This is the one Garmin watch deal I'd buy before Black Friday

Solar intensity readings on the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Garmin watches have a long shelf life, sold as new devices years after their original launch dates. When Black Friday rolls around, it's usually these older models that get discounts, while the new models remain full price. I rarely spot Garmin watch deals that don't feel like a compromise, but snagging the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar for $100 off is the exception. 

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar launched in early 2022 but still receives software support from Garmin; just this September, a Garmin feature update gave it Training Readiness and Morning Report, two of my absolute favorite features on the new Garmin Forerunner watches. 

The watch itself is peak Garmin, with a dull MIP display and very few smarts to speak of, but it has a rugged polymer design built to handle the outdoors and an absurdly long battery life: 28 days if used solely indoors, but an "unlimited" number of days if you spend a few hours a day outdoors where the solar panel can recharge it. 

This is the best Garmin watch deal available before Black Friday

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar: $399 $299.99 at Best Buy

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar: $399 $299.99 at Best Buy

With a tough design, an MIP display capable of working in direct sunlight, and an absurdly long battery life coupled with solar recharging, the Instinct 2 Solar holds up to scrutiny today. As for software, it has Garmin Coach and automated workout suggestions based on your VO2 Max, Garmin Body Battery and Training Readiness tools to judge your efforts, and post-run recovery estimates to help you decide how long to rest. 

Alternates: Amazon - $299.99 | Walmart - $299.99

Looking at the rest of Best Buy's early Black Friday deals set to last all November, most are for Garmin watches launched years earlier, such as the Vivoactive 4, Venu Sq, and Forerunner 745. These aren't bad watches, but we already saw them at comparable or lower prices during past Prime Days or Black Fridays, so I can assume you're not interested if you don't have one already; plus, they lack the new software and smarter Elevate v4 heart rate sensor that the Instinct 2 Solar has. 

My alternate early Garmin Black Friday deal would be the Venu 2, currently 35% off at $261.95 on Amazon. That's a solid deal for a watch that's a year older than the Instinct 2 but at least has the same Elevate v4 and a gorgeous AMOLED display that some athletes will prefer for readability and animated exercises. 

The Garmin Instinct 2X Solar and 2 Solar side-by-side

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar and 2X Solar (Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

That said, looking at the Garmin Venu 3 vs. 2, the gap between generations is fairly wide: the new watch has improved Sleep Coaching with nap detection, a revamped Elevate sensor that takes ECG and (soon) skin temperature readings, more accurate GPS results, recovery recommendations, and a mic & speaker for Bluetooth calling. That's a lot to miss out on for a $189 discount, and you may want to buy the new model at full price or wait and hope for a Venu 3 deal during Black Friday, unlikely as it is. 

For comparison, the Instinct 2 Solar has technically been supplanted by the Instinct 2X Solar, but if you compare the two models, the 2X watch is just a bigger version of the 2 with better solar recharging, a larger display, and a built-in flashlight. 

I personally love the 2X too, putting it on our list of the best Garmin watches, but it's expensive and pretty darn heavy compared to the Instinct 2 Solar, which is about the same weight as most Garmin Forerunner or Venu models.

Unless you really want that 2X flashlight — which, I warn you, burns through that hefty battery pretty quickly — or truly think you need more than 48 GPS hours per charge, you can happily "downgrade" to the Instinct 2 Solar at this discounted price and not feel like you're missing out on much. 

So, that's my Black Friday recommendation: Grab an Instinct 2 Solar now and save yourself deal hunting during turkey season, or wait and hope Garmin breaks tradition and discounts its newer models on the actual deal day! 

In the meantime, if the Instinct 2 Solar isn't your speed, you can check our guide for other early Black Friday watch deals, or my specific guide on how much you should spend on a running watch during Black Friday, based on my experience reviewing them!

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.