When I started the training to be an EMT, the one requirement they set for equipment was a watch with a second hand or display. At the time I didn’t wear a watch, so I headed on over to County Comm and picked out the cheapest watch they had. Little did I know I had just purchased the perfect wristwatch…
Yes, I’m wasting a perfectly good post on a review of a watch. Deal with it.
There’s no good way to adequately describe the back of an ambulance when you’re rolling with lights and sirens. Trust me, I just tried for the last 10 minutes. Its a maddening world of chaos and disorder, and even the simplest of tasks is made damn near impossible by the twists and bumps of the road. My first day I thought the dial on the BP cuff was laughably large — until I tried to use it on a patient for the first time. Simplicity and readability are the keys to getting the information you need quickly and efficiently, and that’s something this watch has in spades.
There are no “extras” on this watch. There are 12 principal numbers, 60 hash marks, 3 hands and that’s about it. Which makes it absolutely perfect. Combine the simple design with the white on black color scheme and it makes reading the watch dead simple even in bad lighting. I can remember one night when I was taking a pulse at an accident scene and was reading my watch just fine by the lights of the passing cars — something a “modern” LED watch would have had an issue with.
Speaking of issues with LED watches, let me just take a second and explain the awesomeness that is the analogue watch for the medical professional. If you’re using an LED watch, you not only have to mentally calculate the difference between the current time and when you will stop taking the pulse, but you need to remember that number and count the heartbeats at the same time. Its a lot to keep in your head in a crisis. With an analogue watch all you need to do is figure out how far along the second had will be when you need to sop counting, and then just wait for the second hand to pass by that spot. All you’re doing at that point is counting the heartbeats, which can be hard enough. The major tick marks on this watch make it MUCH easier — 3 tick marks from now (15 seconds), stop counting and multiply by four.
The watch is extremely readable in the light, but even in the dead of night the watch comes through. Tritium in vials placed on the major markings and hands are constantly glowing, meaning that when the tones drop at o’ dark thirty you can quickly check your watch, make sure your shift has ended, and laugh at the day shift from your comfy bed as they roll to yet another LOLDFO.
The reason that you could find it in the dead of night was that you never had to take it off. The lightweight construction and comfortable nylon wristband means that it feels almost weightless and perfectly comfortable. Then again the only thing I ever took off to go to bed were my boots, so your mileage may vary.
Speaking of the construction, the first thing you notice about the watch (after the awesome dial) is that damn near everything is plastic. From the ring around the dial to the glass over the face, everything that could be made from dead dinosaurs has been. And while that does cheapen the watch a bit, in my mind it makes it a lot easier to maintain as well. The glass won’t break, and if it ever gets a scratch you can ignore it or melt it back into place.
Which brings me to probably the second best feature: the replacement cost. These watches were made on contract to the U.S. government and are being sold as surplus, meaning that they are absolutely dirt cheap. I picked mine up for $100, but CC seems to have sold out. They’re still available if you know where to look, though.
This watch has survived EMT training, years of use and abuse in the field, most of firefighter training, and daily wear and tear. I challenge you to find a better watch for the money.
GSA Navigator Watch
Movement: Heavy-duty quartz
Retail: $100 ($80 street)
Overall rating: * * * * *
Cheap, reliable, functional, and lightweight. Sounds like a Yugoslavian M57 handgun (happy RF?), but its actually the perfect watch.