Military fashion?

If you’ve ever trawled through the so called Military watches around today, it’s quite amazing the weird, wonderful, often silly but sometimes really quite innovative designs that crop up from time to time.  It’s fertile ground for all sorts of wonderful designs good and bad and quite often it’s the lesser known manufacturers that come up with maybe the most innovative ones.  There are however a few models around that are worthy of a second look.

Humvee recon Olive Digital

Humvee recon Olive Digital

Not the first to use the name, this one is actually from the named folks themselves – the Humvee Recon – in Olive.

Been around for a few years though this is the first time I’ve come across it myself.  And it certainly looks the part with its rugged shock proof stainless steel case with added rubber protection, oversize digital display and very tough looking 28.23mm nylon fabric fast-wrap strap. The Olive Green and black combination always a winner when thinking military and I understand it also comes in a dark slate color too.
Four push buttons control the functions and setting etc on the side of the case, though there is no protection against accidental use, so difficult to say how they’ll be, unless tried out on the wrist for a time.

Specification wise it’s also not at all bad with Time, Date, Countdown Timer, 3 x Alarms and a Stopwatch with a 20 lap recorder.  If that wasn’t enough it also has a 22 city World Timer for good measure (with DST option).  A 50m Water resistance and according to the spec it has a “scratch resistant” face, but I don’t think this means it has a Sapphire Crystal or it would say so categorically.
The large display is divided in to 3 sections to give separation of the data shown and the LCD uses a matrix layout with black figures contrasting against the grey dial background.

Dimensions are – Case width: 38.44mm, Case Depth: 14.55mm.  Weight is just 60 gms.
The lug to lug dimension is not quoted but it actually looks rather big at around 65mm maybe, which is very substantial, especially for smaller wrists.  Could well be it’s downfall for me personally, but until I see it on my wrist, difficult to say.

With very strong competition in this sector, the Humvee is sensibly priced it and it’s also being offered at discounted prices here and there, so maybe it’s worth more than a look.

But that top to bottom size being so large could be the killer, certainly as far as I am concerned.

Note –

Since finding this model I’ve discovered that there are a few other Humvee models around such as the Zulu range, which are conventional analogue dial military style watches which appear very much like the true Military Specification watches.  They feature Tritium light technology for perfect vision in the dark and seem very well priced.  They feature Japanese Miyota 2035 quartz movements and 100m Water Resistance.
I’ve also seen an analogue Field series which feature day and date windows and the more conventional luminous coatings for night use.

A quick search on Google will certainly flag these up if anyone’s interested.  You will also find the Timex Humvee which is something else again!

Fossil Machine

This week I’m wearing an unusual model from Fossil – the Black Fossil Machine Chronograph Alarm FS4682.  And no it’s not a military watch though it does look like one, as it has that black dark stealthy look about it that says it’s maybe not a dress watch – or is it?  The feature that attracted me was actually the Analogue/Digital display, which for those regular readers should know by now is a format that I particularly like.

Fossil Machine Black Alarm FS4682 Ana/Digi Watch

Fossil Machine Black Alarm FS4682 Ana/Digi Watch

It’s one of those watches that draws comment if seen by friends and I have to admit I like wearing it.

One of the unusual and fascinating aspects of this model is it’s large digital display, which features a “permanent” green luminescent Matrix display in addition to analogue hands.  The display actually reminds me of my Breitling Aerospace in that it has a luminescence that tends to pick up or reflect any ambient light and is visible in most day situations.

45mm diameter but only 13mm depth - means a neat fit.

45mm diameter but only 13mm depth – means a neat fit.

I had some concerns at the time that 45 mm diameter could be too large for me, but owing to it’s relatively small depth at 13mm, it actually fits my 170mm wrist very well indeed.  It sits flat against the wrist and easily slips under a shirt cuff and it’s very comfortable with the extremely flexible rubber strap and flush fitting black stainless buckle.  The case is black Ion Plated solid Stainless Steel with a wide matte black heavily knurled bezel and a flat non-reflective crystal.  The black case body (only noticeable at the sides) has a gentle gloss though the lugs are a brushed matte finish.

Military look Fossil

Military look Fossil

I already mentioned the strap and whilst it looks like “steel bracelet links” it’s actually made of black rubber, the inner surface of which, against the wrist, is actually smooth and very comfortable with a conventional buckle which is rather neatly figured.  It has a full screw back in mirror finish stainless steel with the Fossil logo, model number and a quoted Water Resistance of 5 atm or 50m.
On each side of the case are 4 x black textured push buttons that operate the digital functions and a large knurled center crown adjusts the analogue hands.  Interesting to note the buttons are set slightly straight compared to the case shape and as a consequence are much easier to operate than most.

Fossil with flexible rubber strap & black IP steel case

Fossil with flexible rubber strap & black IP solid steel case

The watch face features conventional analogue hour and minute hands, which are quoted I recall by Fossil as “hi visibility” orange tipped and an orange center seconds hand.  Now whilst these do show very well against the matte dial black background in good light, they are not quite so good in low light.  The hour baton markers are silver colored.
Personally I would have preferred a white color for both the hour and minute hands and hour markers – from my experience so far, it would be clearer, certainly in low light.  Note there are no luminous features on this watch at all – though this is not uncommon on ana/digi models.

The large digital Matrix display shows Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Day and Date and as independent of the analogue settings can be used as a 2nd Time zone if preferred.  The display normally shows a slight luminescent green color and is quite clear to read in most daylight situations.  It can also be back lit (EL) using the top left button B and changes to a blue color (see image below) for a few seconds for low light and night time use.

EL Back- light turns green to blue - quite effective for night use.

EL Back- light turns green to blue – quite effective for night use.

For me I might prefer it to be just a little brighter, but I wear glasses and am getting older – so perhaps this is more my problem!

The standard digital functions on this model are scrolled through using button A (lower left) and in order of – Time/Day/Date, Alarm and Stopwatch, then Time/calendar setting.

As the Date seems to set correctly for odd months it obviously is an auto-calendar, though I don’t know the final date (perhaps 2099?).  There is also a PM indicator on 12 hour format, but using button C (upper right) you can toggle either 12/24 hour time.

The Alarm function can be set for Alarm, Chime or both.  The alarm sounds a double beep, though as these days I can’t hear it so good, same for the hourly Chime, so I have to leave opinion to others – My wife always hears it!
The stopwatch has standard functions with stop/split (you can measure multiple split times) and reset, works great.  This is is a digital stopwatch only – the hands are not involved.

As said when in normal Time/Day/Date view the button A (lower left) scrolls in sequence to Alarm and Stopwatch, then continues to Time setting and the Seconds flash.  The setting sequence is Seconds, Hour, Minute, Month, Date and weekday.  If you adjust with button C (upper right) it then progresses to Hours and so on – pretty normal stuff.  It’s quite logical and reasonably intuitive once you’ve tried it a few times.  I would note that the standard Instruction booklet that’s included does NOT actually cover this model, so there are no Digital settings instructions.  You have to download a supplementary set for it – called Ana-Digi QFL133SB.  I provide a link HERE.

This trend for NOT including specific model instructions with the watch I find quite annoying as not everyone has internet access.

Overall though this is a really smart looking watch with a surprisingly good digital display in reasonable light.  It’s slim enough to fit most wrist sizes and very OK as a dress watch.  If you like the “military” look then it’s OK for that too, with the IP black stainless steel case and black rubber strap (note- the strap is 24mm wide with quick release bars at lugs).  The build quality too is pretty good, dial, hands and case and the Matrix display a bit of a revelation and it’s available at a reasonable cost.

Any downsides? –

Well for me maybe the loss of analog clarity in low light which could be better.  Also the lack of a model specific instructions with the watch is disappointing.  Also note this model has 3 batteries! and it would be useful to have instructions as to which powers what, to enable changing when required.

Overall: – an excellent watch for the money and I’m very pleased with it.

I’m not too familiar with the Fossil name, though not just a fashion company it seems.  They have quite a history of watch acquisition and now manufacture in their own right apparently.  They both import and manufacture in Switzerland and China and distribute in USA, Germany and Asia.  In 2012 they bought the well known company Skagen and in 2013 started an upscale Swiss range – Fossil Twist which they both design and make.  Some other brands are associated with them such as Adidas.

How to display, two different ways.

How to display, two different ways.

My last image shows it with the Timex Expedition just as a comparison.  Two totally different displays, yet both looking good.

Note – You can see a range of Fossil watches available in the UK HERE
Note 2  This model comes with 3 batteries.  As shown in the image – the 1st (recessed) is for the analog time, the 2nd (bottom) is the Digital movement and the 3rd to the left is for the EL back light. Remember the analog and digital are independent of each other (hence the Dual Time function).
Note 3
 – This model comes with a standard 2 years Warranty.  However more importantly there is also a Lifetime (limited) Warranty on the movement, hands and dial and if sent for repairs here in the UK, Fossil will require a copy of the proof of purchase or stamped and dated warranty.

Addendum – unfortunately the Ana/Digi model FS4682 is no longer available, which is a pity as it is one of the best Fossil models I’ve come across in a long time.

Ref. SO 050815

A Classic but is it for me?

Well this is about as far as I go on my search around the Digital watch models, as the one I’ve found is said to be the the best of the best.  In fact I’m told this is THE modern Classic – the Casio G-Shock DW-5600E-1V model with the 3229 module.

Casio G-Shock DW5600E Module 3229

Casio G-Shock DW5600E-1V Module 3229

Arguably the best designed Digital Watch of it’s time, this particular design first appeared in 1996.  This DW5600E version is also about as simple as a G-Shock can be and inside has a set of “sensible” every day use functions and features.  Such as the commendable 200m water resistance, a multifunction Alarm, a Countdown Timer and a Stopwatch.  Note this one features Module 3229, which has the Auto-Calendar to 2099 (previously to 2039)

Other details are as follows –

The Countdown Timer can be set for any duration from one second up to 24 hours, in one-second increments; optional auto-repeat function.
The Stopwatch: 1/100th second, which measures net time, split time, and first – and second-place times; rolls over at 24 hours.
One Alarm but unusually in addition to the hour and minute, a month and/or date may optionally be set, so the alarm will only sound during the specified month or on the specified day of the month.  Actually a very useful reminder, if like me you forget the Dentist appointment.
There is also an Hourly Chime option.
Backlight is provided by the Illuminator, which is an Electroluminescent type, which shows blue/green to light the whole display at any time, though excels in low light situations or at night.
The Battery is a Lithium CR2016 and should last around 2 years in normal operation.
As a G-Shock it has the shock resistant design and in fact is intended to survive a 10-meter fall.  This DW5006E version has a Polymer composite-case and a flat steel back panel (4 screws) and is light weight in comparison with older models.  Because of the neat flat back, lower profile and relatively small dimensions, it also sits better on the wrist.
Water Resistance is an excellent 200m, so this model has no issues under water!

G-Shock - special strap means it can't sit upright.

G-Shock – special strap means it can’t sit upright. Note small smooth recessed pushers.

The DW5600 series has a classic shape with it’s square/rectangular 43.6mm wide case in tough black Polymer and matching flexible rubber strap.  Interestingly when you first strap it on, it suddenly dawns on you that it’s actually one tough watch, but amazingly comfortable.  It’s also rather compact for a Casio G-Shock – which HAS to be a good thing and it suits me VERY well!  In fact the case depth is a neat 12.6 mm, so it wears nice and flat on the wrist and slips easily under a shirt cuff.

So no Solar power, no World Time, no Compass, Altimeter, Thermometer or Barometer here – but a classic WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) kind of watch that is not only refreshing, but it’s also darned good.  A case of less is more, you could say.

Slim profile fits the smaller wrist.

Slim profile fits the smaller wrist.

A well protected mineral glass sits above a good contrast Casio digital display.  In normal or Timekeeping mode it shows the Time (Hours, Minutes & Seconds – in 12hr or 24hr format), the Date, Day and Month.  Note that the Date and Month are contained in a small outlined area of the display and when in Countdown Timer or Stopwatch modes, this area changes to and shows the current time – I think this is a really useful feature.  Not so clever for UK users is the fact that you can’t reverse the Date/Day format to Day/Date (we Brits like to know what Day it is first, rather than the Date – I mean who cares about the Date!).

The functions as with most digital watches are operated by the use of pushers or buttons on the sides of the case and here there are 4, two on the right and two on the left.  There is always a compromise with these as to protection, that is, to make sure they can be used easily and have protection from inadvertent use.  Usually this is done either with a recess in the case body and/or small shoulder lugs either side of the pusher.  In this model it’s achieved by the case shaping and on this model the top left SET pusher is virtually flush with the case and is really difficult to operate easily.
This is doubly tricky as it’s the most difficult pusher to reach for a left wrist wearer who is right handed.  Also as each of the pushers are really rather small I already find it tricky to “find” the night light for example (bottom right) especially in the dark and end up fumbling around with my (small) fingers searching for it.  The case has many hollows and bumps so one recess or bump feels much like any other.  Another point is the pushers are small, round and smooth and for me I would prefer some texture on the surface.
As a consequence setting or selecting the functions is not as easy as I would like.  Also if I was being picky the sequence of operation of the functions is not as intuitive, for example, as a Timex.  An example would be in the setting of the time, where the right pushers don’t act as up and down buttons when setting figures, but only the the upper pusher is used and it only increases numbers – you can’t dial down the numbers.

However these niggles aside I still like this model – mostly as it has very few gimmicks and it can be worn on large or small wrists and it’s comfortable.  The Display has good contrast and is large enough to read easily (when on the wrist) and it shows a lot of information in one glance.  It has Timers that can be set in various options AND you can read the current time when using these.  It has beep Alarms and and the dial can flash at the same time when these are activated.  It’s very tough but at the same time it’s a sensible size.

As folks tell me, it’s a G-Shock Classic sure enough and design wise I agree with some but not all of the hype and for me there are reservations – and of course the question always has to be –

Does it work for me? 

Now bearing in mind that I have just acquired a Timex T49854J, it may be interesting to have a quick comparison here and now and decide, from a practical point of view, which one I personally prefer.

Case/body style – Timex wins – conventional strap means ease of replacement AND it allows the watch to sit off the wrist on a bedside cabinet for example, upright on it’s lugs.  The pushers are larger and very much easier to use and whilst they don’t have physical protection I have not yet had an accidental push.  The night light is very easy to find as it’s the largest pusher on the right center of the case, where the crown would normally be.

Casio v Timex - a personal choice.

Casio v Timex – a personal choice.

Display – Timex wins – the display is much larger and easily readable from a distance and even easier when upright. (the Casio has to sit on it’s side, so this fact and owing to the slightly recessed face, at 6 feet I can’t read it).

Functions – Timex wins – They both sport a similar range of functions, Multifunction Alarms, Chronograph, Countdown Timer, Hour chime etc. though the Timex does have some additional functions and options.  But basically the Timex is easier to use and more intuitive.  Pushers are larger, textured surfaces, easier to use and the setting procedures are both quicker and simpler to manage.  Also the Timex has the option to set DAY/DATE format for the UK users whereas the Casio doesn’t.  Also the upper and lower right pushers can alter the digits up and down, so setting times etc. is much quicker.  In short the Timex function program wise, is in my opinion more user intuitive than Casio.

Alarms – Timex wins (for me) – Though this is personal and purely as this Timex has a Vibration Alarm option.  It can have vibration and/or beeps and as I can’t hear the beeps any more – a Vibration Alarm wins every time.  It’s also useful when the watch is off the wrist and on a bedside cabinet.  Sitting upright on the case lugs (which the Casio can’t do) when the Alarm sounds it also vibrates against the surface it’s on (just like a cellphone) and is easily audible even for me.  On the wrist of course it’s fine as the vibrations are easily felt.

Nightlight – Illuminator v Indiglo.  Not much to choose between them – I would guess the Timex is slightly brighter and it’s larger of course, but both are good.

Water Resistance – Casio wins – but the winning is moot – 200m against 100m – let’s face it both are very good.

The practical choice - Timex T49854J Expedition, Vibration, Chronograph.

The practical choice – Timex T49854J Expedition, Vibration, Chronograph.

So all in all as a personal preference it has to be the Timex basically as I have no issues with it at all.  And this is rare I can tell you!  It IS a little thicker though unlikely I’d wear either watch in a dress situation.  After all the Timex is advertised as an Expedition watch, so fair comment.
The Timex just manages to suit my average wrist and it is the easiest by far to use practically, be it Functions, Pushers, Display, Alarm and that conventional standard fitting strap wins every time.

So whilst it’s the Timex for me by a short head, I have to say I like them both and I consider them great buys.

Low cost digital track?

Still been looking at Compass watches and whilst I have NOT really been interested in all digital ones, preferring analogue/digital, this inexpensive Digital Timex just happened to cross my path by chance, as a friend appeared on my doorstep the other day with his new purchase.  I was very impressed and surprised with it’s relatively small and compact size and just had to have a closer look.

This is the Timex expedition T427619J Compass Chronograph and not one I’d seen before, though I understand it is available in the UK.

Timex Expedition T42761 Digital Compass Chronograph.

Timex Expedition T42761 Digital Compass Chronograph.

What attracts me is FIRST – A familiar Timex light colored digital display, similar though not identical to the previous posted model (T49854 ) that appears to show excellent contrast again – so I should be able to read it and SECOND – the fact that this model sports a Digital Compass.  Timex use a compass sensor from Precision Navigation inc. who are leaders in the provision of compact magnetometers with high reliability and accuracy and affordable cost.

On first glance it has the typical “outdoor” Timex looks and appears well specified without being silly.  Size wise it is very promising indeed – though as with all these “outdoor” watches the size has to consider the buttons set into the sides of the case – in this instance the total diameter is 45mm including buttons and with a neat depth of only 13.5mm, this is one of the smallest Digital Compass watches I’ve yet seen (analogue or digital).  It has a bi-directional click-able bezel with compass heading markings on it, a 22mm leather calfskin strap with buckle (but unfortunately a bespoke fitting), a 330ft Water Resistance or 10ATM specification (swimming pool is OK, but not scuba-diving), Acrylic Glass and a digital display showing Day/Date Month, Time and seconds.  It also has 3 Alarm functions each optionally can set for Daily, Week Days or Weekends, optional Hour Chime, 100-hour Chronograph, 3 x Time Zones, 24-hour Count down Timer and “occasion” reminder alarms.  It even has a Customizable mode set where you can “hide” unwanted modes.   This model, after all that, is not over-functioned as it omits a Thermometer, Altitude or Barometer – in other words this is not a (T)ABC watch – but a C watch.  Don’t you just love the abbreviations!

It also has a tiny “bubble” level above 12, a useful touch when calibrating any 2 axis Digital Compass.  The more horizontal during calibration, the less errors you build in.  Whist it’s not the needle variety this compass uses the little block/dots system in common with other Digital Compass models including Casio, Barigo, Techtrail, Highlander and Pyle, so should be interesting to see how this one performs.  However bear in mind these in-watch magnetic field sensors at this price range do have limitations and can be affected by many factors, so don’t expect pinpoint accuracy.

In Compass mode display shows heading in degrees, at the 12 position. North shown with the single dot marker

In Compass mode display shows heading in degrees, at the 12 position. North shown with the single dot marker

Note – my photograph above does not show too clearly the virtual dot compass markers – one denotes the North and the trio only just visible above the South marker on the bezel (they are actually very clear).

Talking of accuracy the compass of course should be calibrated before you first use it to get the best out of it.  As usual you should try this in your location and away from influencing factors (beside your car for example) and if doing this at home keep it away from the computer and so on.  Same system and procedure as used by most of these 2 x axis compass sensors, use the Mode button to bring up Compass, press any right hand button (except the centre one) hold the watch flat (here the little bubble/level comes into it’s own) and rotate the watch clockwise for 2 complete revolutions.  Note as the strap of this model has a stiff curve at the case end it really can’t be laid down flat on it’s back – I usually sit the watch on top of a spray can and rotate the can.  In the field however keep it flat as possible with a steady hand and you turning yourself around on the spot does it.  (if you’re on the medication I’m on this might cause you a problem!!!).

There is a dot indicator on the dial that goes clockwise around the dial – when turning (each revolution for at least 15 seconds) try and keep that dot pointing in the same direction during your turn – quite tricky I know but do just that and you’re OK.  Otherwise and I kid you not, the calibration will not be as accurate as it can be. When completed, press Done and the Declination option shows – and if you know it where you’re located, then set it with the right hand buttons, then press Done.  It doesn’t take decimal points so the nearest whole number will suffice.

On the wrist - very comfortable - looks larger than it is owing to the pre-curved strap.

Wrist wise very comfortable – looks larger courtesy of non standard case/strap fusion.

So what’s it like to wear?  Well as it’s only 45gms you hardly know it’s there and it’s compact enough not to snag on anything.  I find the leather strap both flexible and comfortable and the watch sits as well on the wrist as it can, bearing in mind the strap/case non standard fitting.  The display as said is clear and easy to read and the compass view shows the heading of the 12 position on the watch.  So if your pointing NNE, that’s what it shows along at the top of the dial with the bearing in degrees in larger numbers below.  I also found it has a slightly faster response to change than the Wenger, a slight turn in your direction and the heading change is noted and displayed immediately.  However the Wenger Nomad does have an LED heading display that you can see brilliantly in poor light as against the Timex typical LCD display which simply disappears.  Here I note Timex appears to infer that the Indiglo light if ON during Compass operation may compromise accuracy, so not the best for night use (unless you have a torch).  Note too that the compass only displays for 20 seconds at a time, but you can just press the upper or lower button and it reads again almost immediately.

But overall compass wise I really like it – it’s fast, responsive, clear to read and understand.  In fact I’m agreeably surprised.

Note – It may take some practice using the buttons, as they are so well recessed and protected, they’re quite awkward to press.  Though I’m getting used to that fact now and finding more success with it as I go along – but it’s easy for the button NOT to action, when you think it has.

Leather strap is nice quality & buckle sits flat.

Leather strap is nice quality & buckle sits flat.

All the other features and functions seem to work quite efficiently in the Timex style, though as with most of the Alarm based ones, I can’t hear the beep alarms (though my wife can, just fine!) and whilst that’s my problem, I do wish these were louder.  As usual each function and option in turn shows up with each press of the Mode button.  If you delay on any one however, the display reverts back to the basic Time display.

In conclusion I have to say and despite little niggles, the major one being the strap fitting (why not a simple lug fitting!),  I like this model and for me it manages the compass function surprisingly well

Addendum –

My last image shows the Wenger Nomad beside the Timex and whilst they appear similar size, the Timex is half the weight at 45 gms and is only 13.5mm depth, so a much neater fit wearing on the wrist.  As with most Digital displays it can show lots of information simultaneously and here the Timex shows the Time (hours, minutes and seconds) plus the Day, Date and Month.  The Wenger to keep the dial nice and clear have only the Time showing, though a press of the appropriate button and a bright LED digital Time, Date and so on, or of course Compass Bearings, will show in large numerals behind the hands (my previous post refers).

The Timex also has an extremely clear display to read and considerably better than a great number of similar looking displays on the market.

Comparison Wenger Nomad v Timex.  Wenger much heavier and deeper too,

Comparison Wenger v Timex – Wenger heavier and thicker.

Note – On the screwed stainless back it shows a 100m Water Resistance, the model number is a a small sticker and it also indicates by stamp the Battery type – which is a CR 1620.

I’ve mentioned the strap a few times and should qualify my comments.  Why digital watch manufacturers insist so many times, especially when resin cases are used, to fuse, add, meld and whatever else you call it, a totally bespoke strap fitting to that case is beyond me.  So often being almost part of the case it means the watch will not fit snug against the wrist, owing to the case/strap fitting.

In fact look at the image of the Wenger and the Timex to the right here and it shows the problem – the effective size between fixed lugs is 45mm for the Wenger but owing to that silly strap fitting it’s slightly more then 55mm for the Timex and it is actually a smaller watch!

And of course once the strap starts to wear and I find for whatever reason these always wear more than conventional straps, you have to purchase that “special fitting strap” from the watch manufacturer, often at inflated prices.  And that’s IF you can still source one especially as these models alter and change with every new appearance.

The last watch I reviewed from Timex was and should be the “norm” – it had  a Standard watch lug strap fitting.  If they’d simply used it’s case for this watch – problem solved!

Maybe I should start a campaign for Standard strap fitting/lugs on ALL watches.  Maybe a new feature coming up!

Update –

With the strap issue becoming an obsession I have to note that Timex have another model – the T49688 which has a standard lug and strap arrangement and also features a Digital Compass.

Digital Compass with standard strap (not confined to Timex)

Digital Compass with standard strap (not confined to Timex)

It is slightly different in operation in that there is no actual North indication on the watch dial.  Rather it reads in degrees the heading of the 12 position of the watch only.  The model featured here of course does that too but also it indicates with a digital block marker North and South which is immediately reassuring.  BUT it has that standard strap which is a plus in it’s favor so I might not discount it from my compass choice . . . 😉


Good vibes – Timex

The other day I had to get up at a silly hour to catch an early flight and rather trust to luck waking in time, found my old Vibralite 3 alarm watch, set the alarm and was rewarded with a vibrating wrist at 5am.  And this got me to thinking – What a coincidence as I’m looking to update/replace my old Casio digital as well as the Vibralite.  Now I can kill two birds at the same time and try source a replacement.  As before I’ll concentrate on SIZE and CLARITY plus this time a VIBRATION alarm.  Why vibration?  I can’t hear the little beeps watches have as alarms – but vibrations no problem.

So what I need is – A maximum 45mm diameter x 15mm depth and preferably under both figures.  And this time I don’t rule out a digital display as long as I can read it!
And in the event it wasn’t too difficult and I found this  Timex Expedition Vibration Alarm Chronograph – Model T49854J.

Timex Expedition Vibration Alarm T49854J

Timex Expedition Vibration Alarm T49854J

Good looking adventure outdoor style watch with grey/green colored resin case with black bezel and a green/black nylon fabric strap with flat grey metal buckle.  Excellent clarity digital display under a Sapphire crystal, with black numerals on grey/green background with good contrast and size.  At 48gms this model is VERY light indeed and the watch case at 45mm diameter (including buttons) and 15mm depth is just on the size limits for me, but OK.  The strap is a neat thin and flexible nylon dual layered fabric type with “melt” sealed holes to prevent fraying.  Unlike many Casio style watches that often have special strap fittings, this has a standard 22mm width strap fixing to standard watch lugs.  A very good feature in my opinion.  The buckle is nicely profiled in that it lies flat and flush against the strap – one of the neatest I’ve seen.

Two good size push buttons on the left for “Set/Done” and “Mode/Next” and on the right 3 push buttons.  Center one (largest) is the Indiglo nightlight, which is really quite good and the other two for “Start/Split” for Chronograph and “Stop/Reset” – all pretty straight forward.  The back is a 4 screwed stainless steel back with a Water resistance to 330ft or 100m, so swimming pools OK, but No scuba diving. (if confused – see HERE).

On the wrist it’s very good though size wise right on my maximum and it feels light and very comfortable.

Fits my small 170mm wrist though any bigger?

45mm (incl buttons) x 15mm still fits my small 170mm wrist though any bigger?

The excellent display shows in normal view the Time as Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Day of the week, Month and Date.  It also shows if any Alarm is set – so pretty comprehensive.  I like the fact the Hours & Minutes figures are around 9mm high, which makes them very easy to see even at 6 or 7 feet away (I use a very scientific test – I get in the bath in the evening, the watch is on the window ledge some 7 feet away – if I can read it – it’s a PASS!). This one is 10 out of 10!

Easy view display with large numbers.

Easy view display with large numbers.

So what about functions?

Time functions are as stated above and you can set 12/24hr indication, the order of month/date to suit (excellent for UK users), 3 Time Zones, Chronograph 100hr with split, laps with numbering etc, 3 Alarms, Hydration Alarm plus an odd set of “occasion” alarms with preset descriptions such as Birthday etc. Plus a Count Down timer.  Alarm settings have various options such as Daily, Week Days or Weekends.  The Timer has an option to either stop after it’s alarm goes or to reset and start again – a useful option.  Another nice touch is that once a Timer has started, say for 30 minutes, just above the countdown, the original time period 30 is shown.
I also notice that on my wake up call Alarm I can set options to Vibration, followed by Beep and a flashing the Indiglo lit dial.  (note it will only beep on the Timer setting, which in fairness is OK as the watch is advertised as an ALARM vibration model ).  Also this advanced Indiglo feature includes a clever night-mode feature and when set, any button will activate the night light.  As the watch name indicates, Alarms can be set to vibrate and/or beep.  Oddly the instructions don’t cover this setting (and some others) though in reality it’s quite simple.  By the way the instructions come hidden in the base of the plastic holder the watch is mounted on within the box supplied – it is very easily missed in the excitement of getting your new watch!

I noted whilst researching this watch the omission in the Instructions re’ Vibration has confused some folks as to how to set the Vibration feature – so here’s a quick rundown –

It’s basically a continuation of the initial “time” setting.

With Time display showing, press SET/DONE button (top left) until it shows HOLD, then you can let it go, then follow the instructions by pressing MODE/NEXT (bottom left) to view all the settable options in turn – such as the Hour, Minutes, Seconds, Month, Day, Year.  Now the Instructions appear to stop at the Year, then they vaguely mention further Options. – Well just keep pressing MODE/NEXT button and these extra options will show.  Each press on the MODE/NEXT push button shows yet another Option, like 12/24hr option and Month/Date format (I always change this to the more familiar UK option of Day/Month), then Vibration/Combo/Beep, Hourly Chime, Button Beep and so on.  Actually it’s quite intuitive.
Once you get to the option you wish to set or change, simply press one of the upper or lower right hand pushers to up or down or change format to suit (ignore the center right button,  it’s purely for the Indiglo light).  After setting or changing any option simply press the SET/DONE button again and that’s it.  And it’s not only the Vibration alarm that is missing from the instructions, there a quite a few other options available for customization.

So as said, super simple – once you’re into the setting mode, simply press Mode/Next to go through the quite long list of options, setting times, dates and things and those other settable options along the way.

Actually one of the things I DO like about this watch is the ease of setting and operating any of the functions.  It is both intuitive and quick – a point other Makers should maybe try and emulate.

Looking at this model in comparison cosmetically with other watches it looks pretty good – here shown against the old Casio on the center right – and my reason for updating in the first place, it does show how watches in general have grown in size today.  This image also illustrates that this particular digital display on the Timex is very clear and certainly as easy to read as an analogue.

Good clear display, shows well against others.

Good clear display, shows well against others.

So in conclusion I have to admit to being very pleased with this Timex.  So far it’s all pros with this model, though time will tell no doubt.

But I think they’ve got the display just about right – it is large, clear and easy to read and a big improvement on many of the digital display watches I’ve seen in my trawl of alternatives.
The menu system is intuitive in that the “Set” button means just that – from there you can set everything.
The push buttons are large and easy to use and don’t appear to get pushed accidentally either.
It’s comfortable to wear and you can get it wet without worries – and you can see it at night.

I personally like this version with the muted green/black color scheme and I DO like the conventional strap and fitting, something that Casio and many others making ABC watches would be well advised to take note of.  This business of “special straps & bracelet fittings” is a nonsense and in my view a cynical little after sales money spinner.  But in this case full marks to Timex, when this one does wear or fray eventually and in my experience this type usually do, sooner or later, it’s a simple matter to replace it with a strap of your choice.  The battery is a a standard CR2032 and it’s even stamped on the watch back as a reminder.

The Timex T49854J does what it says very well, simply and at low cost – it is not an expensive watch – perhaps a lesson for some others out there.  In essence a VERY practical watch and good to wear.