An Engineer in Wonderland – A watch for all seasons

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Those that buy watches with hands, in my opinion, are fashion victims.

If the designer of the first watch had had access to digital technology, I am fairly sure he or she would have gone straight to digits.

And those with too much money buy mechanical watches.

It impresses me that firms still design mechanical watches – and it pleases me that those that buy them support a thriving and innovative niche engineering industry.

So if you have lots of money, please buy an expensive mechanical watch.  

For me, a simple digital watch is sufficient, and I have now had three of Casio’s evergreen W-59 design.

And I would still have number one or number two if I have not crushed and lost them respectively.

Why the W-59?

Well, first of all, it is not too big or thick.
There is a similar one in the range with an electroluminescent backlight, but it is 1mm thicker so the simple space-saving incandescent side illumination wins.
Over the years, this light has changed from white to green, and I am surprised the firm has not swapped to an LED to save a little power.

2. Although it seems to have disappeared from the web, Casio was the only company I know of to publish a simple rule-of-thumb guide that said what its water resistance figures meant in practice.
For example ’50m’ meant 50m static water pressure which equated to so-and-so metres with the added dynamic pressure of swimming, and so-and-so other metres if you wanted to press the buttons under water.
I never have one leak.

3. They are cheap – about £12.

4. The batteries last for at least 5 years, I have never replaced one.

5. Replacement original equipment straps are available from some repair shops. Admittedly they cost £8, but they last so much longer than the £2 types.

6. They are rugged, although the glass does scratch and I did break the face on one of my three.

I suppose my dream watch would also have a countdown timer and an altimeter, and probably GPS and a compass in the same.

And a switch to an E Ink electrophoretic display would increase the viewing angle and clarity which would be nice in marginal lighting.

But overall I think the W-59 is a classic good piece of good engineering.


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  1. I’ve never had a digital watch that lasted more than a couple of years before getting broken! A side effect of the cheap digital age is cheap plastic straps and cases…
    I was given an analogue watch by my grandfather when i was around 8 years old. 25 years later that watch still runs, keeps time, hasn’t gat a scratch on it, and has glow-in-the-dark hands to see the time at night! OK i have to wind it occasionally, but i love it and will give it to my son when he’s a bit older.
    Can anyone honestly say they have a digital watch they would pass to their childeren?

  2. My choice too for a long time but being a brutal male I kept finding the straps broke long before the watch was ready for disposal. Spare straps are 1/2 the cost of the watch and I ran out of straps I could scavenge from broken old (mechanical) watches. A stainless strap from my old Rotary lasted longest but was too heavy for the weaker resin casing and eventually ripped one of the shoulders off. I went up-market and spent an extra £10 on a W-102 with a stainless strap.
    This has been really good (6 yrs so far) but I am reluctantly looking for a mechanical again. The problem is age: ever stronger prescriptions and the legibility of the LCD readout when I’m not wearing glasses, especially early in the morning in a strange hotel. The rich set of scratches on the glass doesn’t help of course and contributes to the inherent lack of contrast of the LCD.
    Mostly I don’t need more than 5mins accuracy and the hands of an analogue watch are that little bit easier to see. You can still get the extras on mechanicals these days – alarm, chrono, etc.

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