Casio F91W-1: The retro watch with a strange double life

By Montredo in Lifestyle Reviews
February 4, 2020
Casio F91W-1: The retro watch with a strange double life

There is, of course, great charm in expensive watches, with their opulent finish, noble materials and prestigious complications. They are things of great beauty and, at the same time, masterpieces of horological technology, and have inspired and delighted us for centuries. Every now and then, however, we come across a cheap watch – in this case a really cheap watch – with an incredible story which is equally deserving of the often overinflated status of “Watch Icon.”

A good example of such a watch, which has been topping Amazon’s best-selling watch list for years, is the Casio F91W-1. Casio, one of the largest Japanese watch manufacturers, launched the F91W-1 in 1989, which means the watch celebrated its 30th birthday in 2019. What makes this watch such a perennial favorite?

Casio F91W-1

It looks affordable, and it is: the Casio F91W-1

7 reasons why the Casio F91W-1 is so endearing:

#7 Nostalgia factor:
This watch has been available for 30 years without changing, and is still identical to the original. Especially for Generation X, who still knows and appreciates the watch from their youth, the Casio offers a perfect relic of the past on the wrist. 100% retro!

#6 Function:
The watch has a stopwatch that works to the nearest hundredth of a second, an alarm mode, reasonably effective backlighting, a calendar and a certain level of water resistance, at least enough to protect it from splashing. There was no more space for a moon phase, but all the vital functions are on board.

#5 Robustness:
Even if the watch does not belong to the legendary G-Shock series (it is actually from the F series), it lives up to that name. Despite its fly weight of 21g, the watch is nearly indestructible, and if it ever actually kicks the bucket, likely so too does the wearer. It is, in any case, more than sufficient for everyday use. Phrases like “predetermined breaking point” or “planned obsolescence” simply do not appear in Casio’s vocabulary.

#4 Price:
The watch is currently available for an almost absurd € 10. Although probably not consonant with the inventor’s intentions, many F91W wearers report that in the event of dead batteries (which, according to the manufacturer, occurs only about every 7 years anyway), they simply get a new watch.

#3 Easter Egg:
If you press the lower right button for three seconds, the word “CASI0” appears. A nice trick and a way to check the authenticity of the watch, since (if you can believe it) even this watch is counterfeited.

#2 Strange double life:
Due to its low price, its international availability and its simple functionality, the F91W-1 has earned the dubious reputation of a “terrorist watch” favored by al-Qaeda. Reason: It is perfect as a timer for detonating bombs. This watch has been particularly popular among Guantanamo detainees and Afghan bombing course graduates.

#1 Every Collection needs a Beater:
It costs ten Euros, so for roughly the price of lunch at the corner deli you get a watch that you can put on and never give a second thought. Door handle phobia is now a thing of the past with this watch. Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, but anyone can see that the F91W-1 has a lot to offer for a watch in its price range. Not suitable for a wedding, or for that matter even a date, this is the perfect watch for all situations in which you probably shouldn’t be wearing a watch in the first place.