Commander also features the same flexible, durable Jacquard-Weave strap as the MARQ Captain, as well as the always-on screen of the entire MARQ line, which allows for about 12 days of continuous use between charges. But that’s also an unfortunate mark against the new timepiece: In our review of the MARQ Athlete, we found the always-on screen was often very hard to see and read, making spending $1,950 on a luxury smartwatch even harder to stomach.
Will the MARQ Commander find its way onto the wrists of those serving in the nation’s military? It’s hard to say. When A Blog to Watch’s Ariel Adams pressed Garmin on the issue, the company was reluctant to confirm if its new smartwatch was specifically designed for military use and applications. It did point out that the stealth mode would help the timepiece conform to specific military regulations regarding wireless communications which can reveal potentially sensitive info like the location of missions and maneuvers, but it’s impossible to say if the company will be seeing the military place large orders. But those are also features that many consumers, particularly those who embrace military-inspired gear (referred to as “tacticool” in marketing speak) love to brag to their friends about. So even if the Commander never ends up in the heat of battle, it will still probably find its way onto plenty of paintball battlefields.
Correction, October 8, 10:23 a.m. EST/EDT: A Garmin representative has reached out to Gizmodo to clarify how the MARQ Commander’s stealth mode and kill switches specifically function. “When users enable stealth mode, the watch will stop storing and sharing GPS positions and disables wireless connectivity and communication. When the kill-switch is activated, the watch clears all of the user memory. You can enable and disable the stealth mode, but you cannot reverse the kill-switch function.”