The Best Polar Watches

What to Look For

When selecting a Polar watch, things to look for are a chest strap that fits correctly, a watch size that is gender appropriate, an easy-to-read display with large, easily accessible buttons, and a battery that is user-replaceable. Since many Polar models have these features, fitting the Polar model to the desired activity will help narrow down the selection process. Polar has models for general fitness, running, cycling, and strength training. The more added features a particular model has, the more expensive it will be. Highly rated top-end Polar watches include the FT1 for entry-level fitness, FT60 for running, CS600 X for cycling, and FT80 for strength training and cardio.

Common Pitfalls

The FT1 will provide average and maximum heart rate, exercise time, and exercise date. It is ideal for the beginning exerciser. For those needing more depth, the FT 60 provides standard heart rate information and features fitness testing and personal training programs. Exercise information may also be downloaded from the watch to Polar’s training website. The FT 80 is has all of the features of the FT 60 as well as an added strength training program that provides feedback for when the next set should begin and keeps the user within selected training zones. The CS 600X is for cyclists to design, record and correct a training program. It includes cycling features such as altitude, cadence, RPMs, and wheel size.

Where to Buy

TriSports, Heart Rate Watch Company, and Bodytronics are three online retailers that offer an entire range of Polar products. Heart Rate Watch Company and Bodytronics offer free ground shipping. All three outlets feature price matching. Bodytronics also offers a 105-percent price guarantee. Prices between all three sites are very competitive for similar models. Bodytronics offers all four models featured in this guide.


The FT1 retails for about $60 at most online sites. The FT60 is listed for just under $200 and the FT80 for just under $300. The CS600 X cycling computer lists for just under $360. The FT60, FT80, and CS600 X all have many accessories and features that may be added that will increase the total package price.

Comparison Shopping

When shopping for a Polar watch, compare the fit and size of the watch, the features each model touts and the overall price. If a lot of features in a top-end model will not be used, then a lower-priced Polar watch will work just fine. Be sure to check local running and cycling shops for Polar watches that may be leftover inventory from the previous year. Discounts and clearance sales can be a good bargain if the newest model watch is not needed.


Polar offers many accessories for their heart rate monitors that may be purchased in a bundle or bought at a later time. Fitness and training needs will determine if features such as speed, distance, elevation, pace, and training zones are needed. If so, Polar offers the S1 foot pod sensor for running distance and speed, S3 WIND sensor for pace coaching, and GPS sensors for running, cycling, and just about any other moving activity. Polar also has bike mounts and bike sensors for cyclists. Polar also has a sports bra designed to hold the chest strap while running.

Insider Tips

Polar has recently introduced the Wearlink+ transmitter Nike+ strap that will relay heart rate information to an iPod using the Nike+ iPod feature. The strap comes with a user-replaceable battery and will provide heart rate information from any Nike+ device to the nikeplus.com website. When exercising for long periods with a Polar heart rate monitor, a well-fitting chest strap is vital. The strap will tend to chafe after long periods of exercise and some type of sports lubricant may need to be applied to minimize discomfort.

About the Author

Don Jay Garrett is an anatomy and physiology instructor for nursing students. He also teaches CPR for local hospitals. Garrett holds a Master and a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. Previously, he was in the health and fitness field for more than 12 years, working as a fitness manager, exercise physiologist and personal trainer.