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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Freestyle Watches Navigator 2 > Test Report by Andrew Preece

Freestyle Navigator 2.0 Watch
by
Andrew Preece

Initial Report September 22nd  2009
Field Report due November 22nd 2009
Long Term Report due January 22nd 2010
 
Contents
Initial Report
Description
Features
Instructions
First Impressions
My Details
Contents
Field Report
Long Term Report
Conclusion

 

Photo courtesy of Freestyle.

Personal Details
Name: Andrew Preece
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight: 165 lb (75 kg)
Waist: 39 in (100 cm)
Sleeve Length:  20 in(53 cm)
Chest: 42.5 in (108 cm)
Neck:  16 in (40 cm)
Email: andrew@teamgunnparker.com
Website: www.teamgunnparker.com
City: Perth.
Western Australia.
Australia.
Backpacking Background
I have done a lot of hiking over the years but now carry a hammock and gear for over night stays of one to two nights. I normally carry approximately 35 lb (16 kg) which includes food and water. My trips are usually between one to two days duration mainly over weekends. I hike all seasons with winter temperatures ranging from 39 F (4 C) to 64 F (18 C) including periods of heavy rain at times to summer conditions with the temperature ranging from 68 F (20 C) to 95 F (35 C) and very dry.
Testing Locations
Bibbulmun Track: Sea level to 1,920 ft (585 m). Within this region I backpack along old forestry roads, sandy tracks, and purpose built walking tracks. The south-west of Western Australia allows for hiking and backpacking from coastal plains to forested ranges. I hike in varying conditions from forestry tracks, to sandy tracks to single purpose walking trails, from rock hopping, to beach walking to completely off-track through open and dense bush country.
Testing Conditions
It is now toward the end of our winter. Though we are still experiencing some unseasonably warm days, and yet some mornings with lows of 50 F (10 C) and highs of 68 F (20 C). In another few months it will be middle of summer and the heat will set in. Daytime temperatures will range during the testing period, from a minimum of 57 F (14 C) to 100 F (38 C). The average rainfall for the next few months is, 1 3/8 in (35 mm).

Initial Report
September 22nd 2009
 

Manufacturer: Freestyle
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Place of Manufacture: China
Manufacturer's Website: www.freestyleusa.com
MSRP: US $125.00
 
  Manufacturer's Measurements. My Measurements.
Case Width 1.77 in (45 mm) 1 3/4 in (45 mm)
Weight   2.18 oz (62 gm)

 

 
Description
The Freestyle Navigator watch is a watch that has many functions including compass, timer, chronograph, recall, alarm.
The watch is black with a silver bezel as pictured above. The bezel can rotate clockwise and anti clockwise. The bezel is marked with an N, a W, an S and another symbol that must be the Freestyle logo. The band feels like a type of rubber with a small thin section along one side of the band that the buckle tongue fits into. This mesh material allows the buckle tongue to fit into to it at any point so that I can have any amount of adjustment I like. The band has a small hole at the end of it and on the other side where the buckle is, the keeper has a small lug that sits into this hole to stop the end of the band coming out.
The watch has six display modes: Home time / foreign time, Compass, Chronograph, Recall, Timer and alarm. The digital compass has sixteen cardinal directions and digital direction with a one degree resolution. The chronograph has a thirty lap memory and can be recalled. The timer has two interval timers. The alarm has three available settings and can be set for three different times on three different days or different times on the same day.



 

The button locations.
the buttons.
The watch has four buttons around the outside of the case and rather cleverly they fit flush with the case and do not stick out as I would have expected. The case is made of a type of plastic as are the buttons and has a metal backing plate. A pdf file of the complete setup and how to use this watch is available from the Freestyle website but without going into too much detail the four buttons are, S1, S2, S3 and S4. S1 controls for example the starting and stopping of the chronograph, also changing numbers depending on the mode the watch is in. S2 is used to enter a setup mode if I wanted to change the time for example. It is also used for split times in the chronograph. S3 is the mode button and pressing this button will scroll through the different modes. S4 is for the backlight. On the face of the watch in time mode the watch shows the day, if the hour chime is on, if the alarm is on. The time and date. It also shows more icons depending what is turned on or off and if the chronograph or timer is on. The watch displays a sand timer if the timer is on and a stop watch if I'm using the chronograph. The size of the display is quite large with the characters for the time being about 5/16 in (8 mm) high. A very nice touch with this watch is an electronic second hand of sorts. A little arrow flies around the outside of the face stepping forward one place on every second, very nice. On the face of the watch in time mode the watch shows the day, if the hour chime is on, if the alarm is on. The time and date. It also shows more icons depending what is turned on or off and if the chronograph or timer is on. The watch displays a sand timer if the timer is on and a stop watch if I'm using the chronograph. The size of the display is quite large with the characters for the time being about 5/16 in (8 mm) high. A very nice touch with this watch is an electronic second hand of sorts. A little arrow flies around the outside of the face stepping forward one place on every second, very nice.
The flush mounted buttons.
the flush buttons.
The watch in compass mode and the watch in time mode.
Navigation is provided with an electronic compass with an adjustable declination angle, so that I can set the watch to allow for the difference between true and magnetic North in my area. When the mode is first changed to compass the watch displays the time for a moment before showing the compass.
In compass mode it shows one arrow that points North plus three arrows on the opposite side to the North arrow, in the centre of the face is the degrees that the watch is facing, e.g. 65 degrees. Above the degrees is shown the direction, e.g. NNE. The top of the watch is always the direction that I am travelling and the arrow always points to North, so if I am heading west the North arrow moves to the three oíclock position shows me Iím head W and shows the amount of degrees Iím facing.
The compass only displays for twenty seconds before turning off and then shows the time to conserve power.
 
The watch in chronograph mode and the watch in alarm mode.
 
Features
  • 100 Meters H20 resistant.
  • Declination adjustment.
  • Time/Calendar.
  • 30 lap memory chronograph.
  • Timer with 2 interval timers.
  • 3 Alarms.
  • Digital compass with 16 cardinal directions and digital direction with 1 degree resolution.
  • Designed with Freestyle's proprietary Free Fit Technology, you have the freedom to chose a perfect fit with non-restrictive permeable wristband material.

Instructions

The instructions are set out in a little booklet that comes with the watch and covers everything I need to know. It took a little while to find the instructions as they are tucked away in the base of the plastic stand that the watch sits on. The instructions cover everything, for example.
CONTROL BUTTONS
S1. Start/stop button
S2. Lap/reset button
S3. Mode button
S4. Light button
How to set the date and time, How to set and use the timers, how to use the chronograph as well as using the recall, the compass, the alarms, the back light, and everything in between. I setup the compass and set the declination but need to spend more time on working out just how I use the compass to navigate by. It would have been better if the manual had covered this aspect in a bit more detail.
The watch in timer mode and the watch in recall mode.

 
First impressions
This is a very nice watch that feels nice on my wrist, is not too heavy at all at only 2.18 oz (62 gm). I love that I can adjust the band within a very small range if I choose. It was easy to read the manual and not too hard to learn the features of it but the compass will take more practise. I like the buttons and the way they sit flush with the case. I have used all of the features and everything works well and is easy to use.
A couple of features not mentioned on the website but well worth mentioning here and the first one is one I think all digital watches should have. And that is a low battery indicator. When the battery of the watch is close to depletion, the low battery indicator will be displayed, a little icon of a half full battery will appear on the watch screen. The second is a bezel activated backlight. When the S4/light button is held on for about three seconds a little light bulb appears on the screen and then the backlight can be turned on by touching the bezel. This will only work while the watch is being worn or the back of the watch is touching skin.
The mesh on the band.
the mesh in band.

The buckle.the buckle.

 

 

 
Please come back in about two months when I report on my field trips with this nice watch, where I'll head bush and try out the compass amongst other things.
Back to top  

Field Report
November 24th 2009

I have now been using this watch every day for the last two months. I wear it Monday to Friday to work and then on weekends. At work I spend half of my time working in our warehouse and the other half in my office. In the warehouse I have not protected the watch while I work and I have treated it just as I do my own.
I have worn it on weekends while hiking and camping and doing the normal house husband type stuff. The watch has not suffered any scratches or any other damage and looks like new. The only sign of wear is at the point where the buckle passes through the webbing on the band. It is not damaged in any way but just looks a little used at that point.
I have used the watch everywhere from across at the park with my daughter checking the compass to a full hour and a half hiking off trail bush bashing my way to a point that looked interesting on Google Earth.
On the last overnight trip I wore it for two days straight and it does feel very nice on my wrist. The weather on that trip was quite warm and hiking up through the White Horse hills along the Bibbulmun track I soon became quite wet with perspiration but at no time did the watch band irritate my sweaty wrist.

I have found the watch keeps very good time and the display is easy to see and read in full sun or inside the house.

Time Mode
In time mode I have time one set to my local time and time two set to the head office of our company in Sydney on the East coast. It is easy to switch between the two and as Sydney is three hours in front of us it is easy to know just what time it is there.

Chronograph Mode
The Chronograph is very good and gives me a lot of information. Once in the correct mode I press S1 to start the timer and then by pressing S2 when I want I can set lap times. I have a route set near home where I walk as a part of my fitness regime and at certain corners I set a lap. Then at home I use the recall to check my times.

Recall Mode
Once in recall mode I press S1 to scroll through the times I have done for each lap and the last figure given is for the total elapsed time. If I had not set any laps then recall will show "no laps"

Here is the watch worn and shown against my Garmin GPS to indicate the size. The watch is in compass mode but has gone into battery save.
Size on wrist.

Timer Mode
I use the timer when running intervals, I set the amount of time I want it to count down which is normally two minutes and at the end of that time it will beep and I know to walk for the next interval.
Once in timer mode I hold down S3 to scroll through the minutes and hours also timer one or timer two. I can also set the action at end function. This is a function that will happen once the timer has counted down to zero.
I can choose.
CS, count stop. At the end of an interval the timer will stop.
CR, count repeat. At the end of an interval the timer will start again.
CU, count up. At the end of an interval the timer will count up.
Pressing any button will stop the timer.

Alarm Mode
The alarm works well and is loud enough to wake me every time. I use it Monday to Friday and use alarm one and two. I have alarm one set to daily and at 5:45 am and alarm two set for 6:00 am on Friday. This way I am woken Monday thru Thursday at 5:45 am and then I get a sleep in on Friday. There are three alarms and each one can be set for daily or any one day of the week.

Back Light
Pressing S4 will turn on the back light. I have found it to be ok as far as brightness goes but would like it a little brighter. Holding S4 for more than 3 seconds is supposed to turn on the bezel activated back light. When it is activated a little bulk icon appears on the watch face and then you are able to turn on the light just by touching the bezel as long as the watch is on or touching skin.
Well that is the way it should work according to the manual. But it does not. No amount of button pressing and skin holding would get this to work. In the end I sent an email off to support for a request for help.

This is a copy of my email.

Hello Annie
Thanks for your reply but I have a new problem now.
If I turn the watch onto bezel backlight it just does not work.
I hold in the s4 button until the light icon shows on the screen but touching the bezel does not make the light come on.
I have tried while wearing the watch and also while holding it, making sure my skin touches the back of the watch.

Thanks
Andrew

To which Annie replied.

Good morning,
The light icon is for the free-light, which means any button pressed will turn on the light. The bezel has no light function.

I then replied with a copy of the relevant paragraph from the manual which states that it is bezel activated, which I quote below. I did not receive an answer to my last email of the 29th of September and have not received one to date.

BEZEL-ACTIVATED BACKLIGHT
FUNCTION:
1. Press and hold S4 button for around
3 seconds activated or deactivate
the bezel-activated backlight function.
2. When the function is activated, the
light bulb icon will be displayed.
You can then turn on the backlight
for around 3 seconds by touching
the bezel of the watch.
NOTE: To use the bezel-activated
backlight function, the caseback of the
watch must be in direct contact with
your skin during wear.
 

What does happen in fact is that when I am in this mode I can press any button to turn the light on, this sounds good but in practice is not so good. For example if I am lying in bed and want to check the time and press S1 the watch will change to time two, if I press S3 the watch will change to compass mode. Pressing either S4 or S2 will turn the light on perfectly. So I am not totally sold on this feature.

Compass Mode
When I first ventured off track with the watch I had set a waypoint in my GPS that would take me to a spot that I had saw on Google Earth and I wanted to find it. At the point where I was to turn East and head through the bush I looked at the GPS and took note of the heading then I aligned the watch and headed off.
At first I tried to look at the watch and head in the degrees shown but the degrees change so often while walking that it became impossible to navigate that way.
Later on at home I went to our local park with my daughter. I had her record the changes in heading that I called out as we walked through the park. Her log was taken over twenty seconds, the time the compass stays shown before switching to battery saver.
Here is the log.
Start; 283, 290, 288, 283, 286, 286, 285, 083, 290, 284, 289.

So while I was heading through the bush I lined up the watch with the degrees I had to walk, direction of travel is always the top of the watch or where North is on the bezel in the photo below. And I would sight off into the distance and pick a tall tree and walk to that, once at that point I would again line up the watch and sight another tree off in the distance.
This method of navigation works well with this watch I feel and I was able to find the spot I was looking for. It turned out to be nothing more than an old gravel pit. On one trip out I checked the accuracy of the compass against another compass watch and it was about the same. When I checked it against my GPS though the watch was out. I set the watch up with my compass which I know to be correct and the difference is about thirty degrees. I moved both the watch and compass and set them together a few times before taking the photo below which shows the difference. After taking this photo I remembered to calibrate the watch, after calibration it was correct.
I have yet to work out how the bezel can be used to navigate by and don't think that it can be used in such a way.

In this photo the compass is set to exactly 180 degrees or South and the watch shows 211 degrees, enough to get a long way lost. But after calibration it was spot on.
Watch next to my compass.

So on to likes and dislike at this stage of my report.
I do like to wear this watch and a few times I have gone to take out my own Timex but I have put it back and gone with the slightly smaller but quite a bit lighter Freestyle watch.
I like the micro adjustable band, I like that it can be read outdoors in the full sun. I really like that the band does not irritate my wrist when sweaty.

I am not so happy with not being able to use the backlight as I wrote about above. I am not sold on the accuracy of the compass but I will test it a lot further in the long term report stage before saying any more about it.

Back to top
 
Long Term Report
January 18th 2010

It has now been another two months since my last report and during this time I have continued to use the watch every day. I wear the watch to work Monday to Friday all day, and off and on over the weekend. This watch performs very well, almost all of the features work as they should and without any problems.

I even used the timer mode to help cook my Christmas turkey. I set the timer to count down for one hour, then at the alarm I would go outside and check the roasting turkey. I also like the recall function of the chronograph and being able to look back at my split times and so on.

The only function that does not work at all is the bezel activated back light. As I explained above it just does not work as the instructions state. I have just this minute checked the Freestyle web page to check if the pdf file had been updated but it has not been changed.

The mesh on the band looks a little worn where I press the pins on the buckle through it. But not damaged or worn out in any way. I can just see a point where I buckle the watch up all the time.

I wanted to test the compass mode more in this phase of my report and I will get onto to that next but first a little about the buttons. At first I really liked the sleek buttons and the flush fitting of them to the case. But in use over these last months I find that I just do not like them at all, I have just found them hard to use. When using this watch at any time I cannot feel the buttons with my finger tips. I must turn the watch on its side to look for the button. Normally with the buttons standing out from the case a little my fingers would just feel for the button I want and then be able to use it. This problem is even worse when in the dark when I cannot see the buttons either. The other problem I have is when I try to press S1 with the forefinger on my right hand, my thumb at times presses S3 thereby changing to another mode or just not doing anything at all. If I could feel the buttons this would not happen.

Now to the compass. I wanted to be able to read my map and transfer the degrees from the map to the compass, now with a base plate style compass this would be easy but with a watch a little harder. The very first thing I made sure of was to calibrate the compass, I made that mistake before, and it is well worth doing every time I have to use it.
What I did was to place my map on the ground, then using the watch held to zero degrees or North I moved the map slightly so that the North and South grid lines faced the correct way. Once I had the map aligned correctly I find a little straight stick on the ground and used that as a ruler. I placed one end on the spot on the map that I knew, and the other end on a quarry. I then held the watch over the stick and read that I had to walk 60 degrees to get to the quarry. I then turned my stick around and pointed it at another spot I knew on the map and it was 158 degrees.
This proves that as long as I have a map and this watch I could navigate to any place I wanted.

Here is the watch and a stick for a ruler, the stick is pointing at 60 degrees.
map with stick and watch.
Conclusion
I like this watch and will continue to wear it to work each day. In the months I have been wearing it, it has not been scratched or damaged at all. I like the different alarm times and the watch feels nice and light on my wrist. The size of the watch is good too and the display is a nice size and I can read it easily. I have proven to myself that the compass does work very well and could be used in the bush with a map.

I am not happy with the buttons and in camp at night it would be a little painful to get a torch to be able to see the buttons. I am also disappointed that the bezel light does not work as it does in the instructions.
Would I recommend this watch to a friend, I am not sure. I may give them my watch so as they could use it for a while and see how they feel about the buttons. It may not be a worry for others.

Thanks Freestyleusa and backpackgeartest for this opportunity to test out a compass watch. I have had fun using it and discovering just how useful this compass is.



Read more reviews of Freestyle gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrew Preece

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