May 012007

I’ve loved wristwatches since I could tell time. I wear one continuously, and only take it off for two things.

Most of the time I wear a mechanical watch–a watch with an actual balance wheel, mainspring, etc. that must be wound to work–as opposed to a battery-powered quartz watch. But I also have a soft spot for gadget watches, and Casio usually has some of the nerdiest stuff on the market.

I’ve owned something or another from Casio’s ProTrek/Pathfinder line for more than ten years now. My first one had the same case as this PRT-40, only in different colors, and with a few button functions moved around. Features include time (12/24H); day; date; stopwatch; five daily alarms; hourly chime; altimeter with trend graph, memory, and altitude alarm; barometer with trend graph; thermometer; and compass. Then I got the PRT-40 itself, which added an electroluminescent light with automatic mode. I actually bought and customized an Oyster-style stainless bracelet for that one. All around, it’s still my favorite that I’ve owned.

The tools on these watches are really pretty good. They’re easy to calibrate and use, and they’re a lot of fun, both in the woods and on the sidewalk. I remember being fascinated at how much the barometric pressure graph dipped when Opal came through in 1995, and Lea and I enjoyed the features on a trip to the Smokies. The only real problem with them was/is battery life. There are two batteries, only Casio can change them, it’s $40 for them to do so, and it’s necessary every 12 to 18 months.

So when the solar-powered ones came out, I got this PRG-50. It works fine, and there are a couple of operational tweaks to the compass that are nice. But I don’t like the form factor nearly as much as my earlier watches. It’s not just that it’s big; some of my watches are huge, and I like them fine. It’s that its size is unpleasantly accentuated by the strap design. I’m always aware of it. Plus it doesn’t have a stopwatch, and it only has one alarm. I’ve only worn it 8 or 10 times, and it’s still virginal. I’ll probably either eBay it or give it away, because its successor is on the way.

Behold the PAW-1300: the possible Grail of geekiness. I’ll have it in a few days. This one’s got all the toys mentioned above, plus a countdown timer, plus it’s solar-powered, plus it syncs with the atomic clock. Casio’s also talking up its slim profile, so I’m hopeful it won’t sit quite so bulbously on the wrist.

Assuming I like the fit, the only other features I’d want would be a stainless case and a sapphire crystal. I won’t hold my breath for those, though. Casio quality is generally excellent, but a resin case and mineral crystal guarantee at least some degree of ugliness as the watch accumulates wear, generating replacement demand. With stainless and sapphire, that day would be a lot longer in coming.

Isn’t consumerism grand?

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 Posted by at 12:39 am

  3 Responses to “Casio scratches the geek watch itch”

  1. What, no GPSr on that thing?

  2. They’ve got
    that, but not in the same watch with all of this other cool stuff yet.

    The one on the left was out in ’99, was $449, and as you can see, was absurdly huge. Also, battery life was atrocious, though they eventually came out with a rechargeable version with a cradle (full charge would run it for about three hours). Nevertheless, I almost got it more than once. I resisted, though. Now they’ve got this guy on the right that looks like a run-of-the-mill Casio nerd watch, but it’s still the same price, and plus it isn’t available in the U.S. market so there would be those costs associated with getting it too.

    Caching with a watch sounds like fun, but not that much fun. 🙂

  3. […] had my Casio PAW-1300, previously briefly discussed in this post, for about a month now. Price was $209 delivered from Ace Digital Club on I chose the […]

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