Some people approach things systematically. They follow rules and go step by step. Thatswhat I had in mind when I opened the box containing my AERIS F.10 in theBlue Hole Villa – a five minute walk from Dean’s Blue Hole, Long island,Bahamas. (FYI – If you’ve never been to Dean’s Blue Hole, don’t go. It’s MINE!)I wanted to approach the F.10 with ‘beginners mind’ and on site where Icould test it during Will Trubridge’s Master Freediving Course. But there was a problem.
Having got maybe 3 hours sleep on each of the last twonights, and having spent the previous day riding in airplanes and sitting inairports, occupied with thoughts like ‘I wonder how many of these people haveswine flu.’ and ‘I wonder if paper germ masks will become a designer fashionaccessory.’ and ‘Could those things possibly be real?!’, my mind was in noshape to comprehend the cryptic chart in front of me.
What I needed was a story:
Dick and Jane were taking their dog Spot for a walk. Dicksaw that Jane had a new watch. “What’sthat, Jane?” asked Dick, pointing at Jane’s new watch. “Why Dick” replied Jane “This is my new AERISF.10 freediving computer!”. Dickwas very excited, and with a serious look on his face he asked Jane “Jeepers,Jane. I wonder how the heck you set thedepth alarms on your new AERIS F.10?”. Jane stopped walking and said “Spot, stay!”. Then she looked at Dick andsaid “Well, Dick. I am ever so glad youasked! First you press these two buttonsfor more than 2 seconds…..”
Confounded by the chart, and humiliated by thisfailure to accommodate myalready-dysfunctional-to-the-point-of-almost-mockery-even-without-two-days-of-sleep-deprivationmind, I strapped the F.10 on, trundled down to the hole, dove in andjust started pushing buttons.
This did not provide the kind of instant gratification I waslooking for, but it did develop the adversarial mindset I needed to startsorting out that chart.
Most good problem-solving, like creativity and pearls,begins with irritation.
I asked MartinStepanek what his priorities were in working with AERIS on the F.10,and how he feels about the result:
“Theoriginal idea was driven by a simple fact to create a watch for freedivers that will have what freedivers need and don’t have what they don’t need, while covering all different needs of different type of freediving – competitive, recreational, spearfishing etc.
It wasn’t easy to accomplish. AERIS had to carefully mix and blend their style, my visions, their engineer’s and hardware capabilities and all that needed to be affordable. The cocktail of these facts have produced F.10, the best freediving watch so far.”
Inphysical format and function the F.10 resembles the AERISManta/Oceanic Geo. Martin’spriorities as a freediver are evident in the arrangement, accessibility anddesign of the displays as well as in their content.
For example: I wondered why time-of-day and temp are not included in the main divedisplay, as they are on some other gauges. (they are just a button-push away)The reason became clear when some of the other divers commented that the F.10 is easier to read than the D4. It getseven easier to read when it switches from surface to dive mode and the displaychanges to a very uncluttered depth/time format. This makes it much quicker to read at aglance.
Ireally like the fact that the F.10 has three depth alarms. I set mine at 20, 30 and 40 meters. This was great psychologically because 30 and40 seemed to come really fast compared to 20. The first time I heard that third alarm was pretty cool. I took the F.10 through more than adozen personal bests – the last being 47.4 meters. Sure, thats only a little over a third ofMartin’s record; but at least, unlike some people I know, I didn’t break my F.10.
Idid 298 dives with the F.10, with zero problems. The alarms were always audible and I couldread it at a glance in dark conditions at the bottom of my deepest dive withoutusing the built-in light.
Everyonewho tried the F.10 liked it. Thebiggest hits on first impression were:
– Easy to read, simpledisplays
– Three depth alarms (four really – if you count the depth interval alarm)
– Simplified and wellprioritized for Freediving
– You can do the batteryyourself (AERIS provides a specialtool for this – though you could wing it if you lost it.)
Hereis the list from AERIS of what the F.10 does.
– Freedive Mode Main displays Depth and ElapsedDive Time with access to either a pre-set countdown timer or lap timer
– User defined surface recovery timer, repeatingelapsed dive time alarm, repeating depth interval alarm and 3 max depth alarms- with flashing LED and auto-backlight illumination
– 99 dive log with Max Depth, EDT, SurfaceInterval
– :01 step profile scroll – EDIT and Depth
– History Mode including total EDT and number ofdives, Max depth ever with its EDT, Longest EDT ever with its Max Depth,Average Max Depth, EDT, and number of dives per day
– Digital watch functions including alternate timezone, chronograph, daily alarm, and countdown timer
– OptionalPC Downloadable with 1 second sampling rate (The actual gauge sampling rateis higher – 1 second is just for the PC interface)
– User-Replaceable Battery
It does indeed do all of thesethings – and getting to the menus is straightforward and freediver-prioritydriven.
Because I used the F.10 duringa very intensive training I was able to experience the need for some functions I would notordinarily use – like the interval timer for doing line tables. The F.10 was definitely there foreverything I needed.
These links take you to three nice youtubewalk-throughs of the F.10’s functions and displays.
– I wish the F.10 kept more than 100 divesin memory. It does remember your deepest, longest and how many overall, butyou’ll need to upload the logs to your pc if you want to keep a longer history.
– The AERIS PC interface software is workin progress and AERIS is very interested in input from the freedivingcommunity. So much so that I received two new betas incorporatingsuggestions I made within days!
– It would be nice if the activation depth were alittle shallower – this would be a big help in pool work.
The F.10 worked flawlessly for me under heavy use andwhen I needed functions beyond what I would normally use for recreationaldiving.
I am in complete agreement with Martin’s assessment that theF.10 is “the best freediving watch so far“.
What’s more at $419(msrp) it is priced for those of ussuffering from expensive freediving-related disorders such as monofin addiction, Eliossub, OCMD (Obsessive-Compulsive Mask Disorder), SAD (SpeargunAccumulation Disorder), Blue Hole etc., etc., etc…..
Technical support has been excellent. I’ve spoken with two reps at AERIS andthey’ve told me they do their development in-house. Response time reflects this and has been veryfast.
Hats off to AERIS for building thesecond-ever * dedicated gauge for freediving!
*Asfar as I know Eric Fattah’s amazing F1 was the first.