Well here we are at Part 5 amazingly as I intended only to have a Parts 1 & 2 quick review of what was available to meet my criteria. During the process however it seems that perhaps my priorities changed. Started out wanting a Casio style function rich watch, preferably analogue or ana-digi in operation and appearance, with the addition on a Digital Compass AND a specific requirement regarding the size. It had to fit comfortably on my smallish/medium sized 170mm wrist – and not with a brick on my wrist as in some “B” movie Science Fiction video games.
My first idea included the Casio Pro Trek range, the smallest about 49mm diameter, but then found some smaller alternatives and perhaps less well endowed in the function department. But I found myself drawn more to these than those multifunction models. Let’s face it – how often would I use a Thermometer or Altitude ( I’m far too old to ski, or climb) and I already own watches with World Times, bought specifically as they were so easy to use (some are not). Also having all those functions means steep learning curves, especially if you’re not using those functions every day. In fact I know friends with multifunction monsters lying in drawers unused – worn once and if they did decide to use it, they’d have to find the darned instruction manual. Is it worth the bother I say to myself? Also do I want to wear a large sports watch with obvious, protruding buttons all over it – even at 47mm diameter (which some consider small . .) it catches your sleeve and if solar is wasted as in Scotland with our awful weather, sleeves usually cover our wrists.
But a Digital Compass does appeal as I still do a bit of walking, even orienteering once in a while with map, so a compass to which I can refer would be quite handy – I’d certainly use it.
Anyway I’ve made my decision (I think) though I have to say it is a VERY close run thing between 1 and 2.
1st choice –
Tissot T-touch Expert (strap version) Titanium model T013.420.17.202.00. (I changed models owing to Touch 11’s not having Azimuth setting as I understand it – a requirement for orienteering – and necessary imo).
No World Time, but a more modest dual Time, which let’s face it is all I really need, very good Digital Compass, analogue and digital displays, clear uncluttered dial, easy to read, Altitude, Thermometer, Chronometer, Dual Time and Weather Trend plus two Alarms. It looks as good on the wrist hiking as it does with a tuxedo and it has discreet buttons and a classical look.
Operation – Well this watch has just about everything but looks so conventional and if you thought the Wenger was stealthy – this is Uber stealthy! However even with all these functions it is remarkably easy to use. The touch screen is a joy to use and calibrating this watch looks as if it is – OK a learning curve – but fun and educational too. Once set up it’s simple simple. Compass wise just press on the crystal at Compass and the hour and minute hand line up like a pointer and True North is indicated by the minute hand. You can also set it to track your desired heading (azimuth) quite easily and you’re on your way. Needless to say both calibration, Magnetic and declination settings can all be set by following clear guidance in the instructional manual. OK I hear you say, but what was all that above about not needing all these functions? Yeah – I know – it must be the boy gadget freak in me!
2nd choice –
Victorinox Pathfinder ST5000 Titanium.
Superb Digital Compass, “follow the green” light headings system, lockable bearing function, uncluttered dial, simplicity of use – great looks – dressy but “interesting” and nice luminous ana-digi plus dual time.
Operation – first calibrate compass and allow for declination (where you are and local map) – simple single button push – green arrow shows True North – watch top @12 shows your current direction and is indicated in digital display as degrees. To lock the heading direction you wish to travel simply push the button again – this locks it to memory. The row of lights above the display keeps you on track – the Green when lit shows 0º deviation (in other words you’re on track), a yellow light either left or right indicates you’re deviating from desired heading by 5º to perhaps 20º, and Red either side by a larger amount. So simple, simple – keep Green lit and you are on track. After about 15 seconds the Pathfinder will go into snooze mode, but a single push on the button and it’s active again. Even I can understand this simple function use and its very intuitive. Interestingly the watch has two batteries – a Renata 362 for the Watch time and a CR2032 for the Compass and note there are gaskets and an 0 ring, so care should be taken when changing batteries etc. And maybe at my age, this is the one really!
3rd choice –
Wenger Nomad LED model 70430
Honest watch, classical look, unusual ana-digi dial, Dual Time display, big clear numerals.
Operation – This whole watch is really very simple – easy to use and when you wish to find North simply push the Compass button. Unlike the Pathfinder this model will simply display your heading (suitably adjusted of course during your initial calibration and declination check) and the top of the watch (red arrow under the 12) will point out your current direction. Say 225º – remember it because as you walk your direction will probably change even if you’ve selected a point further on your route (a tree or hill for example) – and the display will show your actual heading (on demand). So no track locking with this model – it is a basic compass function – and one of the things I like about it – it is what it is. And it doesn’t look like a big compass thing on your wrist – just a normal watch. This has to be good in my opinion.
If I was to go for the Casio all singing and dancing model it would have to be the amazingly priced SGW500H-1BV (assuming I could source it). Getting the low priced model would allow me to gain familiarity with this style without great expense. So this model would be the one of choice especially as it is also the smallest one with these functions in the Casio range at 46.8mm diameter.
Now as to the Suunto – Well I have to confess I had a quick look in our local retailer and each model I tried (3 versions) was a trial for me to read. In perfect light and at the perfect angle maybe these are OK, but in the shop, hopeless and outside the door just as bad and reflective too. So I decided that my first impressions gained a few years ago still stand and the fact that this is Part 5 and I really don;t want to do a part 6! However I do think these are not for me and the ones I tried were really too large and looked out of place on me anyway.
Just to finish (at last) – choosing the winner was really difficult and interesting to note that the two close choices 1 & 2 are very different. One has many functions and the other not and being honest I could easily at the end of the day pick either one of them! A bit like my car choice this year – Monday was an Audi, Tuesday was a Mercedes, Wednesday was an Audi, Thursday was a Mercedes, Friday was an Audi and on Saturday I bought a Volvo!!!!
ps – I knew this would happen – someone asked me what Azimuth is and not being an expert I advised that someone to look it up in Google – I’m sure there are many references.
For what it’s worth I’ve always assumed that Azimuth was the angular compass heading measured towards East from North. And Compass direction (and not a lot of folk seem to realize this) is actually not expressed in degrees at all – but in compass speak as I used to call it when I was a scout. On boats we used to say things like, we’re on a heading of NNE Captain! And as you see from the following table thing NNE is actually 22.5º azimuth.
N (0°), NNE (22.5°), NE (45°), ENE (67.5°), E (90°), ESE (112.5°), SE (135°), SSE (157.5°), S (180°), SSW (202.5°), SW (225°), WSW (247.5°), W (270°), WNW (292.5°), NW (315°), NNW (337.5°)
Hope I’m right but that’s about my sum knowledge of navigation I’m afraid, which is why thinking about it (this is what’s called indecision!) the ST-5000 Pathfinder is so attractive. Decide where you want to go and follow the GREEN dot. And for me with my limited (as you see) knowledge of navigation – super simple seems VERY attractive!
Note 1 – 23rd January – I have revised the Tissot model to one of the “Expert” versions – as stated above it includes the ability to set Azimuth, which is used for tracking your own heading. I don’t believe the T-Touch 11 has this feature.
Note 2 – 24th January – The ST-5000 Swiss Army Pathfinder is basically a time and compass model – no day or date indication, which I think an omission – I assume the present digital display won’t allow the required number of digits. I would however love to see it upgraded to day/date in their next version, should there be one as it would make it a more complete watch.