Garmin Descent MK1 review – Buyer’s Guide

Does Garmin Descent MK1 deserve all the hype? Is it suitable for you? Is a dive computer really necessary?

We’ll go through the Garmin Descent MK1’s features and functionalities here so you can make a wise decision about whether or not it’s worth the money.

Let’s get started!

Why Should You Get Your Own Dive Computer?

You may question after a while what equipment you should get for yourself after you’ve been scuba diving for some time. Finding the best mask for you is typically a good thing to start. However, a dive computer comes highly recommended after that.

An added safety function like an alarm or a buzzer to alert you if you’re ascending too rapidly is a great benefit of utilizing a dive computer.

There is a solid reason for purchasing your first dive computer, even though it may seem like an unnecessary process. You may remember utilizing dive tables to determine your no-decompression limits during your open water qualification.

My Experience with Garmin Descent MK1 Dive Computer

Garmin Descent MK1 Unboxing / MK1 design

You’ll see a sapphire crystal diving watch tucked in the sleek black package when you first open it. An extension strap allows you to wear it over wetsuits or dry suits that are particularly bulky, and it has a sleek watch-style design as you’d expect from a smartwatch.

It comes with an instruction booklet and a micro-USB charging cord to help you get started with the gadget and learn how to use it properly.

Garmin is a giant in the outdoor and sports technology business, known for everything from high-end multisport watches to dog collars. As a pleasant surprise, they have now entered the diving sector with the Garmin Descent MK1, their first-ever dive computer.

Despite Garmin’s maiden foray into the scuba diving sector, the Garmin Descent MK1 is a standout. It resembles their well-known sports watch in appearance, but it’s jam-packed with amazing features and functions for recreational and technical scuba diving.

Garmin Descent MK1 At a Glance

All-in-one fitness tracker and wristwatch, the Descent MK1 is more than a dive computer. Since it has comparable capabilities to a Garmin Fenix 5 X and allows diving, it’s frequently compared to one.

With a Descent MK1, you may safely dive to a depth of around 200 feet while choosing between six different gases. You can change your music, look at your calendar, check the weather, and get alerts.

It’s just another day in the life of an athlete like you, right?

Everyday Use

Garmin has done its homework and given its measurement tool to create a top-of-the-line dive computer that can hold its own against the best. With the Descent, you get GPS navigation, a large choice of diving modes, an HD color display, long battery life, and even a heart rate monitor all rolled into one device.

You may also use the Descent when spearfishing to help you find the fish faster. Because of this, the Descent is intended for experienced divers who dive regularly and can make use of all of the features efficiently.

It’s not a waste of money for these divers. It’s an investment in their well-being and future potential as divers. Beginner divers in need of an upgradeable dive computer should think about this item as well.

Garmin Descent MK1 Features

For many divers, diving without a dive computer is like driving without mirrors: once you dive with it, you’ll never want to go back.

Smartwatch Features

This Watch-Style Dive Computer is both a diving computer and a fitness tracker that also functions as a wristwatch. Text messages, emails, internet applications, heart rate, and so on may all be accessed easily.

Take your Apple Watch off your wrist and put it in your pocket with the Garmin Descent MK1.


Custom alarms, such as those triggered by a specific dive time or multiple depth markers, can be set up to suit your needs. It’s a great tool if you want a fast reminder when you’ve reached a certain point in your dive.

Allow the gadget to conduct all of the trackings instead of you having to keep track of it in your head. Therefore, you’ll be able to give your whole concentration to the dive.


Reset Functionality

For dive shops and instructors that rent out their dive computers, the ability to reset them is critical. If you ever decide to sell your watch and get a new one, it’s a good feature to have.

You can make your dive computer looks new by doing a factory reset. If your watch is functioning slowly, consider transferring your data and doing a factory reset. To restore your smartwatch to factory settings, go to the settings menu and choose “Restore Default.”

Multi-Sport Capability

For better or worse, the Garmin Descent MK1 is not only a dive computer, as previously indicated. It’s a fitness tracker that can also keep tabs on your performance in other sports.

For example, its 40,000 preprogrammed golf courses can benefit you while playing. The MK1 can even tell whether a skier is located one foot over the other.

So, if you’re a diver who also enjoys swimming, cycling, jogging, and other activities, this Watch-Style Dive Computer will come in handy.

Heart Rate Monitor

In sports watches, the heart rate monitor is a standard function. However, in diving computers, it is not.

Fortunately, the Descent MK1 now allows you to monitor your heart rate while diving. Since it’s more than simply a dive computer, there’s no reason you can’t utilize this function on land as well. Make use of a heart rate monitor to achieve a solid cardiovascular exercise.

Touch Screen Interface

This is for you if using the buttons to navigate is a hassle. Double-tapping the device and then scrolling with your finger activates the Descent MK1’s touch screen.

However, this robust training companion still gives you the physical buttons. There are five (5) function buttons on the Garmin Descent MK1’s bezel. Light is at the top left, followed by Select, Back, Down, and Up in clockwise sequence, starting from the top left.

Navigation with GPS and a Compass

With the Descent MK1’s GPS tracking and compass feature, you’ll never get lost again. Garmin Connect allows you to see maps and plotted points on your device or phone.

GPS tracking will automatically monitor your entrance and exit locations while the watch is set to dive mode. If you’re fishing from the beach, you may manually adjust these points to identify water areas with plenty of fish to look at.

When the compass is active, you may see your decompression information while also tracking your heading (a feature that is often neglected in other dive computers).

Deco Lockouts

Lockout is a feature you either love or hate on the Garmin Descent MK1. Its deco guidelines must be followed to avoid being locked out of the device.

We can see why this may be a nice feature in a novice dive computer. Even though this feature cannot be disabled on Suunto’s diving computers, it can be turned off on the Garmin Descent MK1.

However, we’re baffled as to why it’s enabled by default. Where did this feature come from? It’s on a computer intended for technical diving. Because it’s there, we suggest that you disable it.

Diving Modes

A total of six distinct dive modes are available on the Garmin Descent MK1. Five of these modes are common to most dive computers, so this should be no surprise (single-gas, multi-gas, gauge, apnea, and planning mode).

It’s a bit strange that the sixth mode is called apnea hunt since it was made with spearfishing in mind. Each mode will be discussed in further depth in the sections that follow.

Garmin Descent MK1 has six gas modes:

  • Single Gas Mode: This should be your default setting if you’re utilizing regular compressed air when you dive.
  • Multi-Gas Mode: This is useful if you use nitrox or trimix gas mixtures, including a blend of several gases like argon or helium and less nitrogen. Divers who use a variety of gases may go to greater depths and stay beneath the sea for longer periods.
  • Gauge Mode: For no-gas diving
  • Apnea Mode (Freediving): Different from Apnea Hunt, it is one of the other modes. You may keep track of your freediving progress using the tools provided by the app.
  • Apnea Hunt Mode: Apnea Hunt is geared around spearfishing, much like the previous Apnea mode. While it’s on, it blocks the loud sounds from your dive computer and any audible alerts that may otherwise alert your target.
  • Plan Dive Mode: Essentially, this option functions as a complete feature diving calculator. To begin, input the planned depth of your dive, as well as any previous dive data. The Descent MK1 will calculate your NDL for you. So far as diving decompression plans are concerned, you may go as far as creating one. Divers may acquire more precise decompression estimates by inputting the gas mix they intend to use in the “deco plans” option.

Even during a dive, you can change gases. However, this requires a few button clicks underwater. Occasionally, inaccurate time alerts and depth information may be presented due to user mistakes.

Automatic Features

The Garmin Descent MK1 takes care of a few things for you so that you don’t have to worry about making a mistake. For example, even if you don’t start monitoring your dives manually, it will start and stop automatically. Activating the functionality through GPS is all that’s required. It’ll handle everything else.

This watch has an altitude sensor built-in and can make automated adjustments whether you go down or up in altitude. The watch will automatically calibrate itself when the GPS tracker is switched on unless you do it manually.

Logbook Memory

The Garmin Descent MK1 logs all of your data as you go, so you don’t have to worry about losing it. The dive computer will begin tracking your dive data as soon as you enter the water.

Dive time, depth, water temperature, and other parameters are all tracked in real-time. A massive 16GB of storage means that you may record up to 200 dives before running out of room.

This is a huge investment. The convenience of having access to all of your dive data without having to worry about running out of space even after a few days of diving would be much appreciated by those who dive daily, possibly even several times in a single day.

Connect your Descent MK1 to your computer with a USB cord to transmit your dive logs. On the other hand, we prefer to use Bluetooth wireless technology to send data to a mobile smart device like a smartphone quickly and effortlessly. Even if you don’t bring your laptop, you’ll almost certainly have a smartphone with you.

The dive log may be seen directly on the device or through the Garmin Connect App on your smartphone. You may also use your smartphone to quickly review the findings of your most recent dive, such as how long you spent at the bottom of your GPS data.


The Apnea mode excludes tables. With the Swimming-mode on, you can keep track of your pool training by seeing your dive/swim time, turns, and overall distance.


While diving in Apnea Mode, the light may be left on at a specific level. The brightness ranges from 0 to 100%, and there is just one light button.

Seasonal Calendar & Mooncalendar

When linked to a smartphone, the smartwatch transforms into a weather, rain, moon, and meeting notification device. Garmin’s Connect IQ-Shop offers free downloads to let you customize the look of your display.

Decompression Mode

The Bühlmann ZHL-16C algorithm, used by the Garmin Descent MK1, is well-known for its gradient factors. It’s been in use for almost three decades, so you know it’ll work.

With the Bühlmann, you’ll have a greater say in where your deco stops are located. The gradient factors enable you to, for example, determine the depth of the initial deco stops while keeping the shallow pauses as long as possible or the opposite.

As a general rule, you should not change the algorithm’s default parameters unless you are confident in your abilities. There’s a lot of disagreement about what options are safe to use, and you run the risk of hurting yourself.

Recreational divers have the option of selecting from three different levels of conservative diving in addition to the standard-setting. You have the option to make the algorithm more deliberative by selecting one of the following three options.

The following is a more comprehensive list of the diving features:

  • ZHL-16c algorithm by Buhlmann
  • Alerts that may be customized with audio and vibration
  • Diving Modes include single gas, multi-gas, gauge, apnea, apnea hunt and closed circuit rebreather.
  • Conservatism and stops
  • Deep safety stops that may be customized
  • Calculator for ascent and descent rates
  • Auto-start and stop diving
  • Changeable headings on a 3-axis dive compass
  • Automatic Altitude changes
  • 40 hours of battery life in dive mode.
  • It works with all major smartphone brands
  • Capable of storing up to 200 dives in 16GB
  • Wrist straps that may be easily changed and an extra-long strap
  • GPS Tracking & Map
  • P02: Up to 1.6 with customizable deco PO2 setting
  • Backlight (configurable time and intensity; auto-on at depth)
  • Indicates degrees and direction back to set heading
  • Residual Tissue Loading Reset (on the surface with user acknowledgement)
  • Heart rate Metrics using Gamrin’s Elevate Wrist-based Heart Rate technology
  • In-Water Warnings
  • Information on Dive Records
  • Customizable dimensions of the display
  • Garmin Connect

What I like about Garmin Descent MK1

When Garmin first unveiled its new dive computer, I was skeptical. However, my first thoughts when freediving is more positive than I had anticipated. For me, there’s a lot of promise in Garmin’s ability to provide nitrogen saturation charts as they keep tweaking certain variables.

If you’re seeking advanced training, fitness tracking features, activity tracking and navigation in a watch, the Descent Mk1 might be your best option.

What I don’t like about Garmin Descent MK1

  • Air integration feature is not available.
  • Only the most current version of the program is CCR compatible.
  • Tech divers with extensive experience may find that the 100m/328ft Dive activity maximum operating depth restricts their diving options.

Buy this product IF:

If you are looking for a new diving computer invention that can take you from the mountains to the track to an underwater cavern. And while you’re doing it, you may as well check your emails and keep an eye on your heart rate!

Dive computers that include other athletic or everyday life activities and take advantage of the rapidly expanding wearable technology trend will be common in the future. In many ways, the Descent MK1 is the beginning of something great.

Final Thoughts

This Watch-Style Dive Computer sucessfully match the very popular Fenix 5 X smartwatch with Shearwater Teric-like dive capabilities. Although Garmin is a relative newcomer to the world of scuba diving, they have done a commendable job creating a diving computer that has won over reviewers, technical divers, and casual users alike.

To be honest, Garmin Descent MK1 isn’t perfect, but it starts the dawn of a new era of multifunctional and fashionable dive computers.

Since most computers have a built-in memory system, you may retrieve the data from your dives long after the boat has anchored. Though some diving records are erased after 200 or so, this allows you to copy the information at your leisure or even upload the data to your laptop to examine your profile and dive metrics in more depth.

What about you? Do you have any problems with it? Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think about it!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to use several gas modes with the Garmin Descent MK1?

Yes! It does not only supports nitrox, trimix, and 100% O2, but it also allows for up to six gas swaps. There are various modes for gauge, apnea, and apnea hunt.

Is It Possible To Wear The Garmin Descent MK1 Every Day?

Yes, it’s intended as a sport and smartwatch as well as a dive computer, so you’ll be able to do anything you’d be able to do with. Just like Fenix 5 X, you will have decent features between sports, GPS, and a heart rate monitor. It can also communicate with a variety of other devices.

How deep can the Garmin Descent MK1 withstand in diving?

It is safe up to a depth of 100 meters.

Is it possible to see my dive records on my phone?

Yes, you may upload your dives, including your profile, map coordinates, and entry/exit sites, to a connectable app.

How to connect a phone or computer with Garmin Descent MK1?

To use it with your phone, you must first download the Garmin Connect App and follow the on-screen instructions.

When connecting your computer for the first time, you’ll need to download the Garmin Express Software. Select “Add Device” after connecting your everyday timepiece with the USB cord.

How Do I Update the Software on My Garmin Descent MK1?

When the watch is connected online, you may update the software using the mobile app or PC software, which allows you to search for updates and install them.

Is Garmin Fenix 5 X better than Garmin Descent MK1?

Though it has as many features as the Descent MK1, the Fenix 5 X is not designed for diving and might be damaged if used underwater.

Is this Watch-Style Dive Computer Having Any Issues?

There do not seem to be any serious issues with the Descent MK1, and some of them are related to Garmin’s lack of industry knowledge. Due to misunderstandings of technical diving issues, customer service is not always as detailed as other manufacturers.

Because the software used to obtain dive data is also used for other sports, it loses part of its specialization. Some users complain that the user interface isn’t as user-friendly or appealing as comparable models. Overall, the issues are minor, simple to work around, and resolved quickly.

Is there any ongoing maintenance needed?

Users of the Garmin Descent MK1 should avoid exposing it to severe temperatures and strong chemicals, as with other precision instruments. After each dive, clean the computer carefully with fresh water and let it dry completely before attaching it to a PC. Also, Garmin’s website hosts software updates like the recently released CCR add-on.