I've had a watch resurgence over the last few years. I used to religiously wear a Casio G-Shock when I was younger, but as I got into weightlifting, I stopped. The watch became a burden, and I would leave it, and not wear it. However, as I've grown older, I've come to hate smartphones. I decided that I wanted to look at my phone less, and a wristwatch would help, as the primary reason to whip out the phone was to check the time. I wanted a smaller, cheap watch, as I didn't know if I would like wearing it. With that, I was led to the classic Casio F91W-1. This is a venerable, old digital watch, but I think it still prevails at its goal.
What is the Casio F91W-1?
The F91W-1 (previously designated the F-91W) is a digital watch made by the Japanese electronic company, Casio. The F91W-1 entered production in 1989, and has been a popular ever since. According to Casio's statistics, they've been producing 3 million F91W-1s a year since 2011. That is a lot of watches. The current MSRP of the F91W-1 is $22.95 directly from Casio, but I paid about $12 for mine.
With the cheap price comes a lot of users. Lots of military personal have used the F-91W-1, but so have terrorists. The F91W-1s were used as part of the denotators for IEDs back in the mid-2000s, which is well, interesting. When good technology is cheap, everyone will use it.
Also interesting, the F91W-1 was the first watch that creator Ryusuke Moriai made for Casio. He's gone on to make more designs for Casio, but this kinda seems like a crowning achievement, at least to me.
The F91W-1 is a pretty basic watch. What are its features?
Features of the F91W-1
Casio's F91W-1 has a resin body and wrist strap, with a steel backpiece. It is water resistant to 33 meters, but it isn't quite waterproof, so I'd rip it off before a swim. It runs off of a quartz system, so it uses batteries, and is fairly accurate in timekeeping. Battery life on a single 2016 cell is advertised at 7 years.
It has a very basic feature set, with a stopwatch, alarm, calendar, and backlight. It can tell time in either standard 12 hour form, or 24 hour clock. If this watch was a flavor of ice cream, it would be vanilla. Luckily, I love vanilla ice cream.
The F91W-1 is the definition of a "barebones" watch. It has features that you will actually use, and none that you'll never touch. Back when I had my G-Shocks, they had a mess of nifty functions, but Hell, I never used half of them. However, the simple watch is only good if it works well. How does the F91W-1 hold up?
Time Keeps On Slippin' (Into the Future)
The F91W-1 is like a tiny tank. Due to the small size and resin material, it tends to take hits well, if it does get hit. The compact size of the watch is great, as you generally don't notice that you've got it on. The wristband is comfy, and has held up with sweat, dust, and rain.
The watch keeps time well, and the secondary alarm and stopwatch work great too. The stopwatch can count up to an hour, but I mostly use it for quick timekeeping. The buttons are small, but I prefer this. I'm less likely to bump them inadvertently, which was a constant issue on larger watches.
The only electronic feature that sucks is the backlight. The backlight only fills in from one side, and is anemic, to say the least. It is serviceable, but on a cheap watch, it is fine.
I've found the F91W-1 to fill into my EDC quite well. I like simple, yet effective EDC tools, and this is no different. The F91W-1 is a customizable watch too, but I enjoy it enough as-is. If you happen to lose it or break it (unlikely to do that), replacing the watch is not gonna hurt your wallet. For the cheap price, it's hard to beat the the practicality of this simple watch.
There's not much to say here. The F91W-1 is an excellent watch. It's nothing fancy, and gets the job done. However, it is not the end all-be-all. There are other watches with more features or more style, but the F91W-1 is a certified classic.
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