Combo nights (1)

My last Post featured the fashion watch Infantry but got me thinking.  One of my passions today is the combo watch, that is one with both analog and digital displays and I also like the concept of the “military” watch and whilst maybe not the official Mil Spec, I like to get as many of the same attributes I can.  What I’m NOT looking for here is a “fashion” watch, but one with serious features and functions that work as they are supposed to.

The finding of a serious military combo watch however is surprisingly difficult as so many models fall short in some manner.  Such as back lights that don’t illuminate the dial data effectively, or luminous hands that are not, or over cluttered dial configurations, or even lack of intuitiveness requiring an instruction booklet with you at all times!  Now the watch can be simple or complicated but it has to have the basics right, such as good Water Resistance, shock resistance, solid case preferably matte and non-shiny, good night legibility and a sensible function set.

Now funnily enough it’s quite easy to find a digital only model that fits the requirements and one of the better ones (and there are quite a few I have to say) is the Casio 120CM-5 and @$130 easily manages the brief – as do many of it’s variants.

Casio120CM-5 Camo Digital only

Casio 120CM-5 Camo Digital only

So when looking for my ideal “Mil Spec” style “military combo” model, whilst I could list the requirements, it’s actually easier to check out what’s available and then judge them accordingly as OK or not OK and say why . . .

I checked out quite few Casio models and was surprised when it came to combo watches that this was much more difficult than first thought.  Often the models had non luminous analog hands and many were skeleton and often not easily seen against considerable background dial clutter, what with all the various indicators on the dial face.  Needless to say none of those interested me at all and each for one or other of these reasons failed to meet my requirements

One feature that really annoyed me was the apparent lack of decent illumination for night use.  Without luminous hands Casio have attempted to light the entire face with a light at the edge of the dial, which was only partially successful if, at all – lighting analog hands from the side just doesn’t work too well.  But in providing such a dial light the digital display was left in darkness without a dedicated back light.  Now OK that doesn’t bother me too much as at night I basically want to see the time, not fiddle around with digital settings and so on.
However this is a poor do – conventional watches with luminous hands, if decent quality, are fine for night use, whereas many of these modern analog/digital models don’t feature luminous hands at all – and I don’t understand why not.  Surely specifying luminous hands eliminates the need for a dial light and by having it allows for the usual relatively simple Casio digital back light (as the Casio 120CM-5 watch shown here).  Surely this makes sense?

But it doesn’t appear so as almost all current models feature rather poor dial and digital lighting and few luminous anything – indeed judging my comments on many video reviews it’s a bone of contention, though tacitly accepted whereas I won’t accept it at all.  And this is a shame as I’ve discounted most combo Pro-Treks and the majority of G-Shocks for not only that issue but a few other basic reasons as well, such as lack of clarity either owing to dial clutter and/or poor night use, or for being too large.  Two downsides it has to be said with many G-Shock case covers is that some models are too big for my wrist and the control buttons difficult both to find and operate amongst what I see as over-protective shrouds.

So, did I find anything that does suit me and meet my basic needs – and here I look at alternatives to Casio first.

Leaving the G-Shock style for a moment this Divers model from St Moritz – the Momentum Format 4 is actually a very good combo and though not military in any sense, it certainly features many of the required elements and does them very well.

St Moritz Momentum Format 4 Combo Divers model

St Moritz Momentum Format 4 Combo Divers model

Good broad luminous analog hands and numerals, an excellent clear pair of digital displays and a decent function set too, such as World Time, Chronograph and Alarms etc.  It also has a very tough construction stainless satin finished case with screw down crown and 200m Water Resistance.  For night use this combination of lume plus excellent digital back lighting is not far short of perfect and is well worthy of consideration in my view.P1020511

Another Brand to consider obviously is Timex and this model, which I’ve owned for some time now is the Timex Expedition T49967.  It has a decent analog dial with luminous hour/minute hands and a digital display, shock proof resin case construction, 200m Water Resistance, non-reflective body and what I’d call a sensible function set of Chronograph, Time and Alarm, which is fine for most of us and in my opinion a really underrated model and at around £60+ mark is still currently great value.
As for night use, it uses the patented Timex “Indiglo” back light system.  This is a light source behind the dial and everything is read in silhouette and within the digital display the black digital numerals intriguingly stand out light against a dark background, which is the opposite to what shows in daytime.  It also has a standard strap fitting which I replaced with silicon deployment strap.  I can confirm I’ve been very, very pleased with this Timex ever since I bought it as it’s a get and forget type of watch, good value and I’d recommend it to anyone.

There are some other models around that I’m also interested in, one of which has to be the new Tissot “Touch” Solar which could well be in a class of it’s own (watch out Casio – it’s ABC, neater, smaller, light and at night it’s brilliant).  Not available till September though, so in the meantime I’ll feature another combo model, which I’ll review possibly in my next Post.  And this is a Casio again and currently has to be one of my favorites.  And with so many variants of G-Shock, Solar Tough and Pro-Trek it’s sometimes overlooked, though has an interesting function set – and at night it isn’t too shabby . . .

Watch this space . . .

Get and forget (2)

Yes, sorting out which watch model to buy in amongst a huge range can be daunting and often compounded by what your particular preference may be.  What you want from a new watch etc.  This is always the problem I have when looking at the big lads, Seiko, Citizen and Timex.  Because they really make models for just about everyone, so it’s very difficult.

Timex Expedition Chrono T49895

Timex Expedition Chrono T49895

I tend to check out the ones I like, not because of the number of functions they squeeze in, but for the model that manages to combine a certain simplicity with function, if that doesn’t sound silly.   By doing this, I gradually out of many dozens of disparate models, manage to pick maybe a couple or so that make sense and manage to fit my simple requirements.

The first one to appear out of the crowd is the T49895 Expedition Chronograph model.  With it’s ion plated steel case and black dial, luminous analog Hour, Minute hands and center Seconds hands it is very conventional.   No superfluous fly back features that to me are unnecessary complications.  3 sub dials for the chronograph function and a multi-date window between 3 and 4 are well defined and clear to read and not a chrome edged reflective numeral in the place!   Note this model also has a back light.  Chronograph bezel outer rings are neat and unobtrusive and the well knurled crown and pushers are just about perfect.   The dimensions are a decent 45mm x 13mm and Water Resistance is 100m.

To cap it all this model has a leather strap fitted to standard lug bars, so alternative straps or strap replacements are not an issue down the road.

This is a model that is sensible terms of Form, Function and Fit and without the added corporate style trappings of being something it’s not – it is what it is.

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My second choice from Timex’s vast arsenal of watches is the T49967 Expedition Alarm Chronograph.

Timex T49967 Expedition Alarm Chronograph

Timex T49967 Expedition Alarm Chronograph

I like this  model as it’s of Analog-Digital design but not overpoweringly so.  Whilst it’s supposedly 43.8mm across, I measured mine (I already have one in my collection) and the width to the crown is in fact almost 47mm, so not a small watch by any means.  It’s only 13.6mm (depth) and wears smaller than it is, albeit with a definite Timex Expedition look to it, but is relatively uncluttered and not over-functioned.
Once again the dial is excellent, matte and well laid out in black with contrasting broad luminous infilled analog Hour and minute hands plus a yellow center seconds Hand. It has a nice overall balance.

Large clear numerals and markers in white and yellow mean good clarity and the Day, Date, Month, Alarm, Timer, Stopwatch plus Digital time display is well positioned @6 and is larger than many, but does not get in the way of the analog functions.   Additional chronograph buttons are on the wide bezel @6 for chronograph control such as Stop and Split laps etc.  The bezel is influenced by their “shock” range and gives good protection to the crystal.

Note this is a perpetual Calendar model, so once the Calendar is set, forget about short months and so on, it’s all taken care of.

Four nicely figured pushers are on the outer edge of the case and are broad and easily accessed, the crown is @3 as usual, well shrouded but accessible.   Once again we have an Indiglo back light, so this is well equipped for low light situations and has a 200m Water Resistance.

T49967 Silicon/rubber strap with buckle.

T49967 Silicon/rubber strap with buckle.

This model comes with a green colored rubber strap and once again if not to your liking it’s an easy matter to replace, as the case/lug/strap bars arrangement is about as standard as you can get – many thanks Timex!  In practice the strap is actually very good and I have not changed it myself – and I’m really picky when it comes to straps and wrist comfort!

This model once again manages to get the basics right and the overall “Form” is pleasing, Function is unobtrusive and it Fits well to the wrist and it does it all rather well.

T49967 Expedition Combo

T49967 Expedition Combo – on the wrist

Both models above are around the same price (approx £85 in the UK) and for me represent excellent value for money without gimmicks and are two of the most practical and sensible Timex models I’ve seen for a while.

True Get and Forget watches = Form, Function and Fit.  (I can see a slogan coming. . . . . 😉 )

Note – I see that many Timex models now come with a generic instructional manual and often these do not relate at all to the watch model you may have bought.  The model above (T49967) is such a model and I note the following additional instructions in case anyone purchases one.

The pushers are labelled and self explanatory, but when setting the digital time (first push the “set” pusher and hold it) and you go through the sequences – hours, minutes etc etc. and once done – push the “set” again, the digital display is then set by default to the Time indication.
However to display the Day, Date and Month (the calendar), you must push the ST button on the bezel and the Calendar will flash up for a second.  To permanently show the Calendar display rather than the Time display, push and hold the ST button for at least 3 or 4 seconds.  This will show the date, day and month then set – then release the button and the Calendar will stay indicated, now as the permanent digital display.   So at a glance you now have the analog hour, minute and seconds hands on the main dial and the digital display will be showing the Calendar. (you can reverse the sequence as you wish).

Also when setting the digital display the Calendar can be selected show either USA or UK style (Day, Date and Month) – something I wish others would emulate.

Timex Expedition Vibration Alarm T49854J - Great daily beater!

Timex Expedition Vibration Alarm T49854J – Great daily beater!

Finally I’d add to this selection my other Timex Digital Expedition.  Quite similar to the ana/digi here, but digital only and once again a really sweet watch to wear – I show an image just for comparison.

It’s interesting to note that out of my collection of Timex watches, the one shown here on the left (T49854J), the ana/digi above (T49867) certainly get the most wrist time.  For methey encapsulate everything that Timex in my opinion does best.  Really excellent low cost daily beaters – true “get and forget” models, that are a perfect balance between “Form, Function and Fit”.

What really and honestly could be any better?

Well to answer that I am looking at Casio next week and as they’re in the same business and “get and forget” is money in the bank!  – I’m betting they’ve got something to offer too!