As a die-hard G-Shock fan, I wanted to try the dark side and see how I like it. Short answer: The dark side is quite bright.
I’m only just getting acquainted with the watch, the Timex Expedition ($30) model T40941, but there are many fine details that are decidedly different from what we are used to in our Gs.
Photos of my own watch later when I get some good light. Here is the model I talk about:
Amazon.com: Timex Men's T40941 Expedition Classic Digital Chrono Alarm Timer…
I will outline those points that I find better, equal or worse in the Timex as opposed to the G-Shocks I own.
The display wins hands down and tied behind the back. The digits in most Gs are between 5 and 6mm high. Those in the Expedition are 8.2mm high and very easy to read. The display is also extremely crisp, clear and contrasty. No grain in the blank parts. It is at one level with the display of my $300 Seiko SBPG001 that I bought partly because I liked the crispness of the display so much. When you set the time display to 24h mode, there is NO extraneous info on the display as there is in nearly all Gs. Just the day with full date and the time with smaller seconds. Excellent. You can even customize the date format. Nice for us Europeans. ☺ There could be a bit more space between the day letters and the date numbers but that’s nitpicking. But you do see if the alarm is on, or if STW or CDT are running in the background. The little icons for that are clear and unobtrusive.
The bracelet is super comfortable and indeed the entire watch wears like a dream. It is more flexible than the G straps and it can be changed out easily and replaced with whatever strap you like. How about that? Oh, and there is a correctly working compass integrated into one of the two keepers. Nice touch.
The buttons are bigger and easier to push than on most Gs.
There is less tacky writing all over the watch or at least it doesn’t stand out. Obviously this is different from model to model and there are some Gs that are better than others in this category. This Timex is particularly understated in its black and grey color scheme that I find extremely pleasing.
The STW module is better than on most Gs save the specialty ones like 7700, 850, 9010 and so on. You can take 99 lap times and those will be shown together with the total time in two separate lines. You can even choose whether you want the total time in big numbers or the lap time.
The CDT is neat, too. It is a 24h timer and can be set to the SECOND. Sweet. You can also customize whether you want it to stop at the end or repeat. In a $30 watch!
User guidance. There is a user guide built into the watch that tells you what to do. Very smart feature to idiot proof the watch. I like it but wish it could be turned off. OTOH, it doesn’t really get in the way. Well done. And the up and down buttons actually count in the right direction. Why Casio does that wrong is beyond me.
Each alarm can be configured to ring daily, weekdays only or weekends only. The 7700 also has that feature and some others do, too, but the otherwise comparable DW-5600 doesn’t have it. And the 7700 is almost twice the price of this one. All alarms are snooze alarms but there are only three of them. Enough for me. Oh, and the alarms will also flash the backlight. The volume level is comparable to or rather louder than my Gs, even the non-solar ones. The alarm will sound for 20 seconds. Ten slow and ten fast. Snooze time is 5 minutes.
Packaging. The Timex box is really cool. It has an integrated watch holder, a flip lid, a storage compartment for the well-written instructions, and it can be used as a travel case very nicely for this or other watches. It even looks very stylish and serves as a display case in the store. Somebody got promoted for that one.
It lays and packs flat. That's practical if you want to put the watch in your pocket or hang it from clothing. A G-Shock looks strange in a jeans pocket. ;)
The overall functionality is the same but as we saw above each function is rather luxuriously implemented.
The second time zone is handled differently. There is no world time mode. But you can set an entirely different and independent time zone to the second and with its own date and date configuration. So you could set an American time zone for when you are in the US with AM/PM and MM/DD. And then you could set a T2 for Europe with 24h and DD/MM. That’s what I call custom. This makes up for the lack of world time. A third time zone would be great, though, and there are Timex watches that have three zones. T2 is shown briefly when pushing the upper right button and both zones are switched when that button is held for more than 4 seconds. Good solution, fast and efficient. If it had WT on top of it, I’d be in heaven.
Clasp and caseback. I’d say these are equal in quality and construction to the Gs.
The backlight is different but equal. About as strong but only the digits light up, not the background. Conceptually that is superior. You want to read the time and not the background. It also looks cooler. But for actual readability I find both equal and the G allows you to use it as an emergency torch but only for three seconds. The standard duration with a single button press on the Timex is also three seconds BUT the backlight will stay on if the button is held. There is also a function where any button press will activate the light. This model does not have the Flix function where the light will turn on when you move the arm. On most of my Gs I have that function turned off because it gets on my nerves especially when driving. It is also not as necessary to have it on the Timex because the display is so easy to read even in bad lighting. So, I’d say equal with a slight advantage for Timex.
The mode switching returns directly to time mode after having used one function. Personally, I don’t really like that. If I want to set all three alarms I have to circle through all modes three times until I can get the third alarm set. Some people will like the direct return; I think I don’t.
Build quality. Here the G wins hands down and tied behind the back. It’s quite obvious so I won’t expound. The Expedition has quite closely the same measures as the GW-M5600 (42x12mm) so there would be room for a better build. It’s also rated to only 100m. The crystal is in fact plastic. I like mineral glass better. But plastic can be easily restored with plastic polish and the lesser mirror effect makes it a bit easier to read at certain angles. The Expedition weighs 40g and the GW-M5600 52g. I also doubt that the Timex is as shock proof because it has no rubber housing. Case fittings between the plastic parts are not as tight as in the G. It looks cheaper (and it is a bit cheaper).
It won’t show the main time in any other mode. Some people really are keen on this feature. I’m not that keen on it but I prefer if a watch has it.
Looks. That one is subjective and I actually totally love the look of this watch and it’s a large reason why I bought it. But overall I must say that the 5600 design is an icon in watch design and not many digital watches even come close. However, this is not an ugly ducky.
As a tough watch and a style icon the G-Shock wins. No doubt. They are collectable. I don’t think I’ll start to collect Timex now.
But I’m tempted to say that as a functional, very comfortable and extremely cheap everyday time tool the Timex wins (at least this one that I’ve tried). I bought mine for $30 at Target. Timex and Amazon show an MSRP of around $45. The cheapest DW-5600 is $32 on the net but MSRP is $69, that's 50% more.
I think especially for older people or people with weak eye sight it is excellent. It will also be good for those want a slimmer, more comfortable fit and a less aggressive appearance. It can even be easily spiffed up on a leather strap. I’m looking forward to seeing how accurate it will be over the next month or so.
Now, I just wonder what other G-Shockers think of the dark side?