Moving on (part 2) – complications

The trouble with complications is that once you have these squeezed into a watch, there are usually two distinct problems.  The first is Size and the second is user friendliness.  Regarding the first problem – often the watch is physically just too big, the lug to lug distance resulting in overhanging the average wrist so much that it simply doesn’t fit the average wrist at all.  An excessive diameter measurement even though large, might be acceptable, but coupled it with a large Height or thickness, the entire watch becomes unwieldy and looks pretty silly if we’re being honest.

The second problem of User friendliness or ease of use is another matter and a direct result of the added complications factor.  How does the Manufacturer enable all these extra functions without having more buttons, pushers and so on and expect the user to remember what on earth to do, to action a particular function.  Do the instructions make sense, easy to follow and above all are they intuitive?

Casio GW-1000-AER

Casio GW-1000-AER – big watch with complications

A for instance is this Casio GA-1000- 1AEF model that has a respectable functionality with analog hands showing the time, plus a digital set up that also can show the time (not linked) and also a Timer, Chronograph, Alarms, World Time, Thermometer and a Digital Compass for good measure.  It now becomes complicated and it doesn’t have Solar which is a pity as the Solar function doesn’t require any input from the user at all!
It has 4 pushers plus a large Compass pusher too but no crown.  To adjust the analog time takes a fair old bit of push buttoning (is there such a phrase?)and digital sequence of events and to get both digital time and analog time to agree is even trickier.  And you might well have left the instructions at home – silly boy!
Casio has however made compass calibration simpler? than usual, by using the 180º method, which means you only turn the watch 180º and the watch does the calibration automatically – sort of . . . . . and no I don’t understand it either! and I still need the instructions to remember how to manage it . . .

One other thing to say about this watch – for a twin sensor model it is a brute and just far too big!

Many models today maybe digital only and any and all adjustments are managed by a sequence of pushers and buttons and a good user memory.  Add in an analogue function or two as in ana/digi models and there are more choices perhaps for the introduction of Crown usage – or not – in the case of some Radio Controlled models.  With these why have a crown at all as the time should always be correct via the Radio Signals?
There are some models however that have thankfully decided that even with Radio Control functionality, maybe a Crown is a darned good idea.  It’s another and importantly a familiar control that users could certainly appreciate.

The trouble was I wanted a model with a Digital Compass.  Don’t ask why – I just did, perhaps the geek in me and funnily enough apart from making the watch very large the Compass is the easiest thing to work on the Casio GW1000 watch.  Simply push the big button and Bob’s yer uncle!  And I like the watch, but surely I thought there must be an alternative?  Something sleeker, more user friendly and without frequent referral to that darned instruction booklet.

However today I think I’ve found it at last!  My Holy Grail – maybe . . . .

EQW-A1200B-1AJF Japan domestic version - RC, Solar, World Time, Digital Compass etc.

EQW-A1200B-1AJF Japan domestic version – RC, Solar, World Time AND Digital Compass.

I introduce the EQW-A1200B-1AJF from Casio – and note this is a Japan domestic model and on the face of it – it looks a nice smooth watch.  Doesn’t even look complicated.  But it is . . .

This model has not only the same functionality as my previous watch, but has additional ones, such as Radio Control and Solar Power.  That means it’s always correct time wise and you forget about batteries.  And yes this model also has a Digital Compass which is only noticeable because it says so on the dial!  This is something I wasn’t expecting – a rather understated refinement and an almost elegant watch from Casio.  Isn’t that nice . . . .
The watch dimensions are also rather good at 44.5mm diameter, a commendable lug to lug of just 52mm (I think my “G” shock above is something like 58mm) and a very slim and compact 12.8mm height.  So very wearable for anybody – and about time I’d say!

The dimensions are very encouraging indeed, so it appears the Size issue has been resolved here.  What about the second issue – User friendliness.
Important especially when you consider this model has not less but more complications than my big Casio – have they addressed this too?

Slim model at only 12.8mm height - with a compass!

Slim model at only 12.8mm height – with a compass!

Well things are looking good as this model doesn’t have a digital display and does have a Crown and that to me is a very good sign.  Note too that it’s got just 3 pushers plus the Crown – so how will Casio manage with what appears to be less?
Well they manage very well with the Module 5325 as it happens and I give a quick run down on the different aspects of control with this model –

1) World Time and setting your own Home Time – this is as about as easy as it gets.  Unscrew the Crown, then pull out the Crown.  The Second hand will move and point to the City code the watch has been set to previously.  Simply turn the Crown to move the Second hand around the city codes to the one you wish to set.  Then push the Crown in – the hour and minute hands, perhaps the date and 24hr hands will move to reflect the time of that city.  If OK screw the Crown back in – Job done!  You can also swap Home and World cities and that’s easy too.

2) The lower dial – shows the mode the watch is set to – such as Timekeeping, World Time, Stopwatch, Countdown Timer, or Alarm.  And note the same dial on Timekeeping points to the Day of the week.  And also note that push button [C] (lower left) is the mode selector control so each press will cycle through the available modes.  Note this dial also shows Receiving state and battery state too.

3) The Digital Compass – couldn’t be simpler as it has it’s own control at [A] push button (the buttons are lettered clockwise from [A] upper right).  Unlike the digital display Casio GA1000 model this watch does not display any digital angular degrees.  It is just like a standard North indicating compass.  The bezel is fixed but does have some (sparse I’d have to say) degree markings on the inner blued ring which may be useful.  So turning the watch around with Compass mode activated so that the North pointer lines up with the N on the bezel, then checking the bezel against your direction of travel and you’ve got some idea where you’re going.  To use practically, I suppose the tried and tested “sit it on a map” alignment procedure is about as good as you’d get.

4) The Timer – this is up to 60 minutes only.  Again use button [C] to select TR (Timer) on the lower dial.  Unlock the Crown by screwing it out, then pull out and turn to set the Timer duration.  In this operation the Minute hand will be the pointer – set it at 12 for 60 minutes and clockwise to any other time less than that.  Press [A] to start.  An Alarm will sound for 10 seconds on completion and button [B] will reset.

A similar idea for the Chronograph operation, select via [C] and [A] to start and [B] to reset and so on – you’ll soon get the hang of it.  And the Alarm is more of the same and here you can see the value of this Crown and in use a pattern is quickly established that you can remember – Select with [C]- set with the Crown – start with [A] and reset with [B].

Interesting lug/strap fixing to resin strap.  Possible alternatives if required?  maybe . .

Interesting lug/strap fixing to resin strap.  Possible alternatives if required? maybe . .

It all reminds me so much of my older Citizen analog Radio Controlled, Solar and World Timer model, which used the crown in exactly the same way, though a simpler and less complicated model of course.  I love it and wear it often and I can see the same thing happening here even with all these complications.

Other features are a very good night “Neobrite” illumination on hands and indices, good Water Resistance at 10BAR or 100m, Date, Day and Time continuous indication (always a good thing), a fully automatic Calendar to 2099, light weight steel and aluminum case & bezel resulting in a weight of only only 92gms.

I’d say Casio might have just about got it perfect this time – though as always until you have it on your wrist for a week or so – you never know!

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 . . . 😉

//

Mad or Nomad

Well I did it – I bought one of the 3 contenders discussed in my last post and whilst any one of them would have been OK, I admit to being influenced greatly owing to an offer I couldn’t refuse!  (160% off) and maybe surprised myself by getting the Wenger Nomad or in this case – the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race Compass LED Nomad (model 70434).

Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race Nomad LED Compass

Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race Nomad LED Compass

This model differs from the 70430 Nomad as it has the black PVD treated stainless Steel case and top bezel.  The case screw back is standard stainless steel with the Wenger logo in the center, model number and notes Water Resistance as 100m (10bar) so OK for swimming or snorkeling.   The Stainless Steel used in this watch is 317L grade, which is a high quality low carbon alloy.
It also has a bright GREEN digital LED display (stealth) instead of the more common Red.

As size was important and this watch whilst 43mm diameter also has considerable depth at 15.2mm and weighs incl strap at 101gms, so is a serious chunk of Stainless on your wrist.  It’s about as large as I can take (170mm wrist), the thickness adding to the equation and certainly justifies my concerns on size with these function watches.  For example a 45mm diameter watch with a similar depth would simply be too big for me.  So I’m relieved to say this one is a good fit and extremely comfortable, owing much to the excellent flexible thick black silicon strap with black metal buckle.

At 43mm Dia & 15.2mm Depth - this is my limit - but very comfortable.

At 43mm Dia & 15.2mm Depth – this is my limit – but very comfortable.

On top there is a “fixed” bezel  with text denoting functions of each of the 4 neat unobtrusive push buttons.

The watch dial has a black background with white luminous coated numerals and the white colored hands are skeleton.   Whilst Wengers description doesn’t say, the hands also have white luminous coated arrow tips.
The luminous quality is about average though irrelevant as a single push on the TIME pusher @8 and the large Digital LED Display fires up bright green.  There is also a red colored center seconds hand.  The clear flat mineral crystal is described as “Sapphire coated” by Wenger.  I assume this is a synthetic Sapphire overlay to give increased scratch resistance.  I would guess this is similar to Seiko’s Sapphlex.  A hardened mineral crystal laminated with sapphire.

The LED display is a gem and images on most web sites and this one too don’t do it justice!  (you’ve got to take the photo quickly (5 secs) and it tends to focus on the hands!).  It is however – Very large, very bright and very clear and push the appropriate button, Day, Date and Month or Time can be displayed, each for 5 seconds per push.

Green LED display on demand - here showing time

Green LED display on demand – here showing time

Year is not shown, but is set and shown on initial setting.  It’s possible to set the Digital Time as a 2nd Time Zone if required.  The button @2 operates the Digital Compass – a short push and compass indicates with LED dash markers running across the center of the face from 9 to 3 for a few seconds, simultaneously a small Green arrow shows under the Red Swiss Army Cross @12 (in effect illuminates the cross) which is the watch direction, then large Green LED numerals denote the heading in degrees in the watch center.  The display remains lit for 30 seconds.

Compass reading 359º - shows direction for 30 seconds.

Compass reading 359º – shows direction for 30 seconds.

As usual before using the compass it must be calibrated and this model allows Magnetic Declination input and this is easily done just after calibration.  In my locality the declination is quite small at 2º 9’ west (or -) and this compensates for the difference in Magnetic North and True North.  Once set the Digital Compass should indicate more accurately.  These little magnetometers are limited in accuracy, so a general heading is all you can really expect and common sense for the rest!

To calibrate this model place the watch horizontally on a flat surface and press the Compass button for 3 seconds.  This brings up CAL on the LED display.  Then turn the watch clockwise steadily and slowly for 2 full revolutions.  The LED display will alternately light small markers clockwise and across the dial.  When you’ve completed the turns you can either leave it – it will automatically read the heading for 30 seconds then switch off,  or press the Compass button to input any magnetic declination – pressing the DAY button adjusts the Declination angle figure from 90 to – 90.

Magnetic Declination can be found easily online on various sites but you can also use your UK Post Code (saves you entering Latitude & Longitude or GPS co-ordinates) at the Geomag site HERE

It has to be said that for serious compass work I doubt anybody uses a watch Digital Compass anyway – but as a quick indicator of direction and heading if you are out in the hills it can be useful.

However  I’ll definitely still keep my Recta map compass under my Tilley hat when out and about – just in case.

A good point I noticed – the use of the 2 o’clock position button as the Compass is very sensible as I wear my watch on the left wrist, it can easily be operated on the move as it were (with the watch horizontal of course) with the right hand.

I almost forgot the ordinary time functions – The analogue time is set and adjusted using the main crown and the date, day, digital time, month and year adjusted with the various buttons – very simple.  In addition the day/date/month format can be changed from Month/Date to Date/Month so good for UK users.

Conclusion –

Really quite pleased with this model.  It’s solidly built and with a dark matte PDV treated Stainless Steel case and I like the excellent and large LED display, which is very easy to read.  The Wenger LED Nomad tells me the Time, the Date, Day, the Month, has a 2nd Time Zone if required and has Digital LED Compass on demand, that tells me more or less where I’m heading as and when I need it.  It’s very comfortable and fits my wrist nicely – and I was lucky enough to get it at a bargain price.

What more do I need?

————————————————————–

The other Swiss Army model ST-5000 by Victorinox is slightly different in operation.  When the compass button is pushed the watch specifically indicates North.  You then pick your direction of travel and then swing the watch to the direction required and “lock” it into the system.  Then hold the watch horizontally, press the compass pusher and check the light display whilst turning the watch – and when the Green is lit – that’s your heading again.  However it doesn’t have a DAY or DATE indication, so a VERY basic watch with a Digital Compass is all it is and a little disappointing.

Another option is the Wenger Compass Navigator– which has a small liquid filled swing out compass – really neat.  Doesn’t have the fanciness of Digital, but it’s quite practical.  However as I got the Nomad at a knock down price – it would be double what I paid . . .  And considering you can get a liquid filled map compass for under a £5 note – it makes you wonder just what we’re playing at?

More on that in my next post.

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Compass compacts 1

The subject of this Part 1 & 2 post is simple.  Can I find a Compass Watch that does NOT, because of it’s SIZE  look silly on an average wrist? – in other words a Compass watch model that is a sensible size.

One of the problems with adding functions to any watch is the fact that the more you add, the larger it becomes.  Larger in diameter and often depth too, both of which can make a wristwatch and the wearer look rather silly.  And to make the search that more difficult I add another personal criteria – I would like Ana-Digi as I much prefer the main time keeping part of any watch to have hands – in other words I don’t want a digital display only model (I find them difficult to read as the contrast quality of most regardless of price, can be quite poor).  I also have to accept that there are quite a few Compass watches and some are clever and useful, others less so and this is not always price dependent.

However, that said I may include one or two digital only models, but only IF they are a sensible size and are easy – and I mean easy, to read.

My wrist is about 170mm in circumference and a watch size of 45mm diameter is about my limit, without looking like a total geek.  Slightly larger may just be possible as long as the watch case is not too thick.  But 50mm and up, forget it.

Casio Pro Trek PRG 5501 AER analogue/digital Solar

Casio Pro Trek PRG 5501 AER analogue/digital Solar

The most prevalent Compass model is Casio and the first one is in the “larger than I would like category” is the PRG-550-1AER Pro Trek Solar at 48.8mm diameter and 14mm depth.  It’s Analogue with digital sub-display and as most of this series share the same dimensions, I’ll leave it as the Tough Solar/Pro Trek ana-digi representative.  One caveat – re’ the size – I would have to try it on the wrist before serious consideration.

Compass watch - Casio SGW-500H-1BV

Compass watch – Casio SGW-500H-1BV

Of course I found a Casio candidate in my last post – the SGW-500H-1BV a cheaper Casio model but not available as far as I am aware in the UK – It also has fewer functions with only Digital Compass and Thermometer in addition to the normal Casio digital set up – BUT it was smaller at 46.8mm diameter and 13.6mm depth, so is still very much a viable candidate.

Timex Adventure Fly-back Digital Compass T49865

Timex Adventure Fly-back Digital Compass T49865

I also checked out Timex as they do offer Digital Compass models too and the first one I considered is the Adventure Fly-back Compass Chronograph T49865 series.  This is an analogue 6 hand Quartz model with Digital Compass including magnetic declination compensation, dual time, date @3 and Water Resistance quotes as 100m.  It is handily sized at 44mm diameter and only 12mm depth, which is really quite good.

I much prefer this model to their Tide-Temp Compass version – it seemed over cluttered for me and this one seems cleaner, though whilst the clarity issue will have to be checked out, it looks worthy of consideration.

Timex also do a T49688SU all digital model, which is smaller yet at 41mm x 13mm, though the Digital Compass looks a little simplistic to me.  I have not checked it out fully as being digital only, it can wait till I exhaust the analogue and ana-digi choices first.

Anyway in my first Digital Compass model look see I’m actually quite impressed with what I’ve found so far.  The more expensive Casio models seem to be reasonably serious with their functions, cheaper ones less so, which is or should be fairly obvious.

In Part 2 I’m having a look at two more models that offer a Digital Compass function from Tissot and Victorinox, as both appear to me to be more traditional watches.  Both are within my size range and both are Analogue/Digital.

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Casio – compact choice?

Well I’ve been considering replacing/adding to my old Casio collection and whilst the models I have are still available, I want one with more rugged features and added functionality if possible.  Basically I would like one that maybe has an additional function or functions, like a Digital Compass or perhaps Solar Power or maybe Radio Control.

Now perhaps at first glance this seems an easy find, but I have one overriding requirement – size.

There is no doubt that when you start to add functions, invariably the diameter and thickness of the watch increases and in fact the main two reasons for not owning a Digital Compass watch is just that –

1) They are too big and
2) I don’t want a digital only display –
My preference is for analogue with a secondary digital display.  This latter reason (2) simply because – I take my watch off, lay it on the window ledge or bedside cabinet and with digital only, at my age without glasses, there’s no way I can tell the time.  Also in bright daylight or some interior lit situations, it is often quite difficult to even make out the digits – so Hands are a must.

Checking out the Casio range I looked at the Pro Trek range as I like the extra functions they can provide, but the diameter (width) is often 50mm+ which for my smallish wrist, frankly, is a bit silly.  The only ones that come within my size are the “slimline” series, or PRG110 style, but these are solely digital.

So my criteria –
47mm is the absolute maximum diameter to fit my wrist – no exceptions.
Analogue/Digital but must have good clarity/contrast etc.
Usual Casio functions package as my minimum standard – incl World Time.
Added functions – if useful to me – Solar powered, Compass and/or Radio Control etc.

G-Shock models were out of my size range, most at + 50mm, with the odd one at 46mm (the 960 series) but again digital only.  The Standard analogues (GAC100) were also +50mm and some of the Digi-Ana models not only too large at + 50mm, but many had cluttered dials and part or full skeleton hands, which did nothing for readability.

The G-Lide series whilst actually OK size wise, were not quite the specification I required and having a permanent “tide info” display, didn’t appeal, not being the nautical type.

Tough Solar AQ-S800W-1E47.6 X 42 X 10.6 mm/33 g

Tough Solar AQ-S800W-1E
47.6 X 42 X 10.6 mm/33 g

However the “standard” range seemed more promising.

The Tough Solar AQ-S800W-1EV is only 42mm diameter and 10.6mm depth which is ideal – with World Time for 31 Time Zones and Solar Powered, it is a pretty good specification.  It also has the hour and minute hands in white edge & lume with the hands overlapping the centre pivot which I like.  Finding this one was at least a start, as I was becoming apprehensive that no Casio was actually going to meet my requirements!

This model has quite a good specification –

Resin body with mineral crystal, 100m Water Resistance, Solar Powered, World Time, LED light for the digital display, Chronograph, Stopwatch etc, 5 Daily Alarms, Auto Calendar, Hourly Time Signal, Long sleep time of 23 months in darkness on full charge, very light weight at only 33g.  It is also a nice clear face which means clear to read and without being cluttered as so many models can be.

This could be a pretty good update of my current models and Solar Power is a nice  additional function.

The others in the Standard range AW 80 series are basically the same as my old models – in fact the AW-80V-5BV looks exactly like my old Telememo 30 with it’s cloth strap too.  So a bit pointless in getting one of those . . . .LOL.  The fact that it’s still made is a testament to it’s popularity I guess – so not a bad purchase those years ago.

Now whilst the Tough Solar model is a consideration, I have find another model with a different specification – a Twin Sensor model from the OutGear series that could also be a serious contender – the SGW-500H-1BV

Compass watch - Casio SGW-500H-1BV

Compass watch – Casio SGW-500H-1BV

However this is a bit larger, I assume owing to the Digital Compass and Thermometer functions and is right at the limit of what I can wear.   I do have a couple of other watches at 45mm diameter and I just manage OK with those.  This model is 46.8mm diameter x 13.6 mm – and I hope the depth does not cause an issue.  It’s the smallest diameter Casio with Compass I’ve seen, the rest being huge.

Once again the dial arrangement isn’t cluttered, the hour & minute hands are broad & lumed (no centre overlap, but clear to read), a decent sized digital display @6 with good contrast and large figures, large solid numeral markers on the hours and a neat twin spoke & arrow red colored pointer hand for the compass indication. Whilst the Thermometer sensor is of no real benefit to me, like the old Telememo, it is not permanently displayed but demand only, so doesn’t add to dial clutter, which is fine.

Other specifications are – 100m Water resistance, Resin and aluminium case, World Time (31 Zones etc), Digital Compass (North) which has bidirectional calibration, plus Magnetic Declination correction, Thermometer, Stopwatch, 5 daily alarms, Auto Calendar etc etc – or the Casio “package” as I call it.

This certainly appeals, as I have always had a liking for a compass watch, especially as most are giants, well over 50mm and frankly silly.

I also looked at the Edifice range and two models were of some interest but had no function advantages over my current models and I did not some issues not least of which was clarity with both the ones I looked at.

Model – EFA-135D-1A3V is neat at only 42.8mm diameter and 12.7mm depth (ideal in fact) and has a neat dial arrangement, not too cluttered and at first looked OK.

Casio Edifice EFA-135D-1A3V World Timer

Casio Edifice EFA-135D-1A3V World Timer Anti-Magnetic

But – I had a chance to see a few images of the actual watch and at no time could I easily see either of the digital displays clearly. These in reality were quite small and dark and this is where pictures on the web can be so misleading, so I am very unsure as to whether it should be a contender .

The EFA-131D-1A1V is similar in function though slightly larger at 46mm and thinner at 12.5mm.

Casio EFA-131D-1A1V World Timer

Casio EFA-131D-1A1V World Timer

The dial is not too bad, the broad white hour and minute hands helping, though the seconds sub-dial @9 is a little cluttered for me.  I also noted permanent signal markers on top of the upper digital display window which seem obtrusive.

I also noted a You Tube video on this watch and whilst the digital displays seemed quite bright, the dial overall appeared over shiny and reflective – a feature I’ve noted before on some Casio models.  So again I have reservations.  Specification wise as the other Edifice without the anti-magnetic reference.

So the Edifice models I’ve discounted, basically as whilst modern looking, they offer nothing new or added in the way of functionality and clarity really looks as if it would be a problem for me.

To summarize –

1 – The Tough Solar AQ-S800W-1E – Ideal size, standard function set, good clarity PLUS the addition of Solar Power.  Under £40.00.
2 – The SGW-500H-1BV – Size within criteria, standard function set, good clarity PLUS the added Digital Compass.  Again inexpensive.

On investigation however it appears that neither is readily available in the UK.  New Zealand Yes, South Africa Yes, Hong Kong Yes – but NOT UK!

Either is a good choice.  For a straight replacement with added Solar Power the Tough Solar model is good and the Outgear model with Digital Compass is attractive in the SGW500H 1BV series (there are a few versions/colors etc).  The prices are good (low actually) and could be worth sourcing either one out of Hong Kong – I can wait 3 weeks or so.  But I do have the feeling this range must be a cheaper made product in comparison to their larger Pro Trek range – so I’ll wait and see.

Addendum –
After considering the Casio models, it’s made me question the availability of Digital Compass models at a sensible size!  And it’s got me thinking perhaps other Makers might have alternatives that are not so large.

So I’m checking out Swiss Army and Tissot T-Touch – and any others I can find albeit more expensive.
It also looks like the subject of my next post has just been decided. . .

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