Garmin Descent MK1 Review

Today’s smartwatches are like smartphones wrapped around your wrist.

They can do everything from telling the time and monitoring your health all the way to receiving phone calls. 

For that reason, manufacturers are adapting smartwatches to various activities, and the Garmin Descent MK1 is an excellent example of that.

The smartwatch is designed for various activities, including gym, hiking, mountain climbing, and diving.

Also known as an intelligent GPS dive computer, the Garmin Descent MK1 is famed for functioning efficiently underwater.

But is it any good? In this article, we’ll take you through a detailed review of its features, tech specifications, pros, and cons. Ready? Let’s dig in. 

Garmin Descent MK1 Review: At a Glance


With the MK1, Garmin designed an all-in-one super-smart GPS dive computer that integrates most smartwatch functionalities and improves their flaws.

In addition, the device is compatible across all platforms, including Android, iOS, and Windows.

The MK1 is a multi-activity device with several smartphone features that helps divers plan their underwater adventure intuitively.

With a crystal clear sapphire screen and easily customizable features, the MK1 is state of the art.


  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Multifunctional smartwatch
  • Easily customizable features 
  • Easily illuminate screen
  • Compatible across platforms, including Android, iOS, and Windows


  • Comparatively pricey
  • No air integration
  • Narrow screen size

Rock-Solid Crystal Clear Screen 

The Garmin Descent MK1 is a full-touch colored screen with a 30.4mm screen size and a user-friendly interface.

Plus, the screen’s glass is made from rock-solid sapphire crystal material.

That material not only makes the screen scratch-resistant but also empowers it to withstand cracks and breakages.

So, with this long-lasting crystal clear screen, you don’t have to strain your eyes while checking notifications or reviewing the data from your last activity.

What’s more, you can easily customize the look of the screen to suit your preferences.

For example, you can choose what data you want the home screen to display, the background, color, and more. 

Easily Replaceable and Customizable Strap

The Garmin Descent MK1 strap comes in two forms: the already fixed titanium strap and an additional long and short silicone dive strap.

So, for all divers looking for a watch band that fits perfectly over their swimsuit, the MK1 has just the best fit for you.

You won’t have to purchase two separate smartwatches to mix and match depending on your outing or location anymore! 

Moreover, the watch has over 26 customizable straps.

So, right after taking that dive, you can hit the gym with your new pair of matching straps.

The good thing is that you don’t need any help removing and replacing these straps either.

In just a snap, you’ll get it done.

Slide back the latch on the band, align it to the watch, and release the latch.

As simple as that, you’re good to go! Of course, you can also follow these same steps to remove the band.

In short, there’s just the right band for everybody, regardless of your size or the activity.

That’s all thanks to the tremendous versatility that the watch has to offer on all fronts.

Portable USB Charger

Garmin’s MK1 USB cradle charger is lightweight and can fit easily into your backpack.

So, if you’re traveling, you can bring it along to ensure that your watch is always fully charged.

Plus, the charging dock’s USB cable makes it easy for you to power your battery.

You can either fix the USB shield into your phone’s charger head or plug it into the USB port on your PC.

Now, the USB cable doesn’t only allow you to power your watch – you can also use it to transfer data from your smatch watch to other devices!

In addition, just like the straps, it’s easy to set up your watch for charging.

Just gently sit your watch into your cradle to ensure that its four charge pins are firmly attached to the pins of your charger.

We recommend keeping these pins clean to prevent any charging issues as well.

Simple Navigation Buttons 

In total, the MK1 has five hand-sized metal buttons, each helping you perform specific functions.

For example, a quick press on the top-left button allows you to turn on your watch’s backlight.

You can also hold down on it to access the control menu, where you can perform several actions like powering off your Garmin Descent MK1 or viewing your notifications.

The middle and bottom left buttons help you navigate through your control menu.

Plus, you can move to your settings menu by long-pressing your left middle button.

In addition, you can hold down the bottom left button to view your home screen from wherever you’re on the watch. 

Now let’s talk about the other two buttons on your right.

The top button is your select button: it helps you select from the options on your menu.

Finally, the bottom is your exit button: it allows you to go back to a previous screen.

In truth, the MK1 buttons are easy to master and navigate. But, again, you don’t need a manual for this.

Activity Apps

If you’re a sports fanatic who loves to stay fit with several sporting activities, then the Garmin Descent MK1 is just for you.

The watch has numerous pre-downloaded apps that you can select from to track and monitor all of your daily achievements and workout statistics.

Examples of these sporting activities include running, biking, swimming, diving, hiking, golfing, mountain climbing, and many others.

Plus, your daily data is auto uploaded to the Garmin Connect app, where you can log in, review, and share the data.

You can also download other apps of your choice and all your workout apps from the Garmin Connect app to help you stay focused and on track with your daily exercises.

Moreover, you can personally set time alerts as to when you have to perform these workout routines.

With Garmin Descent MK1, the apps you frequently use to simplify navigation are displayed on top of your menu.

You can also customize the look and feel of these apps from your settings menu.

Finally, you can check your statistics on the last performed activity from your watch. That way, you can track your performance for a particular activity.


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Smartphone Features

There’s no need to keep checking your phone while working out. You can monitor all your phone’s activities and even more from your Garmin Descent MK1. 

For instance, you can either answer or decline calls from your watch.

Moreover, even in the deepest ocean, you can view message notifications from loved ones and reply to them later when you’re less busy.

Furthermore, from wherever city you find yourself, you can get live weather updates on your device.

Moreover, you can get timely alerts by setting daily reminders on important to-do activities from your MK1.

One feature that can come in handy to iPhone and Android users is the “Find My Phone feature, ” which enables you to locate your missing or misplaced phone easily.

Yet, there’re a couple of dos you need to follow for this to work.

Firstly, your phone has to be within the Bluetooth perimeter of your watch.

Also, the Garmin Connect app must be open or running as a background app.

Finally, ensure that your phone isn’t on silent mode. These actions may seem overwhelming, but frankly speaking, they’re easy to do.

If you perform all these actions, you’ll hear an audible sound from your phone when you activate this feature.

You can also use the signal strength option to find your phone, noting that the signal strength increases as you get closer to your phone. 

What’s more, you can find your MK1 watch from your Connect app.

All you need to do is navigate to Garmin devices on the app, select your watch, and hit “find my device.”

Without a doubt, there’s an endless number of phone activities you can perform on your Garmin Descent MK1.

Cool Features for Divers 

If you enjoy swimming or deep diving, the Garmin Descent MK1 is a valuable addition to your arsenal.

There are several fascinating functions you can perform with your watch.

First on the list is the auto start and end dive functionality.

Whenever you’re 4 ft. underwater, your dive timer automatically starts and ends when you reach the surface of the water. 

It’s an excellent way to record the depth and duration of your dive. 

Next, the device allows you to manually save and review dive data on the Garmin Connect app for up to 200 dives.

You can also delete old files from your log to help add new ones.

Then, share your daily diving achievements and new records on the app in a snap. 

Furthermore, the app supports multiple breathing gases for diving, including nitrox and trimix gases.

You can dive in either a single or multi-gas mode.

When diving in a single gas mode, you can only use one of the gases from the gas menu, with up to 11 backup gases on standby.

A multi-gas mode allows you to switch between multiple pre-configured gases. 

Finally, let’s talk about two other dive modes: the apnea and apnea hunt mode.

Both methods give you a detailed and faster refresh rate on your deep-diving statistics.

But, with the hunt mode, all audible tones are muted, and you can only feel vibrations with an alert. This mode is super cool for spearfishers, preventing you from scaring off your prey during a hunt. 

We can go on and on with the list of benefits the watch gives a diver. Indeed, the Garmin Descent MK1 was designed with divers in mind.

The Smart GPS Map

The Garmin Descent MK1 comes with a super-intelligent GPS map that’s also easy to navigate.

Never get lost ever again while in the deep sea, or when biking, or hiking.

Easily find your way back by marking the start and stop points of your destination on your watch. 

The map also allows you to zoom in and out and move to a specific area.

You can select that zoomed-in location on your map and hit go.

Following the map, you’ll safely get to your destination.

In addition, you can save all your selected sites to the Garmin Connect app to enable you to navigate there in the future effortlessly.

Another handy feature worth mentioning is the “Around Me” feature.

This feature helps you to navigate to your pre-saved sites of interest around you.

Once activated, the map marks out the start and endpoint to the destination. 

So, if you have this favorite go-to site you love to tour while biking or mountain climbing, you can save it to the app and visit it anytime you’re within that area.

Heart Rate Monitor

The three triangular aligned green lights behind the watch are the optical heart rate sensors that monitor your heartbeat rate. 

The sensors use the blood circulating in your wrist area to measure changes in blood volume.

Your vitals are instantly uploaded to the Garmin Connect app to enable you to quickly review and share them with the people in your social space. 

However, users have raised several concerns about the heart rate monitor.

You can avoid most of these issues by following these directions. 

Firstly, always make sure the sensors are in direct contact with your skin to help scan your heart rate.

It’ll be difficult for the sensors to monitor your heart rate if you wear the watch over your swimsuit or workout gear.

Moreover, ensure that the watch fits perfectly around your wrist.

The watch shouldn’t be worn too tight or too loose.

If it’s too loose, it’ll dangle around your wrist, preventing constant contact with the sensors.

Also, when the watch is worn tightly, the blood flow around your wrist cannot circulate freely.

This can prevent the sensors from monitoring your heart rate.

Finally, don’t wear the MK1 over skin tattooed areas. You’re good to go if you follow all these guidelines.

What’s in the Box?

When you purchase your brand new Garmin Descent MK1, you’ll find the following items in the box:

  • Descent MK1 with a band
  • Extra-long adjustment strap
  • Charging/data cable
  • Documentation

It’s worth noting, however, that the band varies based on the color of MK1 you choose. For example, the silver sapphire-colored MK1 comes with a black band. However, with the gray sapphire MK1, you can choose between a DLC titanium and a black band.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Download Music Files on My Garmin Descent MK1 Like I Do With My Fenix 5x?

The Garmin MK1 only allows you to play music from other connected devices. Unfortunately, it can’t be used to store or download music files like the Fenix 5x. 

But, you can perform most of the activities with the MK1 just as you do with the Fenix 5x.

What’s more, it has a long-lasting battery life of up to 14 days compared to the four-day battery life of the Fenix 5x.

Can I Respond to the Notifications I Receive on My Garmin Descent MK1?

You can view all notifications from devices connected to your MK1, but you can only respond to them with pre-customized messages from your Garmin Connect app.

Yet, this quick response to notifications is only available on Android devices. 

Are There Any Customizable Features?

There are several features of the watch you can easily customize.

For example, you can change the data values or use a preferred screen saver to customize the look of the home screen. 

Furthermore, if you’re not comfortable with the functional buttons, you can alter them to suit you.

You can even preset a combination of keys to perform desired functions when pressed.

You can do all these customizations from the watch’s setting or with the help of a downloaded app from the Connect store.

For instance, you can choose to light up the backlight screen of your watch with a few wrist movements.

Flip your wrist once to light up the screen automatically.

If you’re underwater, you can flip it three times to turn on the screen.

This feature can be helpful if you want to get a quick view of your current statistics without touching your watch.

Is the MK1 Compatible With Wireless Chargers Like Cell Phones?

No, you can only charge it directly with the USB cradle charger. 

How Long Does the Battery Last?

The Garmin Descent MK1 has remarkable battery life.

If you’ve been using smartwatches, you’ve probably run into the issue of having to charge them daily.

The watch’s battery can last for hours or even days after charging. Of course, this depends on how you use it.

The battery can last up to 12 days if you’re using it as a smartwatch.

If you’re using it in dive mode, it can last for 40 hours.

That’s almost two days of diving. 

As a result, you’ll do pretty fine on your dive trips, even if you don’t come along with your charger.

Finally, the battery can serve you for 20 hours if you’re using its GPS feature.

Final Verdict

We’ve all had our fair share of smartwatch issues, from switching from one watch to the other to charging it daily.

The multipurpose Garmin Descent MK1 can solve most of the challenges you had with your old smartwatch.

The device isn’t just a decorative smartwatch.

It has several functionalities that cut across all the activities you hope to find in a dive computer.

You can monitor your heart rate, check your notifications underwater, record and upload all your sporting activities, and perform several other functions.

Plus, the battery can last for days after charging.

The Garmin Descent MK1 is state of the art, integrating the functionality of all other smartwatches and fixing most of their flaws.

Looking at the functionalities and features of the watch, we can say that the watch is worth every penny of its price tag.

You can get yourself a brand new Garmin Descent MK1 from all stores across the globe, including Garmin, Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay. So, go ahead, get yours now, and share your experience with us.


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