I wrote a few days ago how it’s the little things that count, and here’s a good example. I used to own a fancy all singing @suunto watch, one that did heart rate and GPS (actually a very handy function as long as you remembered to turn it off 99% of the time), in fact, I’ve owned three of them, but each one ended up lost or broken. Instead of buying another, I went with a Casio F-91W, the same watch I had when I was 14, costing around £9 from Argos rather than £300.
The reason I got this watch as I had dinner one day with someone in the SAS and I asked what watch they all wore, thinking it had to be something tough, and that maybe I’d get the same. “Casio” he replied and asked if he meant a £50 G-shock, another great outdoor watch from the past. “No, one for a tenner”. I’ve had a couple of these watches now, and no they don’t feature GPS or tell your heart rate (if you feel good you’re going to slow, if you feel like being sick you’re going too fast), but they do tell the time and have an alarm. You might notice the strap is not your normal watch strap and instead is a ’NASA Strap’, which is a fancy way to say ‘a long but of velcro’.
The use of velcro as a watch strap was used by NASA crews so they could wear their expensive watched both on their wrists and over their space suits (they could not carry two watches). For climbing this allows you to wear it normally as well as over your layers, vital if you’re doing tricky navigation and need to keep an eye on your timings. It’s also lower profile than a normal watch, which means you can climb with it on, plus the long blue strap makes it hard to lose when in your sleeping bag (a watch on your wrist will often not wake you up, so stick it in the hood of your bag, or in that Condom pocket in the hood. The rubber band is designed to make it easier to remember which way the watch goes (you can feel it when it’s inside your sleeping bag), and all in all it does a lot for under a tenner (strap is just a strap from a DIY store). — Now if only someone would give me a new @suunto GPS watch