Men's Watch Recommendations Requested

I’m wearing a 15 year old Timex Expedition watch. It’s beat up, scratched, the numbers have worn off the bezel, and I’ve had to polish the plastic face several times to keep it readable.

I would like to replace it, but I’ve never found another watch that does what this one does, in the form factor that it comes in. Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • A small watch. I can’t stand these new gigantic timepieces. If I put one on my wrist, I’m aware of it all day long. Drives me nuts. So I’d like a watch with a 39mm face or smaller.

  • Light weight. I don’t want to wear a pound of steel on my wrist.

  • A leather or good cloth strap. I can’t stand metal expansion bracelets.

  • Analog and digital display. I’m a usability freak, and can’t stand all-digital watches. I’ve always found that analog hands give me that ‘at a glance’ picture of the time that you just don’t get from digital. At the same time, I have occasional use for a chronograph and alarm and such, so I prefer to have an inset digital display in the analog face. I could live without it, though.

  • A readable face. I hate sacrificing function for form, so no faces lacking numbers, or with roman numerals, or with blue lettering on a black background. I’d like a nice, high contrast face. My expedition has a white face with black lettering in a nice compact font. There’s no extra glurge all over the watch face - no ‘noise’ to sift through. Watches with complex ‘elegant’ faces bug me about as much as web sites with patterned backgrounds.

  • Thin. My Expedition is 10mm or 11mm thick. The replacement for this watch is 13mm or 14mm. It’s just way too thick for my taste. The thinner, the better.

  • A good backlight system, or highly readable glowing hands.

  • Other fun features are a bonus. I like toys, so the coolness factor definitely plays a part. But the basic functions of the watch can’t be compromised.

  • Waterproofing is a bonus - not ‘water resistant’, but waterproof so I could use it for diving.

I’d like to pay under $500 for such a watch. Preferably in the $200-$300 range or less.

Alternatively, I’d like a decent automatic watch - I like mechanical movements, and I’d give up the bells and whistles to have a good watch I never have to put batteries in. But I can’t afford a Rolex or a Brietling, and I find them too large anyway.

This shouldn’t be that hard, but every watch I look at is always missing some key feature or has one lame-ass design feature that’s a deal breaker. So I keep dragging my cruddy old expedition back into service.

Heres an example of a watch I wish I could like, because it seems like a good watch: Seiko Sportura. It’s got a chronograph, a leather strap, analog face, it’s reasonably thin, etc. But it’s hard to read - no lettering, and all kinds of visual noise all over the face of the watch. It’s huge - Something like 45mm long. I tried one on, and the watch actually stuck out over the edges of my wrist - and I have fairly large wrists. The band was also very stiff, and as a result wearing it felt like I had a plank on my wrist. Very annoying.

The Tissot T-Touch watch looks interesting - It’s got a zillion features, yet the design looks clean because it uses a touch sensitive face for user input, and the hands actually serve multiple functions (i.e. when in compass mode, the hands move to point direction rather than having a digital direction display or a little dial - keeping the face design clean). But it’s expensive, and no one around here carries them so I can’t tell if it’s built well or whether the touch features work well.

Any suggestions for a good watch that meets my requirements?

So the newer Timex Expeditions are completely out? I’ve found that they fit comfortably and have worn nothing but various ones (I’ve had to replace them every three or four years) for about a decade, but I’ll admit I’m not sure how much of a difference 3 or 4 mm makes for you. I’ve got one of these and I’m quite happy with it.

Hmmn… Maybe it would! I didn’t realize there were still so many different Expedition models available. I just went though the display case in a department store, where they had several different expeditions. And all were huge. This one looks exactly like my current watch, except that my case is a khaki plastic.

Swatch actually has a lot of conservative men’s watches at inexpensive prices. For example:
http://store.swatch.com/dresswatches/watches/page/1/YOS413
http://store.swatch.com/dresswatches/watches/page/2/YCS429
http://store.swatch.com/dresswatches/watches/page/3/YGS732

I think the most epensive one is $150… FYI Swatches are always fully waterproof.

If you’re willing to settle for analog-only display, my suggestion is Mondaine’s official Swiss Railways Watch. I think it meets most of your other criteria, particularly readability (when there’s light - no backlighting or glowing hands as far as I know), and it’s a design classic. They’ve also come up with quite a few variations on the basic theme, all shown on the website. I have the basic model, I like the simplicity.

I like both the Railways watch and the Swatches, but unfortunately the case dimensions aren’t mentioned for the swatches. I’ll have to see if I can find some locally and try them on.

Thanks for the advice!

I like the Hamilton brand. I’ve had one for several years now and have been very happy with it. Probably you’d be more interested in the Khaki series, and the Field models.

Maybe the Field Automatic? Easy to read, uncluttered (fully analog) face, water resistant to 100m, 38mm diameter. Depending on which (and how many) of the bells and whistles you’re willing to give up, of course.

Wow, I like some of those Hamilton watches a lot. The Field automatic is pretty nice. It’s a little thick, at 13mm, but I see they have some models in 11mm, with a 38mm face. THat’s pretty much exactly what I’m looking for. And you can get an automatic movement for under $300. That’s pretty impressive if the quality is decent.

Unfortunately, there are no Hamilton dealers here in Edmonton, so I’d have to buy one sight-unseen. Always risky… But I’m certainly going to check them out.

I can’t speak for the automatics (I have a Khaki Action Chrono (quartz)), but the quality of mine is amazing. I’ve had it for at least three years, maybe four, I’ve changed the battery once if at all, and the thing has just a couple scratches around the bezel – the crystal is flawless, and I wear it every day. I probably smack my wrist on something – a stair rail, brick wall, door, whatever – once every couple months or so and worriedly look at the watch, and there’s never so much as a scratch on the face.

It was my first expensive watch purchase (though I got it at a pretty hefty discount on sale), and I worry that my next one won’t come close to matching up.

It’s funny in this high-tech age most watches are back to analog instead of digital.

For the same reason digital-readout speedometers never caught on - a picture is worth a thousand words. One glance at an analog face and you can see the relationship between the current time, quitting time, supper, your next meeting, whatever. When you look at a digital watch and it says “3:38”, there’s a bit of an extra translation step you have to do in your brain to understand what it means. Plus, hands can be easier to read at a glance. For instance, I can see the time on my watch looking through the face at about a 60 degree angle, which means I don’t have to keep rotating my wrist to check the time while I’m typing, driving, golfing, whatever. The digital portion of the watch doesn’t have the viewing angle to support that - you have to looking pretty much straight on at the watch, which makes the whole checking-the-time process a little clumsier.

Sometimes, simpler is better.

Many times this opinion has been offered here on the Dope. I don’t get it, though–I’ve only driven cars with regular analog speedometers, but I can definitely recognize the following thought process going on:

to self: the speed limit’s 65 here; how fast am I going?
[looks at speedometer, looks at number nearest to needle]
ok, about 78 mph, how much over the limit is that?
78 less 65, that’s a little over 10. I’m going a bit more than 10 mph over, is that too fast for here?
yes, ok, slow down a bit
[slows down a bit]
how fast am I going?..

It’s the same with analog watches–I often convert the time into a “digital” figure in my head (“it’s about 10 after 7”). Wouldn’t catch me wearing a digital watch, though.

A digital speedometer doesn’t give you a sense of rate of change. It doesn’t give you a graphical picture of the relationship of your current speed to various limits.

You could say the same thing about graphs: “Who needs a line graph? If you tell me the numbers are 32, 45, 68, and 73, I can tell that the sequence is increasing. I can subtract two numbers and find out how quickly it’s changing, etc.” All the information you need is right there in the numbers. But a graph gives you a visualization - a picture that you brain can process as a whole and glean much information from.

It’s the same with speedometers and watch faces. Yes, I know that 7:58 is an hour and two minutes away from 9:00. I know that it’s four hours and two minutes from 12:00. But glancing at an analog watch face affects the brain at a different level. It gives us a snapshot of the current time and its relationship to various other important times in our day. It fits our mental map of what a day looks like. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one.

I like the Swiss Army Calvary Basic, not too heavy and easy to read.

Bolding mine

I have driven in a digital display car, didn’t like it. The owner liked it even less. Complaints can be summed up thusly:

The thing is always changing. As good a cruise control is, changing inclines, curves and road conditions drive the speed to a different value. Even level road causes the speed of the car to fluxiate.

So you are driving on a highway, 65 mph, with the cruise on. Value keeps fluxuating from 64 to 65, up to 66, back to 65. Driving with eyes on the road you notice a change in the display and keep having your eyes dragged back to the display to nitice the changing digit (it’s worse if you are trying to hold at 70 or 80 because two digits change).

In an analoge the sweep of the speedometer doesn’t jar the atention of the driver away from the road.

I’m with you guys on digital speedometers, but I prefer digital watches. The reason is simple…if I’m reading an analog watch I need to look at it and convert the time to digital. Why do the conversion when I don’t have to? I don’t gain any extra information from having an analog watch…not like I would with a speedometer (rates of change and such).

I can read my current digital watch from about a 50 degree angle without turning on its backlight…with the backlight on I can read it from basically any angle.

Getting back to watches, I would suggest a Navy Seals watch. It is the only watch I have ever owned that is readable in total darkness, no matter how long it has been in said darkness. I can read it at 3AM without my glasses.
There are various sizes and styles available.

There was this thread recently, which influenced me to buy a Luminox, which I love, maybe there’s somthing there:

But I think the Luminox might be bigger than you like.

Before that I was wearing a Skaagen, which is very thin. It was $100 at a duty-free shop, I think the same at jewelers. Keeps perfect time, only had to adjust it at dayllight Savings time and when I changed time zones for travel. But no lighting or anything, just a plain old analog watch.

BTW, I was also using a Timex Expedition for years.