Also known as ABC watches, these are wrist devices with features that go beyond standard time-telling. They are a great fit for athletes, sportives, outdoor adventurers, hikers, and people who work on wide areas of terrain.
A watch that’s equipped with a basic altimeter, barometer, and compass is extremely useful when it comes to orientating in space, following a trail, or just monitoring the steps you’ve taken. Many are suitable for rugged outdoor activities. In addition, many of these advanced devices are designed to monitor fitness activities and athletic performance and can communicate with mobile devices using WiFi or Bluetooth.
In search of the best altimeter watch, we reviewed some of the best products on the market that came with ABC sensors. Still, we also took under consideration other important features such as design, weight, durability, GPS module, and battery life. Garmin produces excellent GPS watches and we have two models listed in our guide.
As you will see from our reviews below, the best ABC watch must be a combination of these features and a bit more.
Best ABC Watches
|1||Fenix 6 Premium ABC Watch||Buy On Amazon|
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|2||Suunto 9 Baro ABC Watch||Buy On Amazon|
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|3||Coros Vertix ABC Watch||Buy On Amazon|
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|4||Suunto Ambit3 Peak ABC Watch||Buy On Amazon|
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|5||Casio Pro Trek Solar ABC Watch||Buy On Amazon|
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|6||Garmin Epix ABC Watch||Buy On Amazon|
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Best Overall7Garmin Forerunner 935 ABC Watch
Best OverallGarmin Forerunner 935 ABC Watch
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1. Fenix 6 Premium ABC Watch
This outdoor sportwatch has GPS, and other navigation features that make it ideal for multiple outdoor sports. The crystal is protected by a rugged stainless steel bezel (the top ring on the watch that surrounds the crystal) and the watch is tested to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance.
There are satellite navigation and tracking functions, along with a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter.
The GPS combines with GLONASS and Galileo to track your position more accurately than GPS alone, meaning you can hike or trail ride in more challenging environments.
Activity features include enhanced wrist heart rate, built-in activity profiles, Vo2 Max estimates and more. The built-in activity profiles are for trail running, swimming, running, biking, hiking, rowing, skiing, golfing and more. There’s also performance metrics and training load balance readings, advanced sleep monitoring and the ability to read altitude acclimation at high elevations. Use the watch to track your training load balance, training status, and running and cycling dynamics.
A great feature is the customizable power manager, where you can monitor how various settings and sensors impact battery life, allowing you to adjust to extend your battery life. The battery has four modes with different performance life depending how you use it: up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 36 hours in GPS mode, up to 28 days in expedition GPS activity mode, and up to 48 days in battery saver watch mode.
The display is readable in sunlight and is “always on,” meaning you can easily check it while climbing or cycling. When paired with a compatible smartphone, you can receive notifications and use Garmin Pay™ contactless payments. Also when paired with a smartphone, the watch will sense an incident and send your location to emergency contacts.
- GPS combines with two other systems to provide accurate tracking capability.
- A multitude of activity monitoring, including built-in activity profiles.
- Customize what features you’re using to extend battery life.
- Garmin is known for its GPS products.
- Despite the ability to adjust battery modes, this watch will need lithium battery replacement on a regular basis if you use the advanced features on a regular basis.
- The multitude of features may be too much for some users.
Why We Chose ThisBesides the Garmin name being synonymous with GPS capabilities, this watch has a multitude of fitness features for the outdoor enthusiast. It has rugged construction with a stainless steel bezel to protect the crystal. A bonus is being able to monitor battery life and adjust settings to extend it. A great Garmin watch.
2. Suunto 9 Baro ABC Watch
This unisex training watch has GPS capability with an integrated heart rate wrist monitor and an atmospheric pressure sensor. It features support for over 80 sports. It’s ideal for cycling or running, and since it’s waterproof to 100 meters, it’s also ideal for swimming.
It also has new outdoor features for mountain and snow sports, along with navigation system improvements and storm warning. Hikers, skiers and trail runners will appreciate the exact altitude measurement provided by the combination of Barometric and GPS altimeter. That’s what enables exact altitude profiles and helps to identify meteorological changes, allowing you to cancel your trek if bad weather is coming.
Suunto’s value proposition states that this watch will take you from “the highest mountains to the deepest oceans.”
It features an intelligent battery system that allows you to adjust the battery mode. Switch between the three modes to get from 25 hours up to 120 hours of use from the battery. You’ll get real-time notifications on how much battery life is remaining, so you can change modes to save the battery before it completely runs out of power.
The Suunto website provides regular software updates.
The Glonass technology can be used in addition to GPS for improved tracking, providing quick and exact recognition of your position. There are also tracking and route navigation options, with waypoints and real-time breadcrumb navigation features.
There’s a graphic heart rate wrist display that shows heart rate even while resting, a step display and calorie display, including showing the last 7 days. The activity monitoring is 24/7. A colour display has 3 action buttons for toggling among the features. If you want even more detailed heart rate data, you can purchase separately the compatible Suunto Smart Belt.
The watch is used in conjunction with the Suunto App, which offers training insights and social features to stay motivated. It helps you track daily activities and workouts, plan routes, show activity maps, and calculate overall speed and distance using the GPS connectivity. You can also monitor sleep patterns and overall fitness levels, and share milestones on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.
- The 3 battery modes of the intelligent battery systems allows you to maximize battery life if necessary.
- Extra features are ideal for those involved in mountain sports like hiking and skiing.
- Glonass technology can be used in addition to GPS for improved tracking.
- It might be trying to “do too much” by providing data for so many different situations.
Why We Chose ThisThis watch might be better suited for a trail rider than a city cyclist, but it still provides all the data you should need for any sport. It has all the heart rate and activity tracking information, and with extra features like altitude measurement and notification of meteorological changes, this watch is great for an outdoor enthusiast.
3. Coros Vertix ABC Watch
This is a lightweight yet durable watch, with a corrosion free titanium frame and bezel. The watch face is covered with Sapphire glass with a diamond-like coating for added protection.
It’s also perfect for long expeditions with an excellent battery life and the ability to change modes to extend life. The battery will last up to 45 days with regular use, 60 hours in full GPS mode and 150 hours when in UltraMax mode.
It’s also exceptional for harsh expeditions, as it is tested to work to temperatures as low as -4°F/-20°C and in GPS mode to -22°F/-30°C in extreme testing. It’s waterproof to almost 500 feet (150 meters). It even has an enhanced knob allowing for easy operation even underwater or while wearing thick climbing gloves.
Athletes will appreciate its 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring and altitude acclimatization assistance. It provides analysis of your training load and performance, to evaluate your exertion level and provide recommendations on recovery, allowing you to perform at your peak.
- Lightweight yet durable, tested to extreme cold and 150-meter waterproof rating.
- Provides a precise analysis of training load and performance for those athletes looking for improvement metrics.
- The digital knob allows for operation even with thick climbing gloves on or underwater.
- Ability to adjust the battery mode to extend battery life is a bonus.
- You can extend the battery life, but eventually you’ll have to change the lithium polymer battery.
- On long expeditions, if you need GPS, you’ll have to know how to change the battery yourself as the full GPS mode has a battery life of 60 hours.
Why We Chose ThisWe like the feather light weight of this watch which is also an extremely durable and tough watch. You’ll hardly notice it on your wrist, but you’ll be able to operate it with climbing gloves or underwater with diving gloves. You can adjust the battery life, and you can track your training performance. Plus, it’s tested to operate in extreme conditions like cold weather and to almost 500 feet underwater.
4. Suunto Ambit3 Peak ABC Watch
This smartwatch has all the bells and whistles especially once it’s connected to a smartphone. You can then use the free Suunto Movescount App to adjust the watch on the go, sync your activities, and receive calls and notifications right on the watch.
Movescount can also help you discover new routes and provide you with training programs.
Athletes can use it to monitor heart rate, even while swimming, and to provide an activity-based recovery time. It shows speed, pace and distance and you can track multiple sports in one log.
You can also add photos during activities, share your moves instantly with the app, and create a Suunto Movie with highlights of your adventure, including a 3D map, key metrics and images.
The GPS satellite data and time are up to date wherever you are, and you can use your phone as a second watch display.
The watch also Suunto provides stable and accurate altitude and weather information, and full navigation capabilities. It features a built-in altimeter, barometer, compass and GPS, and is water resistant to 330 feet (100 meters). You can use it for route navigation and to track back along your route.
The battery life is also outstanding, lasting up to 200 hours with a 1-minute GPS accuracy, or 30 hours with a 5 second GPS accuracy. The case is made of durable polyamide.
- Offers GPS, altitude and weather information, and navigation capacity including a track back feature.
- Expand its capabilities by connecting to a smartphone and using the free Suunto Movescount App.
- Use your phone as a second watch display.
- Track multiple sports in one log.
- Battery life is reduced if you need fast GPS accuracy.
- Water resistance is not as deep (woo meters) as some other sports watches.
Why We Chose ThisCombine this Suunto watch with your smartphone and you get all kinds of navigation features on the digital display plus you can have some fun. Get stable and accurate altitude and weather information, full navigation capabilities, the ABC functionality of an altimeter, barometer, and compass, and of course GPS. Then use the Suunto Movescount App to discover new routes, get training programs, add photos during activities, and create Suunto Movies with highlights of your adventure.
5. Casio Pro Trek Solar ABC Watch
As the name suggests, this timepiece is created for backpackers, hikers, and people who usually have an active outdoor lifestyle (whether it’s for work or for fun).
Equipped with Tough Solar Power technology, the Pro Trek PRW2500T is a solar-powered, digital sports watch. This means that you can use sunlight to recharge the battery, which will hold about 5 months on a full charge with all the features available and without any further charging. In Power Saving mode the watch is supposed to last for about 23 months.
Other features that make this watch stand out are Multi-Band Atomic Timekeeping, Tide Graph, Moon Data, digital compass, altimeter (with the possibility to save data), barometer, thermometer, and more. In addition, its water-resistance and EL backlight with afterglow, make it a fantastic tool for divers and people who are usually around water.
As a timekeeper, the Pro Trek is equipped with a stopwatch, countdown timer, five alarms, full auto-calendar programmed until 2099, 12/24h formats, and more.
In terms of design, this is a rather bulky watch with lots of buttons and plenty of information displayed at almost any time. Still, due to the titanium bracelet, it is not as heavy as you’d expect. It’s also complex, due to the multitude of features it has to offer, so it takes a bit of reading the instructions and playing with the settings to learn what it does.
- Durable design with lots of cool features
- Bi-directional stainless steel compass bezel
- Atomic Timekeeping for increased reliability
- Solar-powered with a good power reserve
- Good water resistance
- The interface is a bit complex
- The design is bulky and large
- You must take it off for accurate temperature reading
Why We Chose ThisIf you ignore its bulky design and confusing aspect (at first), this is one of the best solar powered watches on the market. It has great water-resistance and durability due to the stainless steel – titanium build and comes with Casio’s famous EL backlight. It also has a ton of amazing features for outdoor adventurers, hunters, fishermen, and other outdoor-related jobs. Overall, it is practical, durable, and keeps extremely accurate time! In summary, a great Casio men's Pro Trek watch.
6. Garmin Epix ABC Watch
Garmin calls the Epix a first-of-its-kind mapping watch. In fact, the rectangular touchscreen display and the GPS+ GLONASS feature makes it look like a portable GPS device that fits on your wrist.
The watch comes with 8 GB built-in memory (to load up maps such as TOPO U.S. 24K and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery) and has great GPS reception due to the stainless steel EXO antenna. Furthermore, by using pan/swipe movements on the screen, you can zoom in/out of a map which is extremely useful on a screen that small (for a navigator).
Of course, no good mapping watch should be without an altimeter and a barometer! The watch has auto-calibrating ABC sensors that provide real-time information on elevation and weather changes. Even more, the Epix also has a 3-axis compass, which will come in handy when you’re hiking. We also like that the display is visible in sunlight and that there are lots of cool watch faces and other widgets users can download from the Connect IQ app.
Furthermore, you can keep up to date with the data gathered by the watch as it connects with Garmin Connect, LiveTrack, and social media accounts. It is compatible with most mobile devices and receives notifications on texts, emails, and more.
Lastly, the Epix is not just a maps watch. It also has activity and sleep tracking, alarms and move reminders, several sports profiles, and more. Also, the life of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery is pretty good with up to 16 weeks in watch mode and up to 24h in GPS mode.
- Lightweight and durable design
- Big touchscreen surface
- Easy to use software and tools
- 8GB internal memory for maps
- Fitness tracking capabilities
- Topo maps increase the price
- The storage memory is only for maps
- Plenty of complex features
Why We Chose ThisThe Garmin Epix is, without a doubt, an outdoor watch. It is perfect for people who need to explore wide areas of terrain and don’t want to carry too much equipment. Its auto-calibrating ABC sensors make it one of the best barometric pressure watches on the market, even though it doesn’t have a heart rate sensor and it features a rather bulky design.
7. Garmin Forerunner 935 ABC Watch
The 935 is the quintessential triathlon watch from Garmin. It is designed for durability and it focuses on delivering useful information for the active person. The slick design is easy to pair with a casual and/or sports outfit because it’s an all-black, lightweight build.
The screen is not sensitive to touch, but you can use the side buttons to scroll through the apps. The menu is built around the active person who practices a wide range of sports such as running, swimming, cycling, and more. On the back of the case, there is a heart rate sensor and inside it, a GPS+GLONASS module.
It also has features that are useful to athletes looking to measure their progress. For instance, there is an UltraTrack mode (reliable due to the built-in gyroscope), and the possibility to follow metrics such as ground contact time and stride length.
All these features also help you measure your training status, to indicate if you’re undertraining or overdoing it. In addition, it has a built-in barometer, altimeter, and electronic compass which can be extremely useful while hiking or running long distances.
Forerunner 935 also features smart notifications, music control, automatic uploads and connects to the Garmin app for custom Watch faces and apps. It is compatible with most mobile devices (iOS and Android) and it works with other Garmin devices designed for tracking sports or it can be paired with external sensors (for more accurate tracking).
Lastly, the Forerunner 935 has a better battery life than other similar models from Garmin (up to 24h in GPS mode and up to 2 weeks in watch mode) and it comes with built-in WiFi.
- Beautiful design that’s easily paired with lots of outfits
- Lightweight & durable
- Provides advanced dynamics for several sports
- Ideal for monitoring one’s performance
- Compatible with a wide range of devices
- Not very accurate for swimmers
- The screen is not too visible in dim light
- The notification system is a bit finicky
Why We Chose ThisThe Forerunner 935 is a nice GPS altimeter watch with lots of features for athletes who want to measure and improve their performance. It is lightweight, durable, and it blends nicely with both sports and casual outfits. It packs a lot of advanced sensors, it has WiFi, and the battery life is decent when in full-work mode. Overall, it’s a nice timepiece with plenty of modern features and lots of advanced technologies.
Altimeter (ABC) Watch Buying Guide
Design & Size
The design of a wrist altimeter is built around durability and ease of use. As such, most ABC watches have a large display and a slim profile (where possible). In addition, the materials used are thought to be water and shock-resistant which is why you won’t find many luxurious designs in this category.
However, this doesn’t mean the design of an ABC watch is not attractive. They can be accessorized with casual and sport outfits, which is why many users wear them every day.
Barometer watches are designed to be comfortable so they must be lightweight (to not strain the wrist). Also, the materials used (silicon for the strap and reinforced polymer or stainless steel for the case) are durable, but lightweight.
Overall, an altimeter watch must feel secure on the wrist and easy to use, regardless of the main interface (controls, touchscreen, or both).
Given that an ABC watch is more of a sports-oriented device, it has to feature a durable and comfortable design (as we already discussed). Still, there are three important features that set these timepieces aside from the other products on the market: altimeter, barometer, compass.
The altimeter is the feature that measures altitude and provides real-time data about elevation. It also monitors the ascend and descend as you move up or down.
This is possible because the altimeter responds to air pressure. As such, the higher you go, the less air it is, and the closer to sea level, the more air pressure. This allows altimeter watches to follow altitude changes in increments of 3 ft (1m).
The barometer also works by measuring air pressure, but its job is to alert you about changes in the weather. The information read by the barometer in your watch is used by some of the gadgets on these devices, so you don’t have to do the interpretation yourself.
The compass is used for navigation and, when paired with a GPS module, it can be quite accurate.
GPS Altimeter Watches
The GPS module’s purpose on an ABC watch is twofold. First, it helps with navigation and keeping accurate track of your position on a given terrain. Second, the GPS is used by fitness monitoring apps to track distances and speed and calculate calories burnt, numbers of steps and more.
Now, an altimeter watch doesn’t need a GPS module to function correctly, but it is highly recommended to find a product that’s equipped with such an item. It is quite useful for a wide array of applications.
Luckily, most modern ABC watches are equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that holds its ground even when you’re using the watch in GPS mode. However, most batteries don’t last more than 24h if WiFi or BT is heavily used. Also, ABC watches that use topographic maps for navigation, may last even less time.
The secret to good battery life stands in how you use the watch. As such, if you don’t need to know the bearings of your location, it’s best to turn off the GPS and other consuming modules. In watch mode, the battery should last at least a few days.
Frequently Asked Questions
ABC actually stands for altimeter, barometer, and compass. These wrist devices come with advanced functions that can go beyond standard time-telling. ABC watches are great for athletes, sports people, outdoor adventurers, hikers, and people who work on wide areas of terrain. The built-in sensors track fitness activities and athletic performance. Many ABC watches come equipped with mobile connectivity features like WiFi or Bluetooth to display data on the user’s mobile device. ABC watches usually contain electronic versions of basic weather instruments (buttons instead of dials).
Yes! ABC watches not only look like normal wrist devices but also contain electronic versions of basic weather instruments (buttons instead of dials). These advanced functions make ABC watches suitable for hikers who need data to plan their next step in advance. Every hiker knows it is extremely dangerous to get lost in a storm. ABC watches can provide data of atmospheric pressure, air temperature and humidity, altitude, and direction. ABC watches come with GPS connectivity for added convenience.
ABC watches are more durable than ABC activity trackers because ABC watches have ABC sensors integrated into them while ABC activity trackers may not have many features at all or just come with basic step counters.