A Classic but is it for me?

Well this is about as far as I go on my search around the Digital watch models, as the one I’ve found is said to be the the best of the best.  In fact I’m told this is THE modern Classic – the Casio G-Shock DW-5600E-1V model with the 3229 module.

Casio G-Shock DW5600E Module 3229

Casio G-Shock DW5600E-1V Module 3229

Arguably the best designed Digital Watch of it’s time, this particular design first appeared in 1996.  This DW5600E version is also about as simple as a G-Shock can be and inside has a set of “sensible” every day use functions and features.  Such as the commendable 200m water resistance, a multifunction Alarm, a Countdown Timer and a Stopwatch.  Note this one features Module 3229, which has the Auto-Calendar to 2099 (previously to 2039)

Other details are as follows –

The Countdown Timer can be set for any duration from one second up to 24 hours, in one-second increments; optional auto-repeat function.
The Stopwatch: 1/100th second, which measures net time, split time, and first – and second-place times; rolls over at 24 hours.
One Alarm but unusually in addition to the hour and minute, a month and/or date may optionally be set, so the alarm will only sound during the specified month or on the specified day of the month.  Actually a very useful reminder, if like me you forget the Dentist appointment.
There is also an Hourly Chime option.
Backlight is provided by the Illuminator, which is an Electroluminescent type, which shows blue/green to light the whole display at any time, though excels in low light situations or at night.
The Battery is a Lithium CR2016 and should last around 2 years in normal operation.
As a G-Shock it has the shock resistant design and in fact is intended to survive a 10-meter fall.  This DW5006E version has a Polymer composite-case and a flat steel back panel (4 screws) and is light weight in comparison with older models.  Because of the neat flat back, lower profile and relatively small dimensions, it also sits better on the wrist.
Water Resistance is an excellent 200m, so this model has no issues under water!

G-Shock - special strap means it can't sit upright.

G-Shock – special strap means it can’t sit upright. Note small smooth recessed pushers.

The DW5600 series has a classic shape with it’s square/rectangular 43.6mm wide case in tough black Polymer and matching flexible rubber strap.  Interestingly when you first strap it on, it suddenly dawns on you that it’s actually one tough watch, but amazingly comfortable.  It’s also rather compact for a Casio G-Shock – which HAS to be a good thing and it suits me VERY well!  In fact the case depth is a neat 12.6 mm, so it wears nice and flat on the wrist and slips easily under a shirt cuff.

So no Solar power, no World Time, no Compass, Altimeter, Thermometer or Barometer here – but a classic WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) kind of watch that is not only refreshing, but it’s also darned good.  A case of less is more, you could say.

Slim profile fits the smaller wrist.

Slim profile fits the smaller wrist.

A well protected mineral glass sits above a good contrast Casio digital display.  In normal or Timekeeping mode it shows the Time (Hours, Minutes & Seconds – in 12hr or 24hr format), the Date, Day and Month.  Note that the Date and Month are contained in a small outlined area of the display and when in Countdown Timer or Stopwatch modes, this area changes to and shows the current time – I think this is a really useful feature.  Not so clever for UK users is the fact that you can’t reverse the Date/Day format to Day/Date (we Brits like to know what Day it is first, rather than the Date – I mean who cares about the Date!).

The functions as with most digital watches are operated by the use of pushers or buttons on the sides of the case and here there are 4, two on the right and two on the left.  There is always a compromise with these as to protection, that is, to make sure they can be used easily and have protection from inadvertent use.  Usually this is done either with a recess in the case body and/or small shoulder lugs either side of the pusher.  In this model it’s achieved by the case shaping and on this model the top left SET pusher is virtually flush with the case and is really difficult to operate easily.
This is doubly tricky as it’s the most difficult pusher to reach for a left wrist wearer who is right handed.  Also as each of the pushers are really rather small I already find it tricky to “find” the night light for example (bottom right) especially in the dark and end up fumbling around with my (small) fingers searching for it.  The case has many hollows and bumps so one recess or bump feels much like any other.  Another point is the pushers are small, round and smooth and for me I would prefer some texture on the surface.
As a consequence setting or selecting the functions is not as easy as I would like.  Also if I was being picky the sequence of operation of the functions is not as intuitive, for example, as a Timex.  An example would be in the setting of the time, where the right pushers don’t act as up and down buttons when setting figures, but only the the upper pusher is used and it only increases numbers – you can’t dial down the numbers.

However these niggles aside I still like this model – mostly as it has very few gimmicks and it can be worn on large or small wrists and it’s comfortable.  The Display has good contrast and is large enough to read easily (when on the wrist) and it shows a lot of information in one glance.  It has Timers that can be set in various options AND you can read the current time when using these.  It has beep Alarms and and the dial can flash at the same time when these are activated.  It’s very tough but at the same time it’s a sensible size.

As folks tell me, it’s a G-Shock Classic sure enough and design wise I agree with some but not all of the hype and for me there are reservations – and of course the question always has to be –

Does it work for me? 

Now bearing in mind that I have just acquired a Timex T49854J, it may be interesting to have a quick comparison here and now and decide, from a practical point of view, which one I personally prefer.

Case/body style – Timex wins – conventional strap means ease of replacement AND it allows the watch to sit off the wrist on a bedside cabinet for example, upright on it’s lugs.  The pushers are larger and very much easier to use and whilst they don’t have physical protection I have not yet had an accidental push.  The night light is very easy to find as it’s the largest pusher on the right center of the case, where the crown would normally be.

Casio v Timex - a personal choice.

Casio v Timex – a personal choice.

Display – Timex wins – the display is much larger and easily readable from a distance and even easier when upright. (the Casio has to sit on it’s side, so this fact and owing to the slightly recessed face, at 6 feet I can’t read it).

Functions – Timex wins – They both sport a similar range of functions, Multifunction Alarms, Chronograph, Countdown Timer, Hour chime etc. though the Timex does have some additional functions and options.  But basically the Timex is easier to use and more intuitive.  Pushers are larger, textured surfaces, easier to use and the setting procedures are both quicker and simpler to manage.  Also the Timex has the option to set DAY/DATE format for the UK users whereas the Casio doesn’t.  Also the upper and lower right pushers can alter the digits up and down, so setting times etc. is much quicker.  In short the Timex function program wise, is in my opinion more user intuitive than Casio.

Alarms – Timex wins (for me) – Though this is personal and purely as this Timex has a Vibration Alarm option.  It can have vibration and/or beeps and as I can’t hear the beeps any more – a Vibration Alarm wins every time.  It’s also useful when the watch is off the wrist and on a bedside cabinet.  Sitting upright on the case lugs (which the Casio can’t do) when the Alarm sounds it also vibrates against the surface it’s on (just like a cellphone) and is easily audible even for me.  On the wrist of course it’s fine as the vibrations are easily felt.

Nightlight – Illuminator v Indiglo.  Not much to choose between them – I would guess the Timex is slightly brighter and it’s larger of course, but both are good.

Water Resistance – Casio wins – but the winning is moot – 200m against 100m – let’s face it both are very good.

The practical choice - Timex T49854J Expedition, Vibration, Chronograph.

The practical choice – Timex T49854J Expedition, Vibration, Chronograph.

So all in all as a personal preference it has to be the Timex basically as I have no issues with it at all.  And this is rare I can tell you!  It IS a little thicker though unlikely I’d wear either watch in a dress situation.  After all the Timex is advertised as an Expedition watch, so fair comment.
The Timex just manages to suit my average wrist and it is the easiest by far to use practically, be it Functions, Pushers, Display, Alarm and that conventional standard fitting strap wins every time.

So whilst it’s the Timex for me by a short head, I have to say I like them both and I consider them great buys.

Good vibes – Timex

The other day I had to get up at a silly hour to catch an early flight and rather trust to luck waking in time, found my old Vibralite 3 alarm watch, set the alarm and was rewarded with a vibrating wrist at 5am.  And this got me to thinking – What a coincidence as I’m looking to update/replace my old Casio digital as well as the Vibralite.  Now I can kill two birds at the same time and try source a replacement.  As before I’ll concentrate on SIZE and CLARITY plus this time a VIBRATION alarm.  Why vibration?  I can’t hear the little beeps watches have as alarms – but vibrations no problem.

So what I need is – A maximum 45mm diameter x 15mm depth and preferably under both figures.  And this time I don’t rule out a digital display as long as I can read it!
And in the event it wasn’t too difficult and I found this  Timex Expedition Vibration Alarm Chronograph – Model T49854J.

Timex Expedition Vibration Alarm T49854J

Timex Expedition Vibration Alarm T49854J

Good looking adventure outdoor style watch with grey/green colored resin case with black bezel and a green/black nylon fabric strap with flat grey metal buckle.  Excellent clarity digital display under a Sapphire crystal, with black numerals on grey/green background with good contrast and size.  At 48gms this model is VERY light indeed and the watch case at 45mm diameter (including buttons) and 15mm depth is just on the size limits for me, but OK.  The strap is a neat thin and flexible nylon dual layered fabric type with “melt” sealed holes to prevent fraying.  Unlike many Casio style watches that often have special strap fittings, this has a standard 22mm width strap fixing to standard watch lugs.  A very good feature in my opinion.  The buckle is nicely profiled in that it lies flat and flush against the strap – one of the neatest I’ve seen.

Two good size push buttons on the left for “Set/Done” and “Mode/Next” and on the right 3 push buttons.  Center one (largest) is the Indiglo nightlight, which is really quite good and the other two for “Start/Split” for Chronograph and “Stop/Reset” – all pretty straight forward.  The back is a 4 screwed stainless steel back with a Water resistance to 330ft or 100m, so swimming pools OK, but No scuba diving. (if confused – see HERE).

On the wrist it’s very good though size wise right on my maximum and it feels light and very comfortable.

Fits my small 170mm wrist though any bigger?

45mm (incl buttons) x 15mm still fits my small 170mm wrist though any bigger?

The excellent display shows in normal view the Time as Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Day of the week, Month and Date.  It also shows if any Alarm is set – so pretty comprehensive.  I like the fact the Hours & Minutes figures are around 9mm high, which makes them very easy to see even at 6 or 7 feet away (I use a very scientific test – I get in the bath in the evening, the watch is on the window ledge some 7 feet away – if I can read it – it’s a PASS!). This one is 10 out of 10!

Easy view display with large numbers.

Easy view display with large numbers.

So what about functions?

Time functions are as stated above and you can set 12/24hr indication, the order of month/date to suit (excellent for UK users), 3 Time Zones, Chronograph 100hr with split, laps with numbering etc, 3 Alarms, Hydration Alarm plus an odd set of “occasion” alarms with preset descriptions such as Birthday etc. Plus a Count Down timer.  Alarm settings have various options such as Daily, Week Days or Weekends.  The Timer has an option to either stop after it’s alarm goes or to reset and start again – a useful option.  Another nice touch is that once a Timer has started, say for 30 minutes, just above the countdown, the original time period 30 is shown.
I also notice that on my wake up call Alarm I can set options to Vibration, followed by Beep and a flashing the Indiglo lit dial.  (note it will only beep on the Timer setting, which in fairness is OK as the watch is advertised as an ALARM vibration model ).  Also this advanced Indiglo feature includes a clever night-mode feature and when set, any button will activate the night light.  As the watch name indicates, Alarms can be set to vibrate and/or beep.  Oddly the instructions don’t cover this setting (and some others) though in reality it’s quite simple.  By the way the instructions come hidden in the base of the plastic holder the watch is mounted on within the box supplied – it is very easily missed in the excitement of getting your new watch!

I noted whilst researching this watch the omission in the Instructions re’ Vibration has confused some folks as to how to set the Vibration feature – so here’s a quick rundown –

It’s basically a continuation of the initial “time” setting.

With Time display showing, press SET/DONE button (top left) until it shows HOLD, then you can let it go, then follow the instructions by pressing MODE/NEXT (bottom left) to view all the settable options in turn – such as the Hour, Minutes, Seconds, Month, Day, Year.  Now the Instructions appear to stop at the Year, then they vaguely mention further Options. – Well just keep pressing MODE/NEXT button and these extra options will show.  Each press on the MODE/NEXT push button shows yet another Option, like 12/24hr option and Month/Date format (I always change this to the more familiar UK option of Day/Month), then Vibration/Combo/Beep, Hourly Chime, Button Beep and so on.  Actually it’s quite intuitive.
Once you get to the option you wish to set or change, simply press one of the upper or lower right hand pushers to up or down or change format to suit (ignore the center right button,  it’s purely for the Indiglo light).  After setting or changing any option simply press the SET/DONE button again and that’s it.  And it’s not only the Vibration alarm that is missing from the instructions, there a quite a few other options available for customization.

So as said, super simple – once you’re into the setting mode, simply press Mode/Next to go through the quite long list of options, setting times, dates and things and those other settable options along the way.

Actually one of the things I DO like about this watch is the ease of setting and operating any of the functions.  It is both intuitive and quick – a point other Makers should maybe try and emulate.

Looking at this model in comparison cosmetically with other watches it looks pretty good – here shown against the old Casio on the center right – and my reason for updating in the first place, it does show how watches in general have grown in size today.  This image also illustrates that this particular digital display on the Timex is very clear and certainly as easy to read as an analogue.

Good clear display, shows well against others.

Good clear display, shows well against others.

So in conclusion I have to admit to being very pleased with this Timex.  So far it’s all pros with this model, though time will tell no doubt.

But I think they’ve got the display just about right – it is large, clear and easy to read and a big improvement on many of the digital display watches I’ve seen in my trawl of alternatives.
The menu system is intuitive in that the “Set” button means just that – from there you can set everything.
The push buttons are large and easy to use and don’t appear to get pushed accidentally either.
It’s comfortable to wear and you can get it wet without worries – and you can see it at night.

I personally like this version with the muted green/black color scheme and I DO like the conventional strap and fitting, something that Casio and many others making ABC watches would be well advised to take note of.  This business of “special straps & bracelet fittings” is a nonsense and in my view a cynical little after sales money spinner.  But in this case full marks to Timex, when this one does wear or fray eventually and in my experience this type usually do, sooner or later, it’s a simple matter to replace it with a strap of your choice.  The battery is a a standard CR2032 and it’s even stamped on the watch back as a reminder.

The Timex T49854J does what it says very well, simply and at low cost – it is not an expensive watch – perhaps a lesson for some others out there.  In essence a VERY practical watch and good to wear.