Gear Closet: Timex Ironman GPS Running Watch Review

In an age of smartwatches and timepieces dedicated to helping us train better it can be extremely difficult to decide on a watch to wear during your running workouts. Many of those devices are overly complicated and expensive, and often come with a wide variety of features we don’t want or need. To address this issue, Timex has created an impressive new option for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money and just need the basics for keeping track of their progress.

The new Timex Ironman GPS is an entry level fitness watch that packs an impressive number of features into a very affordable package. How affordable you ask? This fitness watch sells for just $99.95, making it one of the best entry level running watches that I’ve seen so far. The watch also has options for cyclists and swimmers too, making it a good companion for triathletes as well.

At that price point you shouldn’t expect the same level of technology as what you’d find in a watch from Suunto or Garmin for instance, but most people still won’t be disappointed. In fact, unless you’re a hardcore runner who is constantly training for an event, those watches can actually feel like a bit of overkill. Timex has given us a slimmed down, easy to use model that strips out all of the excess features and keeps the ones that are most important.

So what does exactly does the Ironman GPS bring to the table? For starters, as the name indicates, it does include GPS tracking, which is pretty impressive in and of itself considering the pice point. I found that the watch contacted GPS satellites quickly and the tracking was as accurate as you would expect, keeping track of distance, time, and average pace. All of that data is displayed nicely on its easy to read screen which provides information about your workout at a glance.

The Ironman GPS offers a very easy to use and intuitive interface, which can’t always be said for the competition. In fact, I’d venture to guess that most people will be able to pick up the watch and understand its basics in a matter of a minute or two. The menus are clearly labeled, easy to navigate, and make finding any option you’re looking for a breeze.

Timex has givent he watch a battery that is good for up to 12 hours on a single charge. That means you won’t have to recharge it all that often and in real world testing, I found that I could usually go 4 or 5 days before needing to plug it in. Your mileage will vary of course, depending on how much you use the GPS features while working out, but this is in sharp contrast to my Apple Watch, which needs to be recharged every day, albeit while also providing a lot more functionality.

Speaking of the Apple Watch, Timex took a page out of Apple’s playbook and made it super-simple to change out the watchbands on the Ironman GPS. This allows users to adjust the look as they see fit, and there are more than 14 different colored bands already available. This level of customization doesn’t impact performance in any way, but it is still a nice option to have.

The bands aren’t the only way to customize the watch. Users can also set what type of data they want to see on the screen when taking part in their favorite sports, with different information shown for running, cycling, and swimming. There are nine different options for what you want to see on the display, which are spread out across three different screen modes. That data can be toggled through with the touch of a button. This brings a high level of versatility to the watch, particularly when you consider the price.

One of the other things I really like about the Timex Ironman GPS is that it uses a standard micro-USB cable for charging. We all probably have a dozen of these cable sitting around our house, and they are far easier to use then some of the proprietary charging cables you find from the competition. It also means you need to bring one less cable when hitting the road, as you’re probably already brining a micro-USB anyway.

There is a lot to really like here and I don’t necessarily think that this is a watch designed just for beginners. Yes, its $100 price point makes it very attractive to that market, as does its easy to use, simple interface. But, I think there will be plenty of experienced runners, riders, and triathletes who will appreciate the slimmed down and basic approach to training that they find here as well. Let’s face it, most of us don’t need all of the data that other fitness watches offer, which makes this a perfect alternative.

That said however, there are still plenty of us who need a bit more than the Ironman GPS has to offer. For instance, it doesn’t interface with a heart rate monitor of any kind, nor does it come with monitor built-in. It also doesn’t offer any onscreen navigational options, and it doesn’t interface with a smartphone for keeping track of workout data over the long haul. Then again, it was never built for those kinds of features, which are much more common in more expensive fitness watches.

If you need those features, you’ll definitely have to look elsewhere. The rest of us will likely find Timex’s new device to be a perfect fit.

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Kraig Becker