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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Origo Rendezvous Peak > Test Report by Curt Peterson

Origo Rendezvous Peak Series Watch
Report Series by Curt Peterson

Initial Report - September 2009
Field Report - December 2009
Final Report -  February 2010


Below you will find:

Initial Report Contents
     Tester Background and Contact Info
     Product Specifications
     Initial Impressions
     Initial Report Summary

Field Report
     Field Report
     Field Report Summary

Final Report
     Final report
     Final Report Summary








Origo Top

 
Origo Rendezvous Peak Watch
(photo courtesy of Origo)




Initial Report

Tester Background and Contact Information


Name: Curt Peterson
Age: 38
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 270 lb (122 kg)
Email address: curt<at>backpackgeartest<dot>org
Location: North Bend, Washington, USA

I live in the Cascade foothills, just 20 mi (32 km) from the Pacific Crest Trail via trails leading right from my backyard. My outdoor time in Washington is spent dayhiking, backpacking, climbing, fishing and skiing everywhere from the Olympic coast to rainforests to Cascade volcanoes to dry steppe. I played football in college and often evaluate products from a big guy perspective. My typical pack load ranges from 11 - 20 lbs (5-9 kg) and usually includes plenty of wet weather gear.

Product Specifications

  • Size:
    • 1 size available
    • Face Diameter: 1 1/4 in (3.2 cm)
    • Overall side-to-side Diameter: 1 7/8 in (4.76 cm)
    • Thickness: 5/8 in (1.6 cm)
  • Weights:
    • Measured: 2.6 oz (75 g)

Initial Impressions


I've always been a fan of altimeter watches. When I'm on a known trail and losing the path is unlikely, I find that in the Cascades navigation can be very easily done with nothing more than a map and altimeter. Because most trails out here are either going up or down - there aren't many flat walks in the Cascades - a quick glance at the altimeter and then finding where that elevation contour intersects the trail gives a pretty accurate location. I've used this method enough over the past 15 years that I can typically figure out where I am on a trail within just a few seconds, often without the need to even stop moving. The entire system, of course, depends on an accurate altimeter. Quickly changing weather patterns can cause significant altimeter drift, so I've gone through a number of altimeter watches. I've used at least 5 different altimeter watches in this way and still have not found the perfect watch. I'm curious to see if the Origo Rendezvous Peak watch can allow me to use this method of finding my location in a clean, quick, accurate way and do it in a comfortable package that brings some other useful features along for the ride.


Part of Origo's AccuSense line, the Rendezvous Peak is a fully featured watch that brings more than just an altimeter to the feature list. Here's Origo's description with a full list of the watch's capabilities:

Origo description:

Designed for the uncompromising athlete, Rendezvous Peak watches are precision instruments that not only perform, but project sophistication. Its competitive nature is hidden behind its handsome exterior. Each multi-sensor watch unites barometric pressure, altimeter and digital compass data in a small, sleek timepiece. The perfect Rendezvous is waiting for you.

Origo Feature List:

  • Graphic weather forecasting indicator and temperature function
  • Barometer trend graph display (past 30 hours)
  • Altimeter 1 foot resolution
  • One-touch direction access altimeter
  • Altitude graph with past 8 hours trend
  • One-touch direct access digital compass with bearing lock
  • Declination adjustable
  • 75 altimeter data memories with date, time and altitude
  • 1/100 second chronograph with lap and split time
  • 99 lap memories stored in a maximum of 99 runs
  • 2 daily alarms
  • 4 models: black with standard display or reverse display and black with stainless steel bezel with standard or reverse display
  • Soft Blue EL backlight
  • Battery life: Up to 1 year
  • Water resistance: 165 feet
  • Weight: 70g; Diameter: 32mm; Case Diameter: 43mm; Thickness: 15mm

The Rendezvous Peak cycles through these features in a pretty fluid and predictable way. With only 4 buttons on the watch, remembering what each does is pretty simple. The one that gets the big workout is the bottom left: MODE. This button cycles through the different capabilities of the watch in sequence: TIME > COMPASS > BAROMETER > ALTIMETER > ALTIMETER DATA > CHRONOGRAPH > CHRONOGRAPH DATA > ALARM > TIMER > back to TIME.

Inside of each of these modes, the top left button usually adjusts or calibrates the main feature, the top right starts and stops and turns on and off various features in the respective modes, and the bottom right resets data. This is not an exhaustive list of exactly what the buttons do in each mode, but in general these are their primary functions. The buttons require a firm push to engage, but are not so stiff that they are difficult. After having used some watches with very mushy buttons, these are a pleasant change for the better.

One of my favorite aspects of the Rendezvous Peak is that there is a lot of information visible without going through the modes at all. On the "home" TIME screen, weather is visible (although tiny), temperature, date, time, battery remaining, and a visual seconds ring that works its way around the circumference of the display. It's great to have all that information available at a glance without touching a single button. The manual, which spells the name of the product incorrectly on the cover, is tiny and actually the first watch manual I would have no problem bringing with me on a trip.

On my initial uses, I've found a few strengths, a few quirks to the Rendezvous Peak, and a few concerns. For strengths, my first couple uses of the altimeter have shown it to be very accurate and easy to use. This is the feature that is most important to me, so I'm happy to see it seems to be a strong point of the watch. I also like the simple user interface and easy navigation. I don't want to have to read the manual to figure out how to use features and so far the limited stuff I've tried is pretty intuitive. The quirks are mostly regarding "comfort" aspects, so these can be chalked up as personal preferences. To me, the watch seems pretty bulky. The main part of the watch is pretty thick, but it's the band that makes it bulky. It's easily the most substantial and stiff watch band I've ever used. In fact, I find it difficult to wear because the curve is so built in and inflexible that it doesn't wrap around my big wrists comfortably. There is no hinging at the joint where the band meets the watch, so the curvature is fixed. I often attach altimeter watches to my sternum strap and this watch works well this way, but seeing how easily after market watch bands work with the Rendezvous Peak will be something I'll be sure and note in future tests. Another quirk is that the weather icons are extremely small - almost unusably small. The reverse display (black background with light numbers) is a refreshing change from the watch displays I've used in the past, but it is very dim in all but sunlight. The backlight is also pretty weak and I find myself having to put the watch pretty close to my face and looking at it from multiple angles to read the display. Most of the time I use the watch it will obviously be outdoors, so I'm not too concerned about it, but it is a little odd and I've never used a watch that was this difficult to easily read the display. My only concern at this early stage is with the battery life. It might be completely a non-issue, but the watch arrived dead as a doornail but with a spare battery in the box. I installed the new battery right away. This is easy to do as a user and this is very much appreciated after having some watches in the past that required a jeweler to swap it out or risk voiding the warranty. Big thanks to Origo for this! Within just a couple days, however, the battery icon was down to almost empty. Now, it's possible that this was not a new battery or that it had been sitting for a long time and wasn't fresh. Receiving a dead watch and having the first battery replacement drain quickly is not encouraging, however. I'll most definitely be installing a brand new battery and reporting on how the watch behaves with it.


I look forward to putting the Origo Rendezvous Peak through its paces over the next 4 months!


Initial Report Summary

Initial Likes
  • Conservative styling is simple and functional
  • Altimeter - the feature I'm most interested in - seems very stable and accurate in initial use
  • Intuitive user interface for anyone familiar with outdoor watches
Initial Concerns
  • Some screen functions are very difficult to see
  • Battery life may be a concern
  • Difficult to read display in some lighting conditions
  • Very stiff strap makes a heavy watch seem even bigger and clunkier
My thanks to Origo and www.backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to test the Rendezvous Peak watch!


Field Report


Field Report

The Origo Rendezvous Peak watch has seen pretty solid use during the past couple months. It was used on a car camping overnighter in September, a 5 day trip to the remote Enchantments area of the Cascades, and 4 day hikes. The car camping trip and the 5 day trip saw great weather. Night temperatures approached freezing, but other than that all was picture perfect. The day hikes have been a different story. As the weather changed and late fall arrived, the weather has been much uglier. All but one of the dayhikes has involved significant precipitation. One had a mix of snow and sleet. All have had temps just below or just above freezing. The mostly windy and wet miserable weather we've had in most of October and November have been good testing conditions, but not very pleasant!

I think the best way to organize the first part of the review is to cover the watch by function in the order they cycle through on the watch modes:

FUNCTIONS
  • TIME: This mode is more than just time. It serves as the "home" screen and I have used it the most by far. It tells me almost everything I'm interested in with one quick glance. Time, temperature, weather, battery life, and a seconds "hand". The time has kept up well. I have an atomic clock at home that is presumably always updated with accurate time and the Rendezvous Peak has kept time with it right along. Some of the icons are small on this screen, but passable as it's usually pretty easy to get the watch face close up without much effort.
  • COMPASS: I haven't used the compass for navigation that I've depended on (I rarely use a compass to figure out where I'm going) but has been dead on with a phone and gps compass in side-by-side comparisons. It wobbles a bit, but so does pretty much every other compass I've used. I can say that it is the most consistent and accurate compass on a watch I've ever used. This is a feature I more often than not find to be almost worthless. On the Origo, it actually does what it's supposed to.
  • BAROMETER: The barometer seems to track just fine. It handled elevation well on my 5 day trip with minimal drift. I haven't used it during rapidly changing conditions yet. The weather I've been in has been all good or all bad so the atmosphere has been relatively stable. Usually when the barometer is a mess the altimeter is all over the place. This has not been the case with this watch, so I presume that the barometer is doing a pretty solid job at adjusting to changing conditions.
  • ALTIMETER: The altimeter - the most important feature for my use - made its debut in grand style. In one of the steepest non-technical climbs in the Cascades, Asgaard Pass climbs well over 2000 feet (600 m) in less than one mile (1.6 km). The top of the pass was not always clearly visible, so being able to measure progress made having the altimeter a huge benefit. It helped with timing, pace, and morale. It was very accurate. By the time we reached the top of the pass, it was within 40 feet (12 m). With that much elevation over that short of a distance, I was really impressed. After this use I was an instant fan of the Rendezvous Peak.
  • ALTIMETER DATA: The altimeter data did a nice job of storing high points. The pass, the top of Little Annapurna, and a couple other scrambles were nicely stored for later recall. Unfortunately, they all disappear with a battery change, which is discussed further below. 
  • CHRONOGRAPH: On my local quick hike, I often use time to measure progress and compare one hike to another. I have used the chronograph (stopwatch) for a couple of these hikes and it works just fine and functions just as I expect a stopwatch to. The hike is consistent enough that a few minutes here or there aren't that important to me so I haven't used it on the last couple hikes.
  • CHRONOGRAPH DATA: I did record my likely best time on the local hike, but like the altimeter data, the record was wiped out with a battery replacement.
  • ALARM: I've only used the alarm to test that it works. It does work perfectly so far. I haven't relied on it to wake me up, but I have no doubt it's loud enough to rouse me. I'm a pretty light sleeper as far as noise goes.
  • TIMER: This is a countdown timer. I've played with it a bit, but haven't used it in a real world scenario yet. I'll be sure to cover it in the Long Term Report.
Enchantments
Testing grounds for the Origo's first trip
USE

FIT: As I noted in the Initial Report, I find the band pretty annoying. I've used it almost exclusively on my pack's sternum strap. This has worked great and actually the super stiff band becomes an asset used this way. I can rotate it so the face is up and it's so stiff that it actually stays put. I need only glance down and I have all the info right there and don't even need to bring my wrist up to see things on the "home" screen. I will try to fit it with an after market band to see if it works better for me that way. It does not appear as though Origo offers any replacement band alternatives. It is as stiff as the day it arrived and has not softened or relaxed in the slightest.

BACKLIGHT: The backlit display is definitely best in bright light. It is still difficult to see clearly in half light or dim light. Direct light - natural or headlamp beam - works fine. The blue backlight does an adequate job of lighting up the display in darkness, but it is weaker than I'm used to and I need to hold it pretty close to my face to make out the details on the display.

BATTERY: My biggest concern from the Initial Report has proved to be a major issue. As I noted in the Initial Report, the battery that came in the Rendezvous Peak was completely dead. I swapped it out before my backpacking trip with a replacement that Origo had provided. This battery was not packaged but placed loosely in the watch box. I had no idea if it was brand new or not, but after just a couple weeks of use it was almost dead. A dayhike later, it too was completely dead. A couple weeks ago I got a brand new sealed Duracell battery and put it in the Rendezvous Peak. It was nice to finally see the battery meter at full! I went on a dayhike and by the time I reached the summit of a local cliff the battery was down to 1 or 2 segments (4 is full). I thought maybe it was the cold temperatures since cold can affect batteries, but even after returning home it stayed weak. This third battery has not completely died, but after only a couple weeks it appears to be on its last legs. Obviously something is wrong with the battery use as a few weeks is well below the expected life in this watch.

SENSOR: A new problem has emerged in the last month. Perhaps it's battery related, but the sensor seems to bonk out frequently. In fact, it's so bad now that it's a rare thing to have it working at all. When it happens I get no altimeter, no barometer, no compass, and no temperature. At first I thought it was a bad setting and I had changed something I wasn't supposed to. I went through the entire manual and adjusted every mode if needed. Nothing changed. Finally, I figured that maybe the sensor shuts down all but core functions as the battery dies. I replaced the battery but found the same thing. All sensor functions were dead. I was about to give up and go through the Origo warranty process when I took it on one last hike a week ago to further test the timer functions. On the summit, all of the sudden the "home" screen showed a temperature reading for the first time in quite awhile. I quickly checked the other functions and sure enough, the altimeter, barometer, and compass all worked. I let out a small cheer and, amazingly, the altimeter was actually pretty close despite going through a couple battery changes and multiple adjustments without being calibrated. I was very pleased and glad to see it working again. I then pulled out my phone to check some altimeter, gps, and map data to compare with the Rendezvous Peak and make some adjustments. By the time I got the phone fired up, all watch sensor data was gone again. Oh, the disappointment!

At this point the Rendezvous Peak is utterly unreliable. I'm on the 3rd battery and even with a fresh one can't get the information I need most. It's very difficult to imagine trusting this for anything remotely critical to my navigation or altimeter needs. I'm assuming it's a defective unit and will work with Origo to find out what's going on or if a replacement is needed. I'll report on this and more in the Long Term Report.


Field Report Summary

Field Likes
  •  The altimeter was a champ when I needed it most. If that was the only function of the entire watch, it would be worth it for that day alone!
  •  I still like the user navigation of the watch. Almost every function is easy to find, get to, and understand.

Field Concerns
  •   Obviously the sensor issues are a big deal. Without all of those functions this is just a simple time-telling wristwatch.
  •   The battery issue - a watch needs to last more than a couple weeks on a new battery.

Long Term Report

Long Term Report

Shortly after the sensor on the Origo Rendezvous Peak failed again at the end of the Field Report, I began looking into the return process. I sent an e-mail to the address on the website and did not receive a reply. It's possible the e-mail was never received or I used the incorrect one. This was also in the midst of the holiday chaos in mid-December, so I expected to need a good dose of patience with the process from the outset. Suspecting my note hadn't made it to Origo, I tried again, this time checking and double-checking to make sure I had everything just right. A few days later I received a brief reply with a return authorization number and the address to where I should send the watch.  When I went to package up the watch, the battery was now completely dead. That meant that it had indeed gone through 3 batteries in 3 months. Two of them were likely brand new, and one was absolutely new off-the-shelf as I purchased it myself in November. Obviously something was wrong with the watch. I packaged it with a letter outlining the issues and sent it off to Origo.


The return system does not verify receipt or offer updates or anything like that. Once I sent it in, there was no indication of what happens next, how long it would take, or questions about my use or problems I had. I simply had to wait.

About a month later, with no e-mail, letter, call or communication, a box arrived on my doorstep with what appears to be a brand new Rendezvous Peak inside. I'm confident it is not the same watch with repaired or replaced components. It seems to me to be a new watch altogether. The documentation included is simply an invoice. Most importantly, the watch was up and running and all sensors appear to be working perfectly.

So, in many ways I'm back to where I was at the beginning of this test. I have a watch here that needs to be put through its paces and tested in the real world. Obviously durability is my greatest concern. It seems to work perfectly right now, but trusting it is a little difficult after the past 4 months of testing. The big question for me is whether that was a fluke bad watch or this is a common problem. I would highly encourage readers to check out the other BackpackGearTest.org tester reviews at http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Electronic%20Devices/Watches/Origo%20Rendezvous%20Peak/ to get other views of how this watch has performed.

Test Summary

Although this review is coming to a close with this report, readers can expect an update in a couple months to comment on the durability of the Origo Rendezvous Peak watch. It certainly has a lot of potential and the altimeter really is top notch, but it must be reliable to use to make it into a permanent spot on my gear list.

My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Origo for the opportunity to test this watch!






Read more reviews of Origo gear
Read more gear reviews by Curt Peterson

Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Origo Rendezvous Peak > Test Report by Curt Peterson



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