“ Brand: Nixon / Type: Women's Watch „
The Small Channel T is a ladies surf watch which was designed by Nixon in response to the demand for a smaller, feminine version of the popular Nixon Men's Channel T watch. It is a Swiss made, analogue watch which displays tide and moon phase information in addition to standard watch functions. I have owned my Small Channel T for eighteen months, and it is the third tidal watch I have purchased over the years.
** Where can I buy it and how much is it? **
The Nixon Small Channel T retails for around £140 - £160 and unfortunately it's not one of those watches that pops up in the sales much. The cheapest I've seen it is £120, and that's both looking around online now and 18 months ago when I bought it. Furthermore, right now the £120 offer is only on the blue colour option whilst the other choices are at least £140. Nixon has a great reputation and seems to be the brand of choice amongst many of the watersports enthusiasts I have met. This is about mid-range in terms of their watch prices, and I believe like a lot of designer watch brands their price has been bumped up by the name rather than the technology. However, I don't personally begrudge paying a lot for something that I plan to wear everyday for several years.
You'll be able to pick one of these watches up online from Streetfusion.co.uk Blackleaf.com, Extremepie.com and some Ebay shops. The ladies version of the watch is available in four colour options; pink strap with grey face, black strap with white face, yellow strap with yellow face or blue strap with blue face. I have the Nixon Small Channel T in the pink and grey version (as in the picture here).
** Does it look worth the price tag? **
Absolutely! I think for a casual watch this looks a little bit special, and I often get compliments on it even though it's not looking its best after 18 months of daily wear.
It's really hard to judge the size of a watch when buying online. And even though you'll find the measurements for the face of the Nixon Small Channel T online (3cm diameter) it's not easy to visualise how large it will look on your wrist. Men's watch faces particularly seem to be getting larger by the year, and I was a little concerned that this one would be too big. However I think it's just about perfect - large enough to stand out and draw in the compliments, but not too large.
It's hard to tell from the pictures online but the casing is solid stainless steel, with a brushed finish. The steel is extremely strong and I have only one small dent in it from knocking it into a lamp-post. This neat steel finish extends to the three buttons on the side - which Nixon could easily have made from plastic, but I'm thankful they haven't, as they would have shown signs of wear by now. The face of the watch is covered by hardened mineral crystal glass which has stood the test for me and only has a few barely perceptible scratches on it, and that's if you are looking really closely. Inside the face; the background, second hand, tide hand and tidal strip are colour coordinated with the watch strap. This is worth bearing in mind if you plan to replace the strap with another colour at any point. As an analogue watch, the multitude of functions are displayed all at once and this does make the face look a little cluttered. Nixon have tried to squeeze into this women's version all of the features present in the men's Channel T but obviously with a smaller area. This means they have had to print the words 'high tide', 'low tide' and the second increments in an extremely small font. If you have any trouble reading fine print then I don't think this is a good choice of watch and would recommend sticking to digital tide watches instead. However, Nixon may have crammed a lot of detail but I have been extremely impressed with how well they have executed this. Looking really closely, you can see the perfect detailed ridges around the seconds dial, and the metal edging around the date window. Such beautiful detailing makes this watch well worth the high price tag in my opinion.
** Function no. 1: Telling the time **
The pink version of this watch has silver numbers (all twelve are present) on a grey background. I do find the numbers difficult to distinguish and so if you are not a fan of analogue watches without obvious numbers then this is one to avoid. The delicate, silverery-metal minute and hour hands are nice and large however, with clear points to the end so it's easy to get an accurate reading. There are also 2-minute indentations in between the numbers, so there's not too much guesswork involved in that either. I've never had any issues with the watch slowing down or speeding up - it seems to keep time beautifully without needing any adjustments over time. Setting the time is done by a couple of clicks and turns of the central bezel, and is really simple.
** Function no. 2: Tidal information **
Before I bought my Nixon Small Channel T I had only owned digital tide watches. With an analogue tide watch you lose out on so many useful features, such as calculating future tide information, and working out the current tides to the exact minute. The pink tide hand swings around the face every 12.42 hours (approximately a complete tide). But because the watch face naturally has increments of one twelfth, this means there is no quick way of working out when the next high or low tide will be exactly. It all gets rather fiddly. This isn't massively important for the situations in which I use the tidal display on the watch, but I'd imagine for some professions and pastimes this could cause a problem. With only one tide hand there is also no way of programming the watch to tell you the tide at other beaches. Again, this has to be worked out in your head.
Programming the tide times is relatively simple, with the tide hand simply swinging round the face until the desired time is set. I find the best way is to find out when the next high or low tide is and then set the dial at that exact moment in time to get it really precise and on the nose. The tide setting button is clearly marked with an etched wave, and pressing and holding it will result in a beep which lets you know it's ready to be adjusted. This is the exact same method used for adjusting the moon phase (for which the button is etched with a crescent moon). This is particularly important information to pass on, as the instruction manual omits moon-phase programming and I had to look that one up on the internet.
** Function no. 3: Moon phase **
The Nixon Small Channel T will tell you whereabouts in the moon phase cycle you are on that day. This is all linked into the tidal information, as greater tidal ranges occur when the moon is full or new. Like the tidal dial, the small moon phase dial is difficult to get an accurate reading from. Although the phases are clearly marked with black, white or half-and-half circles, the dial is so tiny it's impossible to see exactly how many days there are until the full or new moons. So, not so great for planning those all important 'full moon parties' I'm afraid! When I was going on a recent night dive for which I needed the light of a full moon, I had to resort to my digital tide/moon-phase watch to tell me which date that would be. This watch really can only give a rough idea.
** Function no. 4: Counting the seconds **
The dial for counting seconds is the same size as the moon-phase dial - teeny tiny! I don't even bother using this feature to time anything in seconds as it involves sitting there watching the hand move around whilst counting the seconds in my head. It's really designed for surfers to countdown their times, and I suppose for that purpose it's adequate enough. It's easy enough to see when the tiny hand points to each ten second increment, just don't expect to be able to glance at this and get any more accuracy than that.
** Function no. 5: Date **
At the bottom of the watch face is a little window displaying the date. This is simple and easy to set using the main bezel on the watch. However I find I am constantly having to reset this from month to month. I understand that not all months are of equal length but unfortunately the Small Channel T does not. Every month is a 31 day month according to this watch, and I suppose this is an irritating feature everyone has to deal with when using analogue watch date displays. If the month is 30 days or less, then the date on this watch has to be wound on an extra day or two at the beginning of the month. Yet another reason why I've found digital watches to be superior to analogue.
** Finally tell me about the strap... **
As with most watersports watches the strap is made of PU (polyurethane). I've always chosen PU watches over any others as my skin has reacted badly to metal watch straps in the past, fabric straps fall to bits too quickly in saltwater and I don't wear leather accessories for ethical reasons. I really like the way this material feels and it's very comfortable to wear. The only issues I have with PU is the fact that it can become a bit sweaty on hot days, and also the material stains and discolours far too easily. My previous watch had a white strap which looked stunning straight out of the box, but very quickly turned a nasty shade of yellow. I looked everywhere to find advice on how to remove this staining but apparently it is impossible and the only cure is to replace the strap. I wasn't making that same mistake twice, so when I chose the Small Channel T I assumed deep pink would not stain like the white had. Unfortunately I discovered after wearing a brand new, navy blue, long-sleeved top in the rain that this was not the case. The dye leeched right into the strap and is still visible now after many hours of scrubbing. It's not noticeable to other people apparently but I'm very aware that parts of my watch now have a purple tie-dye appearance, and that's a real shame. With the exception to this, the strap has held up pretty well throughout its life in and out of the water. The locking looper (where you thread the end of strap through to keep it neat) has started to crack, but that's the only damage.
Nixon expect the Small Channel T to be worn whilst surfing and so they use a 'patented double locking looper' to ensure it stays put on your wrist during all that paddling. It's just a rather technical way of saying that the looper has a hole in it, through which a raised bump on the end of the watch strap sits, thus keeping it secure. It's worked really well for me. I also like the way the stainless steel buckle has two prongs and the strap is double punched all the way up. Additionally the strap is etched both on the upper (which makes it look pretty) and inner (which keeps it from slipping around on my wrist).
Of course all of these neat little details mean you won't want to replace the strap with a bog-standard plain one. I'm actually planning on replacing my strap with a new black one (partly because of the staining and partly because of the cracked looper). For this I have to go directly to Nixon, and they cost around £35 plus the cost of sending the watch away to them. When the watch face has lasted so well I don't think this is too much of a burden.
** What else should I know? **
* The Nixon Small channel T is water resistant to a depth of 100m. I've worn it on dives to 30m and had no problems with it. It's also been in and out of the water on hundreds of swims and snorkels and there has never been any leaking.
* The battery has lasted eighteen months so far without needing a change. When the time comes (Nixon recommend every two years) the battery will have to be replaced professionally, as removing the back needs to be done with specialist tools and not just a screwdriver.
* The minute and hour hand have differing sized glow in the dark strips built in to them. I find they stay visible for only about five minutes in the dark before they need charging with a light source again.
* The buttons are located on the 9 o' clock side, rather than the usual 3 o' clock side to prevent 'wrist bite' while paddling out. I think all watches should have this design as it's more comfortable for everyone not just paddling surfers.
** Overall **
I love the way this watch looks and how it is built to perfection. It may not have all the features I find in my digital tide watches but that's just the way analogue watches are and it's through no design fault from Nixon. I would have preferred not to be replacing the strap so soon but I know from all the other PU watch straps I have owned that this one has fared better than average. Overall it's a well deserved five star rating from me.
P.S. I suppose I should also own up that I'm no surfer, although that has been one of my new years resolutions for almost a decade now! But you don't need to be a surfer to appreciate this watch. Anyone like myself who enjoys other marine watersports or simply likes to stroll along the local seafront will find unexplainable satisfaction from knowing what the tide will be doing. Now I have discovered the delights of tide watches I wouldn't be without one.
Thanks for reading my review - I hope it was of use.
This review appears on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my username sbeach000