By T.C. WORLEY
I glanced at my wristwatch, peered into a wall of fog, then back at my watch again — if my calculations were right, I would soon see the dagger shape of a kayak piercing through the mist on a plane of ocean ahead. It was a few days into the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race in Chile, an eight-day endurance event I’d been assigned to cover as a journalist and photographer. Appropriately, as the company was the head sponsor, I’d been outfitted with some Wenger swag to try out during the week.
On my wrist, a watch from the company’s Commando series, the race’s namesake Commando Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race watch, might at first have seemed an odd choice. There was no alarm and no altimeter. The analog watch, which costs $450, lacked a barometric sensor, a compass, and other features you might need in the wilds.
But the Commando, I came to appreciate, functioned as a simple, solid timekeeper in Patagonia and then also back home as an “everyday” watch as well. It is made to take some knocks but it looks good at the same time — the Swiss-made watch comes with a strong rubber strap, a stainless steel case, and a mineral crystal face that resists scratches. It is waterproof to 330 feet, Wenger cites.
The watch’s striking white-on-black face regularly draws complements from friends and strangers alike. It works as a “business” watch for regular during-the-week wear, though I also find myself wearing it into the woods and even for training sessions — I regularly use it as a stopwatch, the small hands ticking and keeping time as I run.
Maybe I am a bit old-school, but I like moving watch hands and a clean analog face. Indeed, aesthetically the Commando line is a great alternative to the digital look that prevails with outdoor types. Beyond timekeeping, the Wenger watch has a date window and a tachymeter scale that measures speed over a known distance.
In Patagonia, as night fell, I looked to the watch and its glow-in-the-dark hands and markers. It rained for days in Chile, and I abused the watch for a week straight.
My Commando watch today is still looking nearly as good as new. At $450, I would expect as much. This is a durable but pricey watch in search of a unique demographic of buyers who might love the clean look combined with a solid build and (just enough) chorographical features to sneak by on a hike or, perhaps, a rainy trip in Chile down near the end of the Earth.
—T.C. Worley is a contributing editor for GearJunkie.com. He reported from Chile and the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race in 2010 and 2011.