Where’s the tide at?

I have fallen out of favour with watches for some years. The abundance of places where the time is displayed — computer screen, smart-phone, car dashboard — has meant having a timepiece on the wrist for actually telling the time, has become rather obsolete.

Lately, I have been tiring of retrieving my phone and pushing the button just to see the time. Lately, and particularly after a period with something else on my wrist (an activity tracker) I have come to appreciate the convenience and ease of a worn timepiece.

Watches remain a fascination since childhood. My father apprenticed at a local factory owned by Smith Watches. The factory was known as “tick-tock”. He would bring home partly functioning watch innards, and I would be fascinated be those tiny cogs and springs and screws I could hardly see. He once gave me a “skeleton” watch, where most of the case and face was transparent to reveal the working innards. Bliss.

More than a watch

Now, telling the time is not all a watch should be. With activity monitors, smart watches, and particularly the much heralded iWatch from Apple, wrist-worn tech that is more than a timepiece is about to take off.

I have had a recent fascination for one watch in particular. This one has conventional hands — my preference — but is more than just a timepiece. It incorporates a fourth, large hand that can be switched to indicate ambient temperature, act as a compass, or, most importantly to me, the current state of the tide.

Nothing but the most expensive of digital direction or location devices can be used as true navigation aids, so the compass capability is a sometime curiosity that might prove useful, but is unlikely to save my life.

The temperature indicator understandably reacts to body heat, so the watch must be removed for several minutes to get an ambient reading.

The tide is nearly in

It is the tide indicator that I use the most. When the large red hand it pointing up, it is high tide. It revolves clockwise to low tide, then back up in its endless cycle. This indicator needs recalibration now and then. It’s a simple time-driven system trying to indicate a complex astrologically-influenced system. Every few days I must check and adjust against my smart-phone’s tide app. I also have to do the same if I change location. But I love it.

I love glancing down and seeing where the tide is. Why is this important? Because surf conditions are very tide-related. In Crackington Haven, the removal of most of the sand over the winter means that it is only safe to surf at certain tide times.

What about something more clever? You ask. Well, that takes money. There are devices that will use your GPS location and perform network lookups, and all manner of black magic to automatically — and accurately — determine the tide at your location. But that is money I do not wish to spend on a watch. And they do not look anywhere near as lovely as this particular one.

Now and then, you know you have acquired just the right item for you.

If you are interested in finding out more about this watch, it is a Timex Expedition E-Tide Temp Compass Watch T2N721

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