Watches and cars. It’s almost a given that once we can afford it, men desire something nice in their porch and on the wrist. Some like one more than the other, but they make a good pairing. Here’s a timepiece that can bridge one’s love for driving and watches – the new Garmin MARQ Driver.

The MARQ Driver is part of the newly-launched Garmin MARQ collection that also includes the Aviator, Captain, Adventurer, Commander and Athlete.

All the variants of this “luxury modern tool watch” are pretty self-explanatory – one’s a pilot’s watch (a high-tech GMT Master or Flightmaster, if you like), the Captain is the seafarer (think Seamaster Regatta), the Commander is a tactical “black ops” style watch for soldiers (or military geeks), the Adventurer is like a “Digital Alpinist” and the Athlete is well, for professional athletes.

We’ll zoom in on the MARQ Driver, which is aimed at those with the need for speed. The most expensive of the lot at RM13,500 (yes, that’s no typo, this is uncharted territory for both the GPS expert and smartwatches – more on the pricing later), the Driver is a 46 mm smartwatch with a titanium case and diamond-like carbon coating. For the racing look, there’s a tachymeter bezel with ceramic inlay.

The carbon grey titanium case is paired to a matching titanium bracelet with silicone on the inside (the red bits) for a lightweight fit (128g total) and breathability – which is needed as you sweat buckets when racing. Garmin says that the screen is domed sapphire crystal, but the curvature of the crystal isn’t as obvious as on some traditional watches. Under it is a 30.4 mm always-on colour screen in 240 x 240 pixels resolution.

The MARQ’s lug width is 22 mm, and you can easily swap out the bracelet with the brand’s other QuickFit straps without a tool. The other MARQ watches come with bands that are tailored for the application – you’ll find a tan brown Italian vacchetta leather strap on the Adventurer and jacquard-weave nylon straps on the Captain and Commander, for instance. There’s also silicone rubber and a silver titanium bracelet for the pilot’s piece.

As for functions, this tool watch for the (serious) driver has more than 250 preloaded race tracks around the world, including our Sepang International Circuit. The GPS watch sports auto lap splits and live delta time, so if you don’t have a transponder on your car, this can be it. If you have one, the MARQ Driver can be a second one you wear on the wrist for real time pace monitoring.

Other race timing functions include Lap Time Repeatability (to measure and grade your consistency) and Last Race (summary of your last race). If you’re not behind the wheel, the tachymeter and chronograph let you time cars at the track and calculate speeds, while the Virtual Pit Wall function allows one to gear audio reports of every lap. For those who have racing in their blood and treat Sepang like home, you can even have SIC on the watch’s face.

Of course, the MARQ is a smartwatch beneath the “customised pro layer” (my words, not theirs) of functions, and with it, you’ll get emails, texts, alerts when paired with a smartphone.

For music, you can store up to 2,000 songs in the watch or access streaming apps such as Spotify and Deezer and listen through headphones via Bluetooth. There’s also the Garmin Pay contactless payment function, which isn’t a thing here yet.

As Garmin’s flagship watch range, the MARQ comes with all the sports functions people buy the Fenix and Forerunner watches for, so there’s no need to elaborate. It has a heart rate monitor, tracks all kinds of sports and you can use your MARQ to run a marathon, if you so desire. Also needing no explanation is the GPS capabilities of the watch (GPS, Glonass and Galileo, by the way), as Garmin is an expert in the field.

For the weekends that you’re not in Sepang pushing your Porsche RS to the limits, the MARQ’s has colour maps for more than 41,000 golf courses around the world, with button targeting and the PlaysLike Distance feature. Last but not least, the lithium battery provides up to 12 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, 28 hours in GPS mode, 48 hours in UltraTrac mode and nine hours in GPS mode with music.

If like me, you’re not so obsessed about driving, the other tool watches in the MARQ family are more affordable – the Aviator is priced at RM10,500, the Captain RM9,999, the Adventurer and Commander RM9,500 and the Athlete RM7,999. Each has functions specific to the profession as well as a unique look and bezel (GMT for the Aviator and compass for the Adventurer, for instance), but all share the same basic case, smartwatch and tracking hardware, and 100 metres of water resistance.

Very expensive for a Garmin you say? My personal opinion is the same, but then again this writer is the typical Forerunner customer, and isn’t a professional looking for a serious tool to provide serious data. And if you’re a “watch guy”, go ahead and scoff at this because there are so many “proper watches” and combinations we can think of for the money.

The Garmin MARQ is clearly not for the amateur sportsman or watch fellas, but for those whose lives and/or vocation depend on precise information. Or the moneyed hobbyist with pro dreams looking for a cool new toy. Also, let’s not forget that today’s luxury watch icons were tool watches back in the day – the likes of the Submariner were used by the military and divers (actual, not desk) before it became an ornament. What do you think?

GALLERY: Garmin Marq Driver


GALLERY: Garmin Marq full range