Precision timekeeping-IV: Beyond simple quartz technology

RC or GPS – What should be your choice?

 

On our way to pick the right one

You can always take an easy way out dodging past that question, going for the GPS-Atomic hybrid; the system combining GPS signals and standard radio waves from multiple locations to display an accurately accurate time. Many would; given the sheer sizes of the RC and GPS catalogs, which – if not massive; then definitely – a large spectrum with quite an unrivaled diversity – from rock solid sport watches to the fully or partially handcrafted elegant pieces – intensifying the difficulty level furthermore.

What’s your type?

Both RC and GPS watches come in sport/tool and dress/retro and in some purpose driven models; trekking watches and Pilots’, for example; or, for professionals patrolling rough terrains or oceans as their daily job. From technical perspective, it depends upon where you will be wearing your watch, which also determines its aesthetics. However, remember that:

  • GPS has the advantage of syncing any time outdoors and it syncs faster compared to RC.
  • RC has a better reception indoors compared to GPS albeit not as fast as GPS when outdoors.
  • GPS falls short under a cloudy/rainy sky and when you are underground.
  • Dense clusters of buildings slow down RC signal receptivity. Also, distance. RC watches are limited within their regions while GPS watches are not.
  • Radio signals can penetrate pretty much any surface, barring metals. Signals from other electronic devices might also get in the way. Still, in a not-so-overly-populated urban landscape, the level of disturbance an atomic watch will experience is really very minimal, something your human eye is not likely to even notice! Or, nothing at all if that atomic clock is in your neighborhood.
  • GPS signals are either generated by satellites or they pick it up from atomic clocks spread across the world. Here, the advantage is: the satellite will calculate and correct the delay in between and will send a rectified signal for your watch to calibrate better. The GPS sensor in the watch can tell your location from the received signal and updates the time accordingly, so a frequent wanderer will find the GPS a perfect match.
  • Both types will need to be serviced every 5-7 years but the solar powered GPS and RC watches literally go on forever without any care except for some external cleaning to maintain the aesthetics!

Did you decide yet?

Whether you should buy one of these high-tech watches or not is subjective, still; whoever in need of precision or just obsessed about it, go for them absolutely! Depending on where you are going to wear your watch more, choose your type as suggested above.

Following are the links to a few of the RC and GPS watches from different brands. Click to see and buy them.