Tragedy struck this week.
Whilst I was getting my stair climbing session in at my office building, I looked to my trusty Suunto Vector watch to see how much time I had left and all I could see was some crazy pixelated dots. It’s acted crazy before and a new battery would always resolve the problem. Today though, a new battery couldn’t revive it. So after more than 18 years of reliable service, it was officially dead.
This Suunto watch was probably cutting-edge back around the early 2000s when I got it, but by today’s measure, it’s a dinosaur. The only functions I wanted back then were the current time, waterproof, shockproof, altimeter, barometric pressure and compass. It also has, or I think it has, stop watch functionality, lap counter (?) and probably a few other things I never once used or cared about. Being from the pre-tech crazy era it was, it scandalously had no Bluetooth connectivity or any way to download any of the information to my computer or iPhone. It was a basic watch that gave me the basic functions I wanted without many extra bells and whistles. Simple but functional.
My plan from there was to just get another Vector. Uh, no. They hadn’t made those in years.
When I started looking through the Suunto lineup of watches for something similar, it took about three minutes until I was dizzy from trying to sift through the minutia of technological iterations each model offered. Geez, I just wanted something simple and “Vector-ish”. It seemed however, the closest model was one with options to measure the pace of your fingernail growth, which was of course downloadable to your smart device AND had the ability to simultaneously re-arrange your music playlist, post updates to your social media accounts, check your email and order your skinny-organic-free range latte and hail an Uber to go pick it up. WTF? No.
After I whittled down the options to a couple of models I thought might work, the next wave of bad news came in the way of lots of reviews saying the buttons are prone to sticking. My old Vector’s buttons would occasionally get stuck, but I knew that was from sweat/salt/grime build up over the years and it was easily fixable around a campfire with some water and a pointy object to clean it out. But these reviews seemed to suggest it was common even for people wearing the watches for casual use.
I loathe over-technologisized things (I know that’s not a word), so the thought of having something I wanted to keep super simple as a baseline measure becoming even more fussy than necessary reluctantly led me to look outside the Suunto family.
Why is the simple act of buying a simple adventure/outdoor watch…not? It seemed I could either pay $700 for an “adventure” watch that had 1,000 irrelevant functions (to me) that I would be terrified of destroying if I actually took it outside, or, get one that was more of an email/text/Facebook/step-counter checker than a watch.
To make a long story short, I finally decided on the Garmin Instinct. The reviews were good (4.6 stars overall) and there was no mention of buttons sticking after a month of use. It also wasn’t exorbitantly expensive, especially since I found it on sale. It wasn’t as over-technologisized as the Garmin Fenix model and wasn’t a delicate looking state of the art social influencer “adventure” watch either. Although the Instinct model has about 50% more functions than I would ever use, it was truly about as close to my old dead Vector as I could find in these techno heavy days.
I just wanted a simple, but tough, dirtbag adventure watch that will last me another 17-20 years of backcountry skiing, mountain biking, travel and daily life. Dear Suunto and Garmin, this isn’t hard stuff.
What time is it? At what altitude am I sitting? Which direction am I going? Does my barometer indicate a weather change? Maybe I’m what Jimmy Buffet refers to when he sings about being a Cheeseburger in Paradise, but I’m okay with that. More adventure, less connectivity.
Pedal far. Climb High. Ski Fast. Live simply.