If you spend a lot of time outdoors your gear probably starts to fall into two basic categories; it’s either simple and functional or it’s something that can multitask and do a variety of things while taking up the space of only one. The Origo Rendezvous Peak wristwatch falls into that later category. It’s a watch for sure, but it does a lot more than your granddaddy’s old Timex ever did.
The Rendezvous Peak appears as a stylish digital wristwatch with an integral black rubberized band and armor coating. There are four variations available: black with either a standard display or a reverse display and black with a stainless steel bezel and once again either a standard or reverse display. The Rendezvous Peak is water resistant up to 165 and has a soft blue EL backlight so you can check the time no matter the lighting conditions. Weight is only 70g, which didn’t strike me as bad for what is a largish watch. Origo rates the battery at one year. What sets this watch apart from the myriad of other sports watches available are the additional features that it offers. Altimeter? Check. Barometer? Check again. Digital compass? They’ve got that covered. Chronograph? Yep, it’s in there. There are nine main operation modes of the watch altogether. Let’s take a look at each one and some of its key points.
The main mode is of course the basic time functions. In this mode you get your current time in hour/minute/second format, the date and day of the week, the current temperature, and the current weather as indicated by a weather forecast icon. The weather forecast is an estimate based upon changes in the barometric pressure readings of the watch. This is the default mode of the watch and what you will see if you aren’t navigating to any of its other features.
The next mode is the digital compass. The Rendezvous Peak has a built in bearing sensor that detects magnetic north and will indicate one of 16 directions on the watch face. Origo’s manual recommends that you calibrate the compass before using it and every time you leave for a hike or backpacking trip. Calibration is a simple matter that only takes a bout a minute or so to do and ensures that you’ll be squared away each time you need the compass. Once you have the watch’s compass calibrated you can compensate for the difference between true north and magnetic north by adjusting the declination angle according to the instructions and information in the user manual.
For weather forecasting, the Rendezvous Peak is equipped with a barometer which tracks the barometric pressure in your area. It compiles this data into a pressure graph to let you watch weather trends and gives you a simple weather forecast. This weather report is based upon rising and falling barometric pressure but the manual states that best results are obtained when you manually set the weather before you start on a trip. This gives the watch a baseline to work with.
The altimeter on the Origo watch uses a pressure sensor to detect current air pressure which it in turn uses to estimate the current altitude. The altitude can be displayed in both feet and meters and has a working range of -2296 feet up to +29,520 feet. The watch graphs altitude changes so that you can look at where you’ve been and the altitude changes experienced on a hike or trip. There is also an option to record up to 75 altitude points as well, so you can mark particular spots along the trail such as shelter locations, splits in the trail etc.
The chronograph on the Rendezvous Peak allows you to measure elapsed time, split times and up to two finishes. It breaks the times down to 1/100th of a second and has a data mode which allows you to record and review up to 99 logged times at a later date. Essentially, it’s a good stop watch that you have handy on your wrist.
The alarm mode provides two alarms that can be individually set and emits a 30 second alarm when they go off. Pretty standard stuff there, but handy when you’re traveling or camping and have a schedule to maintain. The last mode on the watch is the countdown timer and I’ll just lump it in here with the alarm since it also is pretty basic. The countdown timer is handy for camp cooking, keeping an eye on boiling water for water purification (depending on what school of thought you’re following on how long to boil water!) and other tasks.
Okay, that’s a good breakdown of the individual features but how does all of this come together on your wrist? Well, pretty well I must say. I have to admit I was a bit intimidated by all of the features whenever I got this watch for review. I’m used to an old school analog watch with the fanciest feature being a date window which I can usually never manage to set. I was pretty sure I was going to be overwhelmed by the Origo Rendezvous Peak but I have to say I ended up pleasantly surprised. Naturally, I started using the watch before I read the user manual. Despite this, I found it pretty intuitive to navigate between modes, find the EL backlight, and work the basic functions of the watch. Once I actually sat down and did go through the book I was able to do all that and actually use the features with a bit more purpose. It’s a small but decent manual that covers most of the functions fairly well. The watch and manual are made in China, but the manual thankfully doesn’t read like that of a $30 DVD player. It was easy to understand and generally thorough. If you’re savvier about digital watches that me, you can probably get further along before you break down and read the manual, but when you do it should answer most of your questions.
In the field, I found that aside from your basic time functions the weather and compass features were the ones I found most useful. The altimeter is interesting, but was more of a novelty in the areas around Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia where I hiked and camped. I suspect if you were out west or in an area where you were covering much more vertical ground it would come into more play. The chronometer and countdown timer didn’t see much use for me either but they’re handy items to have and since they don’t add any additional space, or much extra complication to the watch they’re a welcome addition.
From a practical aspect I found the Rendezvous Peak to be a comfortable watch to wear. I’m an average sized adult male with medium hands and thin to average wrists and I didn’t have any problems wearing the watch either in a traditional manner or work upside down with the face along the inside of my wrist as I’m prone to wear watches. I tend to like that position as it protects the watch face a bit more and it doesn’t interfere with using a tactical light while shooting a handgun and placing the back of your hands together over your locked wrists. I let a few other people try out the watch as well and it worked fine for folks with bigger wrists than me and they also didn’t have any issues with it. I suspect it might be a bit large for some females and youths however.
I did have a couple of issues with the Origo Rendezvous Peak, although nothing or major consequence. The one thing that I and my other testers soon found out was that it’s rather hard to take the watch off! The band on the watch is pretty rigid and you really have to work at it when you’re trying to get it to flex enough to unclasp it from your wrist. On the plus side, it isn’t likely to get knocked loose on the trail, but it is sort of annoying when you go to take your watch off to take a shower or wash up. The other issue I had was that it seems rather easy to bump the buttons when you’re wearing the watch and navigate away from the basic time mode. I frequently found myself having to scroll through modes when all I wanted to do was quickly look at the time. My brother inadvertently found the solution to this in the available “key lock” mode. This keeps you from doing what I was and accidentally bumping to a mode which consumes more power than the basic time function. Unfortunately, he didn’t tell me that he had done this (if he realized he had done so) and I discovered it while on a camping trip. I couldn’t figure out how to unlock it while I was away and so couldn’t use most of the modes on that trip. When I returned home I looked in the otherwise decent manual and found that it didn’t address how to unlock the watch. I didn’t find anything about it on the Origo website either. I had to Google the problem to find a solution. A simple addition to the user manual would easily solve this minor point though.
Overall, I was rather impressed with the Rendezvous Peak watch. It packs an awful lot of function into a compact watch and does so without requiring you to have a computer programming degree to work it. It’s rugged, water resistant and has functions that are actually useful on the trail. With a suggested retail price of $180, it isn’t the most inexpensive field watch out there but it is competitively priced for the quality and the features that you are getting. If you need something beyond that basic analog watch you’re still wearing then go take a look at the Origo Rendezvous Peak or one of Origo’s series of watches.