ON THE WATCH
Look for newest models to sport high-tech options
By Chandra Orr
Copley News Service
Wristwatches first appeared on the scene in the 1800s, but it wasn't until World War I that things really took off. As aviators and artillery officers discovered the perks of portable chronographs, factories were flooded with orders for wristwatches.
Jump ahead nearly 100 years. The quest to perfect the wristwatch has spawned models that are closer to fantasy gadgets from early James Bond films than the pocket watches of yesteryear. From altimeters, barometers and compasses to heart rate monitors and GPS sensors, it seems telling time is the least of what they do.
That may be why the average individual owns three or four watches - a number that's on the rise, according to the Jewelry Information Center, a New York-based non-profit trade association.
Whether you're looking to build a complete watch wardrobe or you're just looking for a high-tech helper for your next hiking, biking or camping expedition, look no further than the latest sports watches:
- Polar RS800G3 Multisport Watch ($500). Regardless of what draws you to the outdoors, the Polar RS800G3 is the perfect motivator for amping up your fitness level and tracking your progress.
A GPS sensor - worn on the arm, attached to a belt or carried in a backpack - tracks the user's movement to provide speed and distance data, while a separate unit monitors heart rate. Both units relay information to the wrist watch, which acts as a digital personal trainer, providing information on heart rate, calories burned, workout time, altitude and general fitness level.
Used in conjunction with the included ProTrainer 5 software, outdoor fitness buffs can create up to three weeks of custom workouts, download graphs to track their performance and monitor their progress toward their training goals. For more information, visit www.polarusa.com.
- Casio Ultimate Pathfinder ($350 and $400, standard and titanium). Whether surfing, sport fishing or snorkeling, the Ultimate Pathfinder is the ultimate guide for high seas adventurers.
Water resistant to 200 meters, the Ultimate Pathfinder features a tide and moon graph/phase indicator to help navigate the coastline. The solar-powered watch also features a digital compass, altimeter, barometer and thermometer accessible on the large LCD display with one touch of a button.
Additional features include low temperature resistance to accommodate cold or wet weather conditions and atomic timekeeping technology, which automatically synchronizes with atomic clocks in the U.S., Germany, Great Britain and Japan several times a day, ensuring the utmost accuracy. For more information, visit www.casio.com.
- Tech4o TraiLeader Watch ($140). Hikers, trail runners and backpackers can track their progress and keep abreast of the conditions headed their way with the Tech4o TraiLeader, which combines a built-in accelerometer for tracking speed and distance with an altimeter, barometer and thermometer for tracking weather.
A digital compass, calorie counter and customizable pedometer compliment classic sports watch functions like time and date display, stopwatch and alarms. The watch is equipped with a rugged stainless-steel case and ventilated polymer band. For more information, visit www.tech4o.com.
- Sportline Solo 960 Pedometer Heart Rate Watch ($100). For outdoor enthusiasts with an eye on overall fitness, the Sportline Solo 960 gets good marks for combining a pedometer with heart-rate measurements. The digital pedometer incorporates motion-sensing accelerometer technology, which is widely regarded as the most accurate and reliable means of measuring steps. The heart-rate monitor combines patented technologies capable of measuring heart rate in three beats or less - and it doesn't rely on chest belts or straps like other heart-rate watches.
Whether hiking the backcountry or cycling through a state park, the Solo 960 helps users keep track of the steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, speed and exercise time at the touch of a button. The watch also maintains daily and weekly records for future review. Additional features include an EL backlight system, water resistance to 50 meters, dual time zone display, five daily alarms and a countdown timer. For more information, visit www.sportline.com.
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