The Three Best Running Watches For Runners Who Are Chill


Head fake! Our headline image comes courtesy‘s article The best GPS running watches – tried, tested and reviewed. I’m both incapable (old knees) and unwilling to go down the all-singing, all-dancing GPS running watch review road. Instead, I’m taking my cue from Nick Leghorn’s smartwatch confessional . . .

In How A Fossil Gen 6 Smartwatch Ruined My Life, our man Leghorn discovered life was better without his smartwatch. Less stressful. More fulfilling. By the same token, ditching/shunning a digital “running watch” relieves performance anxiety, returning runners to the simple joy of, um, running. Here are three suitable alternatives (no commission on links):

Formex Essence Leggera Forty-Three – $1640

“Rolex offers a wide range of Professional watch models designed for specific activities, from diving to flying, yachting or motor sport,” the Swiss brand boasts. I see nothing wrong with running with a Rollie. Any one of their watches can certainly take the “abuse” [of what amounts to] gentle jostling. But chafing. And muggers. What’s needed: something comfortable and discreet.

The Formex Essence Leggera (reviewed here and here) nails it. Formex’s five-star carbon fiber composite timekeeper is low-key and light, weighing-in at a scant 50g (1.75oz). That’s a full 20 grams less than one of the Runner’s World faves (the Garmin Enduro 2). You literally can’t feel the Leggera on your wrist, especially when you dial-in the patented micro-adjustment.

We reviewed the fabric strap version of the Essence Leggera. We can’t attest to the quality or comfort of the rubber strap, but if it’s anything like the COSC-certified movement, it’ll be ideal. The 41mm Arctic White dial is the most legible and, thus, the best suited to unencumbered yet temporally aware running.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™ 3 Days Automatic – $18,205

The Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™ 1950 offers runners maximum at-a-glace-ability. In fact, the 47mm post-Nazi-diver homage is a temporal billboard. If you want to measure your heart rate with your fingertips – without the bother of a press-and-peer chronograph – the Luminor’s not-so-small small seconds sub-dial is ideal.

Thanks to thin sheets of carbon fibre – compressed with PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone) – this rubber-strapped Panerai is tougher than Sylvester Stallone. At a little over 135 grammes (.3 pounds), it’s no featherweight. But you can put a 1/4 pound weight on the other wrist and build your biceps.

Sticker shock much? Rest easy my friend. You can buy a pre-loved Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™ for around $14k. As used watch prices are tanking, you might want to wait for sellers to feel the full force of the forthcoming recession.

Polar Verity Sense – $89.95

OK, it’s not a watch. The Polar Verity Sense is a heart rate monitor and . . . that’s it. I recommend the PVS because, as above, runners are obsessed with their heart rate. This G-rated strap-on does that one thing and that one thing only. That said, there’s a “living in the moment” catch . . .

While you can connect the Polar Verity Sense to a smartphone for real-time data, karmic flow requires that you don’t. Luckily, there’s no need; the PVS records up to 600 hours of data for post-run analysis.

Used sans smartphone, you won’t know until later if you were in the “cardio zone” or, for that matter, about to have a heart attack. Actually, in the second case, you’ll know before then. Can you live with that? Jim Fixx did – right until he didn’t.

The Polar’s waterproof HR monitor is small (3.74 x 1.81 x 4.58 inches), ideal for arms. According to the Amazon listing, it functions perfectly when it’s wrapped around your head. The head-mounted option is guaranteed to make muggers think twice about assaulting someone so bizarre.

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