Looking for a woman's sports watch with no exposed metal.
April 18, 2014 4:10 PM   Subscribe

My wife would like a sports watch. She doesn't need GPS or fancy gadgetry, just something to wear to the gym. She needs large digital numbers that can be read easily while she's moving, and some timing functions. The problem is that she's allergic to metal, so anything that would touch her skin would have to be leather or plastic--the strap, the buckle, the back of the case, and any buttons on the side. I've looked in sporting goods stores but only found metal on the backs of cases, and that's something that's hard to tell online. Any recommendations?

Something simple like this Puma would be ideal (if there was no metal). This Nike Plus seems like it might work but it's more watch than she'd need. (She'd probably be okay with a man's style in a bright color, if it fit.) The women's version has metal on the clasp.

I wouldn't mind getting a basic sports watch and replacing the band, but the back of the face is the sticking point.

We're familiar with the trick of coating the metal bits with a clear coating, but since this is for active use I think she'd like something she wouldn't have to worry about.
posted by hydrophonic to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Useful keyword: "resin band."
posted by oceanjesse at 4:19 PM on April 18, 2014

posted by jeffamaphone at 4:33 PM on April 18, 2014

the back of the face is the sticking point

Oops! The back of the case is the sticking point.

I looked at Casios today. The back of the case is metal.
posted by hydrophonic at 4:39 PM on April 18, 2014

Is she really allergic to all metal, or is it (like with me and other people) that she is allergic to nickel, which is a component in a lot of metals. I solved my problem by getting a titanium watch, since that does not have nickel in it.
posted by gudrun at 4:45 PM on April 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

A Velcro band like this


will keep the back off of her skin.

(Sorry about the link. I'm on my phone.)
posted by advicepig at 4:45 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also came in to recommend a velcro band. I'm a woman with the very same problem, and a velcro band is the only thing which ever worked -- if you pick a band with the proper width, then the nylon will cover the back of the watch.
posted by grey_sw at 4:53 PM on April 18, 2014

The Garmin sports watches do not have a metal back; they are plastic all the way around. In the normal configuration there is a very small amount of (powder coated) metal in the buckle that might touch your skin. But worn with the optional velcro strap (Garmin on right) there is no metal in contact, at all.

I have a 405CX and it came with the velcro strap in addition to the basic plastic one. I've never used it, and I'm not really sure what the ideal use case is supposed to be, but the watch did come with it. (I've been told it's a triathlon thing but that doesn't make sense to me. Seems like the regular band would be faster to take on and off. Anyway, I digress.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:48 PM on April 18, 2014

If you use one of these quality NATO straps on a watch of choice, the metal back will not make contact by design. Highly recommended.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:41 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try looking for silicone watches. The digital ones I found didn't look suitable for the gym but you may have better luck.

As a last resort, maybe you could find a digital face to fit into one of those O Clock silicone straps.
posted by paperback version at 10:08 PM on April 18, 2014

Nike fuelband?
posted by chasles at 4:09 AM on April 19, 2014

My mother was allergic to nickel, which is what most people have this problem with (most watch backs are made of steel, which contains nickel); her solution was to use one of those O-shaped corn pads on it: the corn pad kept the watch off her skin, and it really wasn't visible unless someone was looking really really closely. The corn pads are cheap and self-adhesive, so they're easy to replace when needed; plus they come in different sizes, so you could just find one that matches up to the size of your wife's current watch. And since they're foam, they can be easily trimmed to fit.
posted by easily confused at 6:55 AM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

titanium boy upthread has the answer to your problem; titanium is biologically inert, which is why it's used for in-body applications, plates and screws on broken bones, etc. it is also the only metal that will burn in an atmosphere of pure nitrogen, which is pretty amazing from the chemical perspective but should not concern you.
posted by bruce at 7:57 AM on April 19, 2014

Not sure about watch styles - sorry - but had a friend who was allergic to certain metal and couldn't wear earrings with it. Then she tried painting the posts with clear nail polish and that worked for her. Maybe that could work with a watch? Not sure what effect that would have on the function of the watch itself especially on the back of the watch face but might be an option.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 8:10 AM on April 19, 2014

Thanks for the replies, everyone!

Oops again. I forgot to link to the Puma watch I mentioned above. It's $40, which seems appropriate for something that spend most of its time at the bottom of her gym bag, between workouts.

My wife is definitely allergic to nickel, and possibly allergic to other metals. She's got a whole slate of allergies; it's hard to keep them straight. She wears a platinum wedding ring.

The O Clock band is her style, but it looks like it's meant for the same brand's watches. Nothing digital with a timer that I could find. I love the idea, though.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:44 AM on April 19, 2014

OK, from your description, it seems nickel is the main problem, as it is alloyed with a lot of other metals, so she is reacting to the nickel in the various alloys of different metals.

She might try one of the Bertucci titanium watches. Here's an example of a Bertucci watch with cloth band, digital with timer, and it even has backlighting for better visibility. It's technically a man's watch, but for gym use that should be fine and the style is not bad (I'm a woman and I would wear it). Probably pricier than you want, but in the realm of the possible I think.

I'm allergic to tons of stuff also, and titanium works for me.
posted by gudrun at 10:34 AM on April 19, 2014

The Timex velcro watches are fine for this. They have the kind of strap that feeds through underneath the watch face, and the strap lifts it far enough away from the skin that they aren't in contact. Here is one example: Timex Unisex Expedition Digital Watch.

Or you can get a nylon watch strap and a separate face, like this: Green Nylon Watch Band Strap.

And the Timex Weekender series has a nylon strap wrapping behind the face:
Timex Unisex Weekender Watch with Blue and Gray Nylon Strap - they come in dozens of colors.

Alternately, a Digital Clip Watch might do the trick.
posted by barnone at 11:05 AM on April 19, 2014

OK, I got her this watch by Converse. The buckle is mostly resin, and its thick enough that the one metal part is recessed away from the skin. The back of the case is metal, but as luck would have it, it came with a clear sticker that covers the entire back. When that wears off, I'll suggest easily confused's corn pad, or the clear coating, or tape.

Thanks again!
posted by hydrophonic at 5:01 PM on April 19, 2014

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