Automatic/mechanical vs quartz for field/hiking use.

Good morning all,

Recently I had a close friend get into the hobby if watch collecting. He asked me my opinion on field watches.

Being that I have spent a number of years in the military my answer was Garmin or a G-Shock. He looked at me puzzled because I wear my Orient Defender 2 a lot to work.

I explained that even though the Dirty Dozen are a staple in military field watches, you can't beat a quartz watch. My Orient and Garmin have both seen a lot of use. But if I had to choose one, the Garmin would be my dedicated field watch.

I would love to hear what others have to say about this topic and whether you would choose quartz or mechanical/automatic for field use.

·

The closest thing I go to fields is music festivals, for that I like a g shock. This way I can time how long it takes to walk between stages, or if I'm in a different city to see how far away from where I'm staying. I can imagine this might come in handy while hiking. Also solar is great feature. I suppose I can wear a nicer watch, but I won't cry if I manage to break the g shock.

·

I wore a Timex Atlantis when I went to the field, for the same reasons people wear G-Shocks. I found the slimmer profile was ideal, and Indiglo is awesome.

Bzilla

The closest thing I go to fields is music festivals, for that I like a g shock. This way I can time how long it takes to walk between stages, or if I'm in a different city to see how far away from where I'm staying. I can imagine this might come in handy while hiking. Also solar is great feature. I suppose I can wear a nicer watch, but I won't cry if I manage to break the g shock.

Great point. If you break the G-shock or a cheaper quartz I wouldn't be as upset. I break one of my automatics and all I see is dollar signs lol

KristianG

I wore a Timex Atlantis when I went to the field, for the same reasons people wear G-Shocks. I found the slimmer profile was ideal, and Indiglo is awesome.

I didn't even think about Timex. I don't really see many Atlantis in the field but u have seen a TON of Timex IronMan.

·
WatchesandCalinsthenics

I didn't even think about Timex. I don't really see many Atlantis in the field but u have seen a TON of Timex IronMan.

The Atlantis wasn't sold in North America for a while, but the Ironman has been on sale here since it came out in the 1980s.

When I was a kid in the 90s I wore Atlantis', so I prefer them over the Ironman. I currently have a green one, and a black one.

·
WatchesandCalinsthenics

I didn't even think about Timex. I don't really see many Atlantis in the field but u have seen a TON of Timex IronMan.

Those digital Timex watches are no joke

·

Your #orient is really nice btw.

If I were going hiking or just in the countryside then I would wear whatever my preference was on that day.

If I were off to an actual battle in war then I would go with the most accurate and ultimately least likely to matter if it got damaged or destroyed which would be the synthetic digital watch's.

·

Most modern mechanicals can take a fair amount of shock, but just because they can, doesn't mean they need to be exposed to it. Excessive shock in a mechanical piece usually ends up in tears and a broken balance staff. I would always recommend quartz for anything rough. Excessive shock in a quartz watch might rattle a battery out or fry a movement. That will be a lot easier and less costly to replace/repair.

So, for anything rougher that a mild hike, quartz will do you best, but mechanicals can still take some of it.

·

My two favorite watches for hiking/backpacking/mountaineering are my G-Shock GA2100 for quick excursions and my Suunto Core for anything longer or more remote. The elevation and barometer on the Suunto is useful in the mountains.

I love mechanical watches, but you can’t beat the reliability of a quartz.

·

I think explaining to people the charm of mechanical watches works pretty well. It can last forever if you service it. But it's more expensive and less accurate than a quartz watch. That's all you really need to know about the two, and most people can make up their minds from there

·

Glad to see the garmin being put to good use! Can’t go wrong with an automatic or the Casio. Thanks for your service!

If I was deployed again, I'd be wearing the Sinn EZM 1.1 S, (on the rubber strap through).

Image

Super rugged— it definitely would have gotten through my raids.

Beyond that, the visibility is REALLY good. Since we made all of our housecall appointments at night, you need something with really good visibility low light/no light without expecting an obnoxious lume glow to save the day (and the lume is going to fade to nothing before you arrive on the objective anyway, let's be honest).

Here's a shot of the watch in the middle of a night flight/super low light:

Image
Image

In that photo, you can not only read the time, but I can also clearly see without doing any mental math how much time is left in the flight (wheels down in 1 hour and 13 minutes). It was much darker in real life, but my phone went into night mode for the photo).

In tactical situations, the countdown is highly underrated. We needed to clear the X within 30 minutes of arrival, and when things get hot & heavy, you want to offload as much thinking as possible.

This next shot is a little blurry, but I think tells the story really well. Imagine having a use for a running chronograph, and trying to read those tiny subdials on a Speedmaster or Daytona while you're moving at an airborne shuffle pace...

Image

The blurriness here simulates visibility while you and your arm are moving. 9 minutes and 35 seconds elapsed on the chrono. That would have been very difficult to read on a subdial. Also— my phone went into night mode and brightened this, but actual visibility was much darker and I could still read it clearly at a glance.

The ability to track 3 things at once is also super useful. Actual/local time, mission/phase elapsed time, and GTFOH time... all in a very quick glance.

Image
·

For short hikes I would use a mechanical fieldwatch. But for hard core trekking and camping I would go for my Protrek ABC solar watch.

Image
·

Garmins are nice.

·

Suunto Elementum Terra looks like a fun field watch.

Image

Company info here.