Technology, Nostalgia and a nice price point is a very heady drug

I was recently reading a post that Kev Quirk wrote

The Casio F-91W Is the Best Smartwatch

But let's backup a little. It actually starts with a post by on the Fediverse,

Got this watch as a gift from an uncle a few years ago, had to change a battery to bring it back to life after a while, quite cool, I think

Do you guys still go analog, digital or you rock a smartwatch or band?

[ Includes a picture of a nice Victorinox watch with an analog interface ]

What follows are lots of posts about watches that various people like, quite a number of which are classic Casios including the "best watch ever made" (a.k.a. the Casio F-91W).

As you can guess from the title of Kev's post, he buys one and [Spoiler alert] gives his Apple watch to his wife. The post proceeds to explain why the F-91W is better than other "smart watches". Kev's post amused me greatly because it is nicely written and because I have seen this play out before. Indeed I suspect it played out a similar way for many of the F-91W owners.

I am not going to go to great lengths to tell you why the Casio F-91W specifically is the best watch because Kev and others already have this covered. After you have read Kev's post, go to your favourite search engine and search for "Casio F-91W" and you will find plenty of other articles and videos along these lines.

After Kev posted a link to his post on the Fediverse, myself and others replied. Here are selection of my interactions with Kev

I don't care what anyone says, the Casio F-91W is the BEST #Smartwatch on the market. 🙃


@kev Yes but Casio F-84W for me. It is essentially the same though. 😉


@ruari what's the difference? Is it slightly updated internals or something?


@kev The internals are identical. It is just a slightly different design of the face and a watch strap that is a narrower. They were only ever officially released for the Japanese market and AFAIK are still more popular there than the F-91W.


@ruari I wonder if it was the 84 I had when I was a kid then...It would have been before the 91 was released, and my parents would have definitely got the cheapest they could find.


@kev Unless they bought it from Japan, probably not.

It could have been a Casio F-28W though. That one looks shockingly close to the F-84W but is no longer made.


@kev If you want that look you recall and intend to buy something new, the F-84W is therefore still probably your best bet.

Even as an import is still costs almost nothing! 😉


@ruari urgggg I'm soooo tempted to pick this up.


@ruari I've bought 2 while going through the replies to this thread!! 😂

If I get the 84, that'll be 3!

@ruari I bought it. 😳

@ruari It gets worse...I just bought a display case for them too. WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME???


@kev Nothing is wrong with you! Nothing at all!

As you can guess from my reassuring comment, I have fallen down this rabbit hole myself. I own a bunch of Casio watches, most of which are only minor variants of the same basic theme.


I think there are a few things going on here and they boil down to

In their own right these watches are technological marvels, showcasing the great leaps made in the 1970s and 80s. They are very accurate even by today's standards. I have an F-91W sitting on my desktop that has lost one second of time over the course of several months! They are not rated to be that accurate but F-91Ws often exceed their ratings. Ask the people who regularly swim with them when they are only rated as "Water Resistant" (which in the real world basically means splash resistant).

In addition to accurate time, it displays the date, includes an alarm and a stopwatch. If that wasn't enough you can (just about) read it in the dark via its tiny backlight, it is basically waterproof and the battery lasts for… well… forever? 😉

Which leads to the next bit, Nostalgia. I recall variants of these watches owned by my father, my older brother and my various friends. You also saw them in films. In Alien, Ellen Ripley wears two Casio A-100s (albeit with some fancy customisation), while in Back to the Future, Marty McFly sports a Casio CA-53W.

Back in those days, the tech was cutting edge and the price (while cheap compared to "classic watches") was still enough to mean something. Thus these watches were the kind of thing many geeky kids lusted after, with some lucky enough to own. If you didn't have one or perhaps even if you did, they felt special.

And the styling of these watches was (and is) certainly interesting. They look nothing like the classic time pieces of old. In attempting to look futuristic, they now look very dated, with strange design choices like having their various features listed prominently on the watch face. Thus you get phrases like "WATER RESISTANT" and "ALARM" permanently on display. The F-84W even says "Lithium" because of the 'fancy' battery technology. 😆 And yet in other ways, these watches are very understated. No diamonds or precious metals here. They have very functional designs.

But now the real clincher… price. Technology has moved on and these basic designs were perfected in the 80s, yet costs have continued to decrease due to improvements in mass production. In today's money, compared with a typical Western salary they almost feel like they are free. I have paid more for a beer that I finished in 10 minutes than I did for the F-91W I bought a few years back. And yet the F-91W will last "forever".

And so it begins, you buy one and it is great. The only watch you ever need! … But wait, "This other [slight variant] looks nice and perhaps feature X would be nice as well?". So you buy another… and another… and… well you get the idea.

Good luck Kev, if you are anything like me, you will end up with far too many of "the only watch you will ever need". 😜

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