Remember the Grande Reverso Tribute to 1931 that was released by Jaeger-LeCoultre last year? Our contributor Time2tic put his Reverso Tributo to 1931 to the test… in arctic conditions! Its competitor is a Casio G-Shock Rescue.
A mini expedition with an all-time classic – Some weekends are to catch up with friends in a cafe, others for a game of squash or some quality time with the family. I decided to shake it a little with a long weekend trip above the arctic circle to test a well known classic watch to its limits.
Mention the words arctic circle to anyone and the images of the biting cold blizzard, the mighty polar bears and endless winter nights will probably come to mind, as well as the mysterious northern lights. I decided to go check these out with a friend and organized a mini expedition. The objectives were: hike with snowshoes in darkness on the side of a fjord, see the most spectacular light show planet Earth has to offer and go to the summit of a mountain from where we could witness the hypnotic beauty of the arctic landscape.
The arctic circle is the latitude above which you enjoy at least one day a year, 24 continuous hours of darkness or 24 hours of sunlight. The closer you go to the pole, the longer the period of continuous night or continuous day you can experience. Beyond this cartographic definition lies a land of extreme climate and dramatic beauty. Completing a trip to the arctic circle a 100 years ago, would have turned you instantly into an international hero. Now-a-days the access is a bit simpler: you can take a regular flight to Tromsø and you are already in the arctic.
Tromsø is a medium sized town in the northern part of Norway. It is an easy access to an endless succession of fjords, mountains and frozen lakes constituting the arctic landscape.
To prepare the mini expedition, my friend Paul and I had carefully selected and double checked our material. We had planned to go hiking with snowshoes for several hours at least. It was therefore basic safety precautions that made us carry our smartphones, doubling as GPS, fill the rucksack with not only water, food, and basic camping gear, but also enough clothing to face the coldest climate the last 5 years of statistics could throw at us. Choosing the watch would have been dead easy a month ago, but now I just had become the proud owner of a Reverso Tribute to 1931. It has been literally glued to my wrist since I got it. After all, the Reverso was designed to withstand a game of polo, and that was sporty enough for me to take it right up north. As a backup, I took a Casio G-Shock Riseman Rescue… just in case.
The first Casio G-Shock Riseman DW-9100, a G-Shock with Barometer, Altimeter and Thermometer functions was introduced in 1997. In 2008 Casio is revived the Riseman line with the new Casio G-Shock Riseman GW-9200 which features multi-band atomic timekeeping and tough solar powered battery.
I felt like an extraordinary gentleman, traveling with my Reverso.
Rapidly after arrival we grabbed our gear, got the car, dropped unnecessary equipment at a modest hotel, and aimed towards Ersfjordbotn. It was already night time but we thought that we could hike away from the town lights into the wilderness and catch the northern lights from the side of this very impressive East-West oriented narrow fjord framed by 500m high mountains on each side.
We hiked for 2 hours through a meter of fresh snow in places, in deep darkness, only lit by our small headlamps, found one big boulder to serve as a shelter from the strong wind, had the best pasta and tea dinner ever, but the weather did not allow us to see the northern lights.
The Reverso performed well, quietly hidden under my sleeve and a few layers of protective clothing. Its very slim design was in fact a significant advantage compared with a more bulky and sporty watch.
Next day: The big hike! we decided we’d go for a long snowshoes hike up to a summit from where we could have a smashing 360 degrees view of this arctic region. After a quick drive on a fully iced road, and spotting 3 sea eagles, we arrived at the starting point of the trail.
Despite 2 hours of walking in the thick fresh snow, the summit was still a small point in … my mind. During a short break, Paul and I spotted what looked like a man-made construction in a distance.
We decided to change slightly our course to walk towards this shack. After 30 minutes, we reached it; a tiny wooden house of 2 x 3 meters. The door was not locked , so we had a look inside. It turned out to be a basic but well equipped shack probably used in summer for hunting purposes or simply to come here for the silence and the enjoyment of the shear beauty of nature. For us, it was the perfect place to rest a bit before attempting to reach the summit.
Soon after leaving the hut, the vegetation disappeared, the snow became harder and the wind stronger. I could now see the summit in a distance. There was still a good climb ahead, and time was running out. Who would want to be caught by the night in that spot? Not us! After 45min of a hard walk we finally made it to the top. So did my faithful Reverso.
Right at the summit, after a photo session, made short by winds of probably over 80km/h and cold penetrating even our most advanced outfit, I thought I’d check the G-Shock remembering that the beast had a thermometer and an altimeter. I pulled it out of my pocket, pressed the button to discover that one of the toughest watches a man can get had entered sleep mode to protect itself from the combination of low temperature, rapid change in pressure and lack of proper sunlight for quite some time!
On the way back to the car, the weather quickly deteriorated, killing our hopes to see the northern lights. But, in the arctic, miracles do happen. Later on, around 9pm, the clouds and bad weather vanished. We jumped in the car after packing a bottle of wine, some French cheese and good bread, and drove on a road without public lights.
Suddenly glowing green lights appeared in the sky and we stopped the car. After a few minutes, our eyes got accustomed to darkness and we could enjoy this amazing phenomenon. Various shades of green would light up in the sky sometimes slowly flowing like a peaceful river, sometimes dancing like curtains of light in the wind. 3 Hours of this light show is an unforgettable experience! Pictures don’t do it justice but are a way to connect to this vivid memory.
The soft glow of the hands of the Reverso was the perfect partner when contemplating the dancing lights. Sleep tight, Roald Admunsen, our little adventure will not enter the history books, but my Reverso may well have become the most northern Reverso ever, who knows…
This article was written by Time2tic, contributor to Monochrome Watches.
By the way, if you like to read more news about Casio G-Shock models (although it failed in this test against the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute to 1931) than I can recommend to check out this website dedicated to the Casio G-Shock.