Momentum Pathfinder II Review

Momentum Watch News

This is the Pathfinder II, an outdoor-focussed creation from Momentum watches of Vancouver BC. Aimed at the active outdoors life, it’s my favorite combination of titanium and sapphire. Let’s start with the specifications:

  • Titanium case, waterproof to 100m (330ft). Screwdown crown, non-screwdown alarm button at 2 o’clock.
  • Sapphire crystal (mineral version also available)
  • Full lume dial
  • Quartz movement with date and analog-set alarm with snooze function.
  • 37.4mm by 10.2mm thick, 40.4 including the crown. 45g including strap. 20mm lugs.
  • Model number reviewed is 1M-SP54L12C; also comes in black-dial and women’s version in 28mm.
  • List price of $185 for mineral crystal, $225 for sapphire.

Please read on for the full review and pictorial.


I thought I’d start with the lume picture. In person it’s spectacular, almost painfully bright at glowing at the least hint of illumination. Black on green takes some getting used to, but its crazy bright and easy to read all night long. Easy to discern time from the alarm hand, too.

The Pathfinder II is an interesting set of design decisions. At 37mm it’s mid-sized for a 2012 mens watch, and at a featherweight 45g you’ll often forget you have it on. The leather strap is backed with a textured rubber that keeps it from slipping around; even while playing outdoor volleyball it stays in place. One of the few watches light enough for that sport. The buckle is actually stainless steel, finished to match the case.

On the wrist, mine is the average 7.25″. Quite understated and thin enough to slide under snug cuffs easily. The bead-blasted titanium is non reflective and a lovely, even grey color that I quite like. Stronger and lighter than steel, titanium is easier to scratch and will thus quickly acquire wear. It also feels ‘warmer’ than steel due to its lesser heat capacity. I would recommend spending the extra for the sapphire crystal, as they are much harder to scratch and will keep the watch looking flawless for years.

Leather bands wear out, of course, I usually get around a year on mine but since the lugs are standard replacements are inexpensive and easy to find. There’s a titanium bracelet available from Momentum too if you’d prefer that.

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As you can see here, the fixed bezel is bevelled; very shirt friendly. The black dial version is probably a bit more versatile in terms of dressing up, but this version is good to go up to business dress in my opinion.

The alarm is a great feature to have on a watch, a simple once-every-12-hours analog set, as simple as can be. The beep will wake most sleepers, more so if you take the watch off your wrist which lets sound emerge from the back. Pull the alarm button at 2 o’clock out to enable it, push in to disable. If you don’t turn in off when it sounds, it’ll keep sounding at 3 minute intervals. Like the rest of the watch, a useful feature simply implemented.

This Pathfinder is kind of the opposite approach to outdoor watches from Casio’s Pathfinder series. Those exemplify adding everything into a watch; maximum features and size. The Momentum is simple, with clean lines and minimal stuff. No manual reading needed. Which you choose depends strongly on your own preferences.

The case back is also very straightforward. I like that it’s rated to 100m, and would recommend you get a different strap if you’ll be using immersed. Leather, however well sealed, does not like being soaked too often. Also note that the depth rating depends on the alarm being off (button not extended), so check before going over that waterfall in your kayak!

Momentum includes a 2 year warranty, with extensions to four and six years available with full service. If you’re consider this versus, say, a Timex Expedition, I would say that the Momentum should last you a lot longer and wear much better.

I like this one. Easy to read, durable, super light, a good watch for those folks who want something good to wear everywhere.

Our thanks to Momentum for the review unit.

 

 

7 Comments

  1. I’ve had first the Pathfinder (which was eventually stolen on an overseas trip) and then the Pathfinder II for many years. I’ve found the watches in this series are excellent: extremely durable, accurate, easy to read, comfortable and appropriate for virtually all occasions and dress. I travel light (often backpacking) and like to go scuba diving and kayaking when I do – I needed a watch that worked for diving but and was very clear and simple for everyday use, didn’t look like an expensive diving watch so I wouldn’t get mugged in some of the more dangerous places I visited, and not so expensive that if it was lost or stolen it would be a calamity. I looked for a long time before I came across St Moritz. The Pathfinder fit the bill so well that girlfriends, friends and fellow travellers noticed…and now at least half a dozen wear the same watch. A hassle-free classic and functional timepiece that will last decades.

    Reply
  2. Andy,

    We feel the same way about the Pathfinder II. Great durable watch that looks great and affordable at $225. Glad to hear all your friends have joined the Pathfinder club. Thanks for reading!

    Reply
  3. I recently purchased the Pathfinder used at an REI used gear sale and LOVE it! It is very light and perfect for camping and backpacking. My problem is that the battery has just ran out and I need to replace it. I was reading on the Momentum web site about a new 5 year battery. Because my watch was not new when I purchased it, I have no idea if the current battery is the original. Is there a replacement battery that you would recommend? Do you have any idea if this new 5 year battery would be compatible? Thank you in advance for your advice.

    Reply
  4. This is my second Momentum Pathfinder 2 watch as I lost one on the Pacific Crest trail. I use this watch when surfing, outdoors in general and daily at work as I am a nurse. This was not a random purchase, I specifically chose this watch for its’ titanium lightweight, water proof housing and simple alarm which allows me to wake with the sun in the mountains.

    It has fullfilled these needs very well and is a great niche for those who prefer a lighter, less clunky model that has what you need vs. excess bells and whistles.

    However…as much as I want to love this watch, I am beginning to have doubts about the movement’s quality. The first watch had a defective movement which was promptly replaced (without fuss)by the service center in Blaine, WA.

    My second watch was serviced only 7 months ago for a ca. $50 fee and just recently began working erratically, then randomly began to stop and start. Off to the service center it goes. I should point out that I am very gentle with my watch and have not abused or jarred it above normal wear.

    If I have any further problems with quality I will likely – with a heavy heart – wash my hands of this model and maker and look elsewhere.A

    Reply
  5. I got this watch from REI for $40–quite a steal. It became my favorite, loved the titanium feel, high contrast face, simple alarm and smaller size, but it wasn’t long before the battery went out. It turns out Momentum doesn’t want you to open the watch to change the battery. The charge is $40. I’ve heard these batteries go out every couple years, and mine was under a year probably because it was previously owned and returned to REI.
    After MUCH effort with the proper tools, I removed the back and replaced the battery. The watch is keeping time, unfortunately the alarm no longer works. I’m so glad I didn’t pay full price for this watch because I do not wish to pay $40+ every year or two (plus lost time wearing it) to pay Momentum to change the battery. I understand that the seal is broken, but it seems a bit like a scam to insure they continue to make money off their customers long after the original purchase,
    I’ve got a solar Casio (Seiko and others) that I can use instead without being inconvenienced for more money every time it needs a battery.
    If it wasn’t for that, I’d say great watch.

    Reply
  6. I have been wearing the Momentum Pathfinder daily for almost 6 years, and it’s seem me all the way through a PhD. It has the same movement as the Pathfinder II, and is identical in all regards except for a different face and hands, and a louder alarm resonator on the Pathfinder II. This watch has been excellent in all regards, and still works as new.

    In response to Walker, I’ve had my battery replaced by Momentum twice for $25. They only charge $40 if you want them to fully service the watch, or if you want them to extend the warranty. I’m sorry to hear that your alarm broke when changing the battery yourself, but after a watch guy in a mall broke my previous watch when changing the battery, I’m happy that Momentum services their own watches. The battery seems to last about 2.5 years so it’s not a big cost for peace of mind.

    Reply
  7. I’ve owned this watch for around a year now. I would give it a 2/5 rating. Here is why:

    + Waterproof for swimming with a screw down crown.
    + Titanium body is lightweight.
    + Nice looking dial.

    – It is not waterproof if you have the alarm set.
    – My alarm is very inaccurate, I have to set it 15-25 minutes early.
    – Low standards of quality control. According to their service team they only aim for their alarms to be accurate to within 10-15 minutes. I have other analogue alarm watches (Seiko Bell-matic and a Poljot) that are much older but are accurate to within a minute or two.
    – Customer service outside North America is poor. They claim that they do not have the ability to offer call tags for problems outside of this region.

    If you want a watch without an alarm then this is fine (but buy a cheaper model instead). To me the whole point of this watch was to have an alarm and so I cannot rate it highly.

    Reply

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