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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Timex Expedition E-Tide Temp Compass > Test Report by Sheila Morrissey


Initial Report - April 27, 2008
Field Report - June 25, 2008
Long-Term Report - August 23, 2008

Timex Expedition E-Tide Temp Compass
Photo from Timex website.

Initial Report: April 27, 2008

Name: Sheila Morrissey
Age: 27
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.7 m)
Weight: 155 lb (70 kg)
Wrist Diameter: 6 in (15 cm)
Email Address: geosheila(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country: Goleta, California, USA

I have been backpacking since 2005 and usually hike in Los Padres National Forest or the Sierra Nevada with friends and my dog. My pack weighs around 25 lb (11 kg), including consumables, for a weekend trip. I always carry a tent.

Manufacturer: Timex
Model: Expedition E-Tide Temp Compass
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer’s Website:
MSRP: US$159.05
Listed Weight: N/A

Measured Weight: 3.2 oz (91 g)
Measured Face Diameter: 1.8 in (4.6 cm)
Measured Face Thickness: 0.5 in (1.3 cm)
Measured Watch Length (springpin to springpin): 2.1 in (5.4 cm)
Measured Band Width: 0.75 in (1.9 cm)
Measured Band Length (including watch): 9.5 in (24.1 cm)
Calculated Band Length (minus watch): 7.4 in (18.8 cm)
Measured Band Thickness: 0.125 in (0.32 cm)

The Timex Expedition E-Tide Temp Compass is a large-faced analog watch featuring a thermometer, tide indicator and compass.

Watch Band
The Expedition's black rubber watch band measures approximately 9.5 in (24.1 cm) in length. Nearest the watch, the strap is nearly 1 in (2.5 cm) in width, but it narrows
to 0.75 in (1.9 cm) in width by about 1 in (2.5 cm) away from the watch face on both the clasp end of the strap and the non-clasp end of the strap. The strap does not taper further at its ends. Three parallel grooves in the rubber run the length of the strap at its center and sides. A short red line of rubber of about 0.4 in (1 cm) sits within the middle groove of the strap on the clasp end of the watch. The red line extends from the 12 o'clock position on the watch face and is there to aid in lining up the compass. The metal buckle can be attached through one of 11 holes in the strap, making the watch band adjustable for wrist diameters from about 6 in (15 cm) to about 8.5 in (22 cm). My wrist diameter is about 6 in (15 cm).

The watch itself is 0.5 in (1.3 cm) thick with a diameter of 1.8 in (4.6 cm). The watch components are housed in a stainless steel case, which is indicated on the back of the watch along with inscriptions of the battery type (CR2016), water resistance (100 m [328 ft]), the manufacturer's website and Timex's Expedition "E" symbol. The face of the watch is black with an INDIGLO night light, a glowing ring of green light that shines for about 3 seconds when the crown is pressed. The watch has glow-in-the-dark hour and minute hands, and a red second hand. A fourth hand, the indicator hand, acts as the compass needle or indicates the temperature or tide, depending on which feature is activated. The watch has four buttons protruding from its sides: the compass button on the lower left side, the temperature button on the upper right side, the tide button on the lower right side, and the crown on the middle of the right side. The compass, temperature and tide buttons can each be pressed separately. The crown button can be pushed in to activate the INDIGLO night light, pulled out to a middle position to set the date and calibrate the compass, or pulled out to a further position to set the time. The watch face has several concentric rings of numbers and symbols corresponding with all of the Expedition's features.

The outermost ring of symbols and numbers is the turning compass ring. The compass ring has marks for N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, and NW. In addition, it marks 30, 60, 120, 150, 210, 240, 300 and 330 degrees. There are dots at every 10 degrees for which there is no named direction or azimuthal degree listed (so at 70, 80, 100, 110 degrees, etc.) Between 330 and 30 degrees, tick marks indicate every degree so that the compass can be set for the local declination angle. The declination angle can be set by adjusting the north direction to compensate for local declination angle
(magnetic declinations by city are given on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] website) after calibrating the compass. Alternatively, the declination angle can be accounted for by manually adjusting the compass ring to the local declination angle instead of north on the compass. The compass is calibrated by pulling the crown to its middle position and then pressing the compass button. Keeping the Expedition level, the watch is slowly rotated twice. After rotating the watch, pushing any button ends the calibration. The indicator hand (now acting as a compass needle) points north. It is at this point that the declination can be changed using tide and temperature buttons to move the hand east or west. Pushing the crown back in sets the declination.

The next ring on the watch is a set of glow-in-the-dark dots on the hours. At the bottom of the face, the watch has "INDIGLO" written between 7 and 8, "TIDE-COMPASS-TEMP" written between 5 and 7 (there is no dot at 6), and "WR100M" (indicating the water resistance) written between 4 and 5. Inside this ring is a second ring of time markings. "TIMEX" is written at 12 and Expedition's "E" symbol is at 6. The other hours are marked with silver squares and there are white tick marks for the minutes. The time is set by pulling the crown all the way out and turning it to the correct time. Because there is a date function, 12 could either mean noon or midnight, so the crown must be turned while watching the date to make sure that the AM/PM setting is correct. The date is set by pulling the crown to its middle position and turning it until the correct date shows up in the date window near the 6 o'clock position on the watch. The watch assumes every month has 31 days and so must be readjusted at the start of some months.

The next ring in is the temperature scale, with lower temperatures starting at the lower left and increasing clockwise to the lower right side of the watch. Both F and C scales are listed, ranging from -5 F to 125 F and -20 C to 50 C. After pressing the temperature button, the indicator hand swings to the lowest temperature and then moves to the current temperature where either scale, F or C, can be read.

The innermost ring is the tide predictor. High tide is indicated a the 12 o'clock position, low tide is indicated at the 6 o'clock position, and numbers from 1 to 5 indicate the number of hours until the next high or low tide. When the tide indicator points left, the tide is rising, and when it points right, the tide is falling.

On a backpacking trip last summer, I went to bed after what I thought was a full day of hiking and swimming. I woke up an hour later to find the sun straight overhead. We'd somehow managed to pack in a day's worth of activities and meals all before 11am. I'm thinking this watch might be useful for me on my upcoming backpacking trips.

The Expedition watch is exactly what I was expecting after seeing the photo and reading about it on the Timex website. It's pretty huge and bulky, so I'm planning on using it strapped to my pack rather than actually wearing it on my wrist. The watch manual that came with the watch (and which I couldn't find on the website, though many others were available) is quite thorough and easy to understand. Within minutes of receiving the watch, I had the time and date set and the compass calibrated and set to my local declination. I always get confused with watch functions, so I liked that doing all of these settings was so straightforward and didn't require that I press some confusing combination of 85 different buttons like so many other watches seem to require.

So far, the time, temperature, tide predictor and compass functions seem to be working just fine. After setting the time last week, the watch is still matching the other clocks in my house. If I don't touch the watch itself, the temperature indicates the correct temperature. If I do touch the watch, the temperature reads up to 10 degrees F (6 degrees C) too high. I checked the tide predictor earlier and it indicated it was nearly high tide. I compared that prediction with my pocket tide prediction calendar (which is based on NOAA tide predictions), which indicated it was nearly low tide. Oops, turns out you're supposed to read the other end of the needle, but only for the tide feature. Sure enough, I walked down to the beach and it was low tide. The compass features works fine. Unlike the tide and temperature features, the compass feature turns off after a few seconds. I'm not sure yet if there is a way to keep the compass feature on without having to keep pressing the compass button.

Field Report: June 25, 2008

I first used the Expedition watch on an overnight car-camping trip on California's central coast. The elevation was about 1,000 ft (300 m) and temperatures ranged from 50 to 65 F (10 to 18 C). I tried wearing the watch on my wrist, but mostly kept it in my pocket.

I also used the Expedition on an eight-day, volunteer trail maintenance backpacking trip in the Ansel Adams Wilderness of Sierra National Forest, California. Elevations were near 7,000 ft (2,100 m) and the weather was clear and sunny with temperatures ranging from 50 F (10 C) to 85 F (29 C). I wore the watch on one hike, but mostly kept it strapped to my day pack.

I also used the watch a few times at home. The elevation was near sea level and the temperature was 70 F (21 C). I carried the watch in my pocket.

I wore the Expedition on my wrist during the day on my car-camping trip and during a day hike on my backpacking trip. As I expected, the watch was too big to be comfortable for me. The face of the watch covered one side of my wrist and the watch stuck out a bulky 0.5 in (1.3 cm) from my wrist. Also, the rubber watch band made my wrist sweaty. I knew ahead of time that this wouldn't be a terribly comfortable watch for me, so I instead carried it in my pocket or used it strapped to my day pack.

Timex Expedition

Because I have the watch strapped to my pack, it is probably taking a little more of a beating than it would if I were wearing it, though I have been trying to keep it nice. I haven't had any problems so far with the durability of the strap or watch and there are no scratches or dirt messing up the buttons. The watch got wet when I was sitting in a river, but it is water resistant to 100 m (328 ft), so it's fine.

On my trips, I mostly used the watch for checking the time. Because my backpacking trip was a trail crew trip and so I was expected to show up for work and meals at certain times, I checked the time more often than I usually do on backpacking trips. I meant to check out how well the INDIGLO night light worked out in the forest, but dusk came late and the moon was bright, so I never thought to use it on my backpacking trip. However, I can tell at home that it works well enough to illuminate the watch's hands, even in very dark conditions. However, I had a bit of a problem with reading the time on the watch quickly in any light condition. With the extra hands (the temperature indicator/compass needle and tide indicator), I had to actually give the watch more than a quick glance to determine the time. A couple of times on my trips, I misread the time by 15 minutes when I mistook the temperature indicator for the minute hand.

I used the compass only a couple of times. I can't say I really needed to use it, but I suppose a compass is one of those backpacking essentials that I really should be carrying anyway. Using the compass is easy, but I still can't figure out why it only stays on for a few minutes before the watch swings the compass needle around and it again becomes a temperature indicator. 

I mostly just checked the thermometer for fun and to get an idea of what the temperatures were for this and my other BackpackGearTest reports, but I found that I'm pretty good at guessing the temperature and didn't really need the thermometer. That might not be true at more extreme hot or cold temperatures. In any case, it was easy enough to read the temperatures despite the small writing on the watch. When the indicated temperature happens to fall behind the watch's minute hand, it's still easy enough to read the temperature within a degree F or so.

The tide predictor is neat and it works well enough for me to decide whether to walk my dog on the beach at low tide or on the bluffs at high tide, but it isn't a necessary feature for the backpacking trips I take. I wish this watch had an altimeter instead. That would be a more practical feature for my backpacking trips.

So far, the Expedition is doing what it's supposed to be doing. I can check the time in light and dark conditions (with the help of the INDIGLO night light), but I sometimes mistake the temperature indicator hand for the minute hand at first glance. The compass, temperature and tide predictor functions are working fine. None of those three features have been terribly important for my backpacking so far, but I suppose I really should be carrying a compass anyway. I do wish this watch had an altimeter feature. I got the watch wet once in a river and it survived just fine. There are also no signs of wear or scrapes on the watch band or watch. The Expedition is too big and bulky for me to wear on my wrist comfortably, but it is working well strapped to my pack or carried in my pocket.

Long-Term Report: August 23, 2008

I have now worn or carried the watch during 12 days of backpacking, three days of car camping, and on about ten morning beach walks with my dog.

During the Long-Term testing period, I used the watch on a four-day backpacking trip along California's Lost Coast and for one day of car-camping in the same area. The elevation on this trip was near sea level and temperatures ranged from 50 F to 70 F (13 C to 21 C). I wore the watch or kept it strapped to my pack during this trip.

I continued to use the watch on some of my walks with my dog, though it did not become a habit to grab the watch for every walk.
We walk about 3 mi (5 km) on dirt trails and on the beach where the elevation is near sea level and the temperature is near 70 F (21 C). I either wore the watch or carried it in my pocket on these walks.

I have been mostly carrying the Expedition watch in my pocket when going for shorter walks or strapping it to my pack when backpacking because it's too bulky for me to wear comfortably. It still looks like new. It doesn't have any scratches on the face and the whole watch seems quite durable.

I have misread the time a few times because the watch face is so busy, but the other features are all quite easy to use. I'm glad there's no need to press several buttons at once like I've had to do on some digital watches when changing the time or reading other features. The features on the Expedition also seem to be accurate. So long as I wasn't wearing the watch, the temperature always seemed about right. I never ended up really needing the compass, but adjusting it at the beginning of this test was easy and it does point in the right direction. The tide predictor has been okay at home and it does seem to be near high tide when I see a high tide on the beach.
I wasn't sure how necessary the tide predictor function would be for backpacking since I assumed most backpacking happens in the mountains. However, this test happened to coincide with my first-ever beach backpacking trip. As it turned out, having a tide predictor was entirely necessary to navigate narrow sections of beach. So necessary in fact, I wasn't about to rely on the watch because it doesn't account for local tide variations. I carried a local tide chart instead and found that the Expedition's tide predictions were a couple of hours off of the tide chart.

Timex Expedition
Taking the dog for a walk with the Expedition.

If I were to turn the Timex Expedition watch into my ideal backpacking watch, it would have a lower profile and a smaller face; the time would be easier to read and it might even be digital so the other dials don't get confused with the time; the watch would show the day of the week instead of the date so that I wouldn't need to change it at the end of each month that doesn't have 31 days and because I'm much more likely to remember something like, "Saturday is the day I need to start hiking out" than, "The 27th is the date I need to start hiking out."; the compass and temperature features would stay as is; the tide feature would be cut out and replaced by an altimeter; and an alarm would be added for waking up on time while travelling.

I like the Expedition watch and I'm impressed by its durability and ease of use of its features. However, it's just not the watch for me. It's a bit big and the features aren't exactly what I need for backpacking. I don't know that I'll continue carrying this watch on my backpacking trips.

  • Good durability
  • Features are easy to figure out and remember -- no need to press several buttons at once
  • Time, tide, temperature and compass features seem accurate
  • Too bulky for me to wear comfortably
  • Very busy watch face -- difficult to read the time
  • I would prefer different features for my ideal backpacking watch
This concludes my Test Series. Thank you to Timex and for providing me with the opportunity to test the Expedition E-Tide Temp Compass watch.

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