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Who likes ABC (Altimeter/Barometer/Compass) Watches?

Discussion in 'Watches' started by shrap, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. shrap

    shrap Loaded Pockets

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    Does anyone like Altimeter/Barometer/Compass watches? I bought one a few days ago, a Nike Oregon Altimeter watch... but I'm planning on returning it today. Did I just buy the wrong one? Here are the few problems I had with it:

    Altimeter drift - I would set my altitude, and then go upstairs/downstairs. It would work fine immediately, but in a few hours it would be off, even if I was stationary.
    Compass - takes a while to get a reading, plus it updates every second, which is kind of slow.
    Temperature - the heat from my wrist would make it inaccurate, even with constant compensation (fixed +/-). Plus, even if it worked, this feature is nearly useless.
    Big and ugly
    It's digital - which makes it harder to read the time at odd angles
     
  2. Timecacher

    Timecacher Loaded Pockets

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    I've only owned one watch with these features, a Timex Helix that I bought several years ago. The thing is huge and it's like wearing a hockey puck strapped to your wrist. The screen is large and easy to read and features just about every function you could want. They stopped making them but occasionally you can still find one on Ebay. Kind of funky looking but a great old watch.

    [​IMG]


    Altimeter (ascent/descent w/time & temp )
    [​IMG]


    Barometer (w/time & temp)
    [​IMG]


    Compass (w/time)
    [​IMG]
     
  3. bruner

    bruner Loaded Pockets

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    I've always been interested in them, but never tried one.

    I look forward to hearing more about them.

    :popcorn:

    Dan
     
  4. Leemann

    Leemann Loaded Pockets

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    I would like to get one like the pathfinder series but have concerns about the longevity of the watch as welll as acurate readings.

    Oh yeah around 100 bux or so
    Lee
     
  5. houdini28

    houdini28 Loaded Pockets

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    The Timex Helix can also be found at Target or Wal-Mart occasionally in their clearance sections.

    I've had a couple of friends that had temperature/barometer/altimeter watches and they never worked quite right. I believe the problem was related to the fact that the watch determined all three by their relationship to each other. Even by setting a constant all three metrics vary.

    One friend has a Timex with a digital compass and another friend has one with an electromagnetic compass. Both have worked adequately and one could orient with the watch if one was so inclined.

    I have never owned a watch with a barometer/altimeter/thermometer/compass built into it but I do think they are neat. I am rather interested in the Tissot T-touch which has many of the features built into a thinner frame (compared to other multifunction watches). It also has an unique interface.
     
  6. inmypocket

    inmypocket Empty Pockets

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    Suunto Core Wrist-Top Computer Watch with Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, and Depth Measurement

    * Altimeter: Difference Measurement / Start from 0, Logbook, Automatic Mode
    * Barometer: Storm Alarm, Weather Trend Indicator, Weather Graph
    * Compass: Rotating Bezel, Digital Bearing, Easy Calibration
    * Depth Measurement: Max. Depth 30 ft/10 m
    * Watch: Sunrise/Sunset Time, Dual Time, Countdown; Other: Button Lock, 4 Language Menu

    Somewhere around 250 bucks

    Scott
     

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  7. Kilovolt

    Kilovolt Loaded Pockets

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    A few comments based on the experience with my titanium T-Touch:

    [​IMG]


    Altimeter: all small size altimeters measure differences in atmospheric pressure and the pressure varies rather significantly during each day; at most each adjustment can last only for a few hours. This is valid for all kind of atmospheric instrument like barometers etc.

    Thermo: any object you wear in contact with your body gets warm; it is then reasonable that if you want to measure ambient temperature you have to remove the watch from your wrist. Because the contact of the watch with your arm is not continuous (the strap can't be tight) its temp varies slightly and this makes compensation useless.

    Compass: it is likely that each sampling takes up a lot of battery energy and this is why the reading can't be continuous. Besides you don't really need quick updates.


    :)
     
  8. shrap

    shrap Loaded Pockets

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    That's very disappointing. Do people actually use these watches for anything? They sound pretty useless. Or are they sold only to gear-heads?

    I've heard that the Suunto Core solves some of these problems by alternately locking either the barometric pressure or the altitude. If you aren't moving, the altitude is assumed to be constant, and it can give you a barometric trend. If you're moving, it assumes that the exterior air pressure is constant. Would that solve some of these problems?
     
  9. Kilovolt

    Kilovolt Loaded Pockets

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    This is what Suunto Core does:

    Auto Alti/Baro Mode
    If you leave your watch in altimeter mode while hanging out at camp, an incoming low-pressure front will read as a gain in altitude. Thus, it’s important to choose the right mode for your activity: altimeter for climbing, and barometer for hanging out at camp. The Suunto Core makes it easy to manually choose the proper mode for your activity. The Suunto Core features an automatic Alti/Baro mode that senses movement or lack thereof, switching between altimeter and barometer accordingly. When you’re climbing, it records changes in elevation. And when you stop to rest, it records changes in barometric pressure. A drop in air pressure while you’re sleeping under the stars will be recorded for what it really is: a change in barometric pressure, not altitude.


    so apparently this helps at least during one single day; however because you move around and up and down in your daily activity I doubt this is the solution.

    Please note that climbers tend to use mechanical altimeters like for instance the famous Thommen (I use one of these):

    Thommen

    and you surely have the problem of calibration.
     
  10. obediah

    obediah Empty Pockets

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    I have a casio pathfinder and I love it.Ive no real use for the altimeter but I am aware of the problem of changing air pressure reading as a change in altitude...but then Im not a mountain climber.
    The compass is a handy backup for a full size compass but the main reason I bought it was for the barometer function.You have the choice of displaying the date or a 24 hour air pressure graph at the top (I always leave it with the graph and it still has the numeric date there anyway).The idea is that a rise in air pressure tends to read as an improvement in the weather,a drop in air pressure as worsening weather.From my own very unscientific observations its usually pretty accurate and I can predict rain coming or going pretty well from it (yeah I know its always raining here in blighty).
    My main need for a watch is to tell the time,but the compass and barometer are handy little extras that weigh nothing - the pathfinder is the same weight/size as my previous sports watch.
    As always YMMV
     
  11. hawkeye

    hawkeye Loaded Pockets

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    I have a Casio pathfinder Protek triple sensor. As several have stated, the alti/baro functions are tied together. Fortunately, most of my time is spent at a few feet above sea level, so I can just calibrate the alti, and then the baro function is quite usable.

    As for the compass, it comes in handy. I just relied on it yesterday - it was quite overcast, so I couldn't see the sun angle, and I was navigating a nearby, but unfamiliar city. I got off my printed google map due to an unnoticed road name change, and used it to see which way was generally east.

    I don't think I would trust it any more than one of those keychain compasses to nav by bearing/distance, but it is handy.

    Mine is not heavy (titanium band/case) and is solar recharged, so no battery issues. I think I paid about $115 for it, and have worn it continuously for a couple years. No complaints.
     
  12. Brangdon

    Brangdon Loaded Pockets

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    I agree that the thermometer is pretty useless.

    I have a Pathfinder SPF-70T, which replaces the altimeter with a depth meter, and this too is useless.

    A barometer I think is quite good for giving an idea of local weather. My old Casio could keep it permanently on display, which meant it got glanced at often. My current Pathfinder can't do that without hiding the time, and so I hardly use its barometer at all now.

    I am not bothered by the problems you mention with the compass. However, I have found mine needs to be quite level to get a good reading. Before I had this watch I used to EDC a separate button compass, and I don't know, so I guess I think the watch is good enough for EDC. For real navigating I take a full-sized compass (and map and GPS).