Full disclosure: Unbeknownst to my editors, I wore a Timex Ironman watch for over a decade.
My Timex did everything I needed a watch to do. I wore it traveling, snowboarding, swimming, running, snorkeling and surfing. I could set an alarm, check my pace, and show up when I said I would. It also lit up, so when unexpected noises woke me while camping, I could huddle in my sleeping bag, check the time, and note that the bears had decided to eat us at precisely 1:34 am.
Most importantly, it offered excellent functionality for an affordable price. I expected nothing less from the $99 Timex Ironman GPS, which bills itself as “the simplest GPS watch ever.”
Unlike many fitness wearables, the Ironman GPS isn’t a gleaming touchscreen device that sits on your wrist. It’s a digital watch, and it looks like one. To use, charge the watch by plugging it into a wall with a micro USB cable, and download the Timex app on your computer—you read that right. There’s no Bluetooth, so you’ll be using a wire and a computer to extract your data.
To start a workout, press the gray button. Select a workout (because this is an Ironman GPS, you have a choice between running, swimming, or biking, or all of them at once!), and wait ten agonizing seconds for the GPS to sync up before starting your workout.
Timex says the watch’s battery life as capable of powering through 12 straight hours of GPS tracking. It was difficult to get a read on how long that battery life would last with real-life usage, since you have to plug the phone into your computer to download your data. Three or four hour-long runs and swims ran the battery down to about 75% before I plugged it into my computer, which charged it.
To review your data, you can scroll through your workout summaries on the watch, or upload them via USB. The Timex app connects to Facebook and Twitter, as well as fitness sites like Mapmyfitness and Strava.
On your computer, you can check the map of your run route. You can also check a whole bevy of other stats, like elevation changes over distance, or your pace time over distance. As with the original Ironman watches, you can set an alarm or a timer. The watch also throws up a flag to congratulate you whenever you reach your fastest times, which I found adorable.
Quit It and Hit It
In a sea of sensor-laden smartwatches, it can be easy to feel like you’re drowning in data, stats, and information. As a high school cross-country runner, I didn’t keep track of how many steps I walked each day. Instead, we checked our pace, tried not to get lost on long runs, and barfed after interval training. The Timex Ironman GPS watch would’ve been perfect for my high school days since it’s so straightforward and distraction-free.
I did miss what are by now standard features on even the simplest fitness trackers. You can get addicted to stats, and I missed seeing my step totals, which gives me the sweet, sweet illusion that walking around the house looking for my daughter’s blankie contributes significantly to my overall level of fitness.
I also missed Bluetooth. Right now, Bluetooth proliferation is so ubiquitous that having to plug anything into anything can feel almost antediluvian. Even sous-vide machines have Bluetooth! Where are my instantly accessible graphic displays?
And alas, even though Timex has made the Ironman GPS simple to set up, it didn’t eliminate the possibility of glitches. I got occasional notices that the watch required firmware updates, so I plugged it into my computer, and…nothing. I had to unplug and restart the app a few times to get them to load.
Turn Down the Volume
The Ironman GPS’s selling points are its price and its simplicity. As watches from Timex’s competitors also get more affordable, the first applies less and less. You can find Garmin and TomTom watches now that come at similar price points, but offer the same features and more.
But—and I am the only one besides your mother who will tell you this—more isn’t always more. If your goal is to run a race faster, you don’t really need an HR monitor or to calculate your VO2 max. You just need a stopwatch, and the will to work harder. Maybe you’re an experienced athlete who is suffering from information overload. Or maybe you’re just secure enough in your fitness level that it doesn’t give you a thrill to find out that you’ve clocked 300 steps while checking the office mailbox.
Was I able to convert back to a Timex Ironman GPS after being exposed to the sinfully self-indulgent amount of data now available? No. Turns out I really like being able to see completely irrelevant stats, like finding out that my heart rate spikes while watching Black Mirror. As an athlete, however, it’s a great follow-up to the watch that was my constant companion for a decade.
Best Timex Ironman Activity Tracker of 2020 – Top Rated & Reviewed
|Product Names||Product Images||Check Price|
#1 Timex Ironman Move X20 Activity Tracker
#2 Timex Ironman GPS Silicone Strap Watch
#3 Timex Unisex TW5K86300F5 Ironman Classic 50 Move + Watch with Black Resin Band
#4 Timex Ironman Triathlon Sleek Fitness Tracker – Black
#5 Timex Metropolitan+ Activity Tracker Smart Watch
#6 Timex TW5K85500 Ironman Move x20 Activity Band – Medium & Large – Black
#7 Timex Mid-Size Health Tracker Watch
#8 Timex Ironman Run X50+ Fitness Smartwatch
#9 Timex Health Touch HRM Watch – Silver/Black/Red
#10 Timex Men’s T5K726 Ironman Target Trainer Heart Rate Monitor TapScreen Black/Yellow Resin Strap Watch
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While advancements with electronics continue to race forward, pedometers, a.k.a. step counters or activity monitors, have made only short strides. Sure, they have been tweaked to include memory, radios or touch heart rate monitoring, but they basically remain little pods that clip onto your waist at the hip and have a screen that shows how many steps you’ve taken or how much distance you’ve covered. Some are more accurate than others, but that’s about it.
The Timex Wireless Fitness Tracker takes that concept and blows it apart. It is a fully featured Ironman Triathlon watch that not only keeps time and has a sleek look, but also includes a 50-lap memory chronograph with laps and splits, dated training log, timers, alarms, dual time zones, a night light and water resistance. The watch also comes with a small pod-like device that clips to your waist at the hip, but it’s very different from other pedometers. Primarily, is has no readout. In fact, the super smooth face of the pod has no lids or buttons to fiddle with.
The pod does act as a counter, but it’s more of a transmitter, since the wrist watch or receiver has an activity mode that allows you to check your number of steps and a variety of other things. For example, it measures distance, and we found that this function works pretty well, as long as you calibrate it carefully and walk with even steps. It also indicates calories used, which is a ballpark estimate, as calorie-counters are. While you’re moving, the device measures pace and speed, but this is based on steps, so the numbers aren’t figures you can take to the bank. Still, it’s interesting.
In addition, the pod tracks steps per minute, steps left (on whatever goal you set, with default being 10,000) and – this we love – activity time. We found that wearing it on workdays meant we didn’t really cover very many steps (not counting a break to run or bike where we didn’t wear the pod). But the real eye-opener was our discovery that we spent very little time during the workday actually moving. Sometimes we didn’t “move” more than 45-60 minutes, meaning a walk to another office or to lunch or to the car. Dang!
We found that the step-counter was pretty accurate while we were actually walking. When we wore it while sitting at a desk or in a situation where we weren’t moving forward in a definitive motion, the device would occasionally “jiggle” and record “steps” as we reached for something on the desk or got up and moved a half-step across the room. Nevertheless, if you want to wear it that way, just realize you may have actually moved only a third or so of the steps counted. But take it out on a walk or walk to lunch or on a treadmill, and it’ll show you reality. Also, because of the wireless transmission, you have to flip a tiny switch on the pod to start counting steps. If you take off the watch and move more than 3 feet from the pod, the watch automatically bleeps and turns off the wireless.
This is a nifty tool because you can just ignore the pod on your waist without having to fiddle with lifting your shirt (eek!) and trying to decipher the read-out or push buttons. And you can look normal by just referring to a read-out on your wrist on the watch face. For other activities, you can just use the chronograph or other interval timers. Basically, this is a great multi-purpose tracker tool for everything from everyday movement to walks to pure athletic pursuits.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $90
Timex’s new fitness-tracking watch looks just as sharp as its regular watches
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Business Insider/Jeff Dunn The thing about wearables is that they’re not super fun to wear. For all the great things a Fitbit Charge HR or Pebble Time Steel can do for you, it’s hard to get around the fact that they’re little computers on your wrist. Anything you attach to your body becomes part of your style by default; for some, a tiny touchscreen or LED display just won’t feel natural. People don’t want to look nerdy, in other words.
Some wearable makers are trying to change this, but they’re facing an uphill battle, to put it kindly.
If there’s one area that has shown promise in its attempt to meld connectivity with casual style, though, it’s the growing group of activity tracking analog watches. Instead of trying to stuff extensive fitness features into a more foreign form factor, these things look and behave like the timepieces people have always worn, just with a few basic smarts thrown under the hood. They’re watches first, wearables second.
The Withings Activite and Activite Pop helped kick-start this trend, and we’ve found the latter in particular to be a good value. Over the past several weeks, however, I’ve been using the Timex Metropolitan+, a like-minded competitor that should appeal to the more fashion-conscious wearable buyer.
For me, the Metropolitan+ is a better pure watch than something like the Pop or Runtastic Moment. Its smooth steel case, silver hands, and sturdy glass give off a refined, mature look, and the black leather band it packs by default is both soft and tight-fitting. It’s water-resistant up to 330 feet — so, showers yes, swimming no — its battery is said to last a year and a half (after which it’s replaceable), and I’ve bumped the whole thing plenty of times without scratching it up.
That band isn’t as luxurious as that of the high-end Activite, but for $125 it’s more than fine, and Timex sells a handful of $20 leather, silicone, and nylon alternatives if it doesn’t suit your fancy.
Either way, I had multiple people tell me the watch looks more expensive than it is. Nearly everyone I spoke to also expressed surprise when I revealed that it did more than just tell the time. Again, it feels much more like a watch than an explicit piece of tech, because that’s what it is.
A men’s watch, at least. Underneath the case lies a gyrometer and accelerometer, and as a result the Metropolitan+ is chunkier and heavier than your everyday Weekender. It’s still comfortable, but it’s easily bigger than the Activite Pop, which is more universally accommodating. Timex told me a model that’s more tailored to effeminate wrists is in the works, but today, it’s a dude-centric affair.
As a fitness tracker, the Metropolitan+ is more or less a fancy pedometer. It works with the Timex Connected app (iOS, Android) and holds a week’s worth of steps, calories, distance data, and…that’s it. The option to adjust your stride length is nice, but there’s no sleep tracking, no swimming support, and no altimeter to judge stairs climbed. Timex says that the first of those is coming sometime this spring, however.
The watch was consistent and largely accurate in counting these basics, which is great, but Timex leaves it up to you to figure out what goals you should try to hit, and how you should progress over time. You also have to do all your syncing manually, which isn’t terribly convenient. If you want a more involved way of monitoring your activity but think a full-on fitness tracker sacrifices too much style, the Withings is still your best bet.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t note the handful of bugs I encountered in testing. The red hand that measures your steps/distance gradually moved backward; stats recorded in the Connected app appeared to double after a few weeks; and my main device (a 2014 Moto X) refused to pair entirely after updating to Android 6.0.
Several other phones and tablets paired quickly and presented no such problems, however. (The tracking hand issue remained, though that can be readjusted easily enough.) I wasn’t able to receive an official response to these concerns in time for this review, but for now, just know that Timex has a one-year warranty on the device.
All that aside, I was fine with the Metropolitan+’s limitations, if only because it shows that Timex isn’t confused about what this thing is. It’s a stylish, nice-feeling watch that doesn’t try to be a full-on fitness tracker, and knows the basics should be enough motivation to keep you from sitting in your chair all day.
Since a pair of dials and the aforementioned counter hand neatly display your daily step/distance progress on the watch itself, you’re less likely to be sucked into a software ecosystem and compulsively check your phone, too.
The Metropolitan+ won’t get you ripped, but that’s not the point. Instead, it’s there to look good and help you be a little less lazy. If you want to step up to an actual fitness tracker from there, great. While it could stand to add a few more features, it’s a mature, accessible take on the wearable concept.
Timex Metropolitan+, $125, available at Amazon.