Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Sport Watch Review

Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS watch
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Our Verdict: We were really excited when Timex announced the launch of the Global Trainer, but having tested it we would recommend sticking with the Garmin Forerunner 310XT for now.  The 310XT has all the functionality of the Timex Global Trainer and doesn't have the current battery and GPS reception teething problems of the Timex.

Released in the UK in September 2010 as part of the Timex Ironman range, the Timex Global Trainer Bodylink GPS watch can be bought either with or without a heart rate monitor.  As always we recommend that the heart rate monitor is purchased to get the most from your GPS watch, although this doesn't need to be the Timex one.  Any ANT+ generic heart rate monitor will work with the watch.

Waterproof  to a depth of 50 metres it is easy to see that Timex have launched the Global Trainer in direct competition to the very popular Garmin Forerunner 310XT, which until now has been the undisputed number one GPS watch for multi sport users.

Timex Global GPS Trainer compared to the competition

timex global trainer size

The Timex Global Trainer is a similar size to the Forerunner 310XT

As we mentioned above, as a waterproof GPS watch the Timex is firmly pitched against the Garmin 310XT and as you can see from the photograph the Global Trainer is pretty comparable in size to the 310XT.  This will no doubt disappoint quite a few people who were hoping for a smaller waterproof GPS watch.  Personally we have never worried to much about the size of the watch as the functionality has always been more important to us.  But we get that it is significantly bigger than the new Forerunner 110 and the Forerunner 405 and 405CX, and that will put some people off straight away.

One of the main reasons for the size of the watch is to accommodate a watch face that can show 4 different "views" at the same time.   Users have a number of views to choose from including time, speed, heart rate, pace, altitude, cadence and power (the last two being used on a bike in conjunction with a ANT+ speed/cadence sensor).  On a smaller watch, these views would obviously be so small as to be useless unless you put the watch right under your nose.  Not recommended on a high speed bike ride!

Global trainer versus forerunner 405

The Global Trainer Compared to a Forerunner 405

In response to the Garmin Forerunner Virtual Partner feature, Timex have introduced their own Performance Pacer which does exactly the same thing.  You put the distance you want to cover and time you want to cover it in into the watch and it will automatically generate the pace you need to be running/biking at.  It updates in real time to, so you will know exactly where you are relative to the goal you have set.

One of the  features we really like on the Global Trainer is the pace mode, the watch smooths your pace over a 6 second window so unlike Garmin and Polar GPS watches you are not looking at a constantly fluctuating pace display.  This is a really helpful function as it reduces the amount of time you need to keep looking at your watch to see how fast you are moving.  We also like the Auto Split function which lets you look at certain sections of your workout in isolation, great for trimming out warm ups and warm downs from your stats.

The watch comes with ANT+ wireless for use with heart rate monitors and bike sensors and a big plus is that these don't have to be Timex branded products.  We used the watch with both Garmin components (the Garmin GSC 10 speed/cadence sensor) and unbranded components without any problems which can be a helpful way to keep costs down.

Now for the problems, like a number of people we found both the battery life indicator and the GPS reception on the Global Trainer to be poor.  The battery life display was all over the place with the watch dying after a couple of hours at one point despite indicating it had charge.  Meanwhile GPS reception left a lot to be desired and we even gave up one day after 10 minutes of waiting around for a satellite to be found.  We understand that Timex will be introducing firmware updates to fix these issues and as soon as they do we will revisit these issues until then we would stay away from this watch for these reasons.

The Timex Global Trainer and swimming

Given swimming is one of the main reasons people will buy a Global Trainer we thought it made sense to give it a section of its own.  As we mentioned above, the TGT is waterproof to a depth of 50 metres so there are no problems with wearing it during a prolonged swim.  However, it suffers from exactly the same problem as the Forerunner 310XT, namely that it loses both the GPS signal and the heart rate signal when it is in the water.  While frustrating this is not unexpected as currently there are no watches which can do either of these things.

The Basics of the Timex Global Trainer GPS Watch

The Global Trainer features 6 different modes for the user

  • Performance Mode (this is the normal set up for a run or a bike ride)
  • Multi sport Mode (as the name suggest this is for use where more than one activity is being undertaken)
  • Navigate Mode (a GPS/compass/navigation mode for tracking your route, altitude etc)
  • Review Mode (lets you look at the details of your past workout)
  • PC Sync Mode (to upload your data to your PC)
  • Configure mode (to change any of your configurations)

The watch also has an alert feature which can be set to visually or audibly warn you if you fall outside preset targets.  While these alerts can be used for a number of functions such as heart rate, distance, pace there isn't a time alert.  Why, we have no idea.

Timex have rather cleverly utilised trainingpeaks.com software to use with the Global Trainer and this software lets you review and analyse all the data stored in your watch which you can wirelessly download via the ANT+.  One thing to note is that your watch doesn't delete the information it holds when you download the data, you have to do this manually, this is easy to forget and can result in your watch being full when you go to record in the future.

In fact you don't need to have a Global Trainer watch to access trainingpeaks.com which has a free basic version.  The one downside of this is that the more detailed functionality of the software is only available to premium users who pay a monthly fee.

The Global Trainer in Summary

In our view, this is a smart launch by Timex and there is a lot to like about the Global Trainer watch.  The waterproof capabilities of the Timex Global Trainer means that swimmers, triathletes and ironmen will now have a genuine alternative to the Garmin Forerunner 310XT and competition in the marketplace is always good for users.  However, until the issues with the battery and GPS reception are resolved (and we hope this will be quickly) we would still recommend the 310XT over it.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Toby Radcliffe

Hi guys. Great review.

I’m a pro triathlete with the Timex Multisport Team, so obviously I use Timex watches. We’ve been helping test the Global Trainer since February, and I’m really pleased to see it finally out on the market over here in the UK .

I’ll make sure the Timex guys in the US have read your review to so they are aware of the problems you note. I’ve not experienced the lack of satellite pick up – usually its pretty immediate for me the moment I’m out of the door, or at least within a minute or two. Interesting issue with the battery life display on your watch – if that’s a common issue, hopefully the mext firmware update will have it fixed.

Personally, I love my Global Trainer (but then I am sponsored by Timex!) – the data display for during training and collection/review for post is really invaluable during specific peak training especially. Its incredibly versatile, allows you to customise any screen to display tons of data, and really lets you measure and log what you’ve been up to in the great outdoors. I use mine to combine power/cadence/dist/HR/time with route/altitude/cumulative altitude on the bike and pace/time/HR/cumulative altitude/route on runs. My coach has never received so much detailed data!

brandi bailey

I have used my new Timex GPS 3 times….and 3 times it has failed me. The first time it took 10 minutes to pick up a signal- which then failed throughout the run (clear day in NJ). The second time, I was unable pick up a signal at all (foggy day in London). My 3rd attempt, the watch immediately picked up a signal but the entire thing just froze 13 minutes into a race that I was running in the country in Surrey. The stop watch function failed and basically, I had no idea where I was on 15k trail run! Pretty pathetic that even the stop watch function didn’t work! I had to power off the watch as I got so annoyed trying to run and fix the issues. I should have thrown it in a puddle. Very disappointed as I have held out in purchasing one of these devices and was very excited when Timex came out with their version. I am hopeful that firmware updates come out soon and fix these issues….for the moment- it’s a piece of poo. I have yet to try the heart rate monitor- given it all the other quirks, I’m not sure I’ll get that far! ARGH!

Nicky Waller

Hey. Has anyone heard of Timex have resolved the battery and loss of satellite issues yet? My husband has asked for this watch for Xmas and having read your review, I am now worried that it’s not going to live up to what he is expecting !?!?!?

jim west

I like reviews that are not biase, so I was pleased to read this one. AS for Satalite problems it can take a short while to pick the Sats up. I find this to be the case when the watch has been powered down and then turned back on in a new location. If you reset the GPS it tends to help locate the Sats quicker. The battery life is brill, I have left it on for about 12 hours and it was still going strong. I have even managed a one and a half hour run when it came up with a low battery run. If the GPS is turned off you get 3 to 4 days of battery life if used just as a watch. My main gripe with the watch is the software. I love using sites such as the Good Run Guide as I can upload from my Garmin or my Mobile, but due to the type of software Timex use it wont let me. Ive checked the internet and I struggle to find other sites that use the same software as Timex,
There are 5 modes to chose from which you can customize however I tend to stick with the run mode and have it set for heart rate distance split time and average pace, I also have two custome modes which I have set differently and I can scrole between them while running. I like the fact that you can choose from between one and four windows.
The size of the watch doesnt bother me, although at first I did think it would, when you compare it to other watch’s. it is lighter than you would expect, being lighter than my wrist watch suprised me. Ive only ran for 2 hours with it but I have worn it all day and have had no issues with it.
The heart rate monitor is very comfortable even when I run with my inov8 hydration bag, I find you get an eratic heart rate reading if you arent sweating so by damping the monitor before you set off certianly helps until you have warmed up.
I like the navigation screen i.e. compass and location although the map is gimicky as it aint a map its just a line. A very basic gray scale map would have made this the complete watch.
Would I buy this watch again, the answer would have to be yes.

ralph p

I have had this watch for about a month, and have used it for trail runs, city runs, and swimming. It has worked flawlessly for me so far. My only complaint is that the battery life could use a little improvement. My best guess is it has about five hours of battery life when linked to satellite. I have had no problems finding or maintaining satellite lock. I hope that it continues to work this well for me for years to come.

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