First Apple Watch activity tracking experience


I got my Apple Watch last week. Reason #1 to own at least one of these devices is my profession. Fortunately I’m finally able to test my watch apps with real hardware. It helped me fixing some minor glitches but nothing serious \o/.

Reason #2 (beside being a fanb0i) is activity tracking. All my cardio activities are recorded since 2010. I switched to Strava this year but I’m still maintaining my Runkeeper profile for community and history reasons. And finally Garmin Connect as interface for my Garmin devices. Tracking and syncing got painless over the last view years. Once I press the save button on my Garmins, all data is synced to the web portal wirelessly. Best of all, Strava fetches these activities instantly. No interaction required, very convenient!

And now there is the Apple Watch promising to be an every day device tracking distances and my heart rate from my wrist. And the best thing, it claims to work without having my phone with me. I’m using a Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS watch for running. There was one single reason to buy this device: I hate to carry my phone while running! The FR 610 is my running companion for about four years now. The watch case has a lot of sweat related verdigris and the battery needs to be recharged after every 2nd run. My initial plan was to skip the current FR 620 and wait for a new release of this model. Maybe I’m lucky and the Apple Watch will save me € 400,- (remember I needed to get one anyway).

I did my first two outdoor activities with the Apple Watch, a 1h run yesterday and a 2h road cycling session today. In order to calibrate motion detection the iPhone was with me during both sessions. The battery seems to be unimpressed by a 2h bike ride with constant iPhone connection. The watch was fully charged in the morning and I had 67% left after my ride.

I’m very surprised by the accuracy of the heart rate monitor. The average heart rate was just 1 beat off compared to the Garmin chest strap during both sessions. The distance calculation was 1km off on my 57km bike ride but also 1km off on a 11km run.

The distance difference while running is bad and not acceptable with the phone in range. I’m not sure if there was an issue with the connection or the GPS signal. I will definitely take my phone with me on my next runs to see if it improves. The FR 610 also had some signal issues on the fist km. This problem occurs from time to time, especially when I have to take a break from running like last month. Next week I will start running without the phone collecting more data compared to the Garmin gear.

I will share my results and the collected data with you in a few weeks. Stay tuned.