12 October 2020

Timex "Expedition Field Chronograph 43mm" watch

Photo of watch

It's about a week since I bought one of these so I thought I'd jot down some of my first impressions of the timepiece.

My overall impression is positive. There are a couple of negative points that I'll deal with but, on the whole, I like this watch.

The build strikes me as being sturdy. There is no play in the crown or in the buttons and their operation is met with a reassuring amount of smooth friction.

The mechanism for setting the watch is slightly unconventional but it actually makes sense. Most analogue watches with date usually allow you to set the date by pulling the crown out to a first position, and then to set the time by pulling the crown out to a second position. This watch does things slightly differently because it also has to allow you to calibrate the chronograph before you use it for the first time. With the crown in the first position you can zero the chronograph's minutes hand (10 o'clock dial) and you can set the date by rotating the hours hand independently of the minutes hand. With the crown pulled out to the second position, you can zero the chronograph's seconds and tenths of a second (2 o'clock dial) hands.

When pulled out to its second position, rotation of the crown sets the hours and minutes hands of the watch. The gearing is such that the hands rotate slowly enough to allow accurate positioning of the minutes hand taking into account the seconds past the minute. E.g. you can pull the crown out when the seconds hand points to 0/60, which stops the watch. You then set the minutes hand to point precisely to the next minute and when that actual time is reached, push the crown back in, thus starting the watch at precisely that time.

The markings on the face are accurate. There are so many watches in the same price range as the Expedition Field Chronograph (ca. £110) that have irregularly-spaced markings. They make the minutes hand point directly to a given minute on one side of the dial but halfway between two minutes on the other side of the dial when the seconds hand is pointing to 0/60. Not so for this watch.

The face itself is actually quite readable, more so than the above photograph would lead you to believe. Legibility decreases with the level of ambient light and there are no phosphorescent "glow in the dark" markings on the watch face, but this is one of Timex's "Indiglo" watches. The face can be illuminated by an electroluminescent panel emitting blue light, although like any form of lighting, this is a drain on the battery that is huge compared to normal operation of the watch.

I have to admit that I wasn't a fan of the khaki-coloured fabric strap that came with this watch. Yes, it does match the watch face but I just didn't like it. I replaced it with a black leather strap matching the body of the watch. It's an easy and inexpensive "fix".

The chronograph needs calibrating before first use so that the hands actually point to zero when the chronograph is reset. The procedure is simple enough and only needs to be done once unless the watch is subjected to unusually high G-forces. Three hands indicate the chronograph time elapsed. The chronograph seconds hand is the long hand on the central axle (pointing to 36 on the photo), the minutes hand is on the dial at 10 o'clock reading from 0 to 30 and the 10ths of a second hand is on the dial at 2 o'clock and actually has a resolution of a 20th of a second (0.05s). This last hand does not move during chronograph operation; it is moved to point to the correct reading once a split time is displayed or the chronograph is stopped.

The seconds hand for timekeeping is on the dial at 6 o'clock. This may seem unusual to have it there rather than on the same axle as the hours and minutes hands but, once again, this decision makes practical sense. This dial is partially obscured by the hours hand between about 4:30 and 7:30 and by the minutes hand from about 20 minutes past the hour to 40 minutes past the hour. If it was the seconds hand of the chronograph, you would potentially have to wait for three hours to see how many seconds the chronograph is displaying. With it being the timekeeping seconds hand, you only have to wait a few seconds to see it again and the chronograph seconds hand is not obscured.

Having only owned this watch for about a week, it's far too early to think of accuracy. This said, it's looking good. As soon as I unboxed the watch, I synchronised it to a radiocontrolled clock that I have. Today, the watch is running maybe 0.2s faster than the clock. That equates to an inaccuracy of around one second per month, or somewhere between 10 and 12 seconds a year.

Would I recommend this timepiece? It matches more or less what I expect from a watch in this price range, so yes. I was pleasantly surprised by most things that I wasn't expecting and not really bothered by the rest.

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