More old directions

Another Casio from the early 1990 period when they started production of a series of multi-function Digital Compass models.  This is the Japan made model CPW 220 which features their module QW1286.

Old Casio 220 Digital Compass

Old Casio CPW 220 Digital Compass

The operational procedures for this are exactly the same as for the module QW1030, though with transmission of the visual data modified somewhat for the highly unusual digital display.

Look carefully (lower image) and you will note the outer track is marked oddly with descending graduations from 36 (x10) to 0, which obviously is in degrees.  However I’ve never seen a degrees scale running clockwise from 360 to 0 as opposed to 0 to 360 in a digital compass watch and OK maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t quite worked it out yet.

Compass bearing for 12 position and note the North segment indicator.

Compass bearing for 12 position (NNW) and note North & cardinal points indicator.

Note this model was produced when the “glass” was possibly a rather soft acetate compound which was easily scratched (this has a few scratches), but it is still easily read and all functions are working perfectly – a testament to Casio’s early electronics and displays.

The case resins were also not quite the quality we take for granted today and the lettering has all but disappeared color wise, but the embossed figures are still quite readable.  The current seconds runs around the degree track and all segments are perfect and when using other functions the seconds markers don’t display, instead are changed for Compass, Navigation, Stopwatch, Timer and Alarms etc.

As usual with most Casio models the back light operates via the top right push button.  This is a dial side light however and just about adequate I’d say though is surprisingly bright.  It stays illuminated as long as the button is pushed.

Like most early digital compass models there is no facility for compass declination settings, so magnetic North it has to be and in that regard it’s still pretty accurate, if kept away from metallic influences of course.  The bezels in these older models always stiff even sometimes immovable as the case screws are invariably very tight and the clearances have long since dried up.  If you need to use the bezel care has to be taken in any disassembly.  The problem with these old softer resin cases are the screw holes – very easy to damage them and if you do cross thread them, well just let’s say re-dieing the thread is a bit of a pain!

Great fun though, these old Casio technical watches as at that time they were really stretching the boundaries of what they could put in a wrist watch.  An amazing array of different mobile displays and always a pleasure to see close up and always a discussion point if spotted on your wrist.  And I always wear them! at some time.

Next up is the 1996 Triple Sensor ATC1200 – another gem from Casio that really looks the business!

PXR-5 – Young at heart

British industrial designer Michael Young has relaunched the PXR-5  which if I recall correctly first appeared back in 2010.  I particularly like this model as whilst it cleverly espouses a fresh and modern ultra minimalist look, it manages to do so without that bland and featureless Scandinavian style, that always turns me off.

Michael Young BXR-5

Michael Young BXR-5 BR/NY – stainless/blue

The PXR-5 in contrast is a wonderfully understated design classic with a simple digital face and adjustable nylon Velcro strap.  It’s both today and casual fashion look rolled into one.  Basically and according to Michael Young himself he simply wanted it to tell the time, no more no less and also have the easy facility to change color to suit the occasion.  This very successfully manages by the use of a super simple velcro strap.  There are a couple or three little pushbuttons, the right side ones for changing the Time and the left side one for activating a back light.  The case, and there are optional finishes, is Water Resistant to 30 metres, so showers are no problem.

Designer simple - yet so neat and effective

Designer simple – yet so neat and effective

The version shown here is of the PXR-5 BR/NY with a silver brushed stainless steel face and navy blue strap.

Like all good designs, this is simple and yet incredibly effective and will suit the wearer in virtually any situation.  And why has it appeared again.  Well again according to Michael, the phone has never stopped ringing from folks wanting to know where they can get one – simple as that!

Case shown in this version is 316 stainless steel, with a polyester and Velcro Strap.  The digital LCD display has a Blue/Green EL.  The Case length is  45 mm lug to lug,  36 mm wide and just 8 mm depth.  The battery is a 1.55v  V391 or equivalent and it comes with a Manufacturer’s warranty of 24 months.

Silver grey version

Silver and gray version

I understand it is available HERE and is around £80 (UK pricing).

There are in fact 4 versions – the two shown here plus a gold colored model with brown Velcro strap and a Black model with black strap.  Prices are the same for any model and if interested, experience tells me the shelves will be cleared pretty quickly . . . . so  . . . .


Best twin sensor?

Casio Twin Sensor SQW-100B – 3V with textile strap & buckle

For those of us that don’t actually require the full ABC sensor set up there is the lesser option of a Twin Sensor model.  Some folks don’t really need to know the Barometric Pressure or the Altitude or the Temperature, though the latter seems to come regardless for some obscure reason.  You could of course, if money an issue, get yourself a cheap “does everything” ABC model such as the LAD Weather watch, but at £40 against the Casio Twin Sensor model at £50, once you factor in known quality and reliability issues, plus wild variations of good to bad reviews of the LAD, then I’d have to go with the Twin Sensor from Casio.  (incidentally the LAD Weather watch with such conflicting reviews says to me that Quality Control is left to the buyer and that I don’t like). 

So all that said and back to topic, the best value Twin Sensor model I’ve yet found with Compass and Thermometer is the Casio SGW-100B-3V and it’s not just best value, as not being G Shock and with fewer sensors, it is a much smaller and neater affair altogether.   It is also very, very easy to use.  I should also note this model is battery, not Solar as the triple sensor PRG270 I reviewed last week, but with 3+ years battery life, it’s hardly relevant.

Let’s say you’ve been wearing the watch for a month or so and you decide to use the Compass – the scenario being, you might have just popped up to street level from the subway/Tube in London for example and no clue what direction you’re facing – Well you’re in luck as this model is as easy as it gets, it’s also super clear to read the dial (unlike so may digital models) and one push of a button shows North and you’re on your way.

Neat to the wrist

Neat to the wrist and great quality construction

Physically the watch is just 47.8 mm diameter and only 13 mm case depth and importantly just 49.7 mm lug to lug, which means this model sits great on small wrists.  And weighing a mere 57 gms, it’s a wear and forget watch and a real contender for Daily Beater status.  And although it has just two sensors, it still has a good feature set, with a 24 hr Stopwatch, 59 min, 59.99 seconds Countdown Timer, a 29 zone 48 Cities World Time function, 5 Alarms and is Water Resistant to 200m.  The pushbuttons are not overly protected and neither do they need to be as they are sleek to the case, easily operated and located within the centre of the case edge, so don’t suffer from inadvertent operation either.

In short this watch is a gem and with it’s high contrast digital display, it is simply better than any other brand, bar none in the clarity stakes.  It also has a night light in the form of an upgraded EL (electro-luminescent) panel that highlights the digits in a glow for a second or two.

The digital compass aspect (why I have it) is good and simple to use.  I have also found it surprisingly accurate and against my Silva trekking compass it reads the same.  Pushbutton D (lower right) and the compass mode starts – sweeping a revolution graphic around the circumference of the dial and then indicating with an arrow – North.  The heading of the 12 o’clock position is indicated in degrees and Cardinals.  Nice to note that in compass mode, the time is still visible on the upper dial zone.  Compass Declination is catered for and can be easily set and also easily switched OFF if not required.

ABC or neat Twin Sensor

Neat Twin Sensor or ABC – note both are textile straps – so small wrists welcome!

It is also nice to see that Casio compass sensors are pretty accurate today.  For example if I activate my Triple Sensor ABC Casio PRG270B-3, my Tissot Solar Expert and this model together with my Silva Compass, they all point in the same direction.  I remember well when digital compass models first came out, different brands pointed in different directions and rarely stayed calibrated for long.

The Module in this model is the 3157 and it has a industry standard CR2025 battery, so is both efficient and practical.  Water Resistance is a good 200M or 660 feet, so if you swim, no problem. This model has the textile strap which is my preference and it’s of decent quality and much better than their older generation, with melt edged buckle holes and a steel buckle and as I’ve said before, the textile strap fits the smaller wrist much better (see images) as the strap can sit perpendicularly to the case.  

Casio case quality

Casio precision case and dial quality – difficult to beat

The strap is approximately 24 mm at the case fixing and tapers to 18mm at the buckle.  A hybrid springbar fitting is used and a standard strap/band could be fitted with a bit of fiddling if preferred. (Note I’ve never had issues with Casio textile straps despite adverse comments from users – What on earth do these folks do to destroy both straps, bracelets, cases, crystals and goodness knows what else?  I have to wonder what their car or home looks like?

Finally this model is a testament to Casio  high quality watch production today, very well made, great resin technology case construction (I’ve not seen better) and in short, this model in my opinion is pretty special and with no negatives to report.  And at around £50 in the UK it also has to be a bargain.

If you don’t have one now, then I suggest you find one sooner rather than later, as these, certainly in the strap version, are becoming scarce.

So my picks for ABC and Twin Sensor are – the Casio SGW100B-3v Twin Sensor and the Casio PRG270B-3 ABC Triple Sensor and I think it doubtful either model will be bettered for some considerable time – if at all!

NoteWhilst Solar is fine for the Triple Sensor PRG270 being an ABC multi-function model, the lack of Solar on the Twin Sensor SGW100 is fine for me as the battery life is in excess of 3 years anyway. 

Old directions

Been having a look at my old digital compass watch models and rather impressed at the fact they still work pretty well.  In fact accuracy wise they are still holding their own against more modern offerings and they have the advantage of being within a much neater footprint, despite later sensor size reductions.

Take the CPW-100 for example which features an early 1031 module set.  This model appeared back in 1993 and one of the first Casio’s to feature a compass sensor.  The circular digital display is still rather novel, but it shows what you need to see very well.

Casio  CPW-100 digital compass 1993

Casio CPW-100 digital compass 1993

I like this model for all sorts of reasons in addition to the neat dimensions as just 40mm case diameter, though if you include the sensor it’s 50mm across.  But as the entire model is just 12 mm thick and the lug to lug is very small by today’s standards, so easily fits the smaller wrist.

Note the inner display normally shows running seconds.  The compass works as a direct read push button and after a second indicates magnetic North/south with the digital arrow pointer in the centre circular window.  The Direction is also indicated at the top of the dial as NW, ENE, etc. (here shown as WSW) in place of the Day of the week.

Compass indication - note the digital arrow pointer - to North - and the Direction of 12 position in place of the Date.

Compass indication – note the digital arrow pointer – to North – and the Direction of 12 position (WSW) in place of the Date.

It is an instant reading which does not change even if you move the watch, so doesn’t, like modern counterparts, take a reading every second.  It does however have a “navigation”mode which allows you to store up to 5 sets of measurement data in memory, along with the date and time of the measurement.  These can be recalled later to trace your progress on a map for example.  To aid navigation the outer bezel can be rotated (N mark to line up with indicated N for example).

Another model of the same period is the CPW200 which features module 1030.

Casio CPW100 and 200 Digital Compass models. Circa 1993

Casio CPW100 and 200 Digital Compass models. Circa 1993

The dial layout is more familiar to modern Casios, plus it has a running seconds digital track around the circumference of the dial.  The module difference is only in regards to the digital display as in this instance the compass indication shows not just the North/south line, but also the other E & W cardinal points, around the seconds track.  In fact both models use their respective running Seconds track as the compass indication.

In all other respects function wise the two models are the same – Both have Compass and Navigation modes, 24 hr Stopwatch with split/finish times, Countdown Alarm from 1 m to 24 hours with selectable auto-repeat.  Also there is a a daily Alarm mode and Time signal function etc.

In comparison to the more modern Casio Compass watches these both perform really well, though neither have Compass Declination adjustments possible, so very much Magnetic North has to be used in any orienteering.  That said as the Declination where I live is just 1.3ºW and would be just 1ºW if entered into a modern Casio, so for general directional compass work, walking etc. both these models perform well enough  for me.  They are also both water resistant to 50 m and 100 m respectively, though with any of these 20+ year old resin/metal back models, this should be taken lightly.  The seals are often dried and shrunken and replacement is tricky, and whilst not impossible – I don’t go out of my way to drown them – or me these days!

In truth the fact these work at all is a bonus and both are in pretty good condition overall.  Module wise both are perfect and function as new and they both “wear” well on the wrist and can often attract comment (if noticed as they are both very neat), though at my age folks seem to take it for granted that I’ll have old things!

This from my young grand-daughter just the other day!  :)

NoteAnother Compass model from the same period is the CPW220 ( planned for a later Post) features Module qw1286, which has the exact same functionality as Module qw1030.  This is not surprising as within this “novelty”period, Casio whilst introducing individuality in their digital range, inevitably featured similar if not identical modules, to fit the various dial designs.

Best value Casio ABC?

Been looking for something to replace the Casio PRW3000 I had stolen from luggage that went missing on a trip last year in darkest Africa.  On the bag’s reappearance my Casio was missing along with other stuff, but the watch was the one thing I missed most of all.

When I returned to the UK, I got myself a Tissot Solar Expert (my first true Swiss ABC model) which I’d always wanted anyway and to this day it’s been my alternative compass watch for my Casio. With its touch screen concept ana/digi system the Tissot is very unlike Casio and whilst really clever operationally, somehow I still miss the dare I say, “older and more conventional” familiarity of the Casio digital set up.

Casio Protrek PRG270B-3 with Textile buckle strap.

Casio Protrek PRG270B-3 with Textile buckle strap.

So that said I decided at long last to perhaps consider another Casio and whilst the 3000 series is still ongoing, I’ve instead picked another model with the same and now upgraded sensor set, but at a more affordable price.  And not tempted by the Titanium, this time went for the Casio Pro Trek PRG270B-3, in the green and black resin G shock style case.  Note that this version has the textile band as opposed to the resin band.  The reason for my choice here is important to me because of my wrist size.

Note the textile band close fit to the wrist.

Note the textile band close fit to the wrist.

The resin band versions effectively adds to the lug to lug size just enough to cause fitting issues when worn on my average size wrist.  Whereas this textile band version reduces this dimension to under 50 mm and it can swing freely 90º from the case and so fits much more snuggly.  Being G shock style of course it’s tough enough to withstand almost anything, which I suppose is a definite plus when considering the places I tend to end up in.

Great look in green/black with textile strap.  Bright display in any light conditions.

Great look in green/black with textile strap. Bright display in any light conditions.

I also selected this Casio model because it’s a middle of the road example of both the genre and price point.  It appears to offer decent value and considering my PRW3000 cost twice as much (a Japan domestic model at the time).  It also has the internal module 3415, successor to the 3414 of my 3000 model which was already very good.  I should also say that the clarity of the green (almost gold) background digital display is really excellent and one of the best I’ve seen from any Casio to date.

Note strap allows small wrist fitting (has no extenders fro case)

Note strap allows small wrist fitting (has no extenders from case)

The 3415 module set means ease of use, logical controls and function switching.  Feature wise it’s Solar Powered, World Time, Triple Sensor, (Alti, Baro & Compass), excellent full display back light.   Also the overall color scheme is definitely my favorite and looks great.  10Bar Water resistance plus Chrono, Timers, Chime etc. as usual with the Casio set up and all very easy and familiar to set up.  Note too the extreme light weight of just 62 gms including strap means this is a very practical wear and forget watch.

Good wrist fit with v3 sensor

Good wrist fit with v3 sensor

The green and black textile strap is a cut above for Casio, being very well made, approximately 23 mm wide with contrasting full stitching and with a black vinyl stitched backing and keeper.  Note the keeper stays where it’s put, which is a plus.  The buckle holes are fully metal ring edged so will not fray and a delight to wear.  The strap fixing to the case is approximately 17 mm and overall the strap appears water resistant.

The ABC feature set is as good as these get at the moment and the ease of use commendable.  Compass declination can be set in a matter of a second or two and it can just a quickly be switched off.  The compass takes just a second to operate via the direct button @2 and graphically shows magnetic North direction plus the other three cardinals, the heading @12 (where the 12 of the watch face is pointing) as N, NW, S etc. and the bearing indication or direction angle in degrees of the 12 also.  It takes reading virtually continuously each second (for 60 seconds) and directional movement of the watch will be shown immediately on the display.  It also has bearing retention memory and pretty comprehensive it is too and lining the watch face up with a map (setting the map) is easy, surprisingly clear and effective.

Setting the map with the Casio PRG270B-03

Setting the map with the Casio PRG270B-03

The Barometric function is also very comprehensive as is the Altitude mode, with plenty of Trekking and Climbing features within the programs to suit most folks I would have thought.

Other features are – a 999 hour Stopwatch, 24 hour Timer, 5 Daily Alarms, one with snooze, an Hour Time Signal (2 beeps), Auto Light function when wrist turned 40º towards wearer with OFF/ON darkness sensor, adjustable illumination time – either 1.5 or 3 seconds.  I also like the optional main display pattern.

My preferred display, showing Day, Date, Time and running Seconds.

My preferred display, showing Day, Date, Time and running Seconds.

You can have the Calendar display in Normal Time mode indicate the Day and Date OR Month and Date OR instead the Barometric Pressure Trend Graph – this in addition to the Time and running Seconds.  I prefer it set to Day and Date.

In fact there is a whole pile of stuff in this module and the instruction booklet or online version is well worth reading – and fortunately the system in use, is as about as intuitive as you can get, making this watch a pleasure to wear and use.  And finally I set the time via a Radio Controlled source a week or so ago and it’s still within a second, so accuracy is virtually set and forget in practical terms, the Solar Power means no battery issues ever and it looks as if I’ve found my new Daily Beater.

I’m very pleased!

Note – Whilst I said I wanted to get back to the familiarity of the Casio digital display system, I’m not suggesting the Tissot Touch Expert is in some way inferior.  Quite the opposite – but it is however quite different and in Compass mode actually works like a “proper” compass.  The hands aligning as one to point North and the digital display indicating degrees of the 12 position to North, including the Heading setting ie. N, W, SSE, etc.  It also takes continuous readings every second for 60 seconds.  It also has an instant Azimuth “beep” system when the watch is aligned with the heading you wish to take – very useful as a trekker and if used to map & compass, then the Tissot is highly practical.

Co-incidentally I checked the Barometer sensors on both watches today and they both read the same, exactly – and that’s a definite improvement over the old days when different models and certainly brands – meant different readings – I’m impressed!

So which ABC do I prefer?  Well that’s a difficult one to answer as my practical side says Tissot, yet absolute feature wise I might say Casio . . . . Which is why I love them both!

But best value for money?  This Casio without question!

Diesel fashion

I’ve said it before and no doubt I will again, Fashion Houses are definitely into the watch business.  Diesel is one Brand that I quite like and whilst many of their dial designs are perhaps over the top and often over-cluttered for me personally, every so often they come out with a model that is really rather smart.

The Diesel Arges DZ1660 disk date watch.

The Diesel Arges DZ1660 disk date watch.

The Diesel DZ1660 featuring a Japanese Quartz movement is one which shows off a practical dial layout and a decent build quality.  The red date wheel idea is quite striking and looks great in contrast to the dark look dial, and is complimented by the colored center seconds hand.

Class detail on this stainless gunmetal finish case

Class detail on this stainless gunmetal finish case

Well proportioned hands and markers again give a pleasing balance to the overall dial layout.  The case is Stainless Steel in gunmetal tone and measures at 46 mm diameter by just 12 mm depth.  The Tan strap is 24 mm wide with gunmetal stainless buckle closing and again in a nice complimentary tone to the case.

Tan & gunmetal Stainless steel complimentary buckle layout

Tan & gunmetal Stainless steel complimentary buckle layout

This watch is also Water Resistant to 10 ATM or 330ft.

I’ve seen it here in the UK recently discounted to £94.49 and if I was looking for a gift watch for someone, this would definitely be on my short list and to my mind looks well above it’s price point.  Very elegant and yet has that neat and rather subtle fashion edge with the red accented date wheel and the overall dial color combination really works.

For me this is a grown up Diesel model and not before time – I’m hoping for more . . . .

Hippie Chic . . .

Now OK I don’t really know what that means either – but this is the Indie Watch from yes you guessed it Hippie Chic of California.  I suppose it’s a sort of fashion accessory watch geared towards those Hippie and chic young folk out there, though “hip” for me has visions of a much needed replacement variety and “chic”? – well maybe once upon a time . . . I do remember Woodstock!

Indie Watch by Hippe Chic

Indie Watch by Hippe Chic

Anyway I can certainly see the attraction of this for the young “hippie” style guy or girl and purely co-incidentally, a friend was here recently and her daughter is I’m reliably informed into Goth? – Well whatever, but she had on her wrist amongst other stuff, a neat watch strappy affair and this was it – the Hippie Chic – and I suppose she was just that!

I have to say it looked great and suited her, so this Watch Company seems to have found a market and good luck to them.
Now the watch part is pretty basic I suppose, though it does have a Seiko quartz PC21S movement and the case is 25 mm x 25 mm x 7 mm and located in amongst the split leather strap, wood/alloy/ceramic beads and metal studs.  Only has a Water Resistance to 1 ATM (supposedly 10m) , but throwing yourself into the pool probably not the best idea, but hey it’s a fashion thing, so why should it be in the pool with you anyway.  The split strap arrangement seems to be adjustable (with snap studs) from around 19 mm/22 mm, though obviously is worn loose bracelet style.

Not the first of these modern young guy/girl things I’ve seen but it looks OK and I like the fact the little watch has a centre seconds hand – and that’s a bonus as many don’t.

Another bonus is the price at around £18.00 here in the UK and that’s cheap enough to be an attractive proposition to any youngster and is also pretty good value for a little piece of Hippie Chic fashion.

Perhaps not for me of course, even though I could look out my old buckskin outfit, with the wide leather belt (with 12 harmonicas in their respective keyed holsters).

Trouble is whilst the Hippie Chic Indie might fit, the flared tight leather jeans certainly would not!

Those darned hips!   ;-)