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61766IR - Timex WS4 watch - R Caffin

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  • Roger Caffin
    Jan 1, 2010
    • 0 Attachment
      Hi Mark

      Herewith, for your amusement. HTML at
      I'll wait and see what the mods say about the strap, but that problem does
      not interfere with the IR.

      Test Report - Timex Expedition WS4 Watch
      Report Contents

      Initial Report
      Reviewer Details
      Product Information & Description
      First Impressions

      Field Report
      expected early March 2010

      Long Term Report
      expected early May 2010

      Initial Report 8-July-2009

      Reviewer Details
      Reviewer: Roger Caffin
      Age: 64
      Gender: M
      Weight: 63 kg (139 lb)
      Height: 167 cm (67")
      Email address: r dot [surname] at acm dot org
      Home: Sydney, Australia

      Backpacking Background

      I started bushwalking at 14 and took up rock climbing at University with the
      girl who became my wife and my permanent walking partner. Ski touring and
      canyoning followed. Winter and summer, we prefer long hard trips by
      ourselves: about a week in Australia, up to three months in Europe/UK. We
      prefer fast and light in unfrequented trackless country. We would be out
      walking, skiing or snowshoeing for at least three months a year. We have now
      moved to lightweight gear, much to our backs' relief. I designed and made
      much of our lightweight gear myself.

      I am also the maintainer of the Australian aus.bushwalking FAQ web site

      My watch says Morning Tea Time
      mountain hut, near Grindelwald, Switzerland

      Product Information

      Manufacturer: Timex (www.timex.com)
      Year of manufacture: 2009 (assumed)
      Country of manufacture: China
      Watch supplied: Black
      Strap supplied: Elastic
      Weights (measured) Watch: 63 g (1.80 oz)
      Strap: 25 g (0.80 oz)
      Neck cord: 9 g (0.32 oz)
      Dimensions Width: 53 mm (2.09")
      Length: 68 mm (2.68")
      Thickness (body): 17 mm (0.67")
      Height above deck: 28 mm 1.10")
      Water Resistance: Claimed 50 m, but see below for what little this means
      MSRP: US$200

      Product Description

      This is a digital watch with the standard Barometer/Altimeter and Compass
      features, along with the common extra features such as dual time zones,
      chronometer, data logging, etc. (With the current state of the art in
      integrated circuits, these extra functions are excessively easy to add to a
      watch, whether they are needed or not.) It has the usual four control
      buttons plus an 'Indiglo' button for the back illumination. Where it starts
      to deviate from a 'standard' watch is the size of the unit, and i will
      return to this point shortly. The model number 'WS4' apparently means 'Wide
      Screen with 4 functions' - all true.

      The unit comes with a glossy (laminated) fold-out quick reference guide with
      brief instructions in English, French and Spanish, and a compact (and thick)
      instruction guide in the same languages. The latter fits into the box base
      on the watch stand. All the glossy fold-out guide covers is some esoteric
      features of the altimeter - mainly how to use the altitude alarm feature. It
      seems that whoever wrote the main manual forgot to mention these features -
      or they were added to the software after the manual was printed

      The Timex web site is rather confused when it comes to describing the strap.
      It variously describes the strap as 'Durable Resin Strap', 'Black Resin
      strap' and 'Buckle/Clasp Type: Buckle', and reading the other Test Reports
      for this watch will show that this is roughly correct. However, the unit I
      received has a strap made of heavy elastic some 30 mm (1.2") wide, held at
      one end with about 40 mm (1.8") of hook&loop fastening and at the other end
      by a moderately complex stainless steel adjustable buckle. This strap does
      not appear on the obvious WS4 web page, but delving deeper into the web site
      I found an FAQ page which said this: 'Comfortable and durable rubber strap
      or XL Elastic Fast Wrap to fit outside of performance gear'. Unfortunately
      it also said 'Unless you have the WS4 with an XL elastic strap (which can be
      removed completely), the strap on the WS4 was not designed to be removed and
      replaced. If your strap breaks, you can contact Timex Customer Service at
      800-448-4639 or custserv@...', so for the present I am stuck with an
      XL wrist strap which is unusable for ordinary walking.

      The web site shows the black version as having jungle green buttons. My unit
      has bright orange buttons. I suspect that the change in colour may be
      associated with the change in the wrist strap.

      The specifications claim '50 m water resistance', but apparently this is
      another one of those dubious marketing claims which you are not meant to
      actually believe or use. The FAQ page for the watch does say 'We do not
      recommend swimming with your WS4. The WS4 is 50 meter water resistant, and
      the general rule of thumb for any watch is: 30 meter can be safely splashed;
      50 meters is safe in a shower; 100 meters is safe in the pool; and 200
      meters is safe for snorkeling or light diving.' I find this definition for
      '50 m' to be misleading to the point of being deliberately fraudulent.

      First Impressions

      Did I mention that this thing is huge? The dimensions are in the table
      above, but it is not until I held the watch in my hand that I realised that
      plasma TV screens are not the only thing which come in an super-size
      category. Once again, I have to say that (in my opinion so far) the watch
      seems more designed for street machismo wearing than for real use when out
      bushwalking. I say this because a thing this size really would get in my way
      when fighting my way through thick scrub. But we will wait and see for the
      Field Report to see.

      There seem to be four small hex head bolts on the front of the watch. These
      are clearly visible in the lead photo. However, despite my best efforts,
      these don't seem to do anything and don't seem to rotate. One is left to
      wonder whether they are anything more than pseudo-macho ornamentation.

      The 'wide screen' display is certainly large. It has a small analog clock
      face at the top left hand corner which does double duty as the analog
      compass display, although the resolution is low. It has a dot matrix digital
      display at the top right hand corner: this is arguably the 'main' display,
      and very readable. In compass mode it is limited to displaying the cardinal
      points rather than degrees, which i found a little strange. At the bottom
      left hand corner there is a temperature display and a set of weather symbols
      of the usual format - clouds, sun, rain etc. In compass mode the actual
      bearing in degrees is shown here. At the bottom right hand corner there is a
      set of seven-segment number which are used for secondary displays such as
      Altitude in Time mode, date in Altitude mode and setting the altitude
      reference points. Great care must be taken when reading these numbers as
      they are very narrow and some characters are hard to interpret. In
      particular, the plus and minus signs in altitude reference mode are almost
      incomprehensible at first. One gets used to them after a while, but I did
      have one of my altitude references set to -188 m (rather than +188 m) for a

      Finally, at the bottom right hand corner on the metal surround there are
      four little black embossed logos. They do occupy space which could have been
      used by the LCD display. As far as I can see at this stage, they serve no
      useful or functional purpose. They seem to be just fancy trim.

      Wrist Strap
      I tried to adjust the elastic strap to fit my wrist, but this was not
      possible. Even at the tightest setting it slid up my arm. Then I found the
      bit in the FAQ about the strap being for use with 'performance clothing',
      but my 'performance clothing' is never that bulky. (Think single-layer
      Taslan or single-layer Lycra.) The strap just manages to hold at my wrist
      when I am wearing a wet-suit (albeit rather loosely), but I can't use the
      watch in the water as the '50 m water resistant' specification does not mean
      the watch can actually be used in water. With the strap fully extended I can
      get both wrists into the strap quite easily - see photo to the right. (No,
      this is not a bondage item!) 'XL' is certainly correct; 'usable' is less

      The unit came with a fairly robust neck loop which can replace the wrist
      strap. It is secured to the watch with a short bit of hook&loop fastening. I
      did notice that the stuff tended to peel open rather easily (a Chinese
      brand?), and how reliable the attachment might be in the field is definitely
      open to question.

      Set-Up and Manual
      I spent some time setting the watch up to my requirements - metric units,
      local altitude, etc. This required reading the small instruction manual. The
      first problem was that the font was so small I had to take all my glasses
      off before I could read it (I am short-sighted). However, the printing was
      of good quality. The second problem was that the instructions are not always
      easy to follow, and do seem to leave a few steps out in places.

      The instructions for setting Time and Date are on page 14 (and page 11) of
      the little manual. Technically the instructions are correct, but they are a
      bit confusing. Before reaching the actual time and date display the user
      must select 'Time1' or 'Time2' and press 'Mode'. This is not obvious at
      first, and I found it rather puzzling. Careful reading of the fine print
      shows that the manual does cover this, but the casual reader is likely to
      miss it.

      The instructions for setting the altitude to match the local environment
      (page 15) are even more confusing. On most watches the Start (Up, + or
      whatever) button increases the displayed number; on this watch it does do
      this but only for one digit at a time. It is necessary to advance from the
      hundreds to the tens and to the units (etc) by pressing the Mode button.
      Further, unless the STOP button is pressed at the end the whole process will
      be largely ignored. I got very confused here for a while. There is a note
      about this in the FAQ page at the web site.

      Calibrating the compass is essential before use, and this uses the 'normal'
      two rotations of the watch. After this the declination can be set. All this
      went very smoothly, but the result was not good. In the end it turned out
      that my steel filing cabinets were distorting the local magnetic field! I
      moved into a clear space and redid the calibration successfully. The manual
      does not explain anywhere that the resulting display is for 'True North',
      not 'Magnetic North'. This might confuse a novice. However, this does not
      cover the effect of tilting the watch, which has been found to cause major
      errors in other watches. This aspect will be covered in the Field Report.

      The alarm works: it beeps (at a high pitch) and flashes the blue display
      back-light a number of times. It is a pity I can barely hear the alarm,
      although my wife says she can. She says I have lost the high end of my
      hearing spectrum. That happens with age, but it does make the choice of a
      very high pitch questionable. However, given the size of the piezo disk
      inside the watch, the high pitch may be unavoidable.

      The manual contains several quotes from a well-known mountaineer, but such
      things are just common commercial testimonials for which the vendor pays the
      'name' money. In my experience such paid 'testimonials' mean absolutely
      nothing. Even Tiger Woods sells (or did sell) his name to all sorts of
      companies for testimonials.

      Field Report - expected early March 2010

      Long Term Report - expected early May 2010
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