Garmin Quatix, best ‘aquatics’ watch yet?

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

45 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Yes, maybe I should have waited a while to write about this because it seems like the embargoed press release that Garmin sent out a while back was a bit vague 😉
    For instance, now it looks like the watch’s MOB function is actually an active and automatic system something like Raymarine’s LifeTag (which also uses ANT, I think): “Should a crewmember wearing a quatix fall overboard, quatix will automatically send an MOB alert to the chartplotter (requires GNT™ 10 NMEA Transceiver sold separately).”
    The Qautix also includes a temperature sensor or may be able to talk with the wireless “tempe” sensor listed as an accessory, or maybe both!? Charging is by USB, which also handles the connection with HomePort planning software. Getting to an iPad running BlueChart Mobile probably requires an ANT dongle, but since Garmin is also out with the N2K ANT transciever, will it let BCM connect to that too?
    There’s a little more info on the GNT10 transciever up, like the $200 price:
    Finally, I notice a “map” command on one of the Quatix screens I hadn’t seen before. A map in 70×70 pixels? Well, there’s no illustration but maybe it’s something like what Garmin is doing on the “fēnix” hiking watch, which actually looks quite similar to the “quatix”:

  2. Bill Bishop says:

    Ben, I want this. How cool. I would buy it today if I could. I suspect that this is a portent of new products very soon to come, and a lot of it.

  3. Paul says:

    This will be very attractive if I can get NMEA data out of the nav station and onto the wrist’s of my rail meat.
    P.S. Garmin, please introduce an updated MFD soon.

  4. M. Dacey says:

    Hmm. Just as I prefer APs to steer to a course and not to a waypoint, which encourages a process of observation and corrections for set, drift and other variables, I’m not sure this is a great idea. I like the concept of some kind of COB integration with a watch: imagine the “traditional” lookout pointing at a COB who is periodically vanishing behind a swell. The lookout could point with some kind of verification of bearing based on some sort of Lifetag.
    But AP through a wristtop thingie, plus GPS, plus baro, plus time? Too many eggs, not enough basket, I think.
    I’m no Luddite: I have a venerable Suunto Vector that I consult regularly for its compass and particularly baro features, but its battery lasts 9-12 months, not days to mere hours. I also think it would be a special kind of connector to charge every day at sea and not turn into green slush.
    I would, however, like to hear more when more is known.

  5. Reed Erskine says:

    OK, now that I’m totally confused by the features of a watch that isn’t available yet…Ben’s take on an MOB beacon that tells the AP where to go to pick up the MOB is a brilliant idea, particularly for single handed sailors. The possibility of being run over by your own boat aside, I think you’re onto something Ben, and it sounds quite doable, though not probably by a watch.

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Sorry to be confusing, Reed! I just rewrote the opening paragraph to better reflect the information Garmin released today. Yes, apparently you can change autopilot heading with the watch. And, yes, if you fall overboard apparently the lost ANT connection will trigger an MOB alarm on a Garmin MFD and/or tell the AP to reverse direction. Obviously a lot of things would have to go right for a singlehander to get back aboard successfully, but then again it might a good start for a boat with two or more crew.
    Since this is all being done via NMEA 2000 messages it will be interesting to see what works across brands. I’d guess that the MOB alarm is quite possible, but the AP control not so much.

  7. Bushman says:

    Garmin Fenix watch also have (undocumented, but working) map display feature. Some people managed to put there simple trail maps and that’s good to have it for emergency, like a spare gun.

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    GPSTrackLog has a thorough review of the Garmin Fenix:
    Aside from different boating and hiking oriented software features, it seems very similar to the Quatix with two interesting exceptions. It claims 50 hours of battery life with GPS on (though maybe sleeping intermittently) and it also has Bluetooth for direct connection to mobile devices.
    I think it’s possible that the Quatix also has Bluetooth. Garmin is a little sneaky about such stuff. For instance, the Quatix “Specs” don’t list any kind of wireless. And when the GPSMap 741 Series was announced in November, at first they just said ‘full wireless capability’ but later told me that it had “WiFi, Bluetooth, and ANT”. Ant is still not listed in the specs and may have been a mistake.
    At any rate, I think Bill’s right about lots of things to come, with lots of wireless options.

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Harrumph! Perhaps an underlying theme to this entry is that Garmin is a huge powerhouse of innovation but also so big that few people know, or dare say, what’s actually going on.
    At any rate, now it turns out that while the Quatix does provide automatic MOB (or COB) alarms and a Garmin AP can reverse course for it, there is a human command needed in between. Probably a good idea when I think about it, but sorry singlehanders.
    On the other hand, I’m feeling a bit like a good detective because now I’m hearing that the Quatix does indeed have Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) — though mentioned nowhere — and thus can connect directly to several recent iPad and iPhone models. Holy Batman!

  10. Xavier Itzmann says:

    You gotta love the Quatix website, which includes a “gallery.”
    The second picture shows a boat full of B&G displays (at least 4 in the picture).
    {Please don’t write; we now know that they are actually Nexus displays, and Xavier is embarrassed. Read on. — editor}
    That’s what happens when brands outsource website creation/management to advertising agencies… the ad agency drones typically have no concept of the product they are being paid to peddle.
    By the way, I will be getting the Quatix.

  11. Kees says:

    I would bet that this is based on TI’s Chronos watch wireless development kit.
    When that came out 2 years ago I had the same idea to build an AP remote control. I even bought two of the kits. It never happened of course — so many ideas, so little time!
    The TI RF SoC is a single chip that contain both the microprocessor (and memory etc) as well as the radio. The radio can be provided in three frequencies, but Garmin probably uses the one that can be used globally which is 433 MHz.

  12. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Kees, doesn’t ANT wireless — which Garmin says it’s using — operate in the 2.4 GHz range? I see that TI makes a chip with both ANT and BLE which sounds more like this watch.

  13. Kees says:

    Ben, you’re right. I hadn’t realized that in capitals ANT is a full RF network spec.
    What’s more, Wikipedia says:
    The ANT protocol is designed and marketed by Dynastream Innovations Inc., a Cochrane, Canada based company, which in turn is a wholly owned subsidiary of GPS equipment manufacturer Garmin.
    Send me a hat and I’ll try eating it…

  14. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I do want to send you a Panbo hat, but only if you wear it! Interesting that Garmin owns ANT. I’ve used it excercising with a Garmin heart monitor and a DigiFit dongle that fits in my iPod Touch. No issues and I’ve yet to change the battery in the monitor…but then again I don’t get to the gym that much.

  15. Pat McQueen says:

    It would be great if the watch could also be my anchor alarm. I would love to be sleeping down below and have the watch beep as my anchor alarm.
    In addition I noticed that there is an ANT adapter for the iPhone. Perhaps I don’t need to use WiFi to have data from my chart plotter on my iPad and iPhone.
    Garmin seems ready to announce a bigger strategy. I wonder if we are just going to see products – Or a bigger strategy.

  16. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Pat, there is a mention anchor drag alarm on Garmin’s blog:
    “As an ABC watch (altimeter, barometer and 3-axis compass), quatix also provides pivotal marine datum such as COG (course over ground), SOG (speed over ground), and VMG (velocity made good), along with alerts for speed and anchor drag.”
    Aside: Why has it become popular to not capitalize the name of a product? Why “quatix” instead of “Quatix”?

  17. Kees says:

    I think the social media generations are trying to do without any capitalization at all. Maybe it’s the my-phone-is-supposed-to-do-that-for-me attitude?

  18. Julie says:

    Xavier – the graphics in the gallery are showing Nexus products. Garmin recently acquired Nexus, so those are technically Garmin owned products.

  19. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Julie. I asked Garmin about Nexus at the Fort Lauderdale show. As always, they were quite cautious about discussing future products but they did did seem interested in serving both cruising and racing sailors.

  20. Xavier Itzmann says:

    Ouch! You are absolutely correct, of course. The instruments on the Quatix photo gallery are Nexus, a Garmin subsidiary.
    My mistake, and quite embarrassing too! My apologies to the marketing team and I should be more careful next time with my comments.
    Quite frankly, if Ben could make an exception and delete my quite inconsiderate original posting, it would be appreciated.

  21. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Sorry, Xavier, but that gets too complicated. Besides it good sometimes to serve as an example to others, and most of us get our turn 😉
    I got confirmation from Garmin that the Quatix can connect via Bluetooth LE to an iPad running BlueChart Mobile, no ANT dongle needed.

  22. Graham says:

    I WANT!!!
    Two questions:
    1) if the boat is wired with a Garmin transceiver, can it use GPS coordinates from that for location and allow you to turn off the GPS receiver in the watch (saving battery)?
    And would it work with other autopilots or Garmin only?

  23. Bill Bishop says:

    Good question Graham. In addition I wonder if data from the watch will upload to the Garmin MFD’s, and then how would you select the data sources to stop any conflicts, ie an additional GPS, or a second barometric pressure data source.
    I don’t think The Garmin watch would talk to any other AP’s. That’s a pretty specific function and differs with each MFG.

  24. svHaven says:

    How about an N2K chain counter that reads on the watch, and chain up/down buttons on the phone? How cool would that be!?

  25. Ray says:

    Hi Ben,
    I wonder if it would work with the Garmin Gladiator TR1 which was there first autopilot that I had installed in 2008.

  26. Sandy Daugherty says:

    I’m exhibiting the dog’s side of Pavlov’s experiments.
    In time past, only the bacon thing worked on me. Thanks Garmin; I’m evolving!

  27. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    While it’s aimed mainly at sailors, the YouTube video Garmin UK just put up seems like the best summary of Quatix features yet:

  28. Dave says:

    Interesting that there is a few “smartwatches” coming out including an open source one – Metawatch, DiYers could knock up a similar version to quatix!!

  29. Kees says:

    I had the same idea 2 years ago when this came out:
    but I never got round to it. DevKit is still lying ’round here gathering dust!
    So many gizmos, so little time!

  30. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I was one of the 85,000 Kickstart “investors” in the Pebble watch, so I should finally get one any day now. SDKs for Android and iOS are available. Offhand, I can’t think of any boat apps for it, but I’m excited about seeing who’s calling or texting without having to take my phone out, and I think I’ll have very accurate time on my wrist…
    Reminds that one possible meaning of “Panbo” is Personal Area Network Boat. Really!

  31. Xavier Itzmann says:

    We saw the Quatix yesterday at the Miami show. It is a handsome piece. The bracelets come in black and gray.
    Now, carefully reviewing the documentation, it seems that the MOB functionality works only with Garmin chart plotters?
    So, MOB waypoints are not part of the N2K standard? At the end of the day, an MOB waypoint is just like any other waypoint, except it has a different data flag and therefore a different icon, correct?
    I think having the 1st mate and I wear these watches is a more natural alternative to wearing, say, the Ray LifeTag, and a nice backup to the real MOB systems (McMurdo S20/Safelink R10, OrcaDSC, etc)
    Curious in Miami.

  32. Walter Silva says:

    I was thinking if Garmin will release a Wireless, Solar-powered, Wind station like Raymarine Tacktick (former Suunto) that will support ANT+ to work with this watch…

  33. Nuck says:

    I got my watch yesterday. I downloaded the Garmin Bluechart software for my iPad as directed on the Garmin site. What did I find? It never worked.
    I contacted Garmin support to find that this does not work and may! be in a future release of Bluechart.
    In addition to this the temperature was reading 5 deg high.
    Here is the advice from Garmin “You need to buy a chart plotter and an external temp sensor”. After all its a watch.
    Can’t wait to test it on the water!

  34. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Nuck, I have a question in to Garmin about what is supposed to happen between the Quatix and BlueChart Mobile, but it’s obviously not working yet. However, the Quatix and HomePort pc software work beautifully together. HomePort automatically downloads any tracks and waypoints you’ve created on the watch and you can drag any other routes, waypoints, etc. you have in HomePort to the watch. It also handles Quatix software updates.
    I didn’t have high expectations of accurate air temp on my wrist but I think you’ll be amazed at how good the Quatix GPS, compass, and barometer are.
    But note that at least my Quatix sample is not streaming NMEA 2000 well. It does it, and it doesn’t matter the source on the boat, but many of the values are not the same as what you see on the boat. I’m sure Garmin will get it straightened out, or maybe either my sample watch or GNT 10 is somehow messed up.

  35. Check out the Leikr watch. It has ANT+, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, colour screen, GPS built in, and can use maps.
    Now if THEY made a nice sailing interface – that would be a cool solution. Maybe Navico should consider buying them – being a Scandinavian company 🙂

  36. SaltyG says:

    Does anyone know yet for sure, that if you have a Garmin Autopilot (GHP 10 for example), which has an ANT antenna already built in for remote autopilot interface…will it also stream the N2K data? Or do you also have to add the GNT-10 Antenna to get the streaming N2K data? Maybe the GHP-10 ANT system only supports the watch to autopilot connectivity? Thanks.

  37. Bill Bishop says:

    I’ve had a Quatrix on my wrist for a month, and I’m overall very impressed with it. As Ben said, it plays well with Home Port. I used it in a regatta last week and programmed the race course into it. It worked a treat. At every turn it produced the bearing to next, and gave us the XTE, and bearing. I have also driven a boat with a Garmin HP10 pilot with it and it worked great there. The Quatrix is influenced by your body temp.I know that maps and charts can apparently be downloaded to the watch, but I haven’t gotten that far, and the ANT doesn’t stream data back from the pilot. Current software is 2.20 as of April 12. I think there is much more to come.

  38. TonS says:

    The watch is now available and I’m drooling for one. Garmin sales team seems horribly uneducated. I’m waiting for a review on this site before I buy.

  39. Xavier Itzmann says:

    Now that the original quatix and GNT 10 can be had for less than $300, I got a set and have been using it for three weeks. It delivers on what I wanted it for.
    My use case is simple: we live on our boat, anchor out most of the time, and I rejected years ago the idea of installing an MFD or instrument repeater in our sleeping cabin, just out of aesthetics. But when the wind picks up at 2 AM, it is nice to not have to go to the nav table to see what’s going on. Yes, we have GoFree on the iPads, and on very rare occasions we’ve kept an eye on radar by the bedside via iPad, but it is not a “lightweight” solution for just knowing how much wind is there, for example.
    It took 1 minute to install the GNT 10, as my N2K net already had an open T-connector. The quatix, on the other hand, I played with for many hours because of its wealth of settings. I sent waypoints from the iPad via Garmin Bluechart app, for example. Most of these functions I will never use. I guess in a true emergency in the middle of the ocean, the watch’s world map and compass could be handy!
    In the end, I configured a couple of N2K screens: one I use at anchor, and one I use when sailing. If I know there will be some wind at night, I turn on only the boat’s N2K net, do 3 key-presses on the phone, and I have the info I need on my wrist with ease and very low power consumption.
    Four nitpicks: 1. N2K depth on the watch fails as soon as I turn on the boat’s chart plotters (!)(?) All other N2K carry on being presented on the watch. 2. N2K depth on the watch does not have the sounder offset. 3. I couldn’t get the “Anchor Drag” function to work at all, and not even with internal GPS nor with N2K. I have other resources for anchor watch, no problem. 4. The GPS antenna is so incredibly weak, that out of 10 battery-powered devices with GPS on board, this is the _only_one_ that does not work below decks.
    Notes: there is no other Garmin hardware installed (B&G boat). The quatix Garmin full manual .pdf download is a bit perfunctory.

  40. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Xavier. It sounds like the Quatix and GNT 10 are working well for you and I notice in the GNT 10 install PDF a fairly long list of N2K data PGNs that should show on the watch:
    But I also noticed that on Amazon the GNT 10 is listed as frequently bought with the Quatix 3 as well as the original Quatix and that’s troubling! Garmin seems to have changed the way they do ANT and it may be causing confusion. Readers should understand they can not do what you did and then later move up to the Q3. It doesn’t work with the GNT 10, only with Garmin’s latest MFDs. It also doesn’t have autopilot control or an MOB function, though the Q3 is an excellent smart/fitness/boating watch.

  41. xavier Itzmann says:

    Ben, yes, thanks, I had looked at the GNT 10 manual before, but now that you pointed it out again, I see the following.
    The manual includes “NMEA 2000 PGN Information”, and it reads:
    * Transmit and Receive: 3 items
    * Transmit: 2 items
    * Receive: 18 items
    Well, the way I interpret it, the GNT 10 is not a gateway N2K > ANT, but instead, it is mostly a sender N2K to ANT. It _receives_ from N2K a lot of PGNs, but it only sends to N2K a handful of things. I.e., it can only send _to_ N2K info about itself (to correctly show on a “network device list” as it does on my B&G) and a limited number of _commands_, presumably the MOB and autopilot commands that only Garmin hardware can decode.
    If this interpretation is correct, this would explain why GNT 10 is not at all compatible with Garmin gWind Wireless 2: it cannot receive wind data from ANT.
    Less clear is why quatix 3 is incompatible with GNT 10, but I have a hypothesis: quatix 1’s flaw of not having sensor offsets nor instrument damping is probably addressed by quatix 3 getting this data already massaged/managed by a proper chart plotter/MFD.

  42. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I don’t know either, but caution people to be very careful about Garmin marine compatibility these days. They’re doing some great new things in my opinion, but lots of backward compatibility has been lost while they change underlying software and communications like ANT. (The phenomenal VIRB camera WiFi integration is a good example, because it doesn’t work with older Garmin WiFi MFDs or older WiFi Virbs.)
    Incidentally, while the GNT 10 will not communicate with the gWind Wireless 2, the displays that do work with the gWind 2 do bridge the wind data to NMEA 2000, so it will be available to the GNT 10 that way.

  43. Fabian says:

    For anyone coming across this post when researching compatibility between the Garmin GNT-10 and the latest Quatix watch (Quatix 5), the GNT-10 is NOT compatible with the Quatix 5.

    On the GNT-10 page on the Garmin website this is not clear, it just states that the GNT-10 is compatible with Quatix. My Garmin supplier didn’t know this either, so I ended up spending over €1000,- and finding out that I was conned afterwards. Not happy with them at all.

    Repeat: GNT-10 DOES NOT pair with Quatix 5.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Hi Fabian, You’re right that GNT-10 page is not clear with its reference to the original Quatix… …but the Quatix 5 page does not list the GNT 10 among the many compatible devices:

      In fact, the Quatix 3 I’ve been testing for years wasn’t compatible with the GNT 10 either, but I have seen it pair with many Garmin displays. I think that Garmin changed how they do ANT+ wireless fairly soon after the GNT 10 came out, and it’s been messing some people up ever since. Compare, for instance, the two versions of the wireless marine remote

      They are very similar and use the same wireless frequency, but they are exclusively compatible with different generations of Garmin multifunction displays. I was surprised when the older RF model did not work with a newer MFD, but I had not checked the MFD compatibility list.

      • Fabian says:

        Thanks Ben for your reply.

        Since my original (frustrated) post I got another message from Garmin, that there is a newer version of the watch app that should work with the GNT-10. I’ve not yet had the chance to test it (coming weekend, I think). I’ll let you know how that goes!

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