G-Shock not for you?

The title poses the question:  What if you don’t like the G-Shock style?  What else is there?

It depends, apart from a fashion thing, on just what you want from a watch.

G-Shock Stealth

G-Shock Stealth

If it’s just toughness (perceived or otherwise), then it’s relatively simple especially as in reality the question is – How “tough” does a modern watch actually have to be – honestly.    And let’s face it, most good watches are intrinsically pretty tough to start with and “on your wrist” they are very much part of you – so whatever happens to your watch, may well happen to you!

My own view is that whatever model I pick, tough or otherwise it has to have certain basic Watch requirements.

1) – I have to be able to read the time – easily – and that’s day or night (a basic requirement in my book).
2) – 100m Water Resistance minimum – OK that’s not silly.
3) – Not too large – PLEASE!  Too large and too thick, it starts to take on comic proportions!
4) – Battery quartz is fine – It doesn’t have to be Solar, World Time, have Multiple Alarms or Chronograph – though “some” functions can be useful.
5) – It doesn’t have to survive a 10m drop to concrete – it really doesn’t (definitely the forté of Casio)

And are functions essential? –

  • Chronograph/Stopwatch – when did I last use a chronograph/stopwatch?  Answer: Can’t remember it was so long ago!
  • World Timer settings – I can manage that on any cheap analogue model in 5 seconds (without referring to the instructional booklet – IF I can find it).
  • Solar (Eco-Drive etc) – Battery is fine with me, with a cell change every 2 to 5 years. (Kinetic is another option).

So in reality (and that’s the point here) it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a relatively “tough” watch model that can meet sensible requirements.

Knowing I was writing this today I asked a friend (this morning actually) what functions had he actually used on his G-Shock DW5600 (I have one of these myself) in the last month?   And his answer didn’t come as much of a surprise – “None” he said, “except the time, day and date plus the back light”.  And that really does say it all . . . . . and had I asked myself the same question, the answer would have been identical!

However, G-Shocks usually come with a large function set, whether used, useful or otherwise and a major reason for their attraction.  However as to the hard knobbly looks, overly protected pushers, and surprisingly not too intuitive settings/controls and arguable legibility, are often NOT as one would like – hence the reason I like to look for alternatives.  Incidentally Casio do make the odd model that whilst not as obvious in shock protection terms does have that facility and without the “macho” look (I’ll perhaps consider them at a later date).

So what’s out there?

I was advised Luminox are a good alternative, but after checking them out I thought them a little overpriced for what they offer.  Mechanical prices for average quartz – not an option for me.

In fact my 6 year old Uzi Protector (looks like Luminox) costs around £175 today and it’s managed all those few years without any issues of any kind and still going strong.

Uzi Protector - Swiss Quartz and 200WR

Uzi Protector – Swiss Quartz and 200WR

200m Water Resistance, analogue H,M & seconds, plus Date, Tritium light source, battery Swiss quartz and a tough blighter it is too.  40mm x 14mm dimensionally with webbing strap.  No fancy functions, but a very good performer that meets my basic requirements and is pretty tough I’d say.

So that’s one option, so then I looked for a model that was both tough and had a comparable function set and this one came to mind.  The Momentum Format 4 – which is smaller than it looks and also in Titanium.  Some would immediately comment that Ti will scratch and it won’t last etc etc.  Well I have to differ on that as I have 7 Titanium watches and they look as good now as when I bought them many years ago.

Momentum Format 4 Titanium

Momentum Format 4 Titanium divers strap

The Format 4 actually has an impressive function set – both analogue and Digital displays.  Analogue Hours, Minutes and Second hands and Digital two Digital displays which can show a whole range of indications – such as – World time (59 cities plus user defined), 5 Alarms plus a schedule Alarm, Date, Day, Month, a Chronograph and Stopwatch 23, 59,59 with multi-laps, Timers.  In addition the digital displays can be switched OFF facilitating power savings with or without auto on feature and the watch has Super-luminova analogue hands and indices, plus a 3 second duration EL back light, so no problems in the dark, even if not using the digital features.  The watch has a Mineral anti-glare crystal, uni-rotating bezel (useful), a 200m Water Resistance (20ATM), with large screw down crown and back and takes a standard 22mm strap or bracelet and is powered by a Swiss quartz movement.  And the 2 year Guarantee is extendable to 6 years.

And whilst I said it looked big and it does, it only measures 43mm x 14.5mm and in Titanium weighs just 90 grams and it looks pretty tough to me.  Now I’d say this is a decent alternative to the G-Shock style and OK the watch face may not have much protection, but personally I’ve never had a shattered watch glass on any watch I’ve owned in my lifetime, so not a priority for me.

What I do see is a very fast legible take up analogue face, plus a secondary digital display and function set that meets and surpasses anything I’m ever likely to need or even want to use.  So I’m happy with this choice.   There are of course others out there, perhaps obscured to some extent I suppose, by the hype that “G”, “Shock” and “Tough” descriptions engender, but they are there – you just have to look.

Note – The Momentum 4 is also reasonably affordable and highly competitive in comparison to many of the G-Shock variants, especially considering the function set.  Currently it sells for around £180 in the UK, which is pretty good for a Titanium cased Ana-Digi Diver Grade 4 Water resistant model.  In fact I liked it so much I ordered one myself which will join my other Divers models, though this particular model I’ll have to consider my first real G-Shock alternative.

However – and there’s always one of those – IF you can’t get your head round the fact that it’s not that easy to inadvertently smash or crack your watch glass – and it really isn’t – you do have another option.  And this model from Citizen might just solve your concern.


Citizen Royal Marines Commando Eco-Drive

This is the Royal Marines Commando Titanium from Citizen which whilst it doesn’t have a great function set, it does the “tough” basics very well – in fact just what I needed when I was in my action days!

The one piece IP plated Titanium case is 42mm x 13mm, with an ultra thick 2.5mm sapphire glass, which is just about bomb proof I would have thought.  Eco-Drive Citizen movement with the basic analogue functions of Hour, Minute, Seconds and a date window @3.  Plus good luminous numerals/indices and hands means decent night use.  Good crown protection and with a tough Kevlar strap and a commendable 300m Water Resistance all point to a seriously “tough” watch.  It comes with the Citizen 5 year warranty.  Price should be no more than £300 here in the UK.

So there you have it, after a few minutes crawl around the net and already I’ve come up with a couple of decent contenders.

And I have to admit (and the reason for this post) personally I was becoming a little bored by the whole G-Shock and “tough” watch concept, especially as the prices seem to be rising with each new model.  And with few “new” features in the latest models, with the exception of a more extreme case, an extreme name and a larger SIZE, it’s little surprise that I decided it’s time to look elsewhere.

And very glad I did too, as there are certainly alternatives out there – you just have to get past the “G’s, “Toughs”and “Expeditions”, to find them.
And what of the two I’ve found here?  Well I like them both and whilst I hear the concerns about watch glass breaking, I really have no experience of that ever happening to me.  The odd scratch maybe, but nothing serious.  So on that basis considering the impressive function set and the price, the Ana-Digi Format 4 is maybe the one I’d pick.  Mind you the Citizen is one seriously smart and tough piece of work – a bit like the guys it was named after perhaps . . . . .

But there will be others around, you can be sure of that, so have a trawl – you might just be surprised.

But – and here’s a “but” to contend with!   The Casio G-Shock for all it’s macho looks IS a seriously tough watch, though whether you actually need one is another matter entirely and just to illustrate the point I show youthe “drop test” video from Casio.  And you have to admit – it IS very impressive!

A trio of Tritiums + 1

Well 4 actually if I include the Uzi watch I featured two posts ago.  But I thought I’d have a look at the four Light Source watches I have as a comparison.  Price wise they range upwards from the Uzi, the MWC, the Traser Basic and finally the Traser Big Date.  Quality wise I suppose the old maxim “you get what you pay for” is just about right in this case (not always these days I’m afraid).   And as far as the light source technology is concerned, all four models feature the excellent Swiss mb Microtec Tritium Capsule system.

Trio of Tritiums – Uzi, MWC and Traser.

I featured the Uzi a couple of posts ago and concluded that it was a very good buy for the money – getting the Swiss Tritium set is about as good as it gets, though not all the hour markers were capsuled.  Only 7 in fact.  A double orange set @12, one green tube @3, @6 and @9.  Plus the hour and minute hands of course.  And perfectly acceptable it is too.  Superior in my opinion to the more common luminous coatings, so many of which as we all know (and let’s be brutally honest here) fade after an hour or so, whereas the Tritium just keeps shining through.  Of course I acknowledge that there are a few coated models out there that are quite good (though I have reservations *) but against Tritium Tubes they will always come second best.

Uzi Military Swiss mbTritium

MWC W10 military – Tritium

Now the MWC watch in a similar vein to the Uzi as it’s pandering to the more military amongst us and indeed it meets a good few of the US MIL specs re’ build and Luminosity.   And here the MWC scores over the Uzi in the fact that it has double the number of tubes – 14 in total.  Again 2@12 and all the hour markers except @3 owing to the date window, plus the hour and minute hands which are fully tubed.   @3 is not left without though as it has a standard luminous coating marker, but the omission is of consequence as the resultant night viewing very good anyway.  My own model is very bright and has been for over 5 years now.

Considering further the MWC model, it has in it’s life been subject to many reviews and comparisons against others, some of which (the reviews I mean) I find often biased and unhelpful.

I take a different view, mainly as a user and wearer of the watches in question.  The MWC model I have is the W10 and have found it to be reliable, extremely solid, well built and practical.  It is a nice size at 38mm diameter (less crown) and 12.5mm depth and the face diameter is larger than the Uzi at 30mm.  The overall case may be slightly smaller than current versions which I think are 40mm.   A nice dull black finish stainless steel case with protected screw down crown @3 and a neat military screw down battery hatch for quick battery changes, without compromising the full WR of the watch back.  Such a simple idea (Mil Spec’d I understand) and very practical.  The WR water resistance of the watch is perhaps a little disappointing at only 5ATM (the Uzi was 20ATM).   And as far as reading at night is concerned – well it is excellent and what else can I say.  It’s pretty clear and it’s very bright and compared to the Uzi it is a little better of course, but really only owing to the number of tubes use.  Again over the years I have had it, the tubes are as bright as ever.

Flat(Uzi) v Domed (MWC) crystal view angles

One point that’s worth mentioning is the fact that the crystal is slightly domed.   I personally dislike this feature in a military watch as it means that the angle of view is reduced in comparison to a flat glass.   Strap wise I seem to remember it came with a NATO style strap which was in my opinion a bit rough? so I changed it for a neater one, which had melted holes and black metalwork to match the watch.  Here a Nato strap is really the only option as it has fixed steel bars in the lugs.  The old style run through twin and backing strap can still be found though which would do – but Nato is neater.

I come now to the Trasers – I have two.  I’ll start with the oldest one, which incidentally is the first Tritium Light Source watch I bought – the Traser Big Date.  This particular model is in my opinion, Traser at their very best.  A very solid and beautifully constructed watch with a VERY solid brushed finish stainless Steel case with a considerable weight to it.  Coupled with a solid link stainless steel bracelet, fitting to standard spring bars on the lugs, this is one good looking piece of kit.
Now I have heard on one review of Trasers in general that build quality is not as good as some.   Well I’ve had 7 Trasers in my day and certainly with those older models and this one , I disagree, as they are or have been as good a quality as I have seen on any watch of this type and in fact, better than most.  But more on that later.
Again we have the black dial, though in this instance we have 2 sub-dials – one for the Alarm and one for the Small Seconds.  Also there is the double window Big Date @6.  So very easy to read and as a watch this is a bit of a step up from the more basic time & date Uzi and single date windowed MWC.

As before though this watch features the Swiss mb Tritium capsules, but unlike the previous two watches these are not applied to the dial surface as hour markers.  Here they’re actually sunk into hole/recesses on the perimeter of the dial and set lengthwise as opposed to in line with the numeral markers, which if it had any, would align towards the watch center.  And this time we have a complete compliment of capsules – some 15 in all.  One at each hour mark, one each on the hour and minute hands and even one on the small seconds hand (and NO it does not affect accuracy in any way I’ve noticed).   An advantage of having the capsules partially hidden in recesses means these don’t intrude into the face of the watch at all, which is sensible when you think of it, what with two sub-dials in residence too.
A heavy cased body with a strong flat Sapphire crystal and a screw back, this model has a WR of 100m or 10ATM which is reasonable.  It is not a divers watch.   And as to it’s night lighting – it’s nothing short of spectacular – very bright and clear and having a completely flat Sapphire crystal is readable at quite acute angles.  I also seem to recall it had some Anti-reflection coatings too – but whatever – it is a delight to view.  But for more details please check my post HERE for further information.

Lastly I come to a recent purchase and bought only because I wanted a tritium light source watch that was not too military looking.  A good daily beater that was as clear to read by both day and night and was good quality without going mad.

This is the Classic Traser Basic which I show next.

This is the most modern Traser I’ve had and just received, so this is it’s first review here.  Whilst it’s a big looking watch it’s just 40mm diameter, maybe 44mm with the mid size onion crown and just about 10mm depth, so not so large in actual fact.  But I say again it looks big.  This is due to the fact that the top bezel part of the case is quite thin so the dial tends to take up much of the watch front at 35mm diameter.   And a very clear dial it is too.  Large full numbers on the hours, a date window @3, nicely patterned inner face with chapter ring and very neat little mb Tritium capsules as hour markers slightly sunk into small indents on the dial and full Tritium lights on the hour and minute hands plus a small one on the centre seconds hand means it will be (and is) a very easy watch to read in any light.  The lights are green except for the 12 o’clock position which is bright red.  The crystal is flat mineral glass and pretty reflection free.  The Water Resistance is 5bar or 50m with a screw back.  Finish wise it is a brushed stainless steel apart from the thin top bezel which is polished.

Here I come back to the quality issue mentioned above.  Whilst this model is OK as a whole it is not quite in the same league as my Big Date for example.  It just doesn’t have that really smooth brushing of the steel on the case, or the quality of finish and it’s also quite sharp edged in style. But it’s really in the bracelet area which in my opinion is rather poor.  It is an expandable stainless steel one with a simple open/close fitting, but the quality of finish is very disappointing.

Traser Basic in Black – Poor quality & finished bracelet lets it down.

It actually grabs the skin and is rough against the wrist – I might expect this from an older ’70’s Chinese watch perhaps, but not what I would expect from Traser.  Why they fitted this is a mystery and certainly doesn’t do this watch any favors, especially as the inner dial is so neat and well finished.   Incidentally This model (T4102.240.A2.01) or Classic Basic Black features the Swiss Ronda 715, a K1 Crystal mineral glass (flat) and runs sweetly indeed, so no worries there – all in all a nice mid quality watch with a poor bracelet – which if you change to a Silicon deployment black as shown – raises it to another level entirely.

Well those who know me know I’m a sticker for comfort and I removed their rough bracelet and fitted a spare black silicon/neoprene deployment strap – totally different ball game now!  The watch lies against the wrist beautifully, is very comfortable AND it looks great too.  For night use this watch is perhaps the best of the 4 featured here and though there are differences, these are all very good at what they do.  Unlike the Uzi and the MWC there are no luminous reflective pads under the Tritium capsules so the capsules shine extremely precisely with good definition – so for night use – just what I wanted.

Traser Basic Black – re strapped – NOW it looks the business!

Performance of each of the models here are indeed similar, though the construction of the dial arrangements mean they each display in a slightly different manner.

The new Traser Basic – for me has the edge as the larger face or separation of the light tubes gives real clarity.  Though that said the red single tube @12 might have been better if a double tube as the Uzi and the MWC, but they are so clear that might be a marginal thing.

The Uzi – bright and whilst the fewest tubes, what it does have is extremely good, bright and well separated and having the double tube @12 very clear indeed.  So having fewer tubes doesn’t detract from performance at all.  Indeed that separation probably assists.

The MWC – with the full compliment of tubes it is on a par with the Uzi and these are bright, especially with the reflective backing under each tube. The double tube @12 again assists in orientation.

The older Big Date – As good as the others, yes I think so.  The hour marker tubes unusually being at right angles to the watch center, and being slightly shrouded make these appear as dots rather than short marker lines in the dark – it looks different because of that, but no less efficient.

So not a lot to choose between them, which is not surprising as they each feature similar mb Tritium tubes anyway.  The latest Traser probably has the edge purely as the face being larger, allows better separation of the lights.  And I also prefer the tubes pointing in to the watch center.  But this is entirely subjective – they are all excellent.  The second hand light is also outstanding on this model and better than the Uzi and Big Date.

I think you can probably guess I’m not a great devotee of the various luminous coatings, much preferring the Tritium system and I should give you my reasons.   Basically it’s two fold, though before I say too much I must say that there are a few watches I have owned that managed and manage pretty well with the coatings.  My old Breitling Aerospace 1999 model which actually does very well at night and that’s all night too.  It never fades away totally and has never let me down.  I currently have a Laco 1925 model which is very good and also manages a complete night – so of course there are a few around.

However my reservations on coatings has merit and reason No.1 is that the majority of the coated systems are simply not bright enough and certainly not bright long enough.  I have had many a watch with coatings and the variation in quality is nothing short of spectacular.  Some are maybe just OK and others plainly not fit for purpose in reality.  Some can be seen for an hour or maybe longer with a slow decay and some 10 minutes or less.  Some not at all.
And reason No.2 is all about  – location, location, location! – or where you, or specifically I, live!

I do not live in a sunny climate, not the USA or even mainland Europe and sun is a precious and scarce commodity.  I live in Scotland.  It is generally wet and cold, so arms are rarely exposed (except in high summer – whatever that is!!!) so the wristwatch is basically covered for 90% of it’s life.  A similar issue for Solar powered watches here – they even sometimes stop – you then have to take them off and stick them in the window for days, sometimes weeks to get them sufficiently charged to start again and preferably with strong sunlight.  Just daylight here often won’t cut it.  Give you an example – in my car I have a Sat Nav and today and that is all day, it was lit up as for night viewing – in other words it thought it was night as it was so darned dull!

But getting back to luminosity – the covered arm and watch just doesn’t get enough light exposure to charge at all and when it comes to night? – well it’s a non starter.

With Tritium I never have to worry.  I can have my wrist covered all day and every day and it does not affect the night viewing capabilities one iota! – I also don’t worry over much about the quality of the capsules as the majority of light source systems are very good indeed.  I have not had a poor one – all my own Tritium light watches are Swiss mb which is coincidental and not because I specifically requested this before buying, it was simply what they came with!

And I have never been disappointed – so I rest my case!


Uzi – low cost Tritium

Can’t think why I haven’t posted this watch before as I wear it often enough, especially when off on weekend trips and so on.  Somewhere that I don’t have my bedside clock and need or certainly prefer in the middle of the night to be able to tell the time immediately.  Of course Tritium light source watches are the answer.  Non of this Superluminova that seems to vary in consistency between manufacturers, but a light emitting source that is bright, bright, bright!  To this end I have to show you the UZI –

The Uzi Defender – 001-N – Tritium

Not a bad looking watch at all and especially when you consider it has Tritium illumination, a military look and here fitted to a black matching silicon deployment strap.  I’ve had this one for quite a few years now and it still impresses me as to it’s accuracy and it’s ability to still look as new as the day I bought it!

Hardened Mineral Crystal in a tough resin case, screw down crown with a Water Resistance of 200m (that’s 660ft), a black dial plus a one way rotating outer bezel, can’t be at all bad and especially for the price – I seem to recall somewhere around £70.00.  It is a decent size too at 43mm diameter and 14mm depth, but it wears SMALL – it simply does not look big – probably as across the crystal face is only 28mm – but that doesn’t seem to detract from the fact that it’s really quite easy and clear to read despite the UZI yellow logo just below 12.

Easy read face of the Uzi Defender – Note the light source points.

This particular older model is all black unlike I believe the current ones which have an olive green bezel perhaps?  though I prefer the darker look and the night ability is exceptional.  The tritium light source capsules are @12, 3, 6 and 9 – the hour and minute hands are also “tubed” light source and the natty center second hand is red tipped with a luminous coated tip, which although in the dark is not as bright – it can be seen.  The @12 position has double tubes and is not green as the other points, but orange.  Note there are also luminous dots on the hours.  So this watch is definitely for those who like the darker side!

Mated to a black ribbed silicon deployment strap.

A screw down crown (as you would expect with this WR), and interestingly as I understand it this particular model at the time I bought it stated just a quartz movement with Swiss components.  I have to say whatever it is, it has been superb.  Maybe not a Ronda, but it works VERY well and the proof as they say . . . .

The fact that this is resin cased means it is very light indeed and very, very tough.  No marks on this one at all, so it wear extremely well.  And here I have to mention the price again.

This is one really good value watch, especially when you consider it has the light source illumination and when put against others with this system – and I even mean the others in the Uzi range.  It is available currently in Stainless steel – but at a premium £150.00, then there’s black stainless steel at £165.00 and to cap it all, a Titanium one at up around £230.00!

To me I really can’t see these premiums at all – this model shown here at the price I bought it for, does the business – hands down.  And most metals scratch with use – and this? – well – it doesn’t!  It’s also very lightweight and tough and with the silicon strap it will certainly do me a long, long time.

And against other manufacturers, such as Traser, or Nite, or Smith and Wesson, or Swiss Military and Luminox and so on, it represents tremendous value and I have to applaud them for it.

4 point screw down sealed back – 200m WR.

Now after all this – I was sure I had posted this watch here before, but I’m unable to find it on my site at all – so maybe this was one I deleted inadvertently a year or so back – whatever.  I post or re-post it here anyway and I’ll treat it as a “re-visit” after some years of quite extended use and say again what a smart, value watch this has and continues to be.  I’m off on a trip soon and guess what?  I’ll be taking this with me – Oh Yes!

Uzi on the wrist – even my small wrist – looks OK for a 43mm diameter.