Size matters

Whilst I have recently featured Casio G Shock models and of course applaud them for all sorts of reasons, not least the “tough” movement protection and functionality, I still have one main concern and that is “SIZE”.
For me and many others they are just that little bit too big.

GW9400-1 Triple Sensor G Shock

GW9400-1 Triple Sensor G Shock – 55.2 x 53.5 x 18.2mm – oversize

And this is right across the range of over 190 Casio styles.  Even the more basic function set models are somewhere in the order of 50mm across and basically the reason for the size has to be the additional outer protection resin profiling.
I also have to accept with the ABC models and Triple Sensor technology the older Sensor module sizes dictated the overall dimensions.   However, that said I’m really pleased to note this has been addressed recently, albeit on a non G Shock Pro-Trek model.   I would add that even some of the non G Shock models with this kind of functionality have also been very much on the large side.
So perhaps a start of a size reduction trend? and interesting to note that Casio now admit watch size was and is an issue.   Their own sales blurb on the Pro-Trek 3000 series says as much, so I’m hopeful with the new and smaller 3rd generation Sensor modules coming in, perhaps size reduction is now seen as a good thing.

The model shown above is the Casio Rangeman GW9400-1 which is a Triple Sensor ABC model G Shock, with a very comprehensive function set including Tough Solar, World Time, Radio Control (6 receivers), shock and mud resistant, 200m Water Resistance, plus Sunrise and Sunset indications and the ABC features of Altimeter, Barometer/Thermometer and Digital Compass – so is about as full featured as you can get.   I mean this has the lot – BUT – it is big!
Now don’t get me wrong here, it is big, but not impossibly huge like some silly watches that are out there, but for the world average size 165mm circumference wrist – it is just too big for comfort.
I’ve always been of the opinion that Casio tend to get away with this large size basically because they have very light weight case designs, so the watch never feels heavy on the wrist. (the model shown for example is only 93g).

Another model which is possibly more relevant here is the Protrek PRG270-1 – this has a less protected design that the G Shock, though still has a dimension of 50mm across, which is still substantial.   It does however have my preferred dial as does the following model I have picked as my best Casio yet.

Casio PRG270-1

Casio PRG270-1

Casio PRW3000 series

Casio PRW3000 series – reduced case dimensions

So OK all that said, I also said they do have a model now that is smaller with all the bells and whistles – though not G Shock – and as shown on the last image – this is the Casio Protrek PRW3000 series. (introduced in 2013).

Again without the G Shock characteristics and following on from the PRG271, this model does have a case size that should fit anybody and a dial that’s much cleaner and uncluttered than G Shock, so clarity is much improved, especially when considering compass bearings and so on.   Note the main digital numerals are also larger.   Another point is that on most G Shocks with combination digital and analogue displays, the clarity is never great, as the dials are just too cluttered and with too much information jostling for position.

Dimensions wise the width of this PRW3000 is reduced down to 47mm and only 12.3mm thick, so sits snugly on just about any size of wrist with ease.   The top of the range model (as shown) has what’s called an aluminum toned resin case plus a full Titanium bracelet and weighs just 100g .  The reduced size is even more remarkable when you consider this model is also Radio Controlled.

Each model shown here share the same upgraded v3 sensor set, so I have to assume that the extra case protection of the G Shock model still prevents any size reduction – which is a pity.

So it seems when considering any G Shock model you may have to accept that size is always going to be an issue – in this case a width increase of 6mm or 0.5″ extra.   So unfortunately a trade off at the moment, though with Casio acknowledging that size is an issue, it would not surprise me if they suddenly introduced a smaller G Shock with everything on it too.

And as to supply – a problem is that many new models or variants never see the UK shores and if you want to keep up, then a frequent check on the domestic Japanese market is the route to go.   And on that subject there are now luckily a few Japanese Internet traders (genuine Japan based retailers with physical shop locations) where you can buy with confidence.   Just remember you may have Customs and Tax liabilities to consider before you take the plunge.

I personally recently purchased the Casio PRW3000T model – it’s sort of taken top spot in my Casio collection at the moment, so I hope to feature it in some depth in a future Post.  I personally think this model is a small milestone as it features the smaller and more efficient updated Sensor modules and a reduced overall size.

There is no doubt these Casio models are really terrific watches and a testament to their progress over the years, from what were once regarded as digital gimmicks by some, to the wonderful, innovative technical icons we have today.   And even though having a watch collection and being around watches for many years, I find myself on a monthly Casio watch now – in anticipation of what new masterpieces they come up with . . . Oh yes!

Just a note – It is of course fact that there is competition in the world of Triple Sensor and the Swiss Tissot T Touch Expert Solar model is announced and on it’s way – it is stylish, sleek and with a 45mm width case could be the one that beats them all . . .

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Out of reach? I’ll wait.

Once again arguably the best Protrek Casio yet is NOT available here in the UK.  The model PRW3000 series improves on the current range and uses the Ver 3. Triple Sensor (Altimeter/Barometer, Thermometer & Compass), it’s solar powered and Radio Controlled with Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping, with a 100m Water Resistance case.

PRW-3000 series from Casio Pro-Tec

PRW-3000 series from Casio Protrek

Owing to the improved and updated modules the direction sensor is smaller (plus improved power consumption) means that the overall dimensions of this model are at last reduced.  And if familiar with my web site you well know this is an ongoing issue I have with watches today.  At 47mm diameter x 56mm x 12.3 height and only 62g weight, this is at least moving nearer the normal wrist size, without looking like a Marvel comic character.

Accuracy too has been improved with Altitude measured in 1m increments and the display compass readings have 60 seconds of continuous measurement.  Added to that there is a Barometric Pressure Tendency Alarm that alerts the wearer to sudden changes in pressure readings – more like GPS units.

As I understand it – can only be purchased from outlets in the Far East and if you need one, then that’s what you will have to do – and run the gauntlet of customs delays, high customs Duty and VAT charges and perhaps an overpriced model at the end of it all.

Of course some will ask if an ABC model is worth all the hassle at all and perhaps rightly so.  If into trekking or mountaineering, then you are presumably pretty efficient with map and compass already and maybe have a GPS unit, which after all gives the same data (possibly more accurately as it’s not as confined space wise?) plus a positional indication moving map.
And that’s a valid point – most GPS units are very, very good at horizontal positioning, which is arguably the most important aspect for the majority of recreational walkers, as opposed to serious mountaineering.  It actually tells you where you are!  The ABC watch of course doesn’t have that function!

And there are the gadget freaks who simply must have the model as it’s the latest high tech wrist fashion.  How often have I seen a Tube video of someone showing off his ABC and saying – “Well I know I’m at 400ft, though the watch says  320ft – not too bad is it?”  My own thoughts are he’s used the wrong description – not too bad?  I think a better one would be “utterly useless”.  Or being charitable – perhaps he doesn’t yet know how to calibrate the thing.

And that IS a point.  With all ABC watches you have to calibrate them .  The Compass and the Altimeter, Barometric pressure and so on, all have to be calibrated otherwise the unit will NOT be accurate.  And if as in Scotland where the atmospheric pressure changes often by the minute (our weather is unpredictable to say the least) you might as well forget it, as most readings will be worse than useless.
However if using GPS with a barometric/altimeter and pressure is changing due to weather and not elevation change, at least on some units you have the option of selecting “fixed elevation” mode when it then uses the GPS only for elevation data.  But I don’t think you can do this on a wrist watch – yet.

I’ve decided already not to rush to the Far East for one just yet.  I’m thinking why do I need one?  Maybe I’ll wait for a few UK or USA reviews (not the hype) and consider carefully if I really want one at all.
And when you sit and think about it – time is actually on your side.  These units will surely get better and who knows – v4 might just be around the corner – accuracy and calibration factors could improve out of all recognition next week or month!
Imagine Calibration could even be a totally automatic process for Altitude, Pressure and Compass!   Carrying around a 90 page instruction booklet is not my idea of fun!   The ultimate goal has to be – buy it, strap it on and go!

Now OK just supposition on my part of course and don’t let my hangups stop you rushing out and getting one, from wherever.  But personally even with the latest ABC’s, I have to admit to viewing them in the gadget category, albeit a “work in progress”  –  so I’m quite happy to wait.