Watches - multi function vs simple features

4:20 p.m. on December 29, 2010 (EST)
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Hi trailspace - I have read the old 2002+ threads on watches w/ multiple functions and I am left wondering about the practical value of these watches in 2010.

Can you suggest some watches that have worked for you that have a solar charge, timers, alarms, h2o resistant and backlight. I think a simple timex would do the trick for elevations <14k, surfing, skiing, skin diving, hiking and occasional banging on objects.  

Altimeters -need setting. why not look at the paper map you carry anyway.

compass - have a hand held to go with paper map.

barometer - needs setting with Altimeter and an old thread suggested you need more than a watch to figure weather.

thermometer - tends to be wrong when worn on wrist +/-10 degree. hang a small one on the tent/pack.

heart rate - I know when my heart races I have not prepared for the activity. n/a for my training.

tide tables - I get a free one at the dive shop with adjustments for various coast locations. Plus not much use on a mountain.

bulk - all-in-one = wearing a rock.

The kid in me likes the pathfinder and Suunto lines, but the practical and simple side says why drop $300 when $40 will do.

thanks

 

6:14 p.m. on December 29, 2010 (EST)
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I've got a cheap Timex that works just fine. A GPS will have most of the other features you mentioned. Mine has a compass and altimeter, but I carry map and compass along with it. My GPS also has a clock, so no need to even carry a watch. I don't usually need an alarm while hiking.

10:12 p.m. on December 30, 2010 (EST)
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i have two relatively simple dive watches that tell time, don't quit in bad conditions, and basically do what a watch is supposed to do.  they haven't stopped in extreme cold or heat, they are waterproof to 200 meters, which means they won't leak from swimming or extended time in the water.  both have luminous numbers or markings that are easy to see at night, crystals that are very resistant to getting scratched, and neither has a battery to replace (they may need a capacitor replaced in 20 years or so, but they are basically maintenance-free). 

one is a citizen eco-drive dive watch.  charges from exposure to light. it's lightweight and reasonably priced.  i replaced the band with a zulu nylon one.  http://www.princetonwatches.com/shop/BM6400-00E.asp  

the other is a seiko kinetic dive watch.  charges from movement like an automatic watch, but stores power in a capacitor, so it doesn't stop like most automatics unless you don't wear it for six months.  heavier than the citizen.  looks nicer, so i tend to wear it to work more.  http://www.princetonwatches.com/shop/SKA371.asp.

 

like Tom D., i prefer having all the other features on a GPS unit.  love my Garmin.  

 

4:14 p.m. on December 31, 2010 (EST)
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Leadbelly, your link to the Seiko isn't working for some reason.  I used to have one of what may have been one of these-

http://www.princetonwatches.com/shop/SKX173.asp

Most of the people I knew had one because they were relatively cheap at the time (under $200 mid 80's if I remember right) and very reliable.  This was before digital watches and gauges.  I also had a Chronosport, but it was so heavy, after a while it was annoying to wear. It was twice the size of the Seiko and had a depth gauge on it that was a little tube that ran around the bezel.  I'm surprised Seiko still makes these things given that almost everything else is digital these days.

5:12 p.m. on December 31, 2010 (EST)
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I have the Highgear Alti-tec, got it on sale a few years back for around 100 i think. It is a carbiner style so i usually have it clipped onto my pack stap. It has a watch, compass, altimeter, barometer, thermometer, stop watch, and alarms, and is water resistant to 10m. I use it all the time when out. I practically never use the compass, but use the altimeter and barometer and watch portions of it often.

I do alot of off trail hiking so it is handy to have an altimeter to pinpoint location on a map. I also like to know the time to have an idea of my current pace, and how much day light I have left. Knowing the temp doesn't really help, but I like to know what it is.

Sure you can get a 10$ watch for the time, but the other features are what make it worth it to me. The Alti-tec isn't solar powered, it uses a watch battery and if you don't use the compass really a battery will last 3 or 4 years, if you use the compass often it will drop to about 1 year.

9:09 p.m. on January 1, 2011 (EST)
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I have a Casio G-Shok (SP?) with the atomic update.  It has the backlit glow and is solar powered.  I have had it since 2003 and lasted 3 years onboard the USS Enterprise with me and while working at a nuclear power plant (currently).  The thing [seems to me] to be indestructable.  Mine has a rubber strap but some can be had with metal one.  It has taken some good abuse and baning around (even the face) and still has no cracks or scratches.  I have never had to replace the battery either.  BTW, it does have an alarm if you want  to use it.  I don't remeber what I paid, but I think you can get them for around $100 these days.

I also agree with Tom.  Why get a watch that does all that stuff.  Get a watch that is a GOOD/GREAT watch and if you want the other stuff, get a GPS that is a GOOD/GREAT GPS unit.  I think functionality of an item starts to go downhill when it does too many things.

5:15 a.m. on January 17, 2011 (EST)
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Watches will soon go the way of 8 track tapes. My cell phone has all the apps-including time and gps. Less is best. Plus I can call for..um..assistance. Hate to scrape up an expense watch on the trails since we use our hands constantly. Or, buy a GPS.

10:32 a.m. on January 17, 2011 (EST)
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I agree with Tom D. A good timex and my GPS. The problem with the phone is battery life, although solar chargers are pretty good. But what if it rains for three days? Or you're in the artic?... ;-)

11:01 a.m. on January 17, 2011 (EST)
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I agree with Tom D. A good timex and my GPS. The problem with the phone is battery life, although solar chargers are pretty good. But what if it rains for three days? Or you're in the artic?... ;-)

 Or it gets wet, dropped, etc.  Most electroni devices are not robust enough to qualify as mission critical equipment.  I was on one trip where 4 out five cameras malfunctioned, due to weather affects.  It would have sucked if our lives depended on them.

Ed

12:12 p.m. on January 17, 2011 (EST)
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I see your point on electronics, but I also say you get what you pay for. "38" said he was going to be <14 evelation and no mention of artic conditions. Yet, I have used my LG cellular up in the Italian, Austrian and German Alps with no problems. In fact I would send a picture and call my friends to brag about it. Quality is very bad at higher altitude, but it gets the job done in an emergency. I would never go on any of my adventures without communication though. Neither would my friends on our excursions. I also have no problems with a camera, and it rains and snows a lot where I hike. I use a Samsung with geotracking. I take lots of pictures so I can make a visual map with geotracking software. Waterproof bags are a must, so is the solar power attachment for phone. I always have an extra phone battery just in case. In fact, I always keep one in my car on a normal basis in case I am stuck on the autobahn in a snow/ice storm. I spend the extra money to insure every piece of equipment will keep me safe-"mission essential". Plus, my wife would kill me if I didn't bring the electronics. When I wrote, "Or, GPS", I meant a gps instead of a watch. They have everything "38" needs and they do have drop and weather proof versions. Problem with a watch app. is they are gimmicky. Temperature is never accurate unless you move away from body heat. Lots of shaking also effects altimeter and the goofy compasses that some watches have. I can see the need of a watch when "38" dives though. I must say the watches I have owned is endless because I tend to break them. I am able to stow the electronics away after use....

5:27 p.m. on January 19, 2011 (EST)
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Good ideas/comments - thanks.  I think I will try and set myself up with a good watch complimented some type of GPS unit.

alarms - I like the alarm because it tells me to wake up and move. The timer helps set intervals for resting and countdowns again to get moving again. I find this helps me be more disciplined rather than stopping when I want to versus a need to rest.  sounds silly, but it works.

btw - I was biased on the gps because the last group hike a guy had a nice gps and the battery drained before we got 5 miles.  I t looks like I need to do some research.

multi-function watches - I saw many negative comments on these watches. What wasn't written is these watches require practice and discipline to use.

3:33 p.m. on February 6, 2011 (EST)
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I have a Casio G-Shok (SP?) with the atomic update.  It has the backlit glow and is solar powered.  I have had it since 2003 and lasted 3 years onboard the USS Enterprise with me and while working at a nuclear power plant (currently).  The thing [seems to me] to be indestructable.  Mine has a rubber strap but some can be had with metal one.  It has taken some good abuse and baning around (even the face) and still has no cracks or scratches.  I have never had to replace the battery either.  BTW, it does have an alarm if you want  to use it.  I don't remeber what I paid, but I think you can get them for around $100 these days.

I also agree with Tom.  Why get a watch that does all that stuff.  Get a watch that is a GOOD/GREAT watch and if you want the other stuff, get a GPS that is a GOOD/GREAT GPS unit.  I think functionality of an item starts to go downhill when it does too many things.

 Yeah G-shock all the way baby! Those things are built like tanks!

3:53 p.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
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actually, the one i wear is seiko SKA371.  self-winding, but stores power in a capacitor so the watch will run for 6 months even if i don't wear it the entire time.  i'm used to wearing it, but it is kind of heavy.  so long as it works no matter what, i would much rather have a watch that's simple and durable. 

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