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Wristwatch buying guide


The wristwatch was invented in the 1600’s when a French mathematician used a piece of string to tie a watch to his wrist.

Timekeeping has come a long way since then. These days, watches are like mini-computers that can forecast the weather, help you find your way in the woods or even get you to class on time.

For professional adventure racer Travis Macy, 23, his watch helps with navigation and keeps his team on track during grueling multi-day races.

“If we’re doing a trekking section and we’re falling asleep on our feet, we’ll stop and sleep for half an hour,” says Macy, a former Cub Scout. “And then the whole race is hanging on my watch to wake us up!”

Dealing with that kind of pressure and the race on the line, Macy knows watches. He can teach you a lot about how to pick the best one for your time-keeping needs.


“Before you go to buy a watch, think about the features you’re looking for,” Macy says.

If hiking and camping is your thing, consider a watch with a compass and perhaps an altimeter and barometer. If you’re into jogging, find a heart-rate-monitor watch. Remember: Just because a watch is packed with features and functions doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to use. Try it before you buy to make sure it’s user-friendly.


Most modern watches use tiny quartz minerals to keep the time. When electrified, the quartz crystal vibrates a reliable 32,768 times per second; those vibrations are translated to seconds, minutes and hours. Analog watches have a standard clock-like face with two or three (or more) hands that point at numbers, which is more classic yet can be tougher to read than digital watches. Digitals continuously highlight the exact time in numerals. Some watches have dual faces with both analog and digital readouts.


If you spend much time outdoors, durability is a key factor in a watch. “Make sure it’s rugged,” Macy says. “If it has a compass swivel on top, try turning that to see if that feels like it’ll hold up. Play with the buttons. Are they easy to push? Take a look at the band and the buckle to make sure they’re flexible and will hold up to the elements.”


You want the face of the watch and the numbers to be big enough so you can see them while you’re riding a bike or running. But in general, the bigger the watch the heavier and bulkier it will be. Try to find a size that’s comfortable.

“If you’ll have only one watch, think about whether you’ll want to wear a big watch to school,” he says. “I wear the same big watch for everything, but I’ve gotten used to it. Some guys will feel more comfortable with something smaller.”


The way your watch is strapped to your wrist is important. If you’re outdoors a lot, choose a polyurethane band. These bands are waterproof, won’t hold odors and are very durable, but they can also be sticky in hot climates. Another good choice is a canvas and Velcro band, which is more breathable.

“Velcro bands keep your watch snug against your wrist and you can wash it when it’s dirty,” Macy says.

Leather bands don’t perform well in wet environments, but they look cool. Meanwhile, metal bands can sometimes pinch your skin, though they are usually super durable.


There’s nothing more helpful than going to a store and trying a watch on to see how it feels on your wrist. Of course, you’ll probably pay more at a store versus buying it on the Internet.

“Take a look online and see if you can find a better price,” Macy says. “There are search engines where you can type in the product name and a whole list of prices will come up so you can find out what’s a good price.”

If you buy online, make sure the store is reputable and beware of counterfeit or fake watches.

23 Comments on Wristwatch buying guide

  1. Take a peek at “Expedition” series; inexspencive, tough, water proof and has a nice band. I take mine swimming and it hasn’t failed me yet in 5 years. The alarm is a bonus too. I have the programable version that stores phone numbers in it. Great as a back up.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // April 9, 2012 at 10:11 am // Reply

      My mom has to buy a new Expedition watch every several months because they break so much!

  2. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // April 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm // Reply

    Casio G-shock is unarguably the best watch ever.

    • Off-Trail Monkey // April 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm // Reply

      My mom has to buy a new Casio G-shock watch every several months because it breaks so much.

      • ARCTIC COMMANDO // May 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm //

        Ok please dont copy my comment and please tell the truth. if your mom really broke a G shock every month she would have to be a millionar! they cost at least $100 dollars a watch. I got mine on sale for $60. plus go to the g shock website and look at the destruction tests they do. I dont think your mom could break a g shock.

      • Delta Force // May 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm //

        (chuckling) Yeah whatever you say kid. look Ive had my G-shock for 20 years and I had it while in Iraq and Afghanistan. I doubt you mom could break a G-shock if I couldn’t.

  3. I love kj-52 songs // March 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm // Reply

    I do not like G-shock.

    • ARCTIC COMMANDO // April 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm // Reply

      Why? are they to manly for you! if you don’t like G-Shocks because of their size then get a Baby G its a smaller version of the bigger ones. And if you don’t like them for their hefty price look online at amazon or ebay. they may be expensive but its worth it, it will never break!

  4. ARCTIC COMMANDO // March 8, 2012 at 12:13 am // Reply

    Dudes… G-shock cannot be beat! have had mine for 5 years now! an that was after my dad used it for 15 years!

  5. troop 43 mazter // February 22, 2012 at 7:56 pm // Reply

    armitron is a great company to buy a high quality watch. i take mine camping and its lasted me 3 years.

  6. I think the best kind of watch is an old style, automatic Three-hand watch. I wear a Citizens Eco-drive Divers with rubberized band. I has a rotating bezel and date window. It is solar powered and waterproof to 300 meters. Good thing is that in a pinch, I can use my watch as a compasss. See your BSA Handbook for instructions on how to use a watch to determine direction. You can’t do that with a digital watch.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // February 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm // Reply

      Sorry you just can’t beat a G-Shock! although your watch sounds like a good quality one but I would still take a Casio GW500A-1V Atomic Solar watch over this one. oh one more question is your watch shock proof?

  7. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // November 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm // Reply

    @ irock:). yes there are good inexpensive watches but they are probably not as good as a G-shock. here is a watch by Casio that is cheap but good. Casio Men’s W800H-1AV Classic Digital Sport Watch. retail is $20 but I found it on for $15. I do not own it but I have had 2 other Casio watches and they where tough as nails! as I type this I am wearing a Casio GW500A-1V Atomic Solar watch. Hope this and my comment in the knifes section helps! Good luck watch hunting!

  8. most waches i find thatare good are a lot of $ where could i find a good wach that is cheap?

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 5, 2011 at 1:08 pm // Reply

      Casio Men’s W800H-1AV Classic Digital Sports Watch. $15 on glad to help!

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm // Reply

      There are lots of inexpensive watch options. Check out and search for “Casio sports watches.” I found a few that meet your needs including the Casio Men’s W800H-1AV Classic Digital Sports Watch (retail $20; It’s water resistant to 100 meters and has a 10-year battery life

      • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm //

        I also recommended the Casio Men’s WS300-7BV Ana-Digi Illuminator Sport Watch. I had one for almost two years before I switched to a G-Shock. The band on it got ripped off while I was working. I still have it siting on my desk and it is still working after 3 or 4 years! It is $28.48 on hope this helps!

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // December 14, 2011 at 7:04 pm // Reply

      Go to and type in Casio sports watches some are for only $15

  9. TROOP.27 MEMBER // November 18, 2011 at 1:08 am // Reply

    G-shock,G-shock,G-shock…. all i gots to say buddy

  10. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // November 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm // Reply

    Casio G-shock is the best bang for your buck.

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