Traveling 2015

A friend asked me on Friday (I’m asked this every year) seeing I’d just returned from Europe, what was my recommendation as a traveling watch.  One that you’d take with you on a trip to another country and why.  In the event not a hard question for me to answer.

My first word of advice is to leave the World Time Patek at home.  Cheaper is good and you don’t want a watch that’s too complicated  – you don’t want to refer to instructions all the time.

Do you want/need extra functions, Chrono, Stopwatch or Alarm?   What about changing times? because let’s be honest, a plain Day /Date analog watch is difficult to beat in practice, as you simply pull out the Crown, move the hands – job done.   If it’s digital, can you remember how to set it and if it has a Word Time function, is that easy to remember and set?  If it is – great, but if not, leave it at home.
Crossing rivers? beach combing or swimming? – remember if you’re on your own taking the watch OFF at poolside, could be an easy way to lose it.  So good Water Resistance is a must.

So for me – Ease of use, readability in the dark and good Water Resistance (swimming, bathing, showers, heavy rains, whatever).

Best travel watch

Best travel watch – does everything required – easily and well

First choice is the Citizen Eco-Drive A-T CB0020-09E, which is quartz analog, with Date window, a built in World Time Perpetual Calendar module and step motor hands hidden away inside the watch workings.  I love this watch as it’s understated and unobtrusive, yet packs serious functionality.  For time changing it’s the best there is – To change to a Destination Time Zone, simply pull out the Crown, turn to another City Time Zone.  The seconds hand instantly indicates that City on the dial index, push in the Crown and the analogue hands move around to the new time.   It could not be easier.
It’s also Water Resistant to 200m, has great luminous qualities, very accurate as its Radio Controlled and being Eco-Drive you can forget about batteries.

This has to be my favorite and 1st choice for travel.

My second choice is my “active” travel, third world, other places in the world watch.  In this case I always take the Timex Expedition T49976.

Best "active" travel watch - also best Military model

Best “active” travel watch – also for me it’s the best “Military” model

This is a Digital only model with Shock protection, Water Resistant to 100m.  It has the best night/dark viewing of any digital watch I know (see image), shows at a glance the Day, Date, Month, Hour, Minute, Second and AM/PM indication.  It has added functions such as Alarms (5), Stopwatch and Timer.  It’s also not too big.
And for travel destination times – it has Dual Time or one extra Time Zone which you can set either when on the way or pre-set before you go.  And it’s super simple to set.   Press and hold the Set button (upper left – says Set on it) the Time flashes, press the opposite button and it gives you the option to set the dual time.  Follow the on screen stuff and before you know it, it’s done.  This is one of the few models I know that actually shows what to do within the digital screen.  No instruction book required!

The watch is also as tough as old boots and the battery life is around 5 years – so no worries.  And by the way you can have almost any strap you like on this watch, from NATO, to Textile, to Leather, to Velcro fast wrap – take your pick.
The other important benefit, is the fact it only cost me around £40 new and I’ve got two, so depending where I’m going I sometimes take them both.

Probably the best all round practical travel watch I know.

However if you can’t be bothered with all this travel functionality stuff – I find that Divers models are a great travel watch, especially analog.  They’re inherently tough, have great Water Resistance and being heavily luminous are very easy to read day or night.  Rush job overseas? – chuck on my favorite Diver and off to the airport and for time changes, just move the hands . . . no brainer – it’s that easy. (I take my Apecks 200m).

But for bespoke “travel” models I pick out the Citizen and Timex above, as I’ve traveled with both of them for many years and being an inveterate traveler, from jungles to deserts, Arctic to Antarctic, hot to cold, and with the odd war zone chucked in, they certainly work for me and have never let me down.

Get and forget (1)

As I indicated in the last “Get and forget” Post, I thought I’d have a look at Casio this time, regarding models that manage to offer good functionality at a reasonable price point and without overcrowded dials.   So many models today have so much data overkill on confusing dials, they may start off being a novelty, but soon are consigned to the back of a drawer!

Casio AE1000W-1B World Time 48 cities + 10 year battery

Casio AE1000W-1B World Time 48 cities + 10 year battery

Now I could just feature first model is the Casio AE1000W-1B which itself is a remarkably priced World Time, Alarm watch, really low priced at under $20 on US Amazon.  For that you get a rather well designed dial with the main Digital window showing the Time, Day, Date and Month clearly.  Also on there is a small seconds indicator and a Time Zone map – a tad gimmicky maybe but they don’t distract from the main view, so I can forgive that.  Functions include 48 cities World Time, Alarms, Stop Watch etc. and a 100m Water Resistance in a neat case.  The only down side for being the integrated strap/bracelet, which unfortunately is a feature of many Casio models, but that apart this model does represent serious value for money.

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But I’d rather major on the classic Radio Controlled (two receivers) Casio WVA-470DE-1AVEF sold here in the UK and Europe with appropriate DCF and MSF Radio reception – that is Mainflingen in Germany and Anthorn in the UK.

Casio WVA470DJ-1ACF Radio Control at under £100

Casio WVA470DE-1AVEF
Radio Control at under £100

Being Solar Powered this watch never needs a battery.  With 2 receiver Radio Control assuming it receives a signal from the appropriate Atomic Clock each day the accuracy is guaranteed and correct within the UK and Europe.  It has good functionality with World Time, Chronograph Stopwatch to 1/100sec, 3 Alarms, battery check, signal check, hour beep, Neobrite analog hands and is Water Resistance rated to 10bar or 100m.  It also features an LED backlight.

It’s also one of the better sized models (as was the Casio Oceanus) at a neat 42mm x 12mm and even though is analog/digital it has a really neat and classic analog appearance.  It has a solid stainless steel bracelet with a double push button clasp and is adjustable by use of removable links (again as the Oceanus) using small tapered pins and sprung holding collars.

A point to bear in mind if adjusting/removing links, is to take great care and NOT lose the small link pin collars.  (When I sold on my Casio Oceanus I included a letter to the buyer explaining just how to do it, as I was concerned he might make a mess of it and then claim a refund for a faulty strap – which it wasn’t of course).

Basically the link pins slide not only into the bracelet segment, but through a very small steel collar – it is this collar that grips the pin.  Lose it and you lose the integrity of the whole bracelet as the pins will fall out.

However it is a good comfortable bracelet, just take care if resizing.

The price for this model’s functionality is under £100 which considering it’s predecessors represents great value for money.  I know of three friends who have this model and they use it as their main watch and bearing in mind they each have watch collections too, it obviously says a lot for this model.

Casio WVA470DJ-1ACF composite steel/plastic case

Casio WVA470DE-1AVEF composite steel/plastic case

For me I particularly like fact that it has not been G-Shocked with plastic panels stuck all over it and has an uncluttered dial considering the functions.   Note the luminous analog hands time and the digital time are always in synch. ie: they are not separate and both automatically adjust together on signal reception.   It also has a neatly defined center seconds hand.  The digital window is a good size without encroaching the dial yet large enough to read clearly.

The four pushers are neat and unobtrusive, though quite large enough for the whole fingertip when operating.

At under £100 this is quite an achievement when you consider that in 2009 I had the very latest in RC models – the Casio Oceanus Manta and the Citizen Attesa ATV53-2833, the latter I featured here in my Post of 2009 as the “ultimate” watch.  Both models cost over £700 at the time!   So on a cost/function basis this represents a quantum leap in terms of what was then available.

Citizen Attesa - another state of the art of the past

Citizen Attesa – another state of the art of the past

Casio Oceanus Manta RC state of the art in 2009

Casio Oceanus Manta RC
state of the art in 2009

It certainly shows how times have changed and this little gem with it’s understated and uncluttered look considering it’s functionality – is a neat buy.

I like most aspects of this model and Casio have excelled in producing a watch, which is both high tech’ and low cost.  Their expertise in the use of plastics is evident as the case is a lightweight composite of metal and plastic, which apart from reducing cost, has resulted in a smooth curved profile that fits most wrists very neatly.

They’ve just about managed to tick all the boxes, as they say.   Bar one in fact.  That is there is no quick “swap” of Home tome to a destination time, despite this being a World Time watch.  You can read a selected World Time digitally, but not analog, unless you change Home time to your destination time which is a rather fiddly.

To get a watch with this functionality and looks at such the price is presently unmatched by other manufacturers from what I’ve seen.  The competition tends to be composed of either very cluttered dial designs or much more expensive prices or both.  (check out Watchshop under RC watches and you’ll get my point about cluttered dials).

Of course my favorite Radio Controlled watch these days is still my analog Citizen Eco-Drive A-T CB0020-09E also known as the World Perpetual A-T (+£300 some years ago).  OK it is a higher specification with 5 receivers and bought because the World Time function was the easiest of any to set and it has a large clear analog dial with no digital display.  Pull out the Crown, turn to another city as indicated by the seconds hand, push the Crown it in again and the hands instantly move to the new City – it’s as easy as that!  When I travel abroad this is still my preferred companion. 

However this Casio WVA-470DE-1AVEF works for me as a good RC indication type model and for under £100 is something else – Wow!

Oops!  – Seems I forgot to Post the first “Get and forget (1)” of the series – it featured Timex – though no matter I’ll post it next time . . . . . .