Digital delights

There’s something about early digital watches that really attracts me, mostly because they can look so interesting.  Often full of complications and with amazing dial designs, which for me is possibly the most important aspect of these creations.  How to display the most relevant information or data to the user, without causing confusion – and still make the function of it, or the “user interface” as they say today, both easy to read, understand and also intuitive to use.

Not an easy task.

Here are a few that for me manage that task pretty well.

Early Citizen D060 Winsurfer, Timex (later) T49976 Expedition, Early Citizen D100 Promaster Windsurfer

And yes they are all quartz, battery powered and every so often you have to change the battery – it can be daunting, though once you get the hang of the user logic, these ones are actually easy to manage.  Sometimes there are printed highlight notes on the module reminding you to short out this or that, or push all buttons prior to setting up and so on, though that’s basically to clear memory ans rarely affects the basic time function.
Any time a battery needs changing – it’s – clear the desk workspace – take care and concentrate.  But seeing the display come to life again and then scrolling through the various functions and reminding yourself just what these modules can do, is always a pleasure.

Casio 931 – BGP-20 Multi-Planner,
Casio 928 DW-7200 Pentagraph Referee Timer

Casio vintage Alarm Chrono, had tough times but still good!

With a reasonable collection of digitals from the late 1970’s onwards, you can see the dial contrast improvements and the creation of more intuitive commands, to manage this or that function, though I’m still bowled over by some of the early ones and realize just how good they are.

I’m not going to go through the functions and so on, but rather just show here a small photo gallery of some of the ones I’ve collected over the years.  The dials say it all really and there are many more, many covering all sorts of sports and pastimes, but increasingly difficult to find these in really good condition.  They are not expensive and as a result tend to get worn “hard”, often not surviving.  Often as not, if the module goes, so does the watch – into the trash, which is a pity as they are a testament to the ingenuity of the first Quartz sports watch pioneers.

Many are Japan made and although there are many, many lookalike digitals around from China, none of them have the pedigree of these or indeed the quality of the Japanese modules and displays, which in their day, were truly science fiction, and particularly in the actual design.

Rare watches today as they represent a time of change and great innovation and ridiculously accurate for their time too, which is a real bonus.  Usually wherever I go when wearing one of these, people comment and mostly they are rather impressed.  Not bad after some 40+ years of plastic/resin molding, early display technology and large battery styles – I take my hat off to them – great!

Note – I have probably featured these somewhere in the web site at some time as a Post. For more information, just use search.

Day Date survivors?

One of the most popular watch styles is the Day Date and yet it is hardly ever marketed with any great fanfare.  But it’s no accident that many of the very best Makers have Day Dates in their range as they know that to so many people, it is the perfect wrist assistant.

They tell you the Time, the Date and the Day, the three most pertinent and popular functions of the wristwatch.   They also are available at very affordable prices.  There are Solar, Kinetic and Quartz, Manual wind mechanicals of all sorts of shapes and sizes, but for me the old classic mechanical Automatic is still around, is in good supply and still fun to own.  That feeling of cogs and wheels and springs and things – ticking along on your wrist – no electronics, no touch screen, no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi and no Internet – but self contained and still a true mechanical technical marvel.

It’s really difficult to beat – no battery, no light requirement and with mechanics that can easily with the movement of your wrist, outlast you.  Mind you if you suddenly “snuff” it, your watch, after a decent interval, perhaps out of respect will also stop!  But it only sleeps – waiting till the next live person comes along and suddenly it’s ticking away – recording time as it was made to do – something a bit science fiction about that and maybe even a bit surreal!  In fact if you think about it – you are simply the custodian of the mechanical watch . . . .

Citizen Eco-Drive Day Date watch - 100m Water Resistance too.

Citizen Eco-Drive Day Date watch – 100m Water Resistance too.

Anyway I feature a few different models here – The first is one of the relatively few Solar powered ones around – from Citizen.

It’s good as it too never needs a battery, it shows the Time, the Date and the Day.  Those three can be adjusted very easily using the crown as it has traditional geared analog hands display.  It will however need to see a decent light source sometimes as with any Solar model, but basically it’s a set and forget watch and it’s very affordable.

The next images feature a few of the Day and Date Automatic models I’ve found and these can be from Dress styles to Divers and all have a common feature – very easy to use.  And of course being automatic, they require nothing from you, except for you to wear them.

Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 Auto Day date

Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 Auto Day date

A great feature of the Automatic (and I’ve already mentioned it) is that it doesn’t have a battery,  it doesn’t require a light source and setting Time Zones or Summer Times is so very uncomplicated (so many specialist watches make a real song and dance about it).
Here it’s just a case of, crown out, move hands, crown in – job done.   No instruction booklets or prodigious memory required for what can often be a hugely over-complicated push button sequence.

Maybe this is a more apt description of an ABC watch!  Because it’s as simple as A, B, C!

Tissot DS1 Auto Day Date

Tissot DS1 Auto Day Date

Certina DS1 Auto Day Date

Certina DS1 Auto Day Date

There are other watches of course that can show the Time, Day and Date plus many other functions, but frankly these are often complicated should you wish to use these functions, such as, as I said changing Time Zones.  But that said there are a few today that overcome some of these limitations. Radio Controlled and GPS models can, used correctly, show the correct Time and Zones and the latest models have tried hard to reduce required command functions should changes be required.

Victorinox Officers Day Date Auto

Victorinox Officers Day Date Auto

But for me the mechanical Automatic is still on top in the practicality and no-brainer stakes, so easy to use and will last many lifetimes.

As an Undertaker (watch collector) acquaintance said to me once – “Basically my friend as long as you are ticking, so will your watch and if not – call me or at least leave a note.  Maybe I can do a deal!”

So the basic data provision of Time, Day and Date as an instant view really hasn’t changed much over the years.  It is still one of the true prerequisites for any watch that somehow manages to sell year after year after year, with little change.

And in keeping with this theme, there are of course some modern watches that manage to display the same data and as a default view.  These include digital and ana/digi models and some even manage an easy to remember pushbutton sequence to access more complicated functions.

These models appear in most price ranges, but for me I tend to look at the affordable ones first.

Two of the better affordable models are the Cssio LCW-M180D-1AER

Casio LCW-M180D-1AER Radio Control, Solar, Day and Date view model.

Casio LCW-M180D-1AER Radio Control, Solar, Day and Date view model.

and the Casio Tough Solar Model WVA-470 Wave-Ceptor

Casio WVA-470 Wave Ceptor - default Day date view

Casio WVA-470 Wave Ceptor – default Day date view

– both of which are well specified models offering many functions such as Radio Control, Solar Power, Stopwatch, Alarms etc.

However they both manage to show the Time in analog and the Day and Date in a digital display as the default view, so meeting those three “must have” indications.  The former model is part of Casio’s Lineage series and as close as you’ll get to “get and forget” models today and represent great value and are relatively inexpensive.

Diver Day Date Quartz - simple and effective.

Diver Day Date Quartz – simple and effective.

There are also a few Diver’s watches around featuring the Day and Date window plus Diver capabilities that offer extreme good value for money and well worth a look.

Once again though it is no surprise that today Casio models feature quite prominently especially in the quest for watches that people “want” to wear.  Models that offer the basics properly (so important) and now of course coupled with a higher technological level that hitherto was just not possible.

Take the Casio LCW Lineage series for example – these manage not only to give the wearer the essentials – of Time, Day and Date as the default view, but also “get & forget” features such as Radio Control and Solar Power.  And Casio with these analog and digital hybrids offer in addition highly effective intuitive ease of use.  I also like the fact they have “come of age” in comparison to the older Casio WVA-470 and don’t advertise on the dial the advanced technology within – they are nicely understated and rather refined in my view.

I have the WVA-470 myself and I like it a lot, but the newer LCW-M180 is much more elegant and in fact a real class act (I’m tempted again just writing this!).

So as to the question of Day and Date watches, I have to admit the Casio LCW (my review soon) is probably the successor to the older mechanical Day date Automatics and a worthy one at that. Though that said, don’t write off the Automatics just yet, I have a feeling they will be around for a long time yet.

Who knows they may be the true survivors – and only Time will tell . . . . . . .

Radio Times

A small collection of Solar and Radio Control models all featuring similar functions with the exception of the far left Citizen Satellite model.  Whilst it receives a Radio signal too, it’s from a satellite orbiting the Earth and not a ground based transmitter.  I just love a Radio group photo as they all show the exact same time!

And the time is - the same on every darned one!

And the time is – the same on every darned one – Exactly!

Forgotten the prices now, without looking them up when I got them, but I know the dearest is on the far left and the cheapest in on the far right.  But they all have pretty much the same accuracy. The Citizen Satellite model however has the most accurate quartz movement, out of the box, without any synchronization, but give them light (yes they are all Solar Powered) and automatically pick up a signal every day – they all read the same time – precisely.

In fact you could set your watch by them!   🙂

Note the smallest watch in the group is the light dial Casio LCW-170 at just over 39 mm diameter.  It is also the slimmest at around 9 mm depth.

Don’t ask which one I prefer because I like them all.  They each do exactly what they’re supposed to do and do it very well.  I have no issues with any of them and they are proudly what I call – my Estate models – that is they will be here long after I’ve gone and no doubt someone else will have the pleasure of owning and wearing them.

But just not yet!

Compass compacts 1

The subject of this Part 1 & 2 post is simple.  Can I find a Compass Watch that does NOT, because of it’s SIZE  look silly on an average wrist? – in other words a Compass watch model that is a sensible size.

One of the problems with adding functions to any watch is the fact that the more you add, the larger it becomes.  Larger in diameter and often depth too, both of which can make a wristwatch and the wearer look rather silly.  And to make the search that more difficult I add another personal criteria – I would like Ana-Digi as I much prefer the main time keeping part of any watch to have hands – in other words I don’t want a digital display only model (I find them difficult to read as the contrast quality of most regardless of price, can be quite poor).  I also have to accept that there are quite a few Compass watches and some are clever and useful, others less so and this is not always price dependent.

However, that said I may include one or two digital only models, but only IF they are a sensible size and are easy – and I mean easy, to read.

My wrist is about 170mm in circumference and a watch size of 45mm diameter is about my limit, without looking like a total geek.  Slightly larger may just be possible as long as the watch case is not too thick.  But 50mm and up, forget it.

Casio Pro Trek PRG 5501 AER analogue/digital Solar

Casio Pro Trek PRG 5501 AER analogue/digital Solar

The most prevalent Compass model is Casio and the first one is in the “larger than I would like category” is the PRG-550-1AER Pro Trek Solar at 48.8mm diameter and 14mm depth.  It’s Analogue with digital sub-display and as most of this series share the same dimensions, I’ll leave it as the Tough Solar/Pro Trek ana-digi representative.  One caveat – re’ the size – I would have to try it on the wrist before serious consideration.

Compass watch - Casio SGW-500H-1BV

Compass watch – Casio SGW-500H-1BV

Of course I found a Casio candidate in my last post – the SGW-500H-1BV a cheaper Casio model but not available as far as I am aware in the UK – It also has fewer functions with only Digital Compass and Thermometer in addition to the normal Casio digital set up – BUT it was smaller at 46.8mm diameter and 13.6mm depth, so is still very much a viable candidate.

Timex Adventure Fly-back Digital Compass T49865

Timex Adventure Fly-back Digital Compass T49865

I also checked out Timex as they do offer Digital Compass models too and the first one I considered is the Adventure Fly-back Compass Chronograph T49865 series.  This is an analogue 6 hand Quartz model with Digital Compass including magnetic declination compensation, dual time, date @3 and Water Resistance quotes as 100m.  It is handily sized at 44mm diameter and only 12mm depth, which is really quite good.

I much prefer this model to their Tide-Temp Compass version – it seemed over cluttered for me and this one seems cleaner, though whilst the clarity issue will have to be checked out, it looks worthy of consideration.

Timex also do a T49688SU all digital model, which is smaller yet at 41mm x 13mm, though the Digital Compass looks a little simplistic to me.  I have not checked it out fully as being digital only, it can wait till I exhaust the analogue and ana-digi choices first.

Anyway in my first Digital Compass model look see I’m actually quite impressed with what I’ve found so far.  The more expensive Casio models seem to be reasonably serious with their functions, cheaper ones less so, which is or should be fairly obvious.

In Part 2 I’m having a look at two more models that offer a Digital Compass function from Tissot and Victorinox, as both appear to me to be more traditional watches.  Both are within my size range and both are Analogue/Digital.


Casio – compact choice?

Well I’ve been considering replacing/adding to my old Casio collection and whilst the models I have are still available, I want one with more rugged features and added functionality if possible.  Basically I would like one that maybe has an additional function or functions, like a Digital Compass or perhaps Solar Power or maybe Radio Control.

Now perhaps at first glance this seems an easy find, but I have one overriding requirement – size.

There is no doubt that when you start to add functions, invariably the diameter and thickness of the watch increases and in fact the main two reasons for not owning a Digital Compass watch is just that –

1) They are too big and
2) I don’t want a digital only display –
My preference is for analogue with a secondary digital display.  This latter reason (2) simply because – I take my watch off, lay it on the window ledge or bedside cabinet and with digital only, at my age without glasses, there’s no way I can tell the time.  Also in bright daylight or some interior lit situations, it is often quite difficult to even make out the digits – so Hands are a must.

Checking out the Casio range I looked at the Pro Trek range as I like the extra functions they can provide, but the diameter (width) is often 50mm+ which for my smallish wrist, frankly, is a bit silly.  The only ones that come within my size are the “slimline” series, or PRG110 style, but these are solely digital.

So my criteria –
47mm is the absolute maximum diameter to fit my wrist – no exceptions.
Analogue/Digital but must have good clarity/contrast etc.
Usual Casio functions package as my minimum standard – incl World Time.
Added functions – if useful to me – Solar powered, Compass and/or Radio Control etc.

G-Shock models were out of my size range, most at + 50mm, with the odd one at 46mm (the 960 series) but again digital only.  The Standard analogues (GAC100) were also +50mm and some of the Digi-Ana models not only too large at + 50mm, but many had cluttered dials and part or full skeleton hands, which did nothing for readability.

The G-Lide series whilst actually OK size wise, were not quite the specification I required and having a permanent “tide info” display, didn’t appeal, not being the nautical type.

Tough Solar AQ-S800W-1E47.6 X 42 X 10.6 mm/33 g

Tough Solar AQ-S800W-1E
47.6 X 42 X 10.6 mm/33 g

However the “standard” range seemed more promising.

The Tough Solar AQ-S800W-1EV is only 42mm diameter and 10.6mm depth which is ideal – with World Time for 31 Time Zones and Solar Powered, it is a pretty good specification.  It also has the hour and minute hands in white edge & lume with the hands overlapping the centre pivot which I like.  Finding this one was at least a start, as I was becoming apprehensive that no Casio was actually going to meet my requirements!

This model has quite a good specification –

Resin body with mineral crystal, 100m Water Resistance, Solar Powered, World Time, LED light for the digital display, Chronograph, Stopwatch etc, 5 Daily Alarms, Auto Calendar, Hourly Time Signal, Long sleep time of 23 months in darkness on full charge, very light weight at only 33g.  It is also a nice clear face which means clear to read and without being cluttered as so many models can be.

This could be a pretty good update of my current models and Solar Power is a nice  additional function.

The others in the Standard range AW 80 series are basically the same as my old models – in fact the AW-80V-5BV looks exactly like my old Telememo 30 with it’s cloth strap too.  So a bit pointless in getting one of those . . . .LOL.  The fact that it’s still made is a testament to it’s popularity I guess – so not a bad purchase those years ago.

Now whilst the Tough Solar model is a consideration, I have find another model with a different specification – a Twin Sensor model from the OutGear series that could also be a serious contender – the SGW-500H-1BV

Compass watch - Casio SGW-500H-1BV

Compass watch – Casio SGW-500H-1BV

However this is a bit larger, I assume owing to the Digital Compass and Thermometer functions and is right at the limit of what I can wear.   I do have a couple of other watches at 45mm diameter and I just manage OK with those.  This model is 46.8mm diameter x 13.6 mm – and I hope the depth does not cause an issue.  It’s the smallest diameter Casio with Compass I’ve seen, the rest being huge.

Once again the dial arrangement isn’t cluttered, the hour & minute hands are broad & lumed (no centre overlap, but clear to read), a decent sized digital display @6 with good contrast and large figures, large solid numeral markers on the hours and a neat twin spoke & arrow red colored pointer hand for the compass indication. Whilst the Thermometer sensor is of no real benefit to me, like the old Telememo, it is not permanently displayed but demand only, so doesn’t add to dial clutter, which is fine.

Other specifications are – 100m Water resistance, Resin and aluminium case, World Time (31 Zones etc), Digital Compass (North) which has bidirectional calibration, plus Magnetic Declination correction, Thermometer, Stopwatch, 5 daily alarms, Auto Calendar etc etc – or the Casio “package” as I call it.

This certainly appeals, as I have always had a liking for a compass watch, especially as most are giants, well over 50mm and frankly silly.

I also looked at the Edifice range and two models were of some interest but had no function advantages over my current models and I did not some issues not least of which was clarity with both the ones I looked at.

Model – EFA-135D-1A3V is neat at only 42.8mm diameter and 12.7mm depth (ideal in fact) and has a neat dial arrangement, not too cluttered and at first looked OK.

Casio Edifice EFA-135D-1A3V World Timer

Casio Edifice EFA-135D-1A3V World Timer Anti-Magnetic

But – I had a chance to see a few images of the actual watch and at no time could I easily see either of the digital displays clearly. These in reality were quite small and dark and this is where pictures on the web can be so misleading, so I am very unsure as to whether it should be a contender .

The EFA-131D-1A1V is similar in function though slightly larger at 46mm and thinner at 12.5mm.

Casio EFA-131D-1A1V World Timer

Casio EFA-131D-1A1V World Timer

The dial is not too bad, the broad white hour and minute hands helping, though the seconds sub-dial @9 is a little cluttered for me.  I also noted permanent signal markers on top of the upper digital display window which seem obtrusive.

I also noted a You Tube video on this watch and whilst the digital displays seemed quite bright, the dial overall appeared over shiny and reflective – a feature I’ve noted before on some Casio models.  So again I have reservations.  Specification wise as the other Edifice without the anti-magnetic reference.

So the Edifice models I’ve discounted, basically as whilst modern looking, they offer nothing new or added in the way of functionality and clarity really looks as if it would be a problem for me.

To summarize –

1 – The Tough Solar AQ-S800W-1E – Ideal size, standard function set, good clarity PLUS the addition of Solar Power.  Under £40.00.
2 – The SGW-500H-1BV – Size within criteria, standard function set, good clarity PLUS the added Digital Compass.  Again inexpensive.

On investigation however it appears that neither is readily available in the UK.  New Zealand Yes, South Africa Yes, Hong Kong Yes – but NOT UK!

Either is a good choice.  For a straight replacement with added Solar Power the Tough Solar model is good and the Outgear model with Digital Compass is attractive in the SGW500H 1BV series (there are a few versions/colors etc).  The prices are good (low actually) and could be worth sourcing either one out of Hong Kong – I can wait 3 weeks or so.  But I do have the feeling this range must be a cheaper made product in comparison to their larger Pro Trek range – so I’ll wait and see.

Addendum –
After considering the Casio models, it’s made me question the availability of Digital Compass models at a sensible size!  And it’s got me thinking perhaps other Makers might have alternatives that are not so large.

So I’m checking out Swiss Army and Tissot T-Touch – and any others I can find albeit more expensive.
It also looks like the subject of my next post has just been decided. . .


So – do I get a new Casio?

I do have a couple of old Casio models I bought many years ago, both at the lower price range bought with a few years between each other, they are actually versions of the same model AW80 Telememo 30.  Both times these I confess bought as “holiday” watches and when I was working in Africa.  The second one with the nylon strap was an emergency purchase as my current watch at the time was “drowned” in a river crossing and was declared deceased.  Both Casio models are still working perfectly and I have to admit both are also nice to wear and as fairly dependable timekeepers not at all bad.

Casio Telememo 30 - two versions

Casio Telememo 30 – two versions

Specification wise these are typical Casio – 50m Water Resistance (100m now I believe), World Time for 29 Time Zones, Stopwatch, 3 Alarms including 24 hour countdown, LED light, Hourly time signal etc etc.  But one of the best things I do like about both of them is that they are a sensible size!  Just 40mm diameter and a height of only 13.5mm including the domed crystal.  And that’s one of the problems I have at the moment looking at current Casio models – many of them such as the ProTrek or G-Shock are very large indeed and simply look silly on my smallish wrist and uncomfortable because of it.  A pity really as these ones are those that seem to get my interest.  So can I find a really well Casio specified up to date model that I can actually wear without looking like a geek!  I could of course get another one just like those two above – but I mean – two the same is careless, but three!  I mostly want something that’s really moved on since then – something new!

Now it is also fact that I did own two more up market Casio models.  One was a Radio Controlled low price model that a friend who passed away left me, which was OK but not my style and I gave it to a young son of another friend.  The other was entirely different and at the time bought directly from Japan, before it was available in Europe, but I sold it on – and why?

Oceanus Manta and cheaper friend - also RC.

Oceanus Manta and cheaper friend – also RC.

It was a Casio Oceanus Manta Radio Controlled model, World Timer, Solar etc etc. and very expensive too I recall, but for all that, I found it annoyingly difficult to read.  Such a simple thing really in that there was too much chrome edging to numerals and hands and the crystal was not the best anti-reflect I’ve come across.  So whilst a superbly made and specified watch, it annoyed me intensely, and it had to go.  I mean there was my old £12.50 in a shop sale Casio Telememo 30 sitting there and I could see it and read it easily! And it even had World Time too!

So OK I’m looking to find a Casio that is really well specified, but easy to see, read and use – and it must NOT be too large.  Seems simple doesn’t it?

However after looking around when writing the last post on Casio it was then and now apparent that there are just so many models available from Casio that this might not be an easy task.  Especially as I am a Watch Collector – and we as a species are pretty fickle indeed!  Some would ask why I’m wasting my time with these digital quartz affairs when much of my collection is composed of classical mechanical timepieces?

My answer is simple really as I collect any type of watch, be it mechanical or digital and often whilst looking for a particular “look”, come across one though preferred mechanical is actually quartz – then so be it.  In fact I have a collection split of 50/50 mechanical to digital, so it is not a problem for me and in fact is fun.  It is a different kind of “like” I suppose, the mechanical movements models delight me in their complications, skill and quality of manufacture – also there is an elegance from some of the very old established Swiss makers that simply cannot be surpassed – the fact that perhaps made in 1885 a timepiece is still performing almost as good as when it was first hand made – is a total joy for me.  Just to wear it and watch it perform.

Quartz watches have their own charm I suppose – the ingenuity of micro-electronics and lots of functionality allied to a visually pleasing case and face, within a small dimension is a skill too.  The continual historical reference of many watchmakers today even with digital application is gratifying – those that can merge the two usually make watches that I would want today.  But as for the Casio style – I already have a few of their great rival Citizen both modern and also 1970’s vintages and still have to acquire a good example or examples of Seiko, another excellent name from the 1970’s to the present.

But it’s Casio I’m looking at this year and my quest begins now and over the next few posts I’ll check out what’s on offer.

I have to say I’m quite looking forward to it!

Quartz – todays’ bargain.

Whilst as a collector I have a preference for mechanical watches (to see a watch movement in operation I find utterly fascinating) I have to admit that as many other folks I tend to wear a Quartz digital watch for everyday use.  And for good reason I suppose as apart from accuracy, they are much more resilient when it comes to physical abuse of modern living such as sports like swimming or golf etc.

But the range of cheap Quartz watches is nothing short of amazing – here are some –

Cheap as chips - quartz selection

Just a selection of Quartz watches that demonstrate the fabulous choice of amazingly low priced models available today in the market.

Note that in the image I have highlighted Casio who are in the forefront of this extraordinary treasure trove of affordable watches.  I make no excuse for that as they and others offer such a wide variety of different styles and features and at such incredible prices.
In this montage here I’ve also included a couple from Sekonda, the British manufacturer who topped the UK sales for brand in 1998 and still up there and also there’s a  Swatch watch in there who produce some wonderful “cult” design watches at affordable prices too.
Probably it’s these manufacturers we have to thank for giving and that’s almost the right word – giving us the opportunity to own, what is an often taken for granted marvel of miniature electronics.  There is no doubt that the Quartz revolution has given us so much.

There are of course many more around but just scratching the surface it is evident that the days of the cheap watch are very much with us – and I don’t mean cheap as poor – very much to the contrary.  These watches are tremendous value, they do what they say on the box, their reliability is amazing and the range is unreal – there must be virtually something for everyone.

For a plain tell the time watch these are around £10 – £25 and with day date window £20 – £30.  For chronograph functions £15 – £40 is possible and you can find multi-functions £40 – £90.  Of course the sky’s the limit but it is amazing what you can get for not a lot of money.

So often when considering a new watch we end up setting out sites on that “expensive” new watch, whether it be a “mid range” or indeed a “high end” model, we each cut our cloth to suit.  However it is very evident and no more so when I seek a pre-owned vintage or high end mechanical classic watch that many folk simply don’t look after their watches at all!  Slung in a drawer somewhere along with keys, pens, paper clips and goodness knows what else, they often end up with badly scratched cases (in many instances these were gold for goodness sake), scratched glass, hands knocked off and often with dampness into the dial and movements – it’s a wonder they bought a decent watch in the first place for all the care they’ve taken over them.

So this wonderful diversity of really low priced watches should be an absolute winner – if they get scratched or damaged – who cares? – at these prices simply get another one.

And one thing is absolutely certain – Quartz – is the bargain of today and there’s an awful lot of them!

Seriously Casio

One of my friends on returning from a holiday brought me little watch as a present just for fun and thought this might amuse me.  On opening the box I was not only amused, but actually rather impressed.
The watch is the little Casio Poptone Chronograph model LDF-50-1EF and one of the cutest contemporary watches I’ve seen for a long time that isn’t silly design over functionality.  Dimensions wise it could be called Unisex, though it’s short strap will limit it to the smaller wrist.

Casio Poptone LDF-50 1EF

First off it is really neat and looks good with it’s black and chromed metal composite case with a clear digital display on the front and a stainless steel back plate.  The watch sides are finished in a highly polished chrome which sets off the black surround of the digital display very nicely.  On the face there are 4  front facing “quadrant” keys just below the display and these though looking quite funky being in pretty colors are also a very well designed and functional size.  But did I say neat? – well no apologies here as neat it certainly is.

The Poptone on the wrist

In fact the whole watch may be neat but it has some serious features, such as a decent Water Resistance of 5Bar (50m), a Dual Time display, Daily Alarm + Hourly Chime if required, and a 100th/sec stopwatch – all features that are each excellent and useful, without any silly gimmickry stuff.
In normal mode it directly reads, month, day, date, hours and seconds, am/pm indicator, which alarm indicator is set – all of which are clearly seen.   It has moving graphics running bottom left of the screen showing a continuous 10 second countdown, which may or may not be useful.  It does however have a very good EL (Electro-Luminescence) back-light feature at the touch of the front pad entitled “light”.  (note the tiny figure 3 bottom right of the display – this is the back light duration in seconds) – it has two options either 1½ or 3 secs and I much prefer 3 secs to allow enough time to read it.

The strap is a resin rubber material and is proportional to the watch, being just the right thickness and has a simple buckle fitting.  The strap is actually quite short – OK for my small wrist, but for a large wrist could be a problem.  However I also note it seems to fit to small but standard style spring bars, so a replacement strap may be possible.  The watch is very light and at  just 23mm wide and around 40mm lug to lug sits well on the wrist and barely noticeable.  It has a thickness of 11mm at the middle of the watch as the front display is curved.  This model version is the most unobtrusive of  the range – I think there are 5 in total with alternative and somewhat brighter color combination’s.

The watch movement is accurate to around +/-20 seconds per month and is powered by a CR1216 Lithium battery and you can expect around 3 years life with sensible use of the back light feature.

This has to be winner from Casio in my opinion and at an incredible £20.00 (UK) is an absolute bargain.  . . . . Seriously. . . .

Any downsides?
Well if being picky – maybe the alarm is a tad quiet for me (but I’m slightly deaf – so maybe an age thing!).

UPDATE – 15th February 2011 – I’ve worn this watch for a week now day and night – I thought as the buttons were on top they might operate by mistake.  Well no worries on that score – they work only when you want them to.

UPDATE – 20th November 2012 – Watch is still a fabulous little item – keeping excellent time (as it should being quartz) – incredibly easy to wear as you forget it’s there and I’m wearing it all this week.  I note it’s still available, though the colors I’ve seen are a bit garish currently and they seem to be pushing it as a ladies watch.  When I bought this there was no gents/ladies classification attributed to it, though I did note above on the article, that the strap is quite short.  That said however it fits me perfectly!