Monday, 3 September 2018

The Death of Greatness

As I wrote a while ago, I own a few watches. One of my faves that I have been using since I bought it in 1994 is my Avocet Vertech Alpin hiking/ski watch.

My trusty Vertech
As I wrote in that post:
When I moved to Houston in 1994, I took up flying ultralights, since the nearest gliding club was so far away. No ultralight I flew had any instruments, so I bought this watch on a lark: a Avocet Vertech Alpin, about $250 US when I bought it. It has an aircraft grade altimeter in it, and I flew with it for a year. It turns out this watch was designed for skiing and hiking, not flying. And it turns out I'm a skier and hiker. The watch records elevation, elevation gained, ski runs, and a bunch of other stuff. I have used it faithfully since I bought it 22 years ago. It's on it's second case and it's 4th set of straps (there's a strap for for winter and one for summer). Every 2 years I have to splurge ~$75 Canadian to send it to California for service and to put a new battery in it (it's gone for 4-6 weeks at a time when I do that). So since 1994, I've probably spent $800 keeping this watch running. Vertech sort of does but sort of doesn't make these anymore, so it's kind of irreplaceable. And besides, no other ski or hiking watch does what this one does.
My Vertech's battery died this year near the start of the hiking season (on the "bright" side, I'm not hiking these days because I'm broken, which is the subject of a separate post. So in July, I did what I always do when I needed a battery replacement: went to the Vertech website to download the latest info and form to send my watch in for service. Except...

Vertech is now officially out of business. As I type this, Vertech's website is now down completely. At least in late July, it was still shutting down. The repair dude -- Craig Maynard -- retired, and that was the end of the company.

I was lucky enough to get to Craig just before they disappeared. Here's what he told me:
Since I decided to retire, Avocet Service has closed it’s doors. Yet I am still servicing Vertechs for many long term customers.  The new ship to is:
Craig Maynard, PO Box 2288, Menlo Park, CA. 94026
Assuming you need just the basic service of a new battery, caseback o-ring and recalibration, the basic service is as before, $25 for USA residents* Cash or Check payable to me, which includes postage back to you. No credit card. Be sure to include your contact info including your ship to address, phone number, etc.  Also, let me know if you want it set for hiking or downhill skiing mode. 
*International customers, add $13.00. Canadian customers, add $10.00
The trick I see is that, as of this moment, if you're a "long term Vertech customer", you can't find Craig. All attempts I made today to find out how to get a new Vertech battery do not lead you to Craig, but to HTTP 404 Page Not Found errors. This is an issue, because to properly initializing and calibrating the altimeter, only Craig should be the one putting a battery in your Vertech.

Maybe you have a Vertech that just died and needs a battery. My hope in making this post is that it helps you find Craig, whom you can reach at vertechcraig[at]

I understand why Vertech ceased to be. As killer an altimeter and watch the Vertech was, its technology has been significantly usurped by various GPS based wrist devices including Apple Watch. That having been said, my brother's Apple Watch barely has battery life to track a whole ski day, never mind 2 years like my Vertech.

I hope this helps other Vertech owners.

1 comment:

Per Godejord said...

I I bought my Avocet in 1995 and it’s still in use. Once a “state of the art” (sort of) it is now a cool vintage gadget. Its very easy to change the battery yourself and I have never experienced any problems with calibrating afterwards using the ordinary calibration function.