Watch lovers tend to appreciate watches starting at a young age. As a youth all I would wear was Casio watches, fascinated by the time telling wrist borne devices that seemed to be so much more than "just a watch." Frankly, Casio was what my father would buy for me - but I quickly became a serious fan. I was extremely involved with the features that each watch had aside from it telling the time. Features such as the calendar, timer, alarm, and chronograph kept me comfortable in the knowledge that I had these tools at my disposal if I needed them. I then started getting watches with such amazing (for me at the time) functions like a calculator, thermometer, or a world timer. I liked to mix and match the models to find the one that had the most features I wanted. Those with the most features always seemed to be a bit more than my dad wanted to spend -which was fine as there is only so much that a kid needs (I needed something to look forward to right?). The last full-time Casio watch I had was in high school, and was a Casio G-Shock. So for a huge chunk of my life, I was a dedicated Casio watch lover.
At that point in my life I never did get that holy grail Casio watch that was bundled with all the cool features and technologies - until now that is. I finally got that dream Casio watch I always wanted, and I have to admit it is damn satisfying. Of course there is a distinct element of "I've always wanted one of these," in my current joy, but at the same time there is a level of refinement in a watch like this that you don't even have in Swiss watches (which related to the user experience with the fucntions) More on that in a bit, lets go over what this beast is. This is Casio's newest and most feature rich Pathfinder series watch (model PAW-1500T-7V. Its major claim to fame is its relatively thin size and complete list of features and functions. At $400 it is the most expensive (US) Pathfinder watch, but still a really good value. In fact, Casio watches are some of the best values around, period.
One of the pictures I took has the Pathfinder watch next to a card that comes with it that list out the major draws. Using my own language, I am going to write out a list of what I think best sums up the Casio Pathfinder PAW-1500T:
- Titanium strap (comfy with micro adjustments).
- Tri-band radio receives signals from three major atomic clocks around the world - to ensure watch keeps perfect time.
- Solar cell recharges battery with most any light - never needs a new battery.
- Tide chart
- Moon phase
- World time
- Alarm, Chronograph, Timer,
- Altimeter (with memory)
- Barometer (with memory)
- 200 Meters of Water Resistance
What a list! I know it by heart as I keep mentioning it to people when I have them (force them t0) check out the watch on my wrist. I've never known of any other watch that has all these features together. This watch is due for placement (as another Casio Pathfinder watch is) on the "watches fit for survival on deserted island list." Check out the link if you haven't already read one of my favorite articles that I wrote back when I first started the site. The idea is that because the watch has so many useful features and does not need to have battery changes, it is perfect for your life away from civilization and survival - but also makes for a perfect companion if your life isn't as rugged and/or rustic.
Let me tell you this. Even if the features in the watch (aside from what is displayed on the default screen such as the time and date) don't interest you - the watch is still incredibly useful. The main screen is very well designed, and is a result of Casio figuring out what to do best after years of trials. The most important function - telling the time- is done in a larger size and right in the middle. So many other watches like this push the time out of the way. The calendar functions sit above and below the time, with the moon phase being off to the left side. Other details on the face include information about daylight savings time (DST), the state of the battery and whether the watch is in power savings mode. An easy to use backlight button is placed below the face, and an auto backlight can be turned on when tilt your wrist (so you don't even need two hands). Lots of little great features are in the watch - but you'll have to read the manual to find them out if you aren't a regular Casio watch owner. Which is an issue with the watch, but something you really can't get around. The basic features of this watch are easy to use, but to be an expert with all the functionality you'll need to delve into the manual. Casio, I have to give it to you, you have probably the best watch instruction manuals on the planet. Really, some other brands don't have manuals at all, or ones that are worthless. Not Casio. With them you get a well written, clear guide to operating your watch. Look at the picture of the watch sitting on the manual. Pretty thick (the English language section is still about 120 pages), but purposeful.
As I said, the layout of the buttons and information on the Pathfinder watch is really well done. The sections on the LCD display are cleverly used for several purposes. For example, the area with the smaller pixels used to tell the date is also used as the graph for the barometric pressure. The dial and screen is interesting to look at closely. Along with all the detail, you really appreciate everything that the watch does. The outermost ring is a rotating bezel, which is mostly used for navigational purposes in combination with the compass. There are little micro clicks, but it moves pretty smoothly. The bezel is a bit easy to move out of place and tricky recenter perfectly, but then again it adds a level of precision to the functionality. If you don't know what I mean you will when you have the watch. The first part of the screen itself is the solar panel. You really wouldn't notice it unless you know what it was as it is covered with little indicators that are used as part of the various functions. This was Casio's clever way of not only hiding the solar panel, but also allowing for it to be placed on a watch with an LCD panel. Moving in more is a thin ring. In the default mode this helps you count the seconds in an analog manner, but also is used for such functions as the compass (and others). On the main dial you see a small sectioned orb on the top left, that is the moon phase display, and at the lower part of the dial is the special graph for the tide chart. This is all I will go over, if I went on like this, talking about each screen, you'd probably stop reading. Just know that pushing the "MODE" button or one of the dedicated function buttons on the right of the watch cycles through the various screens. Lots to play with and keep you occupied (all it needs now are games to play with).
This isn't the first watch I've had that is solar powered, but it is the most advanced. This goes along with the radio controlled part. These two features are very welcome and work particularly well in the PAW-1500T. Casio has had year to improve and polish these functions, and it shows. The solar panel is charged by any light, not just the sun. The brighter the light, the faster it charges. At full charge the watch will last a long time, months really. Still, the watch is stingy with power, which is good. If the watch is out of light for long enough, it goes into power saving mode. This means the entire screen turns off, even though the watch is still technically on. It does this to save power. If you are wearing the watch and this happens, you just need to press and button to turn the screen back on. Alternatively, the moment the watch is exposed to any light, it automatically turns back on (this is really cool). As for the atomic clock aspect of the watch, things work equally well. you'll have to break open the manual to learn all about it, but the watch will auto-receive or can be manually set to receive the radio signals. It doesn't do so all the time as it would draw on the power too much. The watch has an antenna built in the top of the watch for this purpose. It will bore you to cover this more I am sure, but this is a well integrated function of the watch and results in making sure that the watch is always very accurate as it syncs with the atomic clock (located in Fort Collins, CO, here in the states).
Looking at the watch itself again, you have something that is very comfortable to wear - surprisingly so for the size. Like I said, this is a very thin version of the Casio Pathfinder watches, and it shows. While not a "thin" watch comparatively speaking, it does not feel too hefty and sits well on the wrist. Further, the titanium bracelet makes the watch quite light. Plus the bracelet is tapered so that it is not too thick all the way around (an important feature). The triple locking deployment is easy to use and smooth. You'd think this Pathfinder watch weighed more given the size, but it does not. Yes, it does have its share of plastic, but none of the materials are cheap feeling. At about 50mm wide, the case is big though it wears smaller than it looks. The large flat case stays solidly on the top of your wrist and does not slide around I am happy to say. From a style standpoint this watch is all tech looking. Men will love the design. It is perfect for any activity, but I wouldn't wear it with a suit. That is the draw back - do anything you want with the watch, just don't wear it to a business meeting or on a date. When watch geeks are in the presence of watch geeks - show this awesome tool off - when women are around you can hide it under your sleeve unless you are hiking or doing outdoors activities (then you might look cool, or at least well prepared).
Personally I am very happy with this watch, and it satisfies me in a very primal way. Few watches I have feel so right on my wrist, even if they are more classy and feature more exotic materials and manufacturing. Perhaps is it a vestige of when I was a kid and am now just so happy to have the coolest watch around on my wrist? Or is it something else? Does Casio have some special watch making formula that just beats everyone else when it comes to immediate gratification and utility? I am not sure, but what I do know is that I won't be giving this watch away, and I am quite happy and comforted that Casio keeps making watches like these. Which brings me to a final point. While the $400 Casio Pathfinder PAW-1500T is no where near priced what some of the beautiful European watches I am used to ask for, and does not share their penchant for aesthetic, it does has something none of them have. Casio builds these watches in volumes that would cripple most other brands - millions of units as opposed to thousands or even just hundreds. For that reason so much effort is put into basic user functionality and enjoyment, because the watch has to work for, and appeal to so many people. This is what I mean by a highly refined watch, and this is what you get with the Casio Pathfinder. It is a watch perfectly suited for telling you the time plus lots of other appreciate information in a reliably and (most important) enjoyable way. For all that, it gets my aBlogtoRead.com Seal of Approval Award.