High Gear Axio Max Steel watch

When it comes to travel watches, telling time is good, but a watch that can help pinpoint your position is even better. Each trip has a unique itinerary, and those who choose the path less traveled may require a bit more from their timepiece. The Axio Max Steel rises to the challenge with its humble styling and powerful navigational instruments.

The Axio Max Steel is made by High Gear, an up-and-comer in the adventure watch market. They produce a variety of styles, but this particular model packs several features into its unassuming shell. Most altimeter watches have an over-sized face for reading information. The Axio Max Steel does this in a decidedly smaller package that doesn’t scream, “Steal me – I’m expensive!” The stainless steel body could easily be mistaken for a less pricey brand. Below that steel casing, however, lies an army of features that will help you get from point A to point B… or get back to point A, if you’ve lost your way.The main appeal of the Axio Max Steel is this arsenal of features that can help the directionally challenged out of precarious situations. No particular expertise is needed to use this watch, just a good map and a little basic orienteering knowledge.

The altimeter on the Axio Max Steel claims to work between -2,303 and 30,045 feet. This means you could theoretically use the feature in the depths of Death Valley or on the icy summit of Mt. Everest. The altimeter uses barometric pressure to find the altitude. Once the altitude is set, the air pressure sensor reads the barometric pressure, and adjusts the altitude accordingly. As with most altimeter watches, the altitude and barometric pressure need to be reset each time the watch lands in a new place. For instance, when you step off the plane in Colorado, your altimeter might be a little confused until it adjusts.

Altitude is a great way to find where you are, if your map has contour lines and elevations marked. If your watch shows you are at 3,000 feet elevation, you can identify the 3,000 foot mark on the map and hone in on your possible locations. Don’t fret if your map has metric measurements – the watch can be adjusted to show meters as well.

Digital Compass
Beyond your map, a compass is the most essential navigational tool you’ll need. The digital compass on the Axio Steel works well. Our tests compared its readings to a magnetic compass, and they matched up almost identically. If you are ever unsure of your location, simply take a compass reading, find north from your position, and find north on your map. Turn the map so that north on the map lines up with actual north on your watch. Now you have oriented the map. Once this is done, you can take a look around at landmarks and natural features to get a better idea of your location.

Other slick features
Beyond the altimeter and compass, there are other features on the Axio Max Steel that make travel easier. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters, which works out nicely for a spontaneous dip in the pool or an accidental fall into the river. There are two alarms to keep you on schedule and ensure you don’t miss the next train stop. A dual time zone feature helps to keep track of the time at home while displaying the time in your current locale. The thermometer also makes for a fun feature when you’ve just got to exactly know how cold or hot it is.

The Axio Max Steel comes in at $210. This price is quite typical of watches that garner this many features. The styling works well for those who want a relatively normal-sized watch, but need the features of the larger computer-style watches.

Specs can be found at HighGear.com