The clock should be read by the sunshine,
not the sun timed by the clockRichard Jefferies, Round about a Great Escape, 1880
A watch for the trail does not have to be all singing, all dancing. All it needs to do, is tell the time. There are some terrific watches on the market. I have eyed up the various offerings from Suunto, Garmin and the like on many an occasion. I have even strapped one or two round my wrist. But they all seem to do more than I want or require for an everyday watch. I have no inclination to be syncing my watch with my PC. I don’t need a depth gauge for snorkelling, no need to measure oxygen levels or any of the other myriad functions. As to the need to charge some watches every day due to their GPS function promptly draining their batteries, good grief!
On trail, basic ABC (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass) functions are useful on occasion, but until now, I have continued to rely on an old Brunton Nomad G3 Pro, clipped to my pack shoulder strap. I would be the first to admit that it has never proven to be the most accurate pieces of kit, but (usually) sufficiently so for me. Even the manual proved to be quite a headache. If I ever find a similar but more reliable product, I will snap it up.
I have found very cheap and cheerful offerings, probably all made in China, all with little chance of a return if problems arise. But I doubt accuracy is ever going to be something I would be troubled with from any of those.
All I ever really want is something well made, not too heavy, that clips to my pack, that shows temperature, has an alarm clock facility, has a subtle backlight and shows the time. Not a lot to ask for is it?
For a number of years in the British army, in the 1980’s, I wore a child’s watch, just for the perverse and simple pleasure of knowing that every time I saluted an officer, he was presented with Mickey Mouse waving at him. The simple pleasures of the idiot fool… it is probably a collectors items these days.
While in training as a young British soldier, we were never issued with military watches. It was only once I had ‘passed out’ as a fully-fledged, if still wet behind the ears, trained yet naïve squaddie, that I was issued with a watch along with other kit on my first posting. Little did I know at the time that not only would this watch be signed back into stores within three years, prior to my being sent to my next overseas posting but I would never be issued another. I do wish I had ‘lost’ it prior to having to sign it back.
The Smiths W10 was also the last ever British made watch issued to the British Armed Forces. It was ideally suited and perfectly functional, though perhaps a little small (35mm) for many peoples taste today. Black face with simple, luminous indicated, Arabic numerals and luminous hands. One advantage that a military watch has over most other types are the fixed lugs. These do not have spring loaded pins to hold a strap in so there is virtually no chance of your watch coming adrift and being lost while you are totally oblivious. The strap had to be threaded through non-removable pins. The Smiths brand is now owned by Timefactors who produce a modern replica- the PRS29A (or the PRS29B). Smiths also made the speedos for my BSA D10 and A65 motorcycles that I had at the same time. I do wish I still had both motorcycles and the watch. Sad losses.
Other suppliers to the Armed Forces took over, prominent were the Cabot Watch Company (CWC), their modern day General Service Watch equivalent, the G10, does look a decent piece of kit at a good price that may tempt me one day.
For a fairly cheap ‘n’ cheerful watch that will do what a watch should do- show the time, and is also waterproof, you can’t go wrong with the Timex Indiglo range. The Timex Indiglo Expedition Camper with quartz movement that I wear most days on trail was purchased for less than thirty quid. It is still available today with a bit of hunting. It comes with a 37mm wide plastic case, is water resistant to 50m, has a high visibility dial, date function, (the aforementioned Indiglo) backlight, and, well, that’s about it. Weighing just 32g and with a fabric strap it is comfortable on the wrist and easy to forget I am wearing it, which suits me as I am not a great fan of heavy watches. For the price, if I did ever lose or break it I am not going to be that upset and will simply buy another. I do wish it had an alarm facility though.