It takes more than a resemblance to a piece of kit worn by a video game superhero to meet the needs of a mountain walker. To increase their chances of building a watch that could look good but also operate in the non-fictional real-world mountain environment, Timex has teamed up with American alpinist Conrad Anker. The result is the Timex Expedition WS4, a watch that features a widescreen ‘dashboard’ for on-demand outdoor information at a glance.
I’ve been using the Timex Expedition WS4 for a month, and it is growing on me. First impressions were that it was a little ‘over the top’, with its massive macho casing and bolt heads attaching the straps to the body. But it is more comfortable than it looks and it’s easy to use.
As with most watches destined for mountain use, the WS4 comes with compass, altimeter, barometer and thermometer functions alongside the usual time, alarms, calendar and stopwatch.
No two watch brands appear to use the same operating system, so with every new model comes an evening of intense studying of the manual. The WS4 has a quick-start pocket guide as well as a more in-depth user’s manual. I found navigating my way around the functions a smooth task that felt very intuitive after a little playing. Switching between functions is assisted by clear on-screen wording that informs you of the function you have entered.
Buttons are key features on a watch designed to be used on the hill, and the WS4 probably has the biggest and user-friendliest buttons of any watch I have used. These buttons made switching between functions easy and precise.
The WS4’s widescreen is the main feature of this watch. It’s about the same height and width as other mountain watches’ circular screens, but the rectangular shape means there is more space on the screen. The result is that there is room for an analogue display as well as a digital display, and this function is used to display time and compass readouts to great effect.
The typeface is a little more ‘digital’ than some other watches I have used, and I would prefer a slightly less pixellated font.
The Timex Expedition WS4 is a welcome addition that looks set to become a classic. The user interface is well-designed. The onboard functions are ideal for hill and mountain travel. The strap looks like it is built to last and – most importantly of all – the buttons are big, chunky and easy to use.
The more I wear and use this watch, the more I like it. It may make a statement about its wearer (which you may or may not want), but it does make you feel like a superhero ready to take on the world! More importantly, the Timex Expedition WS4 looks like it will survive the journey.
Screen size 38x25mm
Functions altimeter -400m to 9000m; barometer 300mbar to 1100mbar; temperature -10 deg C to +50 deg C; compass; time/date; chronograph; 50m water resistance; Activity Review Mode captures lows, highs and averages
Colour options white, black, blue, orange, yellow
Made in Philippines
Stockist details tel. (01772) 453918; www.timex.co.uk
Verdict: The Timex Expedition WS4 is relatively lightweight; essential functions; easy to use; durable design. But some may prefer a less ‘digital’ typeface; some may prefer a less chunky style. Overall, it offers mountain style matched by mountain performance.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine July 2009