A Visual & Strategic Misstep.
Words/Photography: Me / Model: Travis Wadham
Timex is one of my favorite watch brands and it’s with that context that I write this review of the Command, a 54mm wrist-dominating plastic and camo digital watch from the American king of digital watches.
Long guarding its pervasive position as the “tough watch” segment leader, Casio now finds itself directly in the crosshairs of Timex. The Command touts itself as a rough and tough watch that can keep pace with your lifestyle (whatever that may be). In effect, it’s Timex’s answer to the G-Shock, with both lines vying for your tough-watch dollars.
Unfortunately for Timex, aside from a vibration alarm, the Command fails to meaningfully differentiate itself from its G-Shock peers and, in some areas, doesn’t match the robustness or utility of the G-Shock. Found for a hair under $100, the Command is big, bold, and inexpensive… but not one I’d advocate for.
Disclosure: Timex provided the Command at no-charge for this review.
Timex Command Technical Specifications
- Model Number: TW5M18200JV
- MSRP: $99
- Case Diameter: 54mm
- Alternate Models: 8 Versions in total
- Movement: Timex Digital
- Functions: Chronograph, timer, Indiglo backlight, vibration alarm, three time zones, three alarms, 24-hour time, triple calendar, hydration alarm
- Battery Life: Approximately 4 years
- Water Resistance: 100m / 330ft
- Crystal Material: Acrylic
The Perfect Watch for Someone With 20″ Biceps
WYCA readers know that I have wimpy wrist syndrome: a chronic condition that has given me tiny 6.75″ wrists (despite having 17″ biceps). This means that the Command, which is sized at a gargantuan 54mm, dominates my wrist to an outlandish degree.
A big case means plenty of available real estate, though, and so the digital display is expansive indeed. Unfortunately, despite the fact that it has the wristwatch equivalent of a football field available in terms of real estate, visibility is surprisingly underwhelming in most conditions.
This is because the LED screen lacks sufficient contrast for the digital dial to be readily visible in all but direct light. Activating the Indiglo backlight changes this for the better, but Indiglo cannot be active full-time and so you’re forced to activate it anytime you want to check the time and don’t happen to be in direct light.
Don’t Be Alarmed
Despite its mammoth size, the Command weighs next to nothing. It’s a featherweight thanks to its mostly plastic construction. This includes the resin strap, which is lightweight and flexible (and also thick).
Everything on the Command is a little over the top. So much so that I had to find a bodybuilder with 19.5″ biceps to show it off. The choice of model seemed appropriate since the Command has a built-in hydration alarm, which is basically an alarm you set that reminds you to drink. I don’t see much utility in the alarm though- it’s basically a gimmicky countdown timer.
The vibration alarm is useful and discreet, allowing you to choose between a gentle-but-noticeable bzzz, bzzz, bzzz or the typical wristwatch alarm chime. The adventurous out there can set the alarm to the combo setting, which will prompt the alarm to bzzz for 10-seconds before activating the chime for 10-seconds.
If left unattended, the alarm will repeat once per minute for five minutes. Disabling an active alarm via the bottom-right STP pusher will prevent this 5-minute “backup” function from running. In addition to the hydration alarm, you can set three separate recurring alarms via a pretty handy user interface.
Many vibration alarms on watches are weak and easily missed. Not so with the Command, which packs a vibration function close in power to that found in the typical smartphone.
It Looks Tough, But…
In my mind, the biggest miss with the Command is that Timex styled it to write an aesthetic check that it simply can’t cash. With a big acrylic crystal and only 100m of water resistance, the Command has very real physical limitations that prevent it from being genuinely tough.
As shown in the photo here, the crystal scratches so easily that you simply have to look at it wrong and you’ll find a new hairline scratch in the dial. I managed to scratch up the dial before even putting the watch on using a microfiber towel to clean it. Seriously.
You could put a strip of dial protecting plastic on it (much like you would for a cell phone), but to do so you have to buy another product and size it down to fit the Command’s size. Most people won’t do that.
It is true that most of Casio’s G-Shocks also use low-end crystals, but that’s more forgivable given that the surface area of the dial isn’t the wristwatch equivalent of a small moon.
Then the issue with the water resistance remains. Comparably priced G-Shocks, like the smaller and less expensive DW-5600E, have 200m of water resistance. This makes them considerably more aquatically capable compared to the Command.
100m of water resistance is fine for most situations, but if you’re wanting to dive under the water as opposed to just swim or snorkel near the surface of it, the Command wouldn’t be the watch to choose. You could rock a G-Shock, though…
Like the Command, the G-Shocks are also shock resistant. They don’t typically have a vibration alarm in the sub-$100 price range, so in that respect, the edge goes to the Command.
An Easy to Use Digital Interface
Once you get past the acrylic crystal, mediocre WR rating, and oversized outlook, the watch itself is quite friendly and easy to use thanks to a smart user interface design. The mode button in the bottom-left is how you cycle through the various functions of the watch, and the set button on the top left is how you, ehh, set each respective function.
The function you’re changing to appears in big letters on the screen when you press mode, making it very easy to navigate. The interface is also lightning fast with no lag. It’s pretty intuitive and shouldn’t take you long to figure out.
To set the time:
- To set the time and date, press and hold the set button when the time is displayed to activate the time setting function.
- Choose which time zone you want to set (T1 – T3)
- Follow the visual prompts on-screen
Another handy feature: Indiglo night-mode. Activating night mode will turn Indiglo on for 3-seconds whenever any button is pressed, making nighttime visibility much better than just about any non-Indiglo watch. To activate night mode, you simply press and hold the Indiglo-button (right-center) for 3-seconds.
Night mode greatly improves the contrast of the dial, making it easier to read in a larger variety of light settings. It will chew through the battery faster, but that depends heavily on how much you actually use and interact with your watch.
Between the triple calendar (day/date, month, year), multi-timezones, chronograph, timer, 3 alarm settings, and “hydration alarm”, the Command is not short on value-add functions. The best part is that they’re all an intuitive button-press away, which is a marked difference compared to most digital watches.
Not a Bad Watch, But Also Not a Great One
I went back and forth on how I wanted this review to sound. The Command isn’t a bad watch, but it also isn’t as good as some of its price-competitive peers. Take its specification mediocrity and add an oversized case with a camo paint job and you get something that could have been much better than it is.
The Command is, for all intents and purposes, a reskinned version of the oversized Expedition-series digital watches. It uses the same digital module (movement) and, aside from a “slick” camo paint job, looks nearly identical as well.
This is good because, if you want something like the Command, the Expedition is the better watch to buy. It looks more reserved (sans camo paint job) while also being easily found for less than the $100 you currently have to spend to get your hands on a Command.
If you want a watch to take to the gym, the beach, a skydive, or a swim, skip the Command and get a G-Shock. If you want a watch with a huge face, get the Expedition. If you want a huge face with camo, then the Command is your ticket.
2 thoughts on “Wearing the Timex Command Shock”
Ummmmmmmm, out of the total population of planet earth (7 billion plus), approximately 2,000 dive below 100 meters.
So, I thought the 100m of water resistance, the Commands real physical limitations will make sense Only to the 1,000 select divers who dive below 200.
As for the rest of the review, all made sense.
I had a WS4, the predecessor to the Expedition, and yes, it is massive – but I wore it anyway, on a 6,75 wrist. When you want BIG digits, it’s a display that works. As for acylic, it does scratch – but unlike mineral or sapphire, you can polish it out. Also goes to how you abuse a watch – some of us not so much, others can break bowling balls for fun. I actually did use cell phone screen savers on a watch while on active duty, the older pixellated style cut reflections quite a bit. Cutting one for a rectangle would be a lot easier. I still have those screensavers. In fact, they sell thick silicone crystal protectors now.
I do have a G Shock – GAX 100B – the display on it is much smaller, reading the screens on it requires direct daylight, too. If anything the general consensus on reverse digital displays is don’t – they aren’t well lit up. However, when you don’t want to advertise the contrast, they work. Otherwise, pick the OTHER displays which are readable. The Expedition had not issues in that regard, but good luck finding any circa 2021. What few retailers still offering them know what they have. It’s the Command Shock that is now hard to find.
The polymer case and strap do take a beating, but just like G Shocks they will wear out and split in due time. All polymer cased watches with bits of armor do this. Then again, the G Shock looks fantastic compared to a stainless Citizen I recently picked up, a real beater in all the sense of the phrase. I’m still trying to figure out how the cross hatch scratches got into that crystal – was someone playing tic tac toe? An acrylic will buff out – and a screen protector will help, too.
We used to do that a lot in the 60-80’s using Brasso. Most crytals were acrylic then.
As for the programming the Timex is much more intuitive, my only problem with the WS4 was not being able to zero out the altitude even when sitting on the beach. On the other hand, the GAX-100 is like a stopped clock when it comes to predicting the local tide, which capability is highly compromised. For a number of years running I take it to the Gulf Coast and on the average it’s maybe 2 days of 5 accurate in forecasting tides. So much for the G Shock – they are a bit more hype than some are willing to admit. Unless you get a Rip Curl programmed for that geophysical location, you’re better off with an app on the phone for tide prediction.
Plenty of watch makers play with WR ratings, it’s a balance between marketing and engineering where they want to retail the watch. They are NOT tested – that takes ISO DIVE standards. There are folks who do so with WR50 Suunto’s and claim to never have a problem. As above, it’s a lot about what you really do, vs what the Customer Service of the maker wants to support during the short warranty. Even Dive watch makers insist on periodic service, 5 year intervals is common, retesting required. Me, I have 15 year old Eco Drives still putting up with no service and they haven’t leaked. Handling petrochemicals and working with obnoxious fluids would be a bigger threat to a watch’s seals than simple depth. There is a cure, too. Fill it with baby oil, get the bubbles out, voila, it’s incompressible. Works on most quartz just fine and a digital would be a no brainer. It’s called hydromodding, those who like to wear cheaper quartz doing things they shouldn’t subscribe heartily. We don’t let the maker decide what we want to do.
Looking at a beater used Command to buy with reverse display, primarily because now the price curves are bottoming out and they are cheap.