The latest model of Garmin Fenix explained

Garmin Fenix wet

If you read our initial impressions of the Garmin Fenix, you may have noticed the part where I mentioned that I am using the latest version of the Garmin Fenix. That little bit of information caused some confusion for a couple of readers. Causing the site to receive a few emails asking what has changed, or “how can you tell if you have the latest model of Garmin Fenix?”.

To make things easier, I decided to write up a post explaining everything. So read on and I’ll go over what has changed with the Garmin Fenix, why the changes were made in the first place and how you can determine if you have the upgraded model or not.

The problem:

For the most part, the Fenix appears to have been a fairly successful product for Garmin. Owners seem to be very happy with the watch overall, and retailers have reported problems keeping them in stock because of high demand. But there is one problem that has effected a portion of these watches.

Some Garmin Fenix owners began noticing problems within the first few weeks of the watch’s launch. For whatever reason, some Garmin Fenix watches had a problem with moisture forming on the inside of the display. This moisture could appear as a dense fog or vapor that would show up and then eventually go away on it’s own.  Or in other, more extreme cases, the moisture was actual standing water behind the watch face.

Users reported a few different scenarios that could cause the moisture to form. For example, going for a long hike on a cold day and then returning to a warm vehicle or home could cause the inside surface of the glass to fog. Much like a pair of glasses will fog with the change of temperature.  Swimming was also reported to cause some Fenix watches to collect water inside the face. Garmin warns users to never press any of the buttons on the Fenix while the watch is under water, but these users were reporting leaks without any button pressing. Lastly, wearing the Fenix while taking a hot shower or a relaxing dip in a steamy hot tub could also cause the fog to appear.

How to identify the newest Garmin Fenix model

Garmin hasn’t reported the failure rate of the Fenix wrist watch, but evidently there was enough users reporting problems to warrant a newly designed model. The newest Garmin Fenix looks identical to the older model. As far as I can tell any way. The changes aren’t externally visible and only effect how the watch face is sealed to the casing. In fact, the only way to tell if you have the newest Garmin Fenix model is by the engraved serial number on the back of the watch.

I was first told that the newer model serial numbers start at around 50,000, but recently I heard that they actually started closer to serial number 40,500.  I’m not sure which is more accurate, but my Fenix’s serial number is well into the 55,XXX’s. So I would say that as long as you have a watch over 50,000 you probably do have a new one. Anything lower than that, and you might want to email Garmin support, give them your SN# and ask which model you have.

Also, I personally, wouldn’t worry too much about if I had the new model or not. It is perfectly possible to have the older model Garmin Fenix and never experience any issues with it. Leaks were only a problem with some of the watches. That doesn’t mean they all leaked or will develop a leak.  So if it isn’t broke, you don’t need to worry about fixing it.

Does the new Garmin Fenix model leak?

I can confidently say that my Garmin Fenix doesn’t leak. I came to that conclusion after I ran a few tests on my review unit. I don’t recommend that anyone try any of these tests on their Garmin Fenix. We’re talking about a $400 watch here and the tests I performed could possibly be considered as abuse or misuse, which could potentially void your warranty.  I didn’t torture my Fenix, but I did test it for situations a normal person may expose the watch to and I’m very happy with the results.

First, I took a trip to the local gym, where I went for a swim while wearing the Fenix. I pushed buttons while sitting on the bottom of the pool – something Garmin clearly tells you not to do – and I wore it in the gym’s hot tub. Neither of those activities caused any problems, so I moved on to testing for temperature change.

The nights still get freezing cold where I live.  So I decided to leave my Garmin Fenix and a bottle of water in my car overnight. The following morning, the water was frozen almost solid and my Fenix was still working. After bringing my Fenix inside and allowing it to warm up, I noticed plenty of dripping wet fog forming on the outside surface of the watch face, but none on the inside.

So there you have it. The latest Garmin Fenix seems to be adequately water-proof. I still have a ton of things left to do with the Garmin Fenix and will have more about this watch soon.