Timex Expedition Katmai Watch
Review: An analog/digital watch inspired by the Alaskan wilderness
Katmai National Park in the southern peninsula of Alaska was established in 1918 to protect the area devasted by the volcanic eruption of Novarupta in 1912. Today it's better known for its bears and salmon and Timex hopes to instill some of this wilderness in its watch.
The Timex Expedition Katmai is a 40mm resin watch with both analog and digital functions but seemingly lack of any capacity to ward off bears. I'm sure Richard Mille could have come up with one - for a price
I have been looking for a replacement for my old G-Shock (circa 2001) since it's death in 2015. I tried the much-lauded Seiko SKX007 for a couple of years on a NATO strap but found it's weight, lackadaisical timekeeping and power reserve ultimately too much. That and its polished case. Turns out I prefer a brushed or black finish. I had a brief dalliance with a G-Shock Mudmaster but found the size its downfall. Since then a combination of nothing and a Swatch Freeride World Tour Chrono have filled the gap.
A landscape is alive underneath our feet, filled with creatures that remind us what it is to be wild.
The Expedition Katmai has the elements of the G-Shock I was missing; the digital alarm, day, month and date, second-time zone, stopwatch and seemingly rugged outlook, along with the Seikos hands, unidirectional bezel and strap. It's also ticked the lightness box at 39g and with a 40mm width (12.5mm high), it looks a winner.
Out of the box, it's obviously a cheap watch. I paid around 50GBP so wasn't expecting something like the G-Shock or Seiko. The resin body and bezel are quite tactile and not the cheap, hard plastic I was expecting. The bezel makes a pleasant click although has a lot of play when static and I have noticed after a couple of hours under a jacket it can move. It's waterproof to 50m (you can't press the buttons when submerged) which is enough for me and the mineral crystal is set back from the bezel, which may offer some protection. The buttons aren't great and have little to no feedback when pushed, the crown is fine though.
I haven't tried changing the 20mm strap, it's a tight fit and I'm not too sure how the resin will stand up to multiple attacks with a spring bar tool, or the gnashing of a Grizzly. The strap itself is well made with two retainers, one fixed and a brushed clasp. The olive nylon matches the buttons on the case but the clasp doesn't match the crown. It's stiff but hopefully will break in over time.
Setting the analog time is straightforward with the crown and with it being Japanese Quartz it keeps better time than the Seiko. It has a push to light 'Indigo' face much like the G-Shock. It works but I would have prefered luminescent hands and dial. The digital display requires the manual to understand, which you can get online as a PDF.
You can show the day, date and month or time in the window. You can set two times and one of these can be shown in the window or with the press of a button. Handy for travelling or checking another time zone. The alarm has a decently loud ping. Countdown timer and chronograph functions are exactly what you would expect.
There are a lot of analog/digital watches, but in this price band most are brands you've never heard off. Stepping up a bracket brings you back to Casio. One thing that surprises me is the longevity of LCD screens. In an age of Retina and 4k, it would be nice to have a better quality digital display. It's obviously down to battery life and cost but it's one thing that puts me off buying a digital-only G-Shock. Even with some of the Garmin, Suunto and similar outdoor watches, the screen quality and typefaces are poor by today's standards.
It feels good on the wrist although the strap is a bit fiddly. The light overall weight is a winner, but it does stand proud of your wrist with its 12.7mm height. Don't expect to squeeze it under a nice shirt cuff but with casual or outdoors wear it doesn't grab and fight like the Mudmaster did. I'm not sure why it's so thick, there can't be a lot in the case and it's not impact resistant like the G-Shock. If Bulgari can fit an Automatic Tourbillon in a 3.95mm case then sub 10mm should be attainable.
I'm not sure this Timex will ever make it to the 'Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes', but it wouldn't look out of place in the Alaskan wild. I'm not expecting it to outlast my original G-Shock but at this price, you could have a spare. You can't say that about the competition.
|Bezel||Resin / Unidirectional|
|Strap||Oliver fabric with clasp|
Timex don't currently make this exact model, some very similar, but you can pick one up at Amazon amongst other places.