The Angry Corrie 23: May-Jul 1995

Hi-tech review: Casio ATC-1000

Iain Johnston

The Casio ATC-1000 is an absolutely indispensable piece of hillwalking and mountaineering hardware. It is a watch (yes, a watch). As with most digital watches, the ATC-1000 tells the time, has a chronograph accurate to 1/100 of a second, and it can bleep irritatingly every hour if your cranial capacity is sufficiently paltry to require such a function. This, however, is the extent of the similarity between the ATC-1000 and other watches.

The ATC-1000 has a barometer which displays the current atmospheric pressure in either millibars or inches of mercury. The change in atmospheric pressure over the last 24 hours is displayed on a graph. The more meteorologically minded of you will realise that this enables the prediction of weather changes, although simply unzipping your tent and looking out is another method of forecasting.

The thermometer measures the temperature of the watch in C or F. This is not as useful as it initially seems, as the watch does not measure the surrounding temperature. Therefore after wearing the watch you can expect the reading to be approximately 30C. Worn on your wrist outdoors, it will only be useful to predict the onset of hypothermia - that is of course assuming you can see it under your jacket. Solution: strap it over your jacket or to your rucksack.

This watch has a compass. It points north and gives the bearing in degrees simply by pressing the big button at the bottom. This is easy to do with gloves on, but awkward to line up accurately. It is capable of being recalibrated, you can make the compass's north match grid north. It is able to inform you of magnetic abnormalities, making it a compass that you can trust on the Cuillin ridge when the mist has come down. You can save five bearings with the time they were taken in memory. If you find you are lost, merely call up the memory to find out the direction you went and when, then simply follow the readings backwards. Naturally, if you had used the compass correctly in the first place you would not be lost.

The ATC-1000 has an altimeter which displays height calculated using atmospheric pressure in either metres or feet. It is best to reset every time you cross a known height. Change in altitude over the last 24 minutes is shown on a graph. As well as five time alarms, the watch has an altitude alarm showing percentage distance between start height and the desired height. A quick glance shows how you are doing. The watch can be set to record height and temperature every fifteen minutes, with the information then reviewed in graph form, showing height at any time as a percentage of the difference between highest and lowest heights over the duration of the recording. This is, of course, useless on the hill.

The ATC-1000 looks absolutely stonking, we are talking something out of the Starship Enterprise here. It is a watch that will get you noticed, or get the watch noticed anyway. And the price, well how can a price be put on such an essential piece of navigational equipment? My advice is get someone to give it to you for Christmas. You'll never regret it, and as long as you don't have to fork out the 129.99, who cares? I certainly don't.

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