Move aside, G-Shocks! The Casio F-91W is the real beater watch! Here’s why…
Let’s, for a moment, put this hypothetical situation to the test, okay? You don’t need a watch – your phone tells you the time and everything else – and yet you find yourself with an itch to have one. Don’t worry, that’s completely normal. So, you start asking friends, searching on forums and blogs to help you find a watch that is a) cheap and b) hassle-free.
Soon enough, you come across this – the Casio F-91W. Why wouldn’t you? The Casio F-91W has been in production since 1991, after all. It’s practically everywhere. You look up more details on the watch, understand that the quartz movement inside has been reported to last up to a decade with its original battery and that it comes with all the basic features (more on that later) of a modern watch.
Then, you look at how much it costs and with prices ranging anywhere from RM40 to around RM100+ (no more than RM200) and suddenly BAM! That hypothetical situation is now a reality. Quick! Think of a reason/alibi/excuse to justify your purchase to your better half! As you’re panicking, you stop yourself and remember that the watch you just purchased costs not much more than a tank of petrol!
Silly you! She/he isn’t gonna’ get mad about something as trivial as that. You just bought a decent, affordable timepiece that costs peanuts. Your better half comes home, takes a look at the watch, praises you for being sensible and tasteful on how you spend and you realise that life is only as good as you make it. Voilà! Itch scratched.
Sounds good. Now, break it down for me.
I most certainly will. Before you head out and snatch up a F-91W, let’s see what makes this iconic digital watch tick (or beep?). The Casio F-91W is equipped with the brand’s module 593 and has a basic, digital LCD display. The battery is a single CR2016 3-volt lithium button cell which, reportedly, powers the watch for 7 years assuming 20 seconds of alarm and one second of luminescence is used per day.
The case and strap are made out of resin while the display window is fashioned out of acrylic crystal. Lug to lug is measured at 18 mm at the strap. With that said, the physical width of the lug leans closer to 22 mm, as measured by my digital callipers. Moving on, the case itself measures 33 mm across and 37.7 mm lengthwise. Finally, the entire case is just 8.7 mm thick. Pulling out my digital scale, I recorded a weight of 21 g for the Casio F-91W.
With a basic quartz movement, Casio states an accuracy rating of +/- 30 seconds a month at “normal temperature.” As for the features, the Casio F-91W packs a fair bit considering its humble price tag. Firstly, it offers a stopwatch capable of measuring down to 1/100th of a second and a max running time of 59:59.99. Timing features of the stopwatch include net time measurement, split time and 1st-2nd place times.
Aside from that, the Casio F-91W also comes with a configurable daily alarm (beeps for 20 seconds), an hourly beep notification, 12/24 hour display options and an automatic calendar. Note that the latter only ever displays February with 28 days. The reason? The watch does not recognise what year it is.
All those features with just 3 buttons?!
Well, yeah. Casio has done quite the job in packing a fair list of features into the F-91W. Furthermore, the brand hit a high point when designing the F-91W to be as simple in appearance as much as possible. Now, technology and scares me but all I took was around 10 minutes to understood the functions of the watch. In its default display mode, the top left button activates the green LED light.
Before we move on, I must say this. The green LED light is hilariously dim. Seriously, in pitch black conditions, you’ll probably only know what hour of the day it is. The rest? You’ll have to guess. As for the bottom left button, clicking it will cycle through the features such as the alarm, stopwatch and time adjustment. The sole right button toggles between AM/PM and 24-hour display.
In alarm mode, clicking the top left button initiates the setting of the alarm. Push the right button to select your desired hour. After this, pushing the former moves the selection process to the minutes. Pro tip – holding down the right button cycles through the minutes quickly so you don’t have to click it to select. Every. Single. Minute. Finally, clicking on the top left button locks the alarm down.
When the stopwatch feature is selected, the right button starts and stops the clock. Once halted, the top left button resets it. To record split times, start the clock and when required, click the top left button to mark the split. Pushing the same button releases the split while clicking the right button stops the clock. As for timing 1-2 finishes, start the clock as normal and when the first runner crosses the line, hit the top left button. As the second finishes, hit the right button as it tallies the time with the first runner. Pushing the top left button again shows the time of the second runner and another click of the same button resets the clock.
Phew! Anyway, what’s it like to wear?
Yeah, I know, it sounds complicated but working this watch is anything but. It’s a user-friendly, no-nonsense and extremely unpretentious watch with a deservedly rich heritage. This watch is so tool-like and hardcore that the United States Military Intelligence saw it as a clue to spot terrorists. Why? A large number of al-Qaeda members who were trained in bomb-making used the F-91W as a timing device.
Hey! Bad publicity is still publicity, right? Anyway, the Casio F-91W, as expected, wears extremely easy thanks to its lack of weight and modest dimensions. However, one gripe I had with the watch was that its resin strap didn’t exactly sit right with my wrist. For some odd reason, the face of the watch was always aligned either slightly too far up or down and needed constant adjustment.
Also, the resin strap can feel a tad too cheap on days when you feel like nitpicking. In addition to that, water resistance isn’t all that. Casio themselves do not list a figure on the watch but technical specs are a claimed 30 m. On the watch, only the words ‘Water Resistant’ are to found on the dial and the screwdown caseback. As such, you should probably treat it that way – splashes from the sink are alright but avoid swimming with it.
In conclusion, the Casio F-91W has proven time and time and time again that there is absolutely nothing wrong with going back to the basics. For the money, there is nothing out there that matches the Casio F-91W for durability, ease of use and most importantly, heritage and street cred. Or is there? Think you know a better alternative to the F-91W? Give it a shout out in the comments below!
Casio’s aforementioned accuracy rating for this timepiece is ridiculously unreliable.
I have had at least 3 of them and they have easily run ahead of real time or lagged after it in “nornal” temperatures by as much as 37 seconds per month, or even up to a minute. The best accuracy I have managed to get out of it is +4 sec’s/day, some 3 days after setting the time on it.
I know this is an incredibly cheap watch, yet a Quartz movement should outperform an automatic mechanical movement at time keeping, and some of the latter boast superior accuracy at +-2 sec’s/day.
Yikes! I’ll say that’s really off from what Casio has quoted. And you’ve got a point on how a quartz watch ‘should’ outperform a mechanical timepiece – even if it’s a “cheap” watch. I can’t recall at the top of my head how accurate my F-91W is but I don’t ever remember it being this bad.
As unfortunate as it may sound, you might have a lemon F-91W on your hands, mate…