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Thread: Altimeter Watches, Particularly Swiss Army Startech

  1. #1

    Question Altimeter Watches, Particularly Swiss Army Startech

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    Anyone have experience/opinions on altimeter watches? I'm particularly interested in ease of use.

    My only experience was with the old Freestyle/Sports Instrument product. Had to lug the manual around and it was supposed to be one of the easier ones to use.

    Despite the price, I like the looks of the Swiss Army Startech 3000. I like the combination digital/analog display, although I have read the hands are not very bright and there is no backlight.

    Right now, I use a Thommen altimeter, which can not be beat for ease of use, but which is pretty heavy.

    THISis what I really want.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Hoquiam, WA USA

  3. #3
    I'm not looking for that much functionality. My priorities are:

    1. Useability (I had an altimeter watch for hiking. It was such a pain to use that I sold it and got a Thommen altimeter.)

    2. Style--Analog time display and decent looks. This narrows the field A LOT.

    3. Water and shock resistance. It's got to stand up to brush busting in the rain.

  4. #4
    I found that watch for $540 at this site, in case that helps.

    The $1700 MSRP seems high for this watch, but I don't think I've seen a mechanical altimeter on a watch before so I don't know how much this complication adds to the cost. $540 for a Swiss titanium mechanical watch is extremely good, however, even without the altimeter.

    There's this Swiss Army one for $250. Here are some reviews:

    SA StarTech

    The Tissot T-Touch also has an altimeter.

    They're about $500.

    I'm sure there are more, but I have to look busy at work now.

  5. #5
    Thanks. I have a call in regarding the sale price on the Revue-Thommen. I'll look into the Tissot, as well.

    I have a Thommen mechanical altimeter and it is great.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 1998
    Oklahoma & Texas currently
    I love the Revue Thommen watch I have. Legibility of the model I have is simply outstanding! For a brand no one knows about, it sure is good.

    The Tissot T-touches are nice watches to but, more like a mass market Seiko type watch in terms of feel.

    If you want that classical mechanical precision watch, check out the Revue Thommen's.

  7. #7

    Thumbs up

    The Revue-Thommen is the ONLY mechanical watch with a mechanical altimeter I can find on the web. Unfortunately, the lowest price I have found so far is $1,346. I have not heard from the people with the 70% off page Mike Gram linked to. I think the page is out-of-date. I saw the same page two years ago when I first stumbled accross the Revue-Thommen Airspeed Altimeter. The owners of the page, About Time, called me yesterday. They were going to check their vault to see if they have any left. They are supposed to call me back today.

    I wonder if the long-term (10-20 years) reliability of the Tissot T-Touch would be better or worse than a mechanical. If I drop $500 (T-Touch) to $1,500 (Airspeed Altimeter) on a watch, I'd like to be able to give it to my son when I am old or dead.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2001
    just past Wilsonville, OR
    JDMSMBACPA - you can pick up the T-Touch on Ebay from a number of reputable sellers in the $350 - $400 range.

  9. #9
    Yea. I checked out e-bay yesterday. $500 is too much. The "Buy-it-now" prices for the Titanium T-Touches are $420 to $530 depending on the bracelet and style. I like the looks of
    this $410 stainless version best:

    I'll only get a T-Touch if I can't find the Revue-Thommen Airspeed Altimeter at a price I can live with. Even then, I'd have to play with the Swiss Army Startech and T-Touch to see if the T-Touch is worth the premium over the Startech to me. It probably would be--IMO the T-Touch is much better looking and the touch screen should make it more useable.
    Last edited by JDMSMBACPA; 07-22-2003 at 11:52 AM.

  10. #10
    It's really unfortunate about the Airspeed Altimeter not being on sale anymore. I guess that's a case of "if it looks too good to be true..."

    If posterity value is a concern and you are set on an altimeter, then I would definitely go for a mechanical watch, so that would only leave the Thommen. The T-Touch is neat, but it's more of a "gee-whiz" gadget than an enduring classic. I highly doubt that the touch screen is going to stand up to a lot of abuse or long-term wear. Without hesitation, I would say that the Revue Thommen is going to age a lot better than an electronic watch. Even if a mechanical watch stops working, it can be repaired by a competent shop even many years down the road. When a quartz dies, usually nothing will bring it back. Also, the more features and buttons that are on a watch, the less I would trust it in backcountry conditions. The Casio G-Shock is an exception to this.

    I don't know what to recommend here. If you want a tough, classic watch that will age well and keep working for decades, you should probably just go for a diver's watch and skip the built-in altimeter. In any case, I wouldn't trust anything with less than a 100m depth rating for prolonged water exposure even if it's not submerged. Divers are always in style, too. You can find an Omega Seamaster for about $900 from a reputable seller with a little looking, just as an example.

    Invicta and Sandoz make decent watches that aren't very expensive in this category. They are direct copies of the Rolex Submariner, but they aren't considered to be a "fake rolex", but an honest imitation.

    The Revue Thommen is only rated to 30m, so I would hesitate to subject it to serious backpacking duty.

    I'm sorry if this seems negative, but I'm stumped. The best solution I can think of is a pocket altimeter and a dive watch that will look even better when it gets a few scratches and dings.

  11. #11
    Here is a detailed report on the T-Touch by Dr. Christoph Ozdoba, who is a serious watch freak.


  12. #12
    Thanks Mike!

    My Luminox NATO Field Watch has sufficed for backpacking and everything else to date.

    It's only rated to 50 meters. I'll have to admit to being something of a fair weather hiker. If the forecast is bad, I generally find something else to do, and when really bad weather has come in, I have been known to go home early If it's raining, chances are the watch will be covered. I do more tham my share of off-trail cross-country travel, but that has not been too hard on my watches. I wouldn't be too concerned about the Revue-Thommen. My use is a higher priority than being able to pass it on to my kids.

    I hike in the Cascades. If the visibility is good, I find I use my altimeter more than my compass. (If the visibility is good, I can usually orient my map visually, without a compass). The altimeter lets me pinpoint my position quicker than anything else (including my GPS).

    Right now I use a Thommen Mechanical Altimeter. The only real downside is its weight and bulk (a little smaller and lighter than a GPS but much bigger and heavier than a watch) and having to haul it out and put it back to use it.

    I think I mentioned I tried an electronic altimeter watch, but the useability was not there. Too many buttons and too hard to calibrate.

    I like the Revue-Thommen because it would give me a nice mechanical for EDC and put the useability and functionality of my trusty Thommen altimeter (easy to calibrate and easy to read) right on my wrist. I'll keep shopping and buy one if/when I find a deal. I'm not in a hurry.

    Thanks again!
    Last edited by JDMSMBACPA; 07-22-2003 at 02:11 PM.

  13. #13

    Thumbs up

    Well, I got the Revue Thommen Airspeed Altimeter at the sale price. They said they had one left. I don't really care whether or not that's true and it was half the price of the nearest competitor

    In a few days I will be the proud owner of my first mechanical watch and the only mechanical watch/mechanical altimeter combination I know of . . .

    Here is an exploded view of the guts. There was a version online with arrows and english descriptions of the parts, but I can't find it. As you can see, it's basically a mechanical watch on top of an aneroid capsule.

    When I get it, I'll post a review here. Then I'll try to stay out of these forums. I told my other half I would not buy any more toys this year
    Last edited by JDMSMBACPA; 07-22-2003 at 04:37 PM.

  14. #14
    Way to go, that's a really good deal! It's a good thing that was the last one, otherwise I'd be pretty tempted to get one for myself. A plain steel (Swiss) watch would be a good deal at that price.

    I hope you enjoy your watch, just look out because they're addictive. Mechanical watches are really amazing pieces of machinery, I'm sure you'll love it. And an altimeter is extra cool; talk about an exclusive feature!

    I'm looking forward to your review.

  15. #15

    Thumbs up

    Got it! It is nice. FWIW I got No. 0015 of 1998. I have to remove a few links from the bracelet before I can wear it. I'll try to post a review avter I have used it for a while. Thanks for the info. Mike.

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