Smart Watches, Fitness Trackers & Automatic Watches: Vostok

I have never been one to wear a watch all day long. Today, it seems more of a fashion accessory since the time is always available from our phone, and our phones are always with us.

But, watches also seem to be making a comeback as a replacement for phones in the form of “smart watches”, activity trackers and the like. The problem I have with these types of electronics is their aesthetics, price and durability.

In the past, I have used Timex Ironman and Polar products for time and measuring difficult of workouts using my heart rate as an indicator. They were perfect for a run. Water resistant and ugly. They weren’t something you’d were all day long.

They also used to be a lot cheaper too. You would spend half of the current price of $50-$150 on the entry level model. But, as they move into the premium space and try to replace phones, they have climbed up to phone prices for the premium models.

And like phones and other electronics, these devices are not built to last. Either the battery is not replaceable because the expectation is you’ll update to the new model when the battery is exhausted or replacing the battery tends to compromise water resistance. There’s also the problem that many of these devices aren’t durable. It is clear that smart watches like Apple Watch, Fitbit and many of the other brands in this space aren’t going to take much punishment. Those that look like they can take punishment are an eye-sore.

At this point, I saw this review of a Seiko SKX007. Since it is an automatic watch, it is wound by simply wearing it. There is no battery. It is a diver’s watch that can go down to 200m. It’s tough, and with NATO straps, you can get rid of those metal or resin bands.

Searching eBay, I was able to find Seiko SKX007 watches for sale that were essentially new for $175. But, since I’ve never worn a watch on a regular basis before, it was a lot of money to spend on something I was not sure I’d wear.

This is when I discovered Vostok Watches. They’ve been making automatic dive watches for the Russian military since the end of World War II. Reviews called them the best dive watch for under $100. Amazon has Vostok Dive watches for $89.90. If you can live with 30m water resistance, they least expensive option I found was $49.90.

Of course, you may still prefer a Timex Ironman. But, a Vostok is worth some consideration.

After wearing a Vostok watch for a week, I have found that I am much more aware of time passing and how long it takes to do something. I also find that it cuts down a bit on phone use since you are not reaching for it to check the time. Recommended.