Review: PDW Expedition Watch Band Compass
A real life review after full Summer season of use on land and sea.
I can’t deny, I really like cool gadgets. So when Patrick announced his PDW wrist watch compass I knew I had to get one! The first batch of the silver one sold out within minutes and unfortunately I was not lucky enough to get it. So with the second batch I was a bit more prepared and grabbed mine, finally! When it arrived and I opened the box… oh boy, how cool was that! What you get is the compass (of course) in a protective plastic container and with silicone carrier, which protects compass when not on your wrist and also allows to put it on a backpack/strap/MOLLE.
It arrived just in time – a couple of days before my short trip to the seaside. Technically it fits straps up to 22mm, BUT I had no problem squeezing my 24mm two-piece ZULU strap into the mounting slot, so I’m happy to tell you – yes, it’s Panerai compliant, which was actually my biggest worry. I wear the PAM000 as my adventure watch so if I’d be not able to use them both… ouch! But it fits, so no problem.
Of course, before any serious use (it’s a tool after all) I had to make sure it was really working properly and showed true magnetic North. So I took my good old M2 artillery compass and just checked PDW carefully. I expected nothing else frankly speaking… it’d be hard to tell if there was ANY noticeable difference between them. And the M2 is an instrument you could trust with your life! I found this short description of the M2: *The M2 military compass has been in service with the U.S. military since at least World War II. It is designed for precise work in providing targeting information for artillery.* Any questions? Yeah, that experiment shows it clearly – the PDW compass can also be trusted as a land and sea navigation aid.
At the beginning of July I took my PAM & PDW combo for a week-long sailing adventure. A compass is an essential instrument onboard. I wanted to check the real-life durability and if it stands by the promises of the PDW team through practical use. In a nutshell – absolutely yes! It’s helpful, easy to read, and survives the deck life, bumping around, submerging in cold water, and the overall sailing realm. Believe me, I was not toying it. You know me, I don’t toy my Panerai so I was really not taking too much care of the compass, LOL. Actually I was even surprised that the hard-anodized aluminium of the compass’ body held up so well!
As I said the PDW compass is extremely legible, even in the dusk or when you go from the direct sunlight to the considerably darker yacht cabin. Of course it’s possible thanks to the luminous material. Also the gasket (which keeps compass module in its housing) has some GITD properties, however I find it purely an aesthetic feature (but it’s cool). I’ve not used the silicon carrier extensively enough to tell you too much about it. It works, it’s OK, and you can put a small bead on it if you want (just to make it even cooler). However, if you do so, make sure there are no sharp edges – silicone is relatively easy to cut and tear apart.
Now, after almost 4 months of use (including summer adventure season) I can easily recommend it as a durable and fun alternative to a bigger compass. Of course, it won’t replace a serious navigation tools like an M2 or Brunton GeoTransit, but it’s easy to operate, fast and reliable. Very helpful to keep a proper route in the field. I’ve used it a lot for a quick map orientation in the mountains too. That is where a small handy accurate compass really works like a charm.
And last but not least… some outdoor pics of my PDW Comapass in use:
By the way, if you’d like to get one I suggest to sign up for Prometheus Design Werx newsletter, they always announce restocks in advance so that you don’t have to check the website every day. That’s exactly how I got mine.
Good luck and enjoy!
Piotr Ma Contributor & Edge Specialist
Adventurer, outdoorsman, mountaineer, sailor and gear enthusiast from Poland. It all started for Piotr when he was 10 and went to the high mountains with his father. Now he’s transferring his experiences and knowledge to the younger generation, together with his wife. His perfect vacation is not an all-inclusive hotel but a nothing-inclusive mountain shelter. More…