The Best Watches & Heart Rate Monitors For Rowing You Should Know About

At the beginning of the rise of the smartwatch, athletes weren’t fully sold on how effective they would be as fitness trackers.

But it didn’t take long for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike to understand how useful a smartwatch can be.

Since they were first released to the public, smartwatches have been great tools for runners, bikers, swimmers, cyclists, and coaches, but only recently have we seen smartwatches begin to develop features for rowing athletes.

While it did take some time for rowing features to be developed for smartwatches, the good news is they are now here, and they be great tools in helping rowers truly develop their game.

And there are a lot of these watches out there, which makes choosing a watch that much harder.

But don’t worry!

In this article, we take a look at the best watches for rowing available on the market today to make choosing a watch easier and show you which watches can really help you push your game to the max.

Read on to find out more.

Best Heart Rate Monitors For Rowing – Quick Comparison

Product image
Editor's choice
Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire - Slate Gray with Black Band
2nd runner-up
Garmin 010-01769-01 Vivoactive 3 GPS Fitness Smartwatch...
Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, Regular fit - Black
Garmin fenix 6 Pro, Premium Multisport GPS Watch, Features...
Garmin Fenix 3 HR, Gray Performer Bundle
Product name
Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire - Slate Gray with Black Band
Garmin 010-01769-01 Vivoactive 3 GPS Fitness Smartwatch...
Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, Regular fit - Black
Garmin fenix 6 Pro, Premium Multisport GPS Watch, Features...
Garmin Fenix 3 HR, Gray Performer Bundle
Price
$349.99
Price not available
$279.99
$544.99
Price not available
Prime status
-
-
-
-
Editor's choice
Product image
Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire - Slate Gray with Black Band
Product name
Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire - Slate Gray with Black Band
Price
$349.99
Prime status
-
2nd runner-up
Product image
Garmin 010-01769-01 Vivoactive 3 GPS Fitness Smartwatch...
Product name
Garmin 010-01769-01 Vivoactive 3 GPS Fitness Smartwatch...
Price
Price not available
Prime status
-
Product image
Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, Regular fit - Black
Product name
Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, Regular fit - Black
Price
$279.99
Prime status
Product image
Garmin fenix 6 Pro, Premium Multisport GPS Watch, Features...
Product name
Garmin fenix 6 Pro, Premium Multisport GPS Watch, Features...
Price
$544.99
Prime status
-
Product image
Garmin Fenix 3 HR, Gray Performer Bundle
Product name
Garmin Fenix 3 HR, Gray Performer Bundle
Price
Price not available
Prime status
-

Related watch collections:

Reviews of the Best Watches for Rowing

1. Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire

Kicking things off is one of the premiere watches of Garmin, a brand that sits comfortably on top of the watch game.

This model comes in a very dark gray case, which gives it a very sleek and athletic look that can also work with more casual outfits.

The Fenix 5X Sapphire is a rower’s dream.

It has one of the best GPS systems in the world of smartwatches today and it’s also built to withstand the ups and downs that come with the sport of rowing.

It’s water-resistant up to 100m, so you don’t have to worry about ruining the watch while training, and it has a large display that can easily be read without distracting you from rowing.

The watch has a built-in heart rate monitor, but you can also connect it to a dedicated monitor so you can track even more advanced stats.

It also has multiple sport modes that you can switch between very easily, so whether you’re out in the water rowing, or going on a run to increase your cardio, this watch has got you covered.

Pros:

  • Easy to read
  • Durable
  • Anti-reflective display
  • Built-in heart rate monitor and GPS
  • Smart notifications

Cons:

  • The altimeter isn’t the most accurate

2. Garmin VivoActiv 3

This stylish model isn’t just a great watch for rowers, but a great watch for anyone who lives an active lifestyle.

It comes with the standard features one would come to expect from a smartwatch including an HR monitor, GPS, multi-sport modes, phone connectivity, and even contactless payment solutions.

It comes with multiple sport modes as well, which is great for rowers since training includes a variety of other activities that aren’t just rowing.

While this model shines as a running watch, it’s actually a great multi-sport watch.

It lacks in accuracy when calculating heart rate, but that’s to be expected from a wrist-based monitor.

The good news is you can always up the performance of the watch by using a chest-based heart rate monitor that can connect to the watch.

The GPS of the watch is very accurate, so it’s great for those who want to track their time and distance with a lot of precision.

A good watch for rowing, but a great watch for those who train with a variety of activities.

Pros:

  • Multisport options
  • Accurate GPS
  • Easy to read display
  • Easy to use
  • Comfortable

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have the most accurate HR monitor

3. Garmin Vivoactiv HR

This watch has one of the best heart rate monitors for rowing.

This is because it uses the Elevate heart rate technology that calculates heart rate on your wrist as opposed to the chest-strap monitors that are commonly seen.

It gives you accurate readings and it also has a rowing-specific sports mode, so you have no need to download any other apps to use it.

It calculates data by combining the HR monitor with the 3-axis compass, gyroscope, and altimeter.

This gives you a whole load of rowing data and other metrics after every training session.

It is by far one of the most useful watches a rower can have.

On top of all that it has a basic water resistance of 5 ATM, or 50 meters, which may not be the best, but it’s definitely good enough to be worn while on a racing shell.

Pros:

  • Great HR monitor
  • Calculates accurate rowing data
  • Water-resistant
  • Good battery life
  • Rowing-specific modes

Cons:

  • The display can be tough to read

4. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

This is one of the watches from Garmin that has been slowly rising in popularity.

This is mostly due to its great design and very useful features.

The first thing one would notice when looking at this watch is its look.

It looks very sophisticated and sleek, but it also has a rugged feel to it which makes it appear durable.

And it definitely is, as you have options for the case to be made of stainless steel, titanium, or DLC coating.

This will make sure the watch can survive bumps and blunt force very easily.

The watch is also loaded with a bunch of useful features such as HR monitors, sleep monitoring, GPS, and multiple sport modes.

That way, you can keep track of your progress whether you’re resting or training hard.

If you’re one who likes going on hikes and exploring when you aren’t rowing, this is a great piece for you as it comes with a host of pre-loaded maps that can help guide you through a hike or even a run.

With all those features it’s easy to see why this is one of the top rowing watches out there.

Pros:

  • Great design
  • Durable
  • Packed with features
  • Sleep monitoring
  • GPS

Cons:

  • Phone connectivity could have been made better

5. Garmin Fenix 3

The reason there’s yet another Garmin model on this list is that they make some of the best athletic watches, especially for rowers.

The Garmin Fenix 3 is a great example of that.

It has a large display, so you can easily read the watch and all the data it’s tracking while training.

The watch also has great water resistance, being able to withstand up to 100m of water pressure, which is more than enough to handle splashes while on the water.

It has some of the best GPS systems for smartwatches, with an Exo antenna that is great at picking up signal and calibrating your location.

The case of the watch is made with fiber-reinforced polymer, which is a very tough material, and we all know how important it is to have a tough watch when out rowing.

It’s also one of the less-expensive models on the list, so it’s great for those who are working on a tight budget.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Large display
  • Durable
  • Accurate GPS
  • Can track advanced dynamics

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have the best battery life

6. Wahoo TICKR X

This isn’t exactly a watch, but it’s a great tool for tracking rowing data.

It’s a dedicated heart-rate monitor, and it’s arguably the best heart rate monitor for rowing out there.

This device will allow you to have personalized heart rate training tailor-made for you and your abilities as a rower.

And on top of that, it connects to a bunch of different devices.

You can connect the monitor to your phone, laptop, or even watch (if it’s compatible).

That way, you can work out and train with the monitor and view all the data and metrics on your phone after.

Not only will this device allow you to do a whole host of different things while training, but it can also help you make the best training program for you.

For those who want to start rowing seriously and up the ante of their training, this might be the right device for you to get.

Pros:

  • Accurate HR monitor
  • Calculates useful data
  • Can connect to a phone, laptop, computer, or watch
  • Works with over 50 different apps

Cons:

  • Only functions as an HR monitor

7. Apple Watch Series 5

Closing out our list is one of the most popular smartwatches out there: the Apple Watch.

Aside from the fact that it’s an Apple device, the reason this watch is so popular is because of how useful it is.

Not only does it come with all the necessary features of a rowing watch, but you can also further augment your training by downloading rowing specific apps on the App Store.

It’s swim-proof, so you don’t have to worry about the device getting wet, either.

On top of all that, it comes in a beautiful case in a variety of colors, so you won’t have too much of a hard time finding the one for you.

Pros:

  • Convenient
  • Great design
  • Durable
  • Great battery
  • Great functionality

Cons:

  • Can be pricey

Why Tracking Rowing Data Can Be Helpful

best heart rate monitors for rowing

A lot of people can easily brush off rowing data as something that isn’t too useful, and sometimes even think it’s unimportant.

But that is far from the case.

Tracking your rowing data such as your heart rate, stroke rate, speed, distance, time, and etc, can give you a solid basis and reference for when you’re training.

Whether you’re rowing indoors or outdoors, if you don’t have any data or metrics to look at after your training session, you’re basically training blind.

By having a solid reference to check up on after training, you can more easily detect the areas where you’re excelling and the areas where you need to improve.

Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses as an athlete are the key to improving.

That’s why athletes from the high school level all the way to the professional level keep close track of their data and metrics to see where they can improve and formulate ways to do it.

Back in the day, doing this was very complicated.

Aside from needing a variety of tools to keep track of one’s time, distance, and heart rate, oftentimes, one would need other people to check on them and keep track of their data for them.

But with the steady rise of technology, now you can do all of that with one device.

And the best part about it is that you wear it on your wrist and don’t have to do a whole lot to set things up.

Gone are the days of separate heart rate monitors, speedometers, and timers, we are all currently living in the era of the smartwatch, and it’s prime time we knew that.

If you’ve been looking to become better at your sport, whether that be rowing, running, biking, or even skiing, a great way to improve is to track your data, and a smartwatch is a convenient and accessible way to do that.

Buying Guide

Now when looking for a smartwatch for rowing, there are a couple of things you need to look at, when we explain them in this section.

1. Water Resistance

First and foremost you need a watch that can withstand water.

That’s because rowing is an aquatic sport, and expect to get wet from time to time.

And even if you’re simply using a rowing machine for training, or running to supplement your activities, you will most likely find yourself sweating, so it’s important to get a watch that can handle that.

2. Heart-Rate Monitor

One of the most helpful metrics one can track is their heart rate while doing certain activities.

A lot of smartwatches out there have built-in, wrist-based heart rate monitors that require no extra tools, while some models require you to wear a chest strap or additional gadget to accurately track your heart rate.

Make sure to check what kind of heart-rate monitor a watch has before deciding to buy it.

3. Rowing-Specific Features

While there are a lot of apps you can download for a smartwatch that is specific to rowing, it’s also best to have certain features built-in.

Different people are going to need different features, it all depends on what you want to achieve through training and how you want to improve.

But the most basic features one would need when tracking rowing data would be stroke rate, distance per stroke, stroke rate, distance, and time.

You can add even more to that by downloading apps and programs specifically designed for rowing.

4. GPS

Any good athlete’s watch needs GPS.

This is because training would usually involve rowing a certain route, or running a certain circuit.

Regardless of how you choose to train for rowing, chances are you’re going to need some sort of navigation.

And having a GPS on your watch can make things much easier as you won’t need to take out your phone to look at the map and all you have to do is look at your wrist.

GPS is also used by a lot of apps to calculate certain metrics such as distance traveled.

5. Equipment Compatibility

If you’re training seriously as a rower, you probably won’t be spending all of your time in the water.

Aside from actually going into your racing shell, you’ll probably be doing strength, cardio, and endurance training.

This can be done in a lot of ways, but a lot of rowers use rowing machines to improve their skills when not out in the water.

Rowing machines are great ways to train conveniently and indoors and modern technology has allowed us to take our indoor training even further.

Some advanced rowing machines out there can connect to a smartwatch where you can see a lot of data that can help you figure out what areas you need to improve in, and how to get better at rowing overall.

Conclusion

One of the best ways to push yourself to your limits and become the best rower you can is having a proper training plan.

And instead of hiring a series of coaches, trainers, and investing in a lot of equipment, you can simply get a smartwatch that can do all that for you.

That way, all you need is you, your coach, and your watch to push yourself farther than ever before.

And now that you know which watches out there are the best for rowing, all that’s left to do is choose a model and get training!

Further reading:

Tips to Refine Technique From an Olympic Rower

Getting started with indoor rowing by the numbers