My Top 5 Budget Digital Casio Watches [2024]

Disclaimer: The Casio watches shown here were purchased by the author for testing and evaluation.

Budget Casio Featured Image 2

Over the last two years, I've spent a lot of time with Casio watches. As such, I'd like to give some recommendations for ones that I've personally used, and really enjoyed. All of the following watches are digital, and all are less than $50 at any given time.

Each entry will act like a tiny review, and I'll link my proper full reviews when appropriate.

The ranking criteria is part objective, part subjective. Functionality, value proposition, and wear play a big part in the ranking, but my personal opinions on each watch will certainly play a part too. It is "My Top 5", not "The Top 5" after all. Lets hop into it!

Honorable Mention : The GOAT

THE GOAT

The F91W-1 is a classic Casio watch. I think it may be the greatest, most important digital watch of all time. It's very inexpensive ($15-$20), very wearable, and has rudimentary functions that you'll likely use. I gave it a lot of praise in my 2022 review too, so why isn't it actually on the list?

Well, the backlight really sucks. It's really, really bad. Basically unusable, unless you are in pitch black darkness. Coupled with that, you've got a case size that is rather small. Now, this makes the watch quite wearable, but if you have an average sized wrist, this watch will look tiny. Rounding out the negatives, the water resistance is pretty measly, at 30m.

Now, I still think this is a great, important watch. However, for a few bucks more, you can have another Casio that does everything better than the F91W-1. Being the greatest of all time doesn't always mean that you are the best at the moment.

#5: Casio A168WA-1

Casio A168WA-1

What if you took the form factor of the F91W-1, and gave it a much better backlight and a metal bracelet? Well, you'd have the A168WA-1. The A168 line dates back to the late 1980s, and certainly looks like it. It's also got a really reasonable price, running between $20-$26 on most retailers.

Feature-wise, we've got a copied set from the F91W series. This watch features time, date/day of the week/month, stopwatch, and alarm functions. However, the backlight is significantly better than the F91W, using the "Electro Luminescence" backlight. When pressing the light button, we've got a very useful blue LED, which fully illuminates the display. Even with that backlight, we've got a 7 year battery life.

For wear, this is a slim, thin watch. At a case width of 36mm and a thickness of 9.6mm, this is an easy to wear watch. Rather than a rubber or resin band, we've got a very rudimentary metal band. I was apprehensive about it at first, but it's really grown on me. It is easy to size, and hasn't ripped any hairs from my arm. This leads to a comfy watch, something that I find myself wearing as my "budget" dress watch. If you want a Casio that looks a lot more expensive than it is, this is a great one to go for.

Casio A168 Dress Clothes
The A168 easily pairs with dress clothes.

Now, it's not perfect. The water resistance is still fairly weak at 30m, and the small size might turn some folks off. However, there's a reason why this is one of the best-selling watches on Amazon, and that's because it can be worn by anyone. If you want a dress watch but don't wanna drop a lot of cash, this one would be my recommendation.

#4: Casio WS1600H

Casio WS1600H

The Casio WS1600H should look pretty familiar if you are a Casio fan. Using the same case as the Casio Royale, this watch also provides a lot of the same features too. These feature a resin band and case, 100m of water resistance, and a 10 year battery life. Price is very reasonable, coming in right around $20 online.

The feature set on this watch is very "chronograph" oriented. As such, we've got a lot of built-in timers here. Functions include time, day/date/month/year, a stop watch, a countdown timer with intervals, a second time zone mode, and a single alarm. Packed in here is a ton of utility, making it easy to time laps or splits for races or competitions. The added functionality of the perpetual calendar is nice too, as you'll never need to worry about setting the date after you do it for the first time. We've also got the excellent backlight of the Royale, so reading this watch at night will be a breeze.

One of the things that really attracted me to the WS1600H is the dial. We've got nice, big characters for the time and date, which makes this a really easy watch to read at a glance. On top of that, we've got two cool looking countdown readouts, and a tiny analog dial too. Some might call it busy, but I think it's neat.

Casio WS1600H
A great watch for tracking events or competitions.

While I think most of the WS1600H is great, I wasn't a big fan of the included resin band. It was comfortable, but led to some minor irritation of the skin on my wrist. While using a lot of the elements of the AE-1200, it seems like the band was a little worse. I swapped to a NATO strap in conjunction with adapters, and have been very happy. The size of the watch isn't small ( 42mm wide by 12.5mm thick), but it doesn't feel big on the wrist, due to the light weight.

The WS1600H is a really fun, really useful new addition to the Casio lineup. I've enjoyed mine as a gym/sporting watch, and I bet you probably would too.

#3: Casio DW-291H

Casio DW-291H

For a lot of folks, when they think Casio watches, they think of the G-Shock. Well, the DW-291H is essentially a budget version of the G-Shock, and has quickly become one of my favorite Casios. Street price on the DW-291H runs $29-$35, and for that dosh, you get a ton of value.

The DW-291H has a case shape reminiscent of the Royale and the WS-1600H, but bigger. With a width of 46.6mm and a height of 13.7mm, this is a fairly chunky watch. But with that, we're getting a mineral glass crystal, and 200M of water resistance. Think about that, $30 for a watch you can go dive with. I don't think you'll find a cheaper watch with those specs, aside from some really questionable AliExpress offerings.

Aside from the beefy specs, we've got a boatload of functions. Like the AE-1200 and other World Timers, we've got a great, two LED backlight. We've also got time, day/date/month/year, 5 alarms, a countdown timer, a stopwatch, and a world time (UTC) setting. On top of that world time, we have the ability to track 3 additional time zones, on top of the local and UTC time. These are the same features as the AE-1200, but in a larger, more legible package.

Speaking of legibility, the DW-291H has a very easy to read display. The time is very large at the bottom of the dial, with a 10 second counter right above it. Above that, we have the day of the week, the month, and the date. To the right of that, we've got a tiny analog dial, which while call, is all but useless. I personally find the dial quite attractive, as the fiberglass-style weave really catches my eye.

The case material and band are both made from resin, but feel very beefy. The band is exceptionally comfortable, whether in wet or dry conditions. It also has the little kink that the G-Shocks have, which aids in protecting the watch in a fall. Despite the large size, this is still a featherweight watch at 64g.

Casio DW-291H EDC
The DW-291H is quickly becoming one of my favorite Casios.

Now, I do have some minor gripes. The pusher buttons are generally fantastic. They are big and easy to use, but that leads to an issue. The bottom right pusher cycles through your saved time zones. This pusher also makes no noise when you press it. On many occasions, I've bumped this button, changing my time zone by accident. Now, cycling back to my home time takes a second or two, but it's still an annoyance. Some folks may find the size of the watch off-putting too, but I don't mind it on my 7.25" wrist.

Of all of the watches on the list, the DW-291H offers the most bang for the buck. The water resistance and crystal material punch way above the $30 price, and the functions of the watch will provide a ton of utility.

#2: Casio AE-1200

AE1200WH

Well, this one really doesn't need much introduction. The AE-1200, nicknamed the Casio Royale, is a bona fide modern classic. I reviewed it last summer, and still really enjoy it. It's an inexpensive watch ($20-$30) that's packed full of features, and has a strong aftermarket modding community.

Without just regurgitating my review of the AE-1200, this watch packs a ton of features into a small package. We've got a perpetual calendar, 5 alarms, a stopwatch, a countdown timer, world time, and 3 extra concurrently tracked time zones. Additionally, we've got a wonderful backlight, 100m of water resistance and a 10 year battery life.

Casio makes a handful of variants of the AE-1200. Some have different colorways or band colors, and some come with metal bracelets. I was hard on the poor quality of the metal bracelet during my full review, however, I've warmed to it over the last few months. The standard resin straps are very comfortable, and tend to hold up fairly well for being on a $20 watch.

The dial on the Royale is really cool to look at. Being entirely objective, it's a little busy. The numerals could be a little larger too. However, it is still very legible at a glance, and the sub-dial and world map display are certainly neat. The highlighting of current time zone on the map still tickles my fancy pretty well too.

Casio World Time Glock 48

In contrast to the DW-291, the buttons on the Royale are a fair bit firmer to press in. They aren't hard to use, but with the extra force needed, I haven't found myself accidentally depressing the buttons in my daily wear.

Now, the big make-or break is the world time function. If you don't think you'll have a need for it, then you won't use it, and another watch would likely serve you better. I find it invaluable both in my personal and professional life, and really enjoy having it.

Part of what makes the AE-1200 so great is the aftermarket. From simple mods like removing text from the case or switching to a NATO strap, to total replacement of the case and bracelet, you can do a lot with the Royale. This is kind of like the Mazda Miata of Casios, except you get to be a lot more tasteful than the average custom Miata.

#1: G-Shock DW-5600E-1V

DW5600E-1V

The G-Shock. It's a line of watches that most people are familiar with. G-Shocks have been made since 1983, and have been all over the world. And under the ocean. Oh, and even in space. At the top of my list is the most budget G-Shock, the DW-5600E-1V. These specific G-Shocks have been in production since 1987, and run about $48-$52 at most online retailers.

As part of the name, the G-Shock was made to be durable, and to survive a lot of damage and drops. The DW-5600 certainly continues that pedigree, and is a beefy, durable watch. We've got a rubber housing over the actual watchcase, which protects the watch and hides the buttons a bit. On top of that, there's a mineral glass crystal, and a screw-down caseback that makes the DW-5600 water resistant to 200M. Battery life is only two years, but swapping batteries is a fairly easy process.

For functions, this is a fairly basic digital watch. We've got the time, a perpetual calendar, one alarm, a countdown timer, and a stopwatch. Hey, it's (almost) all you need, and nothing that you don't. Aside from the functions, there's also a strong, teal colored backlight. It's fantastic, and is extremely usable in most lighting conditions.

Now, there is a single feature that is lacking on the 5600, but higher end G-Shocks have it. The 5600 lacks a dual time mode, which is something that I do miss. With friends and co-workers all over the country, being able to track a second time comes in handy, but lacking it isn't a deal breaker for me. The higher dollar G-Shocks come with a lot more features, and dual time is generally one of them.

Size-wise, the 5600 is one of the smallest G-Shocks that Casio produces. Coming in at about 43mm case width and 13.5mm thick, it's certainly not small, but this square isn't massive like a lot of G-Shocks. I find that a lot of folks can wear the old brick pretty well, even with an aftermarket NATO strap. Sure, it won't fit under a cuff super easily, and you won't be able to dress it up. However, this is meant to be a better, and man, it excels there.

Casio DW-5600E-1V Fall Day
My DW-5600 companioning me on a shooting trip in Fall 2023.

On the wrist, the DW-5600E-1V feels tough. You know you aren't gonna be able to break it, and something about that just really inspires some confidence. Regardless of weather, temperature, or what mess you're getting into, you know that your watch won't have any problems. This does lead to another minor gripe, as the beefiness of the design does hinder a little bit of the use.

The buttons are quite recessed on the DW-5600. This is done to protect them from shock or accidental impacts. As a downside, they can be hard to press with your fingers. Once you get used to how to press them, it isn't so bad. However, it took me about a week to wire my brain on the "best" way to hit those buttons while wearing this watch.

So the DW-5600E-1V has two things that are gripes, so why is it at the top of my list? Well, I just really like it. Sure, it won't be as good as a traveler's watch as the AE1200 or the DW-291H. Sure, the buttons can be hard to press. However, this watch just really wears well, and brings me joy to use. It also doesn't hurt that I think this watch will survive damage better than the rest, even though that damage would likely kill me first.

The Verdict

This list is wholly mine, but I have a feeling that a lot of folks will be kindred spirits on my choices. What Casio is your budget GOAT?

Additional Reading & Patreon Link

If you liked this review, check out some of my watch reviews:

If you'd like to support me on Patreon, I've got the link for that here. Nearly everything that I do on Primer Peak is paid for out of my own pocket, and my content is not shilled or driven by manufacturers or companies. If you decide to donate, I'd really appreciate it, as it would allow for me to continue to bring you quality work.

About Paul Whaley 183 Articles
Paul Whaley is a guy with an interest in practical and defensive pistol shooting techniques with an eye for quality gear. He has received training from Holistic Solutions Group, John Johnston of Citizens Defense Research, Darryl Bolke, Cecil Birch, and Chuck Haggard. When not trying to become a better shooter, he can be found enjoying a zombie videogame or listening to Warren Zevon.

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