We’ve compiled the best cheap running watches on the market right now. These cheap running watches may not cost very much, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on quality or durability.
Many of these are discontinued, so they may not be available. But this is also the biggest reason they are so inexpensive!
While you don’t get tons of features or the latest and greatest technology, you do get a quality watch that does the basics well. Running watch technology – even on GPS watches – has not changed that much in recent years.
These older watches are typically bigger and bulkier than current models. Battery life is not be as good as newer watches but they are still decent. If you don’t mind making these sacrifices, you can find a great watch deal.
Some of the watches listed here are basic timer watches without GPS. These are the cheapest out there. If you spend a little bit more, you can buy an inexpensive GPS watch.
The running watches we like are made by well-known brands. Yes, you can find cheaper no-name brands for even less. We’d recommend steering clear of these products.
A no-name brand might be fine if you are shopping for a kitchen spatula. A running watch is a complicated piece of electronics. No-name brand watches will perform poorly and/or break easily. It’s better to spend a little more on a quality brand watch.
If you can’t find a watch you like from this list, check out the best budget running watches. These are the latest budget running watches. They have a better battery life, more features, and a stronger warranty – but cost a little more.
As we mentioned, almost all of these watches are discontinued models. But this also means limited availability and fluctuating prices! So be sure to click the “Check Price” buttons for the most current price and availability.
With that said, here are our top choices for cheap running watches…
Cheap Chronograph Running Watches
Chronograph running watches are your most basic type of watch. They are usually just a timer (or stopwatch) and record laps.
These running watches are simple and lightweight. They can usually take a good beating and don’t cost much.
The downside is that they don’t have GPS and can’t track running pace or distance.
1. Timex Marathon Watch
It doesn’t get more basic than this watch – it has a 24-hour stopwatch. That’s about it.
But it’s lightweight and water-resistant up to 50 meters. You don’t have to worry about wearing it in the rain. Timex’s Indiglo backlighting makes it easy to read in low light situations.
This durable watch is cheap!
2. Timex Ironman Sleek 50
A step up from the Timex Marathon is the Ironman Sleek 50. This is my personal favorite for races and runs where I’m not interested in tracking distance.
It’s extremely lightweight. It has a 24-hour stopwatch. Plus it records up to 50 laps. The nice, big lap button on the center of the watch is easy to push mid-run.
If you are in a race, hit the lap button every mile to determine your min / mile pace!
The Ironman Sleek 50 is water-resistant up to 100 meters. Like the Marathon Watch, it has a bright backlight.
It’s easy to operate and very inexpensive.
Cheap GPS Running Watches
A GPS watch records time and your lap splits. But it also measures pace and distance.
Some of these older, discontinued GPS watches have trouble with real-time pace. You’ll notice it fluctuates too much to be of much use. A better solution is to set the watch to auto-mark a lap every 1/4 mile. This will occur often enough to give you an idea of pacing without the fluctuations.
A few of these watches build on basic GPS functions by offering interval workouts and wireless uploading to a phone. Many also double as an activity tracker to count steps and monitor sleep.
3. Soleus GPS One
The Soleus GPS One is a lightweight and slimmed down GPS watch. Its band is made of durable plastic, and it fits a reasonable range of wrist sizes. It won’t fit well on very thin wrists, but should fit most adults comfortably.
The watch is good for about 8 hours of battery life. It should last for a few runs before recharging.
The watch records your progress in several different ways. You’ll know the distance you’ve run and your pace, both in mph or kph. The Soleus will also estimate calories burned.
As with any GPS watch, it’s an estimate only. Your individual metabolism, weight, and other factors all influence calories burned.
The watch is easy to read, with a backlight and night mode feature that made sure it’s always visible when you need it.
The biggest downside with this design is that you can’t upload data to a computer. If you want to log your progress or keep closer track of your exercise, you’ll need to write the information down each day.
The Soleus is also water-resistant. It’s safe to wear in the rain or snow. But you probably won’t want to wear this watch in the shower or swimming.
Overall, the Soleus GPS One is an affordable and effective runner’s watch, with very basic features.
4. Garmin Forerunner 35
This lightweight, simple GPS watch has a clear, easy to read screen and tracks basic GPS data (including heart rate). Plus, it’s got a few extra worthwhile features and looks stylish enough for all-day wear.
Unlike some of the other wrist-based heart rate watches, the Forerunner 35 tracks heart rate 24 hours a day. It also works as an activity tracker to monitor steps – so if you wear it all day, it constantly records heart rate.
In addition to wirelessly syncing to your phone, the Forerunner 35 automatically uploads workouts and provides smart notifications like texts, calendar alerts, and other notifications.
The Forerunner 35 can be programmed with interval workouts. Or if you are doing a run/walk program, it can be set with run/walk timed reminders.
A nice 13 hour battery means you don’t need to recharge it as frequently as some of the other watches on our list.
5. Polar M200
The Polar M200 is more of an all-purpose fitness tracking watch. It’s designed to be worn 24/7.
Its battery lasts about 6 days before it needs a charge. Your exact battery life may vary, especially if you go extended periods with the GPS and heart rate monitor.
Because this watch tracks more data, it’s also easier to get a handle on your health. Wearing the watch for 24 hours gives you a better sense of how much activity you really get in a day. In addition to a GPS, you’ll also get a barometer with this watch.
The watch also offers computer connectivity. Upload your data and you’ll be able to see large visualizations and analysis of your activity.
The Polar M200 also uses smart calorie calculations to give you more accurate estimates of calories burned throughout the day. It takes into account details like your height and weight, as well as your sex, in order to get a better estimate. The heart rate monitor also informs your calorie estimates.
Computer connectivity is compatible with both PC and Mac. The watch also has several different language settings, so you can use it in whichever language is most comfortable for you.
This watch is also waterproof. Since it’s designed for near-continuous use, it’s suitable for wearing in the shower and swimming.
6. Garmin Forerunner 55
The Forerunner 55 is a good example of a 24/7 activity watch with built-in fitness tracker. Its battery lasts slightly longer than the Polar M200, 20 hours in GPS mode.
While this lightweight and versatile watch was designed for runners, it comes with several different activity profiles. That helps calorie counting be more accurate, especially since the watch also monitors your heart rate.
This watch also has a two-way connection with your smartphone. In addition to sending updates and alerts to your phone, the watch will also alert you to incoming texts and other notifications.
That’s great if you’re looking for a fitness watch that is also a smartwatch substitute. But it can be distracting if you keep getting work notifications or messages from your mom mid-workout.
You’ll also get access to Garmin’s coaching feature. That makes it easier to make and hit reasonable targets for your current activity and fitness levels.
The GPS feature on this watch gives accurate information not only on the distance traveled but also the rate of travel. You’ll be able to see day-to-day improvements more easily with this system.
7. Suunto 3
This affordable option is great for trails, but it’s also a good option for users who are just getting into fitness and need a little extra help building a routine. With choices between boosting fitness, maintaining, and other goal planning help, it’s simple to get the exercise you need.
The training plan updates to reflect changes in your daily workout schedule. If you miss a training session for any reason, the plan updates automatically to help you stay on track.
It tracks your sleep. Anyone serious about being fit and healthy knows that a good night’s sleep is critical to meeting your fitness goals. Monitoring your sleep can help you figure out what works, and which habits prevent you from getting the rest you need.
This watch works best with a smartphone. The Suunto app lets you see a more detailed view of your activity levels and progress over time. It also contains additional resources to help on your fitness journey.
Most users get between 5-10 days of continuous use from this watch, depending on which modes they use most often. GPS drains the watch faster, while you can save some power by putting it in watch-only mode.
This watch is also a good option for professionals. Work is stressful, and this watch helps you monitor your own stress and see your recovery. That way, as you learn new coping skills, you’ll have real data on which ones work best for you.
8. COROS Apex
This watch, with a sapphire glass face, is more damage resistant than most watches. It’s also designed to overcome challenges with GPS. The watch learns your specific stride length and then uses that to estimate distance when GPS fails.
It tracks swimming (both open water and pool), cycling, and running. For triathletes, it can record these during a triathlon for one continuous track.
It’s also designed to help the most ambitious athletes stay in the game and training properly. The watch judges your stamina and activity level and will immediately send you an alert if you’re exceeding your stamina limits.
The Apex also has one of the best batteries around. Expect many long training runs without having to recharge.
While this watch does cost more than some of the other watches, it has one of the best dollars-to-battery ratios around. Meaning, you’ll find it tough to find another affordable watch with such a great battery life.
The last thing we like about the Apex is that COROS regularly updates the watch, providing new features. While other brands typically hold new features off, saving it for a new version of the watch, COROS provides updates to improve the watch without having to purchase a new one.
9. Garmin vivoactive 3 Music
Some people can train without music in your ear, while others find it key to every training session.
If you’re the second type, this watch is a good option. Designed to provide workout music through Spotify, this watch combines fitness tracking, GPS, and music. No more carrying your phone, mp3 players, or other device for music.
This watch can store up to 500 songs in its internal memory. That’s dozens of hours of playback.
The vivoactive 3 also comes with 12 pre-loaded fitness activities. That way you get the benefit of a range of different monitoring, as well as fitness tracking and sleep monitoring.
The vivoactive 3 also acts more like a smartwatch than a fitness watch in one other feature. It comes with built-in Garmin Pay, which, like Apple Pay, allows you to make purchases through the watch.
Like other fitness watches, the vivoactive also has the option of picking which activity you’re doing. Everything from running, taking a pre-loaded yoga class, to stand up paddleboard.
That versatility is great for athletes with a wide range of interests and training goals, but it does mean that there are additional menus and apps you need to work through.
10. Garmin Forerunner 25
Small. Lightweight. Simple to operate.
This basic GPS watch from Garmin tracks data like time, distance, and pace – plus doubles as an activity tracker for all-day wear.
It’s ideal for kids or high schoolers who want a GPS watch but don’t need anything expensive or with a lot of extra features. It’s got just enough features to keep kids happy.
The Forerunner 25 has bluetooth connectivity to wirelessly sync runs to your phone. And when your phone is with you, you’ll receive notifications like texts and other alerts directly on the watch.
For indoor runs, the built-in accelerometer tracks distance and pace on a treadmill. And the Forerunner 25 has a nice 8-10 hour battery.
It uploads workouts wirelessly to a phone, tracks treadmill runs, and has a clearer, easier to read screen.