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Polar Watches Review: Can a Sport Watch Level You Up?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post containing affiliate links. We received compensation and courtesy product from Polar in exchange for our honest review only. All opinions expressed here are our own. Learn more.

David has been covering men's style and grooming topics for The Adult Man as a writer and photographer since 2020. We asked David to sum himself up in four sentences, and here it is. Serial learner. Aspiring wordsmith. Bourbon enthusiast. Jack of some trades. Read full bio.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2024
21 min read
polar watches review sport and fitness trackers

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just looking to up your step count per day, sport watches are a valuable tool for helping you achieve your goals. However, finding the right sport watch can be harder than committing to running a few miles per week.

In this Polar review we’ll review three of their best sport watches to help you find the right fitness tracker for your lifestyle. If you feel lost in a sea of sport watches, we’ve got you covered.

Ready for all this data?
The Adult Man Image/Icon Image source: Polar

Bottom line: Polar offers a competitive selection of sport watches for men of every activity level. From training for a marathon to simply committing to walk more, Polar’s watches are well-equipped with functionality and health and wellness features to help you progress faster.

Ratings: The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service
  • Each watch supports up to 130 sports for targeted performance tracking
  • Detailed and accurate heart rate tracking
  • Performance and Recovery Tests to build your personal fitness profile by activity category
  • Nightly Recharge and sleep tracking to optimize rest and the next day’s performance
  • Comparatively affordable watches for the amount of features included
  • GPS route planning with Komoot
  • Strava fitness app integration
  • Battery life up to 100 hours
  • Watch displays have low resolution
  • There is a bit of a learning curve if this is your first time using a sports watch

When it comes to running I’m absolutely miserable at pacing myself. 

For those who are smart enough to not get themselves hooked into the masochistic sport of running, pacing refers to the speed at which you’re running a given segment of distance, like a mile. 

A well-paced run will build in speed to the end, with the first mile being the slowest and the last mile being the fastest. Or if you’re like me and have a penchant for sprinting from the gate like a greyhound, your first mile is fast and the rest of the run is a fight against going into cardiac arrest.

Someone once defined insanity as, “Doing the same thing repeatedly, yet expecting different results.” Tired of fitting the technical definition of insanity and still starting my runs absurdly fast, I decided I needed help in the form of a sports watch. 

I had seen ads for Polar sport watches on Instagram, and given that they had detailed running features I picked up a few of their watches to see which best fit my needs.

Keep reading to see how Polar stacks up against the competition. 

What Is Polar?

Polar watches overlapping on marble

Polar is the godfather company among sport watch brands. With the creation of the world’s first heart rate monitor in 1977 they paved the way for athletes to get under the skin of their training and optimize performance. 

Since then, Polar has been part tech company, part physiological and medical sports research lab. Each product they have developed and produced has unearthed deeper insights into effective training and recovery and helped athletes and regular dudes like myself accomplish our fitness goals. 

Besides physio-tech innovations, Polar also cares about the environment. All production is done in their own manufacturing facilities, which are situated in close proximity to their main suppliers to minimize transportation. 

In an effort to reduce scraps and waste, Polar works with approved recycling companies and encourages customers to send their old Polar products back to their repair center, where old parts can be reused or disposed of appropriately.

Polar Sport Watches

Polar watches are great for anyone of any fitness level that wants help achieving their goals. Whether you’re wanting to count your steps and be more active or understand how to be milliseconds faster in your triathlon events, there’s an appropriate watch for your goals.

Shop Polar

Things to Consider Before Buying a Polar Watch

Polar Watches from above on marble table

There are several factors to consider when looking to buy a Polar Watch. The first is cost, which dovetails into our other considerations. 

Sport watches can get relatively expensive, to the tune of roughly $1,000 for a premium watch with more bells and whistles than Santa’s sleigh. This is far from the norm, however, with most entry and mid-level watches residing in the $200 to $500 bracket. 

So, the first thing to decide is how much cash you’re willing to drop for a tiny computer that tells you just how out of shape you are. Polar has a Goldilocks and The Three Bears selection of watches (not too big, not too little, just right) with an appropriate range of prices. 

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Their cheapest watch is $150 and their premium, see-into-your-soul-and-tell-you-when-you’ll-die watch is $500. Considering that their main competition regularly prices watches at $700 – $1000, this is an attractive mark for Polar. 

With a fiscal range established the next consideration is functionality, which is partially determined by what you’re willing to spend. If you want a basic sport watch to monitor your heart rate, steps, nightly recharge, etc. Polar provides this and more in a sleek package for roughly $150.

Polar Vantage V2 mile splits

If you’re looking for GPS route planning, muscle recovery graphs, performance tests, and a fueling assistant, you’ll be looking at a premium watch with a premium price. 

The last consideration has to do with style, and Polar has taken significant steps to design watches that are appropriate for environments besides those where you’re copiously sweating. 

Several of Polar’s watches have the aesthetics to match your everyday work outfit, and Polar also provides a massive selection of wrist bands for each watch that can help you dress it up and down. 

Compared to other smart watch brands, Polar has an excellent selection of forms and functions at approachable price points.

Polar Watches Review

In looking through Polar’s product selection, I was mostly interested in multisport watches and I wanted to see what a few different tiers of their watches had to offer. I picked out the Vantage M2, the Grit X, and the Vantage V2


Polar Vantage V2 product box on white background

Polar’s watches come in sleek, compact boxes that are designed to showcase the watch’s aesthetics. The simple cardboard boxes feature a matte black exterior and glossy black logo, which I think is classy as heck. 

The box cover gives way to an informational packet with startup instructions and a basic user guide that introduces you to the functions of each button.

I’d recommend reading this quickly. I didn’t, and fumbled around for about ten minutes trying to figure out how to navigate through each watch, let alone turn it on. 

Each Polar watch has the same user interface and array of buttons, which I appreciate. Once you learn how to use one, you know how to use the rest.

Polar Vantage V2 detail shot in

After the information packet comes the watch itself. The packaging is designed in such a way to display the watch face without distractions, which drew me in to notice the details, materials, and textures of each watch. 

The cardboard piece that holds the watch cleverly hides two inner compartments that hold a USB charging cord at the minimum. The Vantage M2 came with an extra long watch strap, the Grit X only had the charging cord, and the Vantage V2 came with a charging cord and H10 Heart Rate Monitor. 

Each of these watches is equipped with the ability to monitor your heart rate through your wrist, but the H10 is a chest strap that gets more granular and accurate heart rate readings, for those of us with an affinity for precision. 

The Vantage V2, doesn’t come with the H10 monitor by default; it’s a specific purchase option that gets you a $30 discount on the price of the H10. Not bad!

Polar Vantage V2

If you're a seasoned athlete and you need a tracker with the kind of data granularity and precision that will help take you to the next level, the Polar Vantage V2 is the way to go.

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Vantage M2

Polar Vantage M2 on marble in shadow

The Vantage M2 is the least expensive of the three watches I got, coming in at $300. All three watches are defined as “multisport watches”, and the Vantage M2 is the baseline model among the three. 

That being said, it comes equipped with the vast majority of the total possible functionality that Polar offers, so much so that it took me some time to figure out what the difference between the three watches was. We’ll get to that later, though.

The first thing I noticed about the Vantage M2 is the case design. Featuring a stainless steel bezel around the watch face, this detail is not only sharp and sleek, but also goes a long way in protecting your watch from scratches and dents. 

Polar Vantage M2 bezel detail from side

The case itself is glass fiber reinforced polymer, and I noticed immediately that the watch felt sturdy, well-constructed, and rugged. In the interest of your eyeballs and attention span, here’s a few other important details regarding the watch’s physical details:

  • Measurements: 46 x 46 x 12.5mm
  • Weight: 45.5g with the wristband, 28.5g without
  • Screen resolution: 240 x 240
  • Battery: Up to 40h in training mode, up to 7 days with continuous heart rate monitoring, and up to 100 hours without.
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters

The Vantage M2 is the lightest of the three watches and also has the smallest case size. I’m used to wearing minimalist Scandanavian watches so even the Vantage M2 is a bit of an adjustment, but I actually like the size and heft now. 

The watch itself has a tactical look to it that gives me the feeling of being prepared for any number of unforeseen circumstances, even if there’s no logical backing for that. 

Polar Vantage M2 product shot from side

Isn’t that what fashion and accessories are all about, though? Besides the host of technical features and functions, this watch makes me feel like a cross between James Bond and Ethan Hunt, so I’ll keep wearing it. 

Each watch comes partially charged, allowing you to start it up and take it for a spin without being tethered to a power cord off the bat. On startup, the watch prompted me to download the Polar Flow app, turn on my Bluetooth, and hold my phone close to my watch in order to initiate the pairing process. 

Once synced, the Polar Flow app will prompt you to set up your profile. This includes your name, age, height, weight, typical activity level, typical sleep amount, and other metrics that help to establish a base health profile. 

One thing I noticed quickly is that the screen resolution is a little low. Maybe I had unfair expectations going in and wanted it to look like my iPhone, but I’m not sure that’s realistic. That being said, if you’re just looking for a solid multisport watch with loads of functionality, the screen resolution is the least of your worries. 

Polar Vantage Grit X close shot of tying shoe

The home screen of the Vantage M2 shows the digital time and date by default. Pressing the top and bottom buttons on the right side of the watch scrolls through various dashboards that serve as shortcuts to sections of the watch’s features. 

This is fully customizable, but by default includes your Activity percentage for the day, your Training Load, current heart rate, recent training sessions, your Nightly Recharge, the FitSpark training guide, and the weather. 

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Each of these home screens is interactive and allows you to dive deeper into the recorded data. For example, if I tap into the Nightly Recharge dashboard, I can see just how quickly I’m sliding towards insomnia. 

This dashboard also gives me a frightening amount of details about how my last night of sleep compares to my 28-day average, including the time asleep down to the minute, my continuity, long interruptions, number of sleep cycles, and percentages spent in REM, deep, and light sleep.

It will also prompt you to rate your last night of sleep on a scale from very poor to very good. 

My current Nightly Recharge reading is ‘Compromised’, which is oddly humorous in a “I’m on the verge of tears” kind of way. 

Polar Vantage M2 putting watch on

The Vantage M2, along with all of Polar’s other watches, allows you to select up to 20 sport profiles to have loaded onto your watch out of a possible 130 selections. These preferences can be established through the Polar Flow app, and then you just have to sync your watch with your phone to get your selected sports profiles onto your wrist. 

The selection of sports that Polar covers is wild. Ever wanted to know exactly how your body is performing during a game of Finnish Baseball? Polar has you covered.

I synced the sports profiles for running, trail running, circuit training, tennis, cycling, and volleyball. If I begin any of these activities and want to have them tracked, I only have to press three buttons and the Vantage M2 will start recording my training load and heart rate minimum, maximum, and variability at a minimum.

Polar Grit X detail on wrist

The granularity of trackable metrics increases dramatically for running, cycling, and swimming, which has made Polar’s watches a historically popular choice for triathletes. Since my skill in swimming is about as good as a handicapped giraffe and I don’t own a bike, I decided to check out how the Vantage M2 would track my run.

Besides the obvious metrics like time and distance, here’s some other data that all three of these watches track:

  • Maximum and average heart rate
  • Cardio load, which is a value from 1-100 of how much strain you put on your cardiovascular system
  • Heart rate zones, of which there are five that range from Very Light to Maximum and track the amount of time your heart rate spent in each zone. If you’re going all gas no breaks and feel like you might pass out, you’ll have a longer duration in Maximum. I found this to be very useful for gradually increasing the endurance of my cardio. If you work out, completely gas yourself, and have the majority of your workout spent in the Maximum heart rate zone, your cardiovascular system struggles to keep up the entire time and has no chance to slowly build its endurance
  • Energy used in kcals, with a percentage breakdown of how much was burned between carbs, protein, and fat
  • Average and maximum pace per mile
  • Average and maximum power output
  • Muscle load, which shows the amount of mechanical energy you produced during a workout
  • Average and maximum cadence, which refers to the number of steps or strides you take per minute
  • Altitude gained and lost
  • Detailed splits for each mile, or how quickly you ran each mile

The Vantage M2’s built-in GPS seems to do a good job of accurately tracking your mileage. I’ve run around certain neighborhoods of Baltimore frequently enough to know where my first mile ends, and the built-in GPS was right on target. 

Polar Vantage V2 running on wrist

Prior to Polar’s watches I had been using Strava on my phone to track my runs, but the watches make this a much more streamlined activity. I used to hold my phone while running and would have to press several buttons to see my current pace, but now all I have to do is glance at my wrist. 

Besides that I can see my current heart rate zone, which helps me to know whether I should speed up or slow down for a more effective run. 

Some other notable features of the Vantage M2 that don’t have to do directly with fitness are the Serene breathing exercises, weather, and music controls. The Serene breathing exercises provide a guided breathing regimen at the convenience of your wrist, which I greatly appreciate.

Polar Grit X Serene mode

Since fitness and wellbeing are both physical and mental, I’m glad that Polar has included a feature like guided breathing to help keep you mentally in shape as well.

The biggest difference between the Vantage M2 and the other two watches, besides aesthetics, is the lack of a touch screen.

Polar’s menus are easy enough to get around just using the side buttons, but it took me a minute to realize the M2’s screen wasn’t touch enabled and I’m sure I bore more than a passing resemblance to a geriatric grandma trying to use an iPad in the process.

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The Vantage M2 also has a fairly stiff strap, which can make it difficult to fit the watch just snugly above the wrist bone for consistent and accurate bodily readings. 

All told, the M2 is a fantastic place to start if you’re looking to dip your toe into the world of sports watches. Between its stylish aesthetics and robust offering of features, it’s a do-all watch for the fitness novice to the seasoned triathlete. 

Those of you who have an affinity for data to the extent that you could be mistaken for an android may feel better suited by the Grit X or Vantage V2, which we’ll dive into next.

Grit X

Polar Vantage Grit X watch face detail on marble

The Grit X is described as an outdoor multisports watch and is designed to straddle the line between a rugged, Bear Grylls adventure tool and refined timepiece. The watch is built to military standards, having passed several MIL-STD-810G tests, including extreme temperatures, drops, and humidity. 

True to its design for performance under duress, the Grit X has several power saving functions that will extend battery life even beyond 100 hours for those situations where it’s needed most. 

This watch includes every function of the Vantage M2 besides the music controls, and let’s face it, if you’re hurtling down a cliff on a mountain bike or BASE jumping, changing the music is probably the last thing on your mind. 

Polar Vantage Grit X detail shot on marble

From a physical standpoint, the Grit X is just slightly larger and heavier than the Vantage M2. Here’s the stats:

  • Measurements: 47 x 47 x 13mm
  • Weight: 64g with wristband, 44g without
  • Screen resolution: 240 x 240
  • Gorilla Glass lens on screen: screen glass so strong that this watch can be hucked by an angry gorilla and live to tell the tale.
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters

The case is made from extreme high-strength stainless steel and features a DLC coating for extra protection and sharp looks. The back cover is the same glass fiber reinforced polymer as the Vantage M2. 

Polar Vantage Grit X optical heart rate monitor

With the Vantage M2 touting a price tag of $300, the Grit X comes in higher at $430. Apart from the physical durability and construction, there’s good reason for this price bump when you look at the features. 

Here’s a list of additional features that the Grit X packs in over the Vantage M2:

  • Hill Splitter: tracks performance on the uphill and downhill segments of your training session
  • Route planning and turn by turn guidance: powered by Komoot, this service lets you run or walk in places you’re not familiar with. The only issue is that a subscription to Komoot is not given by default and has to be purchased after-market. 
  • Strava Live Segments: integrates with Strava to let you know when a leaderboard segment is nearby.
  • Compass: if you’re ever missing the Boy Scout days of your youth or want to test your skill at survival like Michael Scott, Grit X has you covered.

The Grit X is my personal favorite of the three watches. The watch strap is less stiff than that of the Vantage M2 and fits more snugly on my wrist, making it more comfortable for long periods of use.

If you’re looking for a feature-packed, outdoor multisports watch that you’re not afraid to get a little dirty or drop an entire building on top of, I recommend checking out the Grit X.

Polar Grit X

The Grit X is an outdoor multisports watch designed to straddle the line between a rugged, Bear Grylls adventure tool and refined timepiece. The watch is built to military standards, having passed several MIL-STD-810G tests, including extreme temperatures, drops, and humidity. 

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Vantage V2

Polar Vantage V2 detail shot of screen on marble

The Vantage V2 is described as a premium multisports watch. Like the Grit X, it includes all of the features of the Vantage M2, but also includes the features of the Grit X with a few added gizmos to seat it comfortably in the echelon of “premium watch.”

The first thing I noticed about the V2 is its sleek appearance. Where the Vantage M2 and Grit X are a little bulky and rugged looking, the V2 is streamlined in its case design, and even in how the straps connect with the watch body.

Speaking of straps, the V2’s straps are the most comfortable by far. They’re a silicone material that flexes perfectly around your wrist and retains its elasticity for movements that might otherwise feel like a watch was trying to choke the life out of your hand.

Polar Vantage V2 top view on marble

Through the course of a run or any other activity where your arms move a lot, the Vantage V2 has been the most comfortable to wear. The snug fit is just tight enough to not shift around as you move and not too tight to lose circulation in your arm. 

Here’s some quick stats:

  • Measurements: 47 x 47 x 13mm
  • Weight: 52g with wristband, 34g without
  • Screen resolution: 240 x 240
  • Battery: Up to and over 100 hours, including the same power-saving options as the Grit X
  • Gorilla Glass lens on screen
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters

The Vantage V2’s case is made from aerospace aluminum alloy and the same glass fiber reinforced polymer as the other two watches. 

Polar Vantage V2 detail on marble

Here’s a list of the features that differentiates the Vantage V2:

  • Recovery Pro: tracks your activities and rest and helps you to understand the recovery level of your body
  • Orthostatic Test: helps to analyze how you recover from intensive, frequent training and optimize your training to prevent overtraining
  • Leg Recovery Test: mostly used for speed and strength training, helps you see how recovered your leg muscles are
  • Running Performance Test: keeps track of running fitness progress and personalizes your heart rate zones, speed, and power
  • Cycling Performance Test: the same as the Running Performance Test, just for cycling

The Vantage V2 is all about optimization of your physicality, and does so in a sleek package that can be appropriate for casual and somewhat dressy events. 

Of the three watches, I like the button feel on the Vantage V2 the most. They’re easy to press, more responsive than the other two, and have a larger surface area. The only drawback I see to the Vantage V2 is the necessity of the H10 heart monitor for specific features, like the Orthostatic Test and Recovery Pro. 

Polar Vantage V2 optical heart rate monitor

The Vantage V2 and H10 heart monitor cost $550, which is considerably more than the Grit X but still less than Polar’s immediate competition. If you’re interested in the granularity of data that the Vantage V2 provides, you’re probably interested in a heart rate monitor as well, so I don’t see the necessity of the H10 as a big issue overall. 

I wouldn’t recommend this watch to the casual fitness enthusiast, or someone who’s just curious to learn more about their physicality. This watch is meant for committed athletes who need to optimize their performance down to the millisecond. 

That being said, this is a perfect watch for triathletes, marathoners, duathletes, and any type of dedicated athlete in between. 

Polar Vantage V2

If you're a seasoned athlete and you need a tracker with the kind of data granularity and precision that will help take you to the next level, the Polar Vantage V2 is the way to go.

Check Price

H10 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar H10 hear rate monitor on strap

The H10 heart rate monitor is a simple chest strap that uses ECG to keep track of your heart rate through the duration of a workout. With a battery life of 400 hours, you could go on a two week excursion and monitor your heart rate the entire time. 

As I mentioned earlier, many athletes prefer the chest strap heart rate monitor to wrist monitors because it’s more accurate. Basically what I’m saying is that if you aren’t satisfied with how clearly your watch is telling you you’re out of shape, Polar made a heart monitor to smack the nail in the coffin. 

Polar Vantage V2 with H10 hear rate monitor

I’ve always been skeptical of how comfortable these heart rate monitors could be over the course of a long run, but as it turns out, they’re actually quite nice. The H10 is designed to sit right below your pectorals, and the strap grips snugly around your torso without chafing.

Even after drenching the strap in Airplane levels of sweat it held true and didn’t slip or become uncomfortable. Thankfully, the strap is easily detachable from the monitor itself and can be thrown in with your normal laundry. 

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor

This heart rate monitor barely feels like it's there at all, but it stays accurate, even on a sweaty summer run.

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What Do Other Reviewers Say About Polar?

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Each of these watches had an average of 4.7 stars with several hundred reviews, so it’s safe to say that they’re well-loved. Positive reviews commonly cited the vast amount of features and metrics that are tracked by each and how the watches have helped them accomplish their fitness goals. 

Very few of these reviews mentioned training for triathlons or marathons, so I’m assuming the majority of the reviews are just from regular people like me who like to have a little more data on their fitness.

There were a few common complaints regarding syncing the watches with your phone, but I haven’t had any issues with this.

Overall, Polar’s watches are respected in the professional and casual fitness world and are known for providing valuable data. 

My Thoughts Overall on Polar Watches

What I Like

  • The watches are designed well and with quality materials.

  • They have more features and functionality than I’ll probably ever use.

  • The running data these watches collect has helped me to pace better and have more productive runs.

  • The sleep data has been scary, but in a good way. I’m putting more emphasis on getting rest and not being “Compromised” first thing in the morning.

  • Serene breathing exercises are convenient and effective.

  • These watches are affordable compared to the competition.

  • Polar has an approachable selection of wearables for every fitness level and goal.

What I Don’t Like

  • The watch displays have low resolution.

  • Route planning through Komoot is only enabled by purchasing a premium membership with Komoot. 

Who is Polar For?

Polar watches are great for anyone of any fitness level that wants help achieving their goals. Whether you’re wanting to count your steps and be more active or understand how to be milliseconds faster in your triathlon events, there’s an appropriate watch for your goals.

The Verdict

Polar is dedicated to producing scientifically rigorous products that will help you achieve and monitor your fitness goals. As some of the first players in the fitness tracker space, they’ve maintained their initial quality and still offer reliable products to both casual and professional athletes.

Their succinct but comprehensive collection of fitness trackers provides something for everyone, regardless of fitness level, without being overwhelming. If you’d like a basic sports watch with functionality that leaves you room to grow, consider the Vantage M2.

If you want more data and functionality than you can shake a stick at, check out the Grit X and Vantage V2 for a more premium selection.

Polar Sport Watches

Polar watches are great for anyone of any fitness level that wants help achieving their goals. Whether you’re wanting to count your steps and be more active or understand how to be milliseconds faster in your triathlon events, there’s an appropriate watch for your goals.

Shop Polar


Are Polar watches any good?

Polar watches are particularly good for runners, thanks to the company’s training and recovery tools.

Which Polar watch is best?

While some Polar watches are meant for specific activities, the best Polar watch overall is the Vantage V2.

Is Garmin or Polar better?

Some of the answer to this will be subjective, but it’s widely accepted that Polar is better at monitoring the impact of training over time, making Polar the better pick.