Simple to operate and accurate in what they do measure, these running watches deliver for the everyday runner.


Modern running watches have extremely complex functionality and get expensive quickly. But there is great value to be had at lower prices, too, both from watches that simply tell you elapsed time and record lap splits to GPS trackers that are dead simple to use. Read quick reviews of five top options, or scroll deeper for longer reviews of more picks to help you keep tabs on the essentials of your run—plus helpful buying tips from our gear experts.

Choosing the Right Watch

Even if you’re opting for a more basic watch over an advanced model, there’s still a lot to consider. The most important thing to think about is what features you need, and how you plan to use it. Is GPS-functionality a must? Does a wrist-based heart rate monitor top your wish list? Do you plan to use the watch for running only, or would you prefer cross-training features as well? Nailing down what you want your watch to do for you will steer your search, and also help pinpoint an expected price range.

Advanced vs. Basic: What’s the Difference?

There’s no “Golden Rule” for what classifies a watch as basic or advanced, but generally you can expect simpler watches to have fewer added features, greater ease of use, and a much lower dollar sign attached. If you’re unsure whether to make a leap into a higher price range, ask yourself how often you’ll be using the watch and the extra add-ons it might have. For example, do you plan to use it twice a week for a quick run, or will you wear it daily for every workout? And when you’re done sweating, do you want to keep it on for the rest of your day to use its other non-running features? Many advanced watches deliver savvy services like contactless payments, barometric altimeters, gyroscopes, voice-activated controls, and LTE cellular service. Some even let you order Starbucks, sync your full music library, wirelessly upload run routes to Strava, or create a customized training program.

Still can’t decide? Taking a peek at our top picks for basic watches is a good place to start. If you know you want something more advanced, check out Advanced GPS Watches for Runners.

How We Selected

Every watch on this list costs under $200 and offers some form of GPS run tracking—either built-in to the watch’s functionality or available through a compatible smartphone-tethered app. In addition, each model has also been evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and designers, and use our own experience tracking and obsessing over runs as short as 100 meters or as long as 100 miles. We evaluated smart watches from more than ten popular and lesser-known brands based on accuracy, reliability, durability, features, style, and value to come up with this list.

[Related: The Best Smart Watches for Men]


FitBit Versa 2

Versa 2

The new Fitbit Versa 2 updates the popular Versa with greater overall health tracking, over 15 goal-guided exercise modes, built-in Amazon Alexa, NFC for touchless pay, and longer battery life.

Why We Like It: The Versa 2 uses a larger, brighter AMOLED touchscreen that makes mid-run metrics easier to read with an app-friendly OS that expands Fitbit’s robust activity tracking platform. A health monitoring dashboard allows users to register fitness goals, and, for women, female health tracking charts periods, symptoms, and ovulation. Now-standard Fitbit features carry over: continuous, zoned heart rate monitoring; automatic exercise recognition (we’ve all forgotten to press start at least once); seven days of stored minute-by-minute motion data; sleep tracking; notifications; and more. While our tester would have traded some of these features for a built-in GPS instead of the smartphone tether, she was pleased with the improved battery life. After six separate workouts between Saturday morning and Tuesday afternoon, the watch’s battery still had over a third of its juice remaining.
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery Life: 2-hour charge gives 6 days


Withings Pulse HR

Pulse HR

Withings, one of the first to integrate fitness tracking into something more aesthetically pleasing than a black bar across the wrist, has also created what is arguably the most elegant version of the black-bar fitness tracker.

Why We Like It: This fitness tracker is more than just a pretty polycarbonate face. For greater accuracy, the band tailors its tracking—GPS (via smartphone Bluetooth), heart rate, distance, pace, calories burned, elevation, and steps—to one of 30 possible activities, including swimming. Plus, a sleep tracker monitors sleep cycles and scores your night’s rest. The device connects to Apple and Android smartphones via Bluetooth to tap into GPS, automatically sync data to its app, and display notifications from the phone.
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery Life: 2-hour charge gives 20 days in passive mode or 5 days in workout mode


Huawei Band 3 Pro

Band 3 Pro

Huawei’s Band 3 Pro is unique for its ability to provide feature-rich health and fitness tracking—including reliable GPS—for half the price of its competitors.

Why We Like It: This one boils down to accuracy. The fitness tracker and running watch market is filled with relatively inexpensive devices touting on-wrist heart rate monitoring and built-in GPS. Wear these budget devices alongside their high-quality peers, though, and you’ll discover their measurements for BPM or distance traveled (or both) are inaccurate by as much as 10 percent one way or another. Not so with the Band 3 Pro—repeated trials against trusted trackers have proven it reliable. Other big-league features include advanced sleep analysis with the help of Harvard’s Center for Dynamical Biomarkers, data-driven coaching, and swimproof design with swim style recognition.
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery Life: 12 days without GPS, 7 days with GPS use


Amazfit Bip


This watch has gotten astonishing Amazon reviews for its expensive-watch features at a cheap price. It has a slim design that’s suitable for both business meetings and track sessions, and is super light at 1.1 ounces.

Why We Like It: Ever experienced that moment when your watch had powered off mid-run, even though you’d only charged it like, two days ago? The Bip has a battery that lasts for approximately a month after being fully charged, so you won’t have to worry about never recording that 5K PR. The Bip also tracks your sleep, records multi-sport data (perfect for runner/cyclist unicorns), has a heart rate sensor, and notifies you if you receive calls, messages and emails on your phone. Ultimately, it’s the little watch that almost does it all.
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery Life: 30 days—days—with a 2.5-hour charge (45 days, minimal notifications)


Soleus GPS Turbo

Turbo GPS

The Turbo strips all of the necessary features some runners can’t be bothered to upload or track. Mainly, the watch tracks your pace, speed, distance, and calories burned. Auto laps do the work for you at a track—because who keeps count?—and the Soleus automatically pauses when you stop moving.

Why We Like It: The Soleus has all of the basics you need in a GPS watch when you’re out for a run—and a tad more. With the Turbo it’s the little things that count: a vibration notification for mile splits so you can stay in your zone without constantly checking your watch; a backlight with automatic night mode activation; and the option to create six custom interval training sessions with your speed, distance, and pace displayed for each.
Connectivity: USB
Battery Life: 8 hours in GPS mode


Coros Pace

$199.99 (33% off)

The Pace is the long-lasting, multisport GPS watch you didn’t know you needed. Functional and practical, with built-in barometer and heart rate monitor, it delivers any running metric you’ll ever need right there on your wrist.

Why We Like It: Mostly we like this watch because the battery is never-ending. Okay, fine, it will eventually run empty, but in two and a half months of testing, we charged the watch only three times. That’s all the more amazing considering all the advanced functionality the watch offers—GPS, optical heart rate monitoring, smartwatch notifications, and barometric-measured altitude. Anybody training for a race will appreciate that you can have up to five data screens, each with up to four different metrics, so you can keep all of your real-time metrics at a glance.
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery Life: 25 hours in GPS mode; 30 days in standard mode


Suunto 3 Fitness

3 Fitness
$139.30 (30% off)

This pretty ticker features a built-in personal trainer function that writes your training plan and pushes you through workouts. Plus, it’s some seriously good-looking wrist candy.

Why We Like It: Calibrate the 3 Fitness with your personal info, and the watch will generate your basic training plan for the week, broken down into workouts of varying intensity and rest days. Based on heart rate measured from the wrist-based sensor, the watch even tells you to “Speed Up” if you’re falling off the pace during a run, and can estimate your recovery time and VO2 max.

While the 3 Fitness lacks a built-in GPS, it does have GPS functionality when paired with the Suunto smartphone app on your phone—plus detailed sleep tracking and training insights. And as you complete your weekly training plans, the watch constantly reevaluates your overall “Fitness Level,” so you can actually tell if you’re improving.
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery Life: Up to 40 hours (in training mode without GPS)


Garmin Forerunner 45

Forerunner 45

While the Forerunner 35 is an oldie-but-goodie, this newer model has many of the same features (at a slightly steeper price) with a little more tech and fitness-tracking mixed in.

Why We Like It: A huge appeal for the 45 is a sleeker, color screen that still keeps Garmin’s reliable built-in GPS with rock-solid reception and adds a barometric altimeter, two non-negotiables for many outdoor runners. But the new features extend indoors, as well—and around the clock—with more cross-training modes and all-day step and stress monitoring. Plus, you can control your music right from your wrist (the Forerunner 35 supported Android, but not iPhone for this perk) and also feel safer with an incident detection that beams your real-time location to emergency contacts. The only drawback is that you’ll be reaching for the charger a little more often with a slightly trimmed battery life.
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Battery Life:
13 hours in GPS mode


Polar M200

$108.50 (28% off)

A brainy smart watch that boasts advanced functionality not commonly found at this price.

Why We Like It: While some smartwatches can give you sticker shock, many connected features have trickled down to more affordable models. The M200 is an all-day activity tracker with a built-in heart-rate sensor, accurate GPS, and basic phone notifications. It also downloads workouts (like intervals) and monitors your effort during the training session.
Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth Smart
Battery Life: 6 hours in GPS mode


Timex Ironman GPS

Ironman GPS

Timex had a checkered history with GPS watches, but its simple Ironman GPS proves itself as the bargain runners seek.

Why We Like It: The previous GPS watch Timex built, the One GPS+, was discontinued in mid-2017. It had an arsenal of messaging features built in so you could stay connected even when you weren’t carrying your phone. This all-new, entry-level watch, however, is the complete opposite. Timex promises it’ll be your simplest GPS watch ever. For just a Benjamin, you get a 12-hour battery and the ability to see swim, bike, and run metrics, plus time your transitions. To keep things simple, there’s no wireless connectivity, and you use a standard micro USB charging cable—there’s also no proprietary charging clip to lose.
Connectivity: USB
Battery Life: 12 hours

Gear Check: Timex Ironman GPS Watch
by Runner’s World US
A true love for sports

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