My camouflage choice

Ben searching for a while for a practical and suitable Camouflage model recently and majoring on two specific brands, Casio and Timex.  And I concentrated on these two as they are both into the Shock style of outdoor or military style watch and are of course competitors.  And this is my choice . . .

My choice - Timex Expedition T49976 (with NATO)

My choice – Timex Expedition T49976 (with NATO)

And why?

In searching their different models it has to be said that Casio generates most of the buyer’s interest, as they seem to bring out new models like tomorrow was in danger of not appearing.  And in contrast Timex on the other hand, have quietly gone about their business by introducing just a few variants here and there, usually with subtle and mostly cosmetic changes to their core function set.  Indeed this is perhaps and arguably testament to the fact the Timex base module features functions that satisfy most of us.  Changes are such that models and modules are simply and subtly altered just enough to add enough variety to attract more buyers, which it has to be said is the name of the game.

The Casio approach with so many product lines, such as G-Shock, Tough Solar, Pro-Trek, Master of G and others is quite the opposite.   Modules seem to change quickly and race neck and neck with new case designs and whilst the former is becoming smaller, the latter is very much larger.

Casio DG 120CM-5 Camo Digital only - but is BIG

Casio DG 120CM-5 Camo Digital only – but is BIG

The module function sets are really marching on, with new features, more sensitive sensors, smaller, lighter, more powerful and so on and all very commendable of course, and yet for me still let down by an almost equal and opposite reaction – of overly large case designs, with more knobbly bits than my Mother’s current cake.  The dimensions are at the very limits and beyond in my opinion, what with 17mm+ case depth on an already large diameter, what with the G-Shock case cover and over large controls, both of which making for a rather cumbersome wrist accessory.  Light weight they may be, but in my opinion now becoming intrusive.

So back to Timex and their softly, softy approach – subtle improvements perhaps the name of the game, and a definite priority on actual function and practicality.  Keeping the basics right with good solid features, Time, Date, Day, Month, Year, Alarm, Stopwatch, Timer, luminous hands if analog and back lit with their proprietary illumination system for night use.  Water Resistance to 100m+ and all neatly contained in a tough case with compact dimensions that almost anyone can wear with comfort.

Note the in-display help texts - appears once the SET button is pressed.

Note the in-display help texts – appears once the SET button is pressed.

Plus another point is how intuitive the Timex module is – additional help appears IN the display when the SET pusher is pressed – it is so simple to set and alter all the module parameters.

Definitely what I call “get and forget until you need it” wrist wear.  And in my opinion this is where they score against all the others, including Casio.  They’ve cleverly managed to get the balance just right between what you want in a practical sense with functions that you might well use every day.

As for my camouflage search – the one that jumped out of the page first was the Casio all digital Camouflage GD 120CM-5 . . . . and it looks great, with a basic function set (+ world time) but the sting in the tail – it’s huge!  There’s no other word for it and let’s be absolutely honest here – it is BIG.  At 55mm lug to lug x 52.2mm across and 17.4mm depth . . . . what can I say? and no matter how good it may purport to be, this is a problem and not just for me and dare I say in danger of being almost “impractical” . . . ?

From “practical” to “impractical” perhaps prefixed by an abbreviation of the word “immense”?

So a little disappointed I decided to check out Timex for their Camouflage model and this one, the Timex Expedition T49976 turned up . . . . and it looks great, with a basic function set (we’ve heard this before) but – and here’s the difference, there is no but!  Because size wise it’s just 48mm lug to lug x 44.8mm width x 15.4mm depth!

Timex Expedition T49976 in Camouflage and standard strap

Timex Expedition T49976 in Camouflage and standard strap

Timex Expedition T499676 with easy to fit Zuludiver camouflage NATO

Timex Expedition T49976 with easy to fit Zuludiver camouflage NATO

This is positively neat in today’s practical models.

And this seems to sum up the difference between the brands, indeed if you sit them down together in a row, it looks like adults and juniors!  Casio adult and Timex junior.

There's compact and there's big - Timex v Casio

There’s compact and there’s big – Timex v Casio (Casio shown is 52mm x 16mm)

There’s also the factor of cost versus wear-ability, as my Timex models are certainly cheaper and yet I wear them much more often than almost any of my Casios with one exception – the Casio 5600 which is and Casio won’t like me saying this, more Timex like!   This is really ironic, as this was a pioneer in Casio models, shock protected, neat appearance, great function set and I believe the smallest G-Shock model with compact (yes I said compact) dimensions at just 40mm x 12mm!

So what happened?  And I wonder where this is all leading – Casio seems to have bred an uncontrollable monster, with more tech, more functionality, resulting in bigger, bigger and even bigger.  And by comparison their Timex competitor (and not only Timex) are gliding along very nicely, with equally great looking models, combi and digital and with good practical functions – and here’s a positive but – but with sensible dimensions for everyone.

Further images –

One of the best Timex straps as standard, looks great.

One of the best Timex straps as standard, looks great.

Neat choice, watch and NATO

Neat choice, watch and NATO (my strap preference & easy to fit)

Indiglo back light - great for night or low light situations.

Indiglo back light – great for night or low light situations.

A point about NATO strap versus the standard Timex strap.  Whilst the Timex one is excellent and comfortable, for looks I personally prefer the NATO ( Zuludiver ).  It’s super simple to fit to the standard spring-bars (none of your molded strap/case affairs) and because it’s not held away from the case, as with the Timex one (it has short “hold off” stays under the strap) it means the watch fits the smaller wrist so much better.  A small point but one that I personally think is important.  The Timex with a lug to lug of just 48mm compared to the Casio of 55mm is pretty good anyway, but effectively even better with the NATO strap.

A point about the exterior case “Shock” protection on my camouflage Timex is where the case is the usual hard black resin, the entire bezel material is NOT the same material.  Whatever it’s made of, resin or rubber, it is much softer than the case material.  Indeed you can push your finger nail into it and it deforms like rubber then comes back.  It is very, very effective and as it’s raised slightly above the glass gives very good protection.

Note 1 – The Zuludiver NATO strap is one of the longer straps available at just over 30cms so will conversely fit the bigger wrist too – and it has one of the better camouflage patterns color wise that I’ve seen in a while.

Note 2The Timex Expedition T49976 has the following features

100m Water resistance
Digital Display with Day, Det, Month, Time in Hours, Minutes and seconds displayed at one glance plus am/pm indicator
Sub-dial with running 10 seconds duration
3 Alarms – Daily, Weekday and Weekend
Indiglo back light with optional night mode/any button ON/cancels after 8 hrs.
(this is the best Indiglo back light I’ve seen on any Timex to date)
CR2016 battery.

Combo nights (2)

Well I’ve trawled long enough and I’ve decided on my pick for a Combo model for this month.  And first thing to say is, it hasn’t been easy this time and in danger of revising my basic requirement list.

Basic requirements –
* It must be shock resistant and case tough  *It must be Water Resistant to 100m+ * Readable in the dark and a non-shiny case (military style?) * Intuitive digital function set (without constant referral to instructions) * Uncluttered (dial or case).

A fairly simple set of basics, yet tricky to actually get and as a result I’ve had to discard a surprising number of models.  Some looked good but in reality were less than satisfactory.  Common issues are faint digital displays, cluttered dials, no use in the dark, reflective dial components, sub-dial mania + unnecessary dial data, bezel overkill, too many controls, less than ideal bracelet or strap fittings – to name just a few.
Many of the “faults” seem to be “fashion design” I have to say majoring on looks rather than function or practicality.

So after all the searching around for a suitable combo model I’ve decided this time on the Casio GA-1000-1AER Pro-Trek.

Casio GW-1000-AER

Casio GA-1000-1AER

A bit bigger than I intended – the case may have a diameter of 45mm diameter but with the G-Shock molding including pushers is just a fraction over 52mm across.  It is also 16mm thick, so sits very proud on the wrist but fortunately not heavy at 85gms, which is good considering this is a steel and resin case.  But not for wearing (if you could that is) under a shirt cuff as it IS high and does not have a smooth top surface either.
Where this model scores is that it meets one of my most important criteria – it is really good in low light and in the dark.  The analog solid filled hands have a bright green luminous coating with an excellent afterglow along with the minute dot markers, so reading the time is very easy – against a surprisingly dark dial background.  There is also a Neon Illuminator light system which uses UV light to highlight the 12, 3, and 9 numerals in green plus the dot markers in a striking neon blue, at the same time highlighting the tip of the seconds hand in bright green.  It’s really quite spectacular though as the analog hands luminous afterglow is so good I don’t really need it.  The luminous quality of the analog hands lasts all night easily with little loss.  Overall I am very pleased with it’s “in the dark” clarity.

Good standard of luminous analog hands and markers

Excellent luminous analog hands and markers

Just a “quick glance” is required to read the time as the analog hands stand out clearly without the dial background intruding.  Owing to clever accenting and emphasis of the hands, numerals and markers and muting of the dial background, it is a surprisingly good dial set up.

Even more night lights with Neon system

Even more night lights with Neon system

This model is an excellent “travelers” watch too, as not just content with having a 48 City & 31 Time Zones World Time function, from a practical aspect it has two neat features.
First, different time zones are as usual represented by City initials but often folks are confused as to where they refer to – fear not as once selected, the City is spelled fully by first scrolling and then finishing on the initials of the City.  And Secondly it features a Home City swap function.  By pressing two buttons instantly the analog hands will move to the time of the selected digital World Time City time zone.  In other words your Home City and City to which you are traveling can be swapped from the Digital display to the main analog time display. This is very handy when approaching your next time zone destination on a plane.

Initial set up

When you first get the watch often the Home City or City time Zone is set to Japan, but it’s very easy to set your own Home Time.  You can tell if your Home City code is not your own (well the time will be wrong – yes?) by reading the lower display, which has a small indicator showing the time of the set Home City.  For example if your Home City was London and 1oclock, the small curved indicator will have a tiny edge marker pointing to the same time.

So to set your own Home Time zone –

Once you are in the normal time display – press and hold button A (top left) until ADJ appears with SET flashing on the lower display, then use the top right (west) or bottom left (east) to scroll through the City Codes.  Once you get to your City Code – press the lower left button (D) – this will show DST in the lower screen – you can toggle this ON and OFF using the lower right pusher (E) – when happy with that simply press the upper Left pusher (A) and that’s it.  The analog hands will immediately move to your new time setting.

Casio GW-1000-AER with Digital Compass

Casio GA-1000-1AER with Digital Compass

Another good point about this module is the ease of doing almost anything.  The main Adjust selector pusher is top left (A) and in normal time mode pressing this and holding it will move into ADJ (adjust mode) – and will flash SET in the lower display, then pushing the lower left Mode button (D) repeatedly you can cycle through the various functions – and most on or off settings are toggled by use of (E) lower right pusher.  It does become intuitive after a bit.

In the background of the dial, between 10 & 11 we have a selector indicator like a small aeroplane pointer, which basically is a current function reminder.  It is again quite low key and does not distract from your reading of the dial.

The big surprise function of this model however is the inclusion of a Digital Compass, operated by a direct push of the large and well protected center left pusher.  On selecting, the seconds hand becomes a NORTH pointer and upper digital display shows your general direction (for example ENE or East North East) of the 12 position on the dial and the lower display shows that heading in degrees.  To cancel simply press the lower left (D) and you return to normal time.  This model also features a bearing memory function using the lower display, but it’s a little too involved to explain in this Post.

Big watch but manages to fit a smallish wrist!

Big watch but manages to fit a smallish wrist!

Additionally there is a Stopwatch, Timer, 4 Alarms plus Snooze, Time Signal and a Thermometer, which you can optionally use or otherwise.  This model features an Automatic Calendar.  The illumination back light system can also be set to Auto coming on when the wrist is tilted towards the wearer, though I would not recommend this as this model is NOT solar but battery only, so not clever to constantly operate the light when not really needed.

So in summary – the basics of this model are just about right.  Very tough + G-Shock case covering, 200m Water Resistance, easily readable in the dark, easy to use and a good dial set up.  I also like the flexible and thinner than usual strap and the lug/strap fit, which allows smaller wrist fit plus it’s reasonably comfortable too despite being a large watch.  The addition of a Digital Compass is an unexpected and welcome surprise, as I’ve always found these to be useful – and activated by it’s own dedicated pusher.  I also like the shape and design of the analog parts and the compass seconds hand pointer is neat yet very effective.  The fact that digital elements are not lit at night is an omission, but of no relevance to me, so I’m OK with it.  But it IS a big and high watch so is a considerable lump on any wrist and that has to be a consideration for may buyers.

However next year I’m treating myself to perhaps the ultimate Combo model and it’s not Casio.  In September the Tissot Expert Solar T-Touch will be available and it could well dent Casio sales.  The night clarity is outstanding both analog AND digital and digitally it does most everything a Casio can do, having an ABC function set AND looking more like a conventional watch.  If it’s right for me and I am sure it will be, then my Casio collection could be in danger.  My display boxes could be reduced from many to perhaps just one . . . . maybe . . . as I’ll have to revise my requirements again . . . to accommodate my 2015 wish list!  Of course!  😉

Notes –
Battery details – 2 x SR927W
Battery life – approx 2 years average function use.
Low battery flashing alert – upper display.
Accuracy – +/- 15secs per month
Stopwatch – 1/100 sec up to 24hrs.
Timer – 1 sec to 60 minutes.
Note – this model is NOT solar and is NOT Radio Controlled.

Combo nights (1)

My last Post featured the fashion watch Infantry but got me thinking.  One of my passions today is the combo watch, that is one with both analog and digital displays and I also like the concept of the “military” watch and whilst maybe not the official Mil Spec, I like to get as many of the same attributes I can.  What I’m NOT looking for here is a “fashion” watch, but one with serious features and functions that work as they are supposed to.

The finding of a serious military combo watch however is surprisingly difficult as so many models fall short in some manner.  Such as back lights that don’t illuminate the dial data effectively, or luminous hands that are not, or over cluttered dial configurations, or even lack of intuitiveness requiring an instruction booklet with you at all times!  Now the watch can be simple or complicated but it has to have the basics right, such as good Water Resistance, shock resistance, solid case preferably matte and non-shiny, good night legibility and a sensible function set.

Now funnily enough it’s quite easy to find a digital only model that fits the requirements and one of the better ones (and there are quite a few I have to say) is the Casio 120CM-5 and @$130 easily manages the brief – as do many of it’s variants.

Casio120CM-5 Camo Digital only

Casio 120CM-5 Camo Digital only

So when looking for my ideal “Mil Spec” style “military combo” model, whilst I could list the requirements, it’s actually easier to check out what’s available and then judge them accordingly as OK or not OK and say why . . .

I checked out quite few Casio models and was surprised when it came to combo watches that this was much more difficult than first thought.  Often the models had non luminous analog hands and many were skeleton and often not easily seen against considerable background dial clutter, what with all the various indicators on the dial face.  Needless to say none of those interested me at all and each for one or other of these reasons failed to meet my requirements

One feature that really annoyed me was the apparent lack of decent illumination for night use.  Without luminous hands Casio have attempted to light the entire face with a light at the edge of the dial, which was only partially successful if, at all – lighting analog hands from the side just doesn’t work too well.  But in providing such a dial light the digital display was left in darkness without a dedicated back light.  Now OK that doesn’t bother me too much as at night I basically want to see the time, not fiddle around with digital settings and so on.
However this is a poor do – conventional watches with luminous hands, if decent quality, are fine for night use, whereas many of these modern analog/digital models don’t feature luminous hands at all – and I don’t understand why not.  Surely specifying luminous hands eliminates the need for a dial light and by having it allows for the usual relatively simple Casio digital back light (as the Casio 120CM-5 watch shown here).  Surely this makes sense?

But it doesn’t appear so as almost all current models feature rather poor dial and digital lighting and few luminous anything – indeed judging my comments on many video reviews it’s a bone of contention, though tacitly accepted whereas I won’t accept it at all.  And this is a shame as I’ve discounted most combo Pro-Treks and the majority of G-Shocks for not only that issue but a few other basic reasons as well, such as lack of clarity either owing to dial clutter and/or poor night use, or for being too large.  Two downsides it has to be said with many G-Shock case covers is that some models are too big for my wrist and the control buttons difficult both to find and operate amongst what I see as over-protective shrouds.

So, did I find anything that does suit me and meet my basic needs – and here I look at alternatives to Casio first.

Leaving the G-Shock style for a moment this Divers model from St Moritz – the Momentum Format 4 is actually a very good combo and though not military in any sense, it certainly features many of the required elements and does them very well.

St Moritz Momentum Format 4 Combo Divers model

St Moritz Momentum Format 4 Combo Divers model

Good broad luminous analog hands and numerals, an excellent clear pair of digital displays and a decent function set too, such as World Time, Chronograph and Alarms etc.  It also has a very tough construction stainless satin finished case with screw down crown and 200m Water Resistance.  For night use this combination of lume plus excellent digital back lighting is not far short of perfect and is well worthy of consideration in my view.P1020511

Another Brand to consider obviously is Timex and this model, which I’ve owned for some time now is the Timex Expedition T49967.  It has a decent analog dial with luminous hour/minute hands and a digital display, shock proof resin case construction, 200m Water Resistance, non-reflective body and what I’d call a sensible function set of Chronograph, Time and Alarm, which is fine for most of us and in my opinion a really underrated model and at around £60+ mark is still currently great value.
As for night use, it uses the patented Timex “Indiglo” back light system.  This is a light source behind the dial and everything is read in silhouette and within the digital display the black digital numerals intriguingly stand out light against a dark background, which is the opposite to what shows in daytime.  It also has a standard strap fitting which I replaced with silicon deployment strap.  I can confirm I’ve been very, very pleased with this Timex ever since I bought it as it’s a get and forget type of watch, good value and I’d recommend it to anyone.

There are some other models around that I’m also interested in, one of which has to be the new Tissot “Touch” Solar which could well be in a class of it’s own (watch out Casio – it’s ABC, neater, smaller, light and at night it’s brilliant).  Not available till September though, so in the meantime I’ll feature another combo model, which I’ll review possibly in my next Post.  And this is a Casio again and currently has to be one of my favorites.  And with so many variants of G-Shock, Solar Tough and Pro-Trek it’s sometimes overlooked, though has an interesting function set – and at night it isn’t too shabby . . .

Watch this space . . .

Military style?

My friends well know I’m a rather eclectic collector of watches and often on their travels come across items they think may be of interest to me and if not too expensive of course and more for a laugh than anything, they turn up at my door with a present such as this Infantry Model IN-023.

Infantry Chrono Model IN-023

Infantry Chrono Model IN-023

He tells me this was £14 and I have to say it’s one big watch for very little money.  When I first opened the box I though “Oh my G**, what is THIS?”

But once over the initial shock and reservations, believe it or not, I actually found myself rather taken with it and as for wearing it – well it’s amazingly comfortable with it’s soft rubber strap and the watch believe it or not actually fits my smallish wrist.  At first glance it’s huge and whilst it IS big the measurements are at first glance perhaps surprisingly reasonable.  The 136gms alloy structure case is actually only 45mm square and if you add the pushers and crown it’s maybe 53mm across, but the sting in the tail so to speak is the diagonal dimension which is 60mm!

45mm x 45mm and 60mm diagonal, but manages to fit small wrist!

45mm x 45mm and 60mm diagonal, but manages to fit small wrist!

But it fits so well of course because the lug to lug dimension is only 45mm, the strap is a very soft rubber with steel buckle, the lugs are very neat and the strap is not held away from the case body like a Casio, but go straight around your wrist, so are basically at right angles to the case and not sticking out from the case – you can see what I mean by the images on the wrist.

The large dial is round and has clear painted green numerals and markers, with bright white painted Hour, Minute and center Seconds hands.  Unfortunately the hands are NOT luminous, which is a real shame, especially for a watch called Infantry and it’s military styling.  Additionally there are two digital display windows, upper and lower.  The top one shows the Day, Month and Date plus indications of selected functions and the lower one shows the Time or selectively Stopwatch and Alarm.   Also there are indicators for pm and Alarm set.   The display digits are green fluorescent and perhaps a little faint for me, though the display back light operated by the top left pusher is not at all bad and the display is easily read at night.  Also probably by accident rather by design the light pusher is top left, so if worn on the left wrist it means that when you push it, your hand shrouds the watch face – very good in a military situations, in case you’re being scoped by a sniper at night!  😉

Not small by any means - against my old 5600 Casio

Not small by any means – against my old 5600 Casio

The straight mounted pushers (owing to the square case) on the right side, though neat are closer to the crown than I would like and hindered slightly in operation as a result, but they work OK it has to be said.
The large glass crystal is slightly domed and is very clear (not anti-reflection coated) it is scratch resistant and better than many.  The glass however is pretty exposed as it sits slightly proud of the case, so inevitably will be vulnerable to abrasion and possible damage in use.

Snap on back and 3ATM? I might be careful if swimming!

Snap on back and 3ATM – No swimming then!

The case is a black painted satin finish alloy structure and the steel back is a snap on, with 3ATM or 30m water resistance – so no swimming then.

So Infantry yes, Military style yes.   And of course it’s not meant to be  “military”, but inspired by so to speak and I have to admit it looks good and for some crazy reason I actually quite like wearing it!   And OK it has a few limitations of course and for all sorts of reasons, but at the price, for me it’s a bit of fun.

Soft rubber tapered strap with buckle - comfortable fit.

Soft rubber tapered strap with buckle – comfortable fit.

Since my friend dropped this in to me the other day with a big grin, I’ve had a look at the Infantry web site and this Company has been around since 2011 and make quite a large range of military inspired models.  I don’t think I’ve seen one with luminous hands, which is a shame and I would like to see screw backs to give some confidence and perhaps upgrade the water resistance.  I also feel that if the displays were just a tad brighter, then their combo models would really start to interest a wider audience.  The Alloy case seems a good thing and makes the models a little lighter.

I understand it’s produced in Hong Kong and uses a Japan Quartz movement, though without details have no idea if it will last or even be accurate, I have yet to find out – so I’ll report on it in 1 month assuming we’re both still going!

My final verdict –  Appears to be a great watch for the price, though for me a tad large, lume would not go amiss – but apart from that – for £14 – it ain’t half bad!

UPDATE – 23rd August 2017

The hands stopped, and digits misreading. So I guessed a battery had failed. Removed the snap back – easy to pop off and underneath there is a large 2025 battery, under which lies another smaller SR626SW (377) battery which is covered by a small insulating soft plastic plug.  As I did not have any 2025’s to hand I decided to change the smaller SR626SW anyway.  Again easy to do popped in the insulating plug, then replaced the 2025 on top, fitted the cover (small screw here), snapped on the back again and hey presto everything was up and running again.  Reset the time, date etc and the watch is once again running fine.

Have to admit to being pretty pleased with the practical quality of this watch (OK no lume, but that seems par for the course of cheap watches) and it’s a reasonably good time keeper at an approximate 1.5 minutes in 3 years.  So once again a £14 watch – difficult to beat!

Anyway now I’ve got the new battery in, I’m wearing it today and whilst a little macho for me – I like it and although big, is VERY easy to wear, so maybe the rest of the week then . . . .

Relative values

I was checking the other day for a new Casio ana-digi combo watch and found this upmarket model, the Casio MTG-1500-1AER.

MTG series 1500B from Casio - but is it value for money?

MTG series 1500B from Casio – but is it value for money?

The specification and function set was more or less what I was looking for and is one of the few Casio analog and digital models with full hands as opposed to skeleton style.  I’ve always found the skeleton hands to be much harder to see in both daylight and night, especially on Casio, as the luminosity, apart from their Divers range, whilst OK, is not the best.
So decent filled hands are what I was looking for, which will at least maximise the luminous effect and the digital window is large enough to be visible.  I was also glad to see this had a positive display as the negative displays always have clarity issues.

My Casio Solar Tough WVA470 - similar specification.

My Casio Solar Tough WVA470 – similar specification. (stock image)

So all seemed pretty good, until I compared it to my older model Casio Tough Solar WVA-470, I realized in regards value for money, this newer MTG model might fall short.

The MTG shown here is over £500 here in the UK which I think personally is pretty steep for a Casio G-Shock in this style, especially in comparison to my own Tough Solar Casio which cost UNDER £100.  I’m really struggling to justify the large price differential.

My own Casio WVA470 on my wrist as I post.

My own Casio WVA470 on my wrist as I post.

My older WVA model has almost the same functions, 2 receiver Radio Control (as opposed to 6), Solar, 1/100 sec Chronograph, 3 Alarms, battery indicator and with decent analog hands, a center seconds hand and a good digital display.

Function indicators on the WVA model are small digital indicators within the display, which are neat and take up very little dial space.
The bracelet is also all stainless steel without the resin inserts of the MTG model and very comfortable too.   It also doesn’t have or need in my opinion, the bold instructions on the bezel or any of the overdone lettering and doesn’t suffer from any kind of dial clutter.

AND it’s a neater size at just 42mm width and only 12mm depth and as regards toughness – well the Tough Solar models have always been  pretty decent in that respect.

So a little disappointed by the price of the newer MTG model, as the advantages(which may be debatable) don’t seem to justify the large price increase, to me at any rate.   Far from upgrading my Casio models now, I’m looking at just what you are really getting for the money, especially in the light of the much higher prices being asked for this range.  Which is of concern as Casio and G-Shock models have to me always represented real value for money, so it’s a shock (excuse the pun) to find a range from Casio that might, value wise, fall short of my expectations.

G-Shock deployment

Very often a bone of contention are the straps and bracelets used on G-Shock models and some are easier than others to change.  My old favorite the Casio DW5600-E is one such model and fortunately the PU strap/bracelet is one of the easier ones to manage.

New deployment strap fitted.

New deployment strap fitted.

The original strap is a buckle type and I’ve never really suited these divers style affairs as my wrist is relatively small and I much prefer the rubber deployment style – easier and quicker to get on and off and is flat on the wrist side, so always more comfortable.  OK you do have to cut them to fit, but of little consequence as they’re not expensive, easily obtainable and not tied to any particular watch model or type.

So what did I do to get my silicon deployment strap fitted?

First off, the DW5600E is a favorite for a few reasons.  One it is a neat size for a G-Shock as it’s 43.6mm across the center though the lug to lug is over 50mm and actually larger than it needs to be with the standard Casio strap fitted, owing to the under-strap molding that holds the strap out from the case.  This in fact is another reason for the strap change, but more of that later.

1) Remove the G-Shock case cover - using recessed side screws.

1) Remove the G-Shock case cover – using recessed side screws. (note 16mm spring bars)

So first thing is to get at the strap/case fitting and the spring bars (fortunately this model still uses the tried and tested spring bars between the lugs for the strap fixing).  For access it’s much easier therefore to remove the outer G-Shock resin over-case and this is easy by simply unscrewing the 4 screws on the side of the case (not the false indents on the top of the case).  These are recessed but easy to access.  Once removed simply hook your finger nail under one side of this case cover to clear the push buttons and the case cover is removed completely as shown.  Now we can get at the spring bars much more easily and remove the original strap.
Note that the spring bars/strap fittings are only 16mm but the case at the lugs is actually 25mm wide.

Now a standard 16mm strap whilst it would fit easily, would look silly being far too narrow on the watch, so I’m going to fit a 24mm wide silicon deployment strap, but cut down to 16mm at the ends.  And this is very easy to do with a Stanley knife or similar as you’re basically just cutting off the corners of the strap end.  Measuring my 16mm I cut perhaps 4mm back into the strap (any more you’ll get gaps showing where the strap meets the case) both side of the strap and fitted it to the case to see how it looked.

2) Cut corners off replacement deployment strap to 16mm and check fit to case.

2) Corners cut off replacement deployment strap to 16mm and check fit to case (with G-Shock case cover removed) and note cut strap parts on bench.

This was fine and I slipped on the spring bars with a bit of WD40 as they are quite chunky and the strap hole at the end is relatively narrow and fitted the strap with spring bars to the case.

I then replaced the G-Shock case cover which also covered the strap ends, so it looked really neat.  And here is where the dimension of the finished watch differ from the original.  The top to bottom or lug to lug measurement is now under 50mm and the strap can flex down to fit smaller wrist than before and look great.  It also has the benefit of allowing the watch to sit upright on a table as for this first image and not have to sit on it’s side.

New strap fitted - looks good.

New strap fitted – looks good.

As you see the 24mm wide deployment strap fits nicely to the case and looks as if it was made for it – which it was of course!

So that’s my favorite G-Shock re-strapped to suit me and it wasn’t difficult to manage at all – no conversion parts required and the total cost around £7 for the new deployment strap and around 20 minutes of my time with basic tools and a coffee after I checked the fit of the strap before refitting the G-Shock cover.

Strap now flexes direct from spring bars - fits small wrists. (note side recessed screws for G-Sock case cover removal).

Strap now flexes direct from spring bars – fits small wrists. (note side recessed screws for G-Shock case cover removal).

This watch will now fit smaller folks with a small wrist as the strap flexes around the actual spring bars and not held stiffly out from the case at right angles.  This is a bug bear I have with other models with molded bracelets and strap as you cannot lay the watch down on it’s lug ends, upright, but rather you have to lay them on their sides.  I can take this watch off my wrist, put it on the bedside cabinet upright and facing me and I can easily read the time.

Tools required - Bergeron spring bar tool, screwdriver, knife (Pliers not needed after all here).

Tools required – Bergeron spring bar tool, screwdriver, knife (Pliers not needed after all here).

As to other straps – you can very also easily fit a NATO strap and again make sure you get a 24mm wide one, then at the position of the spring bars, cut out small areas either side to fit the 16mm lug neatly.  Just a pair of scissors and a spring bar tool required and that’s it – job done.  The neat thing about the G-Shock case cover is that it extends slightly larger than the actual watch case, so hides any intolerance you may have done when fitting/cutting.  In fact I fitted a fast wrap strap to a friends G-Shock a few months ago (he’s one of those rugged types that climbs things and treks everywhere) and his friends have been really, really envious when they see his particular G-Shock combo.

It sometimes amazes me the odd conversions people do to change straps and yes often they can be tricky to manage and yet I’ve found that the simplest ways are invariably the best.  All too often a complicated solution can be looked at again and re-appraised in the light of simplicity.  Could I do this simpler way, a better way and more often than not – a cheaper way?

Might be one of the other reasons I like this particular Casio DW5600E.
It’s really quite basic function set is absolutely fine for me, Time, Day, Date, Month, Year and 12hr or 24hr selectable time display, an Alarm (daily, by date or monthly with auto repeat) function with selectable dial light flash.  It also sounds for a decent 20 seconds.  A Stopwatch and Countdown function.  I also like the fact that when using other functions, the Time is always indicated on the upper right portion of the dial – very useful.  It’s got a 200m Water resistance and it’s as tough as old boots!

And now it’s got the strap I like on it – what could be better?


New strap fitting - neat and the right size width at 25mm.

New strap fitting – neat and the right size width at 25mm.

New strap fitted - job done.

New strap fitted – job done

Deployment means flat on the wrist - for a neat fit.

Deployment means flat on the wrist – for a neat fit.


Casio “beater”

One of the things that Casio are really good at is making a model that does enough to satisfy the average guy.

Casio DW9052-1V

Casio DW9052-1V

This model is the Casio DW9052-1V which features a similar function set to the older, but very excellent classic DW5600E, which is already one of my favorite models by Casio.  Different modules used, but essentially they perform a similar role – the secret being – not too much and not too little.

And one of the VERY best features of this model is the size.  It is NOT too big.  The resin case is just 45mm across which is pretty neat for a G-Shock and the pushers are well shrouded yes, but a nice big size to get your fingers on.  The digital display is a two window affair and basically show Day, Date and Month plus the time of course and on selection features functions such as – 1/100 Stopwatch/Chronograph to 60mins and a 1 second stopwatch to 24hrs.  Countdown alarm with Auto-repeat, 12/24 hr selectable and an Auto Calender up to 2039.   It’s powered by a CR2016 2yr battery and has a back light “illuminator” operated by the front pusher.

The bracelet idea is a little different fitting from the older models and wraps better around the wrist and the watch is also water resistant to 200m.  No World Time or Dual Time so if you want to travel, then you’ll just have to adjust the time – and that’s easy.  It also features a dial that’s not too fussy and for me this represents a useful and practical “daily beater” watch that will do you many years of great service.

You can pick it up here in the UK for around £50 which I think is very good value.

Note – The layout of this model I found to be very Timex like with the large and easier to push than usual for Casio pushers and the back light mounted on the front as Timex.  Could be the reason I like this model and of course the sensible size for once.  Pity about the bracelet/strap fitting which I would have preferred to be standard.  But for the money this is a good all round model and well worth it.

Clearly Torgoen

When a group of watch makers and aviation enthusiasts get together, the result is Torgoen – a Swiss watch company that excels in the “pilot” watch design format rather well.   In amongst the range of models they produce, the one that stands out for me is from their T30 range – the T30304.

Torgoen T30 T30304

Torgoen T30 T30304

I like this particular model as for me it is the clearest to read by virtue of the color combinations used on the dial face.  Because the dial is quite busy with 5 main hands plus the small seconds hand making 6,  it’s important to highlight only the parts that are meaningful.  Note that the Brand name on the dial is muted as is the model series number.  The main numerals @12, 3, 6 and 9 are also muted, but we know where they are by virtue of the highlighted indices markers.  The main hands and relevant details are strongly highlighted by the use of orange Super Luminova luminous bright color, which stands out very clearly against the overall muted dark dial.  Note too the Alarm pointer is black until the bright orange arrow tip, again to prevent distraction, unlike the T30301 which I find cluttered in comparison, owing to the 24hr and Alarm pointers being unnecessarily bright.  On this model too the hour and minute hands are full infill and not skeletal which once again aids clarity.

Note how only data that "needs" to be read is highlighted.

Note how only data that “needs” to be read is highlighted.

The details of this model are common to the series and specification wise it’s pretty good.
45mm x 13mm IP 316L Stainless Steel case with screw back and a 100m Water Resistance.  K1 super hardened mineral glass, seconds sub dial @2, Big Date window @6 and a Swiss ISA 8176/1990 movement as the power source.
A GMT center driven pointer and 12 hr Alarm pointer are the additional complications on the dial.   A 24mm wide PU strap with IP stainless steel buckle and a 3yr Guarantee complete the specification.

As said, Torgoen have a nice range of different Series models, but for me this typifies their original concept best.
Clear and easy time reading day or night, clear date information, Alarm and GMT functions without clutter despite being a busy dial.  It has good water resistance and has a basic strap arrangement without being of the molded variety – and that’s always a plus for me.  It is also a sensible size, without being overly macho – another plus point for me.

So all in all a very nice watch and one that I may well decide hopefully to have myself before the year is out.