As a timepiece, the $499 Garmin Vivomove Luxe looks and feels luxurious. And it's a smartwatch in disguise. No one would be able to tell until a raise of the wrist wakes a dynamic display of notifications and health monitoring. But over the month I spent wearing it, its smart features revealed several shortcomings. Although it's a charming analog clock, the Garmin Vivomove Luxe falls short of providing the ample lifestyle and fitness features needed to earn a spot among our best hybrid smartwatches.
Garmin Vivomove Luxe design
I wouldn't associate the word "designer" with Garmin, but the Vivomove Luxe makes a convincing case for reevaluating the GPS brand's rugged reputation. The Vivomove Luxe is available in different sizes and materials, though the one I tested is available only in 42mm. Its silver stainless-steel case is sleek and striking without feeling too bulky. Though the face is broader than I'd like, I wound up loving how the stylish Vivomove Luxe balanced my slender rings and bracelets.
The navy Italian leather band went well with my jewelry as well. After a week of wearing it every day, the straps conformed to fit comfortably around my wrist, even while I slept.
While I'd leave a wearable like the Apple Watch at home for nice occasions, the Garmin Vivomove Luxe is versatile enough for any job interviews or parties. Swapping out the leather bands for a sportier set from Garmin makes it suitable for workouts, too.
Garmin Vivomove Luxe display
Beneath the Garmin Vivomove Luxe's traditional analog clock is an AMOLED display that is supposed to turn on when you raise your wrist or double-tap on its face. In practice, I could get the screen to turn on in only about half my attempts.
At first it didn't bother me. But as I tried to integrate the Vivomove Luxe into my day-to-day routine, I grew tired of tapping the screen six times before seeing how many steps I've taken.
When I could wake the display, I enjoyed swiping through clean, colorful icons with my fitness data. Because I paired the Vivomove Luxe to my iPhone, I could read notifications on it, too. Though I couldn't respond to messages like I can with an Apple Watch, I was able to see texts even while my phone was lost in the depths of my pocketbook.
But that wouldn't suffice when I was outdoors in the daytime. Like the older Garmin Vivomove HR, the Luxe's display's biggest shortcoming is its complete lack of legibility in sunlight.
Garmin Vivomove Luxe fitness features and sleep tracking
The Garmin Vivomove Luxe collects a ton of health data right from your wrist. It has the expected sensors for pulse and steps, but tracks some other interesting information, too.
The watch monitors your body battery, which is a measurement of your body's energy based on your sleep quality and activity. Similarly, Garmin tells you how stressed you are using your heart rate variability.
For the few nights I turned sleep tracking on, the watch didn't register when I'd wake up for a few hours during the early morning to scroll Twitter. When we reviewed the Vivomove HR, we found similar sleep tracking issues.
Calories burned, floors climbed, respiration monitoring, period tracking and water consumption are other elements you can record in the Garmin Connect app. The app is also what you'll use to adjust the watch's user settings, appearance and payment options.
And, of course, you can use the app for tracking workouts. But the Garmin Vivomove Luxe itself is not compatible with workout guidance for running or weight training. So while you can use your Garmin Connected app as an exercise companion from your smartphone, you'd probably want to leave the watch behind.
Garmin Vivomove Luxe battery life
Garmin says you'll get five days of battery out of the Vivomove Luxe, and that proved more or less true. The first time I wore it after a full charge it lasted closer to four days, but it's survived five days per full charge since.
update: 4 full days later and it seems like my @Garmin vívomove luxe is finally ready for a charge. was hoping for 5 but with nonstop use and sleep tracking considered, the life on this thing is pretty solid pic.twitter.com/nXti0TE29lOctober 7, 2019
Without the smart features, the Garmin Vivomove Luxe can last a week on analog mode. But if I wanted to wear an analog watch, I'd get one that doesn't have a rechargeable battery.
The Vivomove Luxe uses a proprietary charger to juice back up. This is a shared trait among Garmin watches. But if you happen to forget its charger when you're traveling, you won't be able to power the Vivomove Luxe using that USB-C or micro-USB you might have handy.
The Garmin Vivomove Luxe looks great, but its display and features aren't up to par. Several of the issues we found in the Vivomove HR weren't addressed, which resulted in a rather disappointing month with the new hybrid smartwatch.
If I'm spending $500 on a watch, I'm either opting for a fully integrated one from Apple or an analog one with a designer name attached. Fossil and its subsidiaries make several stylish hybrid smartwatches, and you can get them for $300 or less. But if you're interested in a wearable that feels fancy and fitness features are a second thought, the Garmin Vivomove Luxe is a fine option.