June 21, 2010
by Ariel Adams
When I was visiting with Casio at their rather massive room at Baselworld 2010, it was almost an overwhelming, colorful adventure of Casiotopia. The G-Shock area was probably the most interesting to me because those Japanese designers frequently have something stimulation each year that you don’t expect. This year it was a watch with a surprisingly affordable watch. Not like any Casio is unaffordable, but given the rise in quality and prices in Citizen and Seiko, I was expecting some similar high-end stuff from Casio. For me, one of their major 2010 stars was a very inexpensive watch – and I think most people will like it. At just $99 and coming in a range of really fun colors – this Casio GA100 X-Large Combi line of timepieces hits a sweet spot catering both to G-Shock enthusiasts, and people who are often turned off by digital only watches.
The GA100 (aka GA-100) collection is not without its quirks, but overall it is a great watch. Casio calls it the “X-Large Combi” because the case is a bit big, and it is a combination of both analog hands and four small LCD screens. This mixture of both elements has been done before, but works in a very stylish and fun manner here. Aside from just the hip, industrial style of the watch, it has some less than common features for Casio timepieces. First is the 1/1000 of a second stopwatch (chronograph) function. When you need such precision, or how reliable your fingers are when it comes to such small variations in time – I don’t know. But what I do know is that you have the ability to measure very small differences in time, which makes this a bona fide gadget watch!
The chronograph function is combined with a digital tachymeter in way that I haven’t seen before. A tachymeter is used to measure speed traveled, assuming you can measure a pre-defined distance. Say you want to measure the speed of something, and you can gauge when it has traveled exactly one mile. At the starting point of the time you’d start the chronograph, and then stop it when whatever you are measuring travels one mile. Using a few of the screens together, you can read the speed traveled. The watch settings allow you to adjust the unit of measuring (mile, kilometer), and I think the distance traveled as well. It is a fun little toy that will no doubt be useful to a few people. The subsidiary analog hand at the top of the dial is used for this purpose actually. It is used with the digital window to its right to measure speeds up to 1000mph or 1000kph. There is another little window for speeds over 1000!
While you have the time in an analog fashion, you also have the ability to have the time digitally in the lower left digital LCD window. This is sometimes easier depending on your preferences – or when reading the time at night. Which brings me to a issue with at least some of the GA100 watches. The analog hands have no lume, but the hour indicators around the dial do have lume. Why this is? I don’ t know. There is a backlight in the form of a lower mounted LED light, but when it is turned on in the dark it sort of washes out the LCD screens and makes the hands not super easy to read (especially the red hour hand on this color combo). For me, this means that while it is not impossible to read the GA100 at night, it is not an ideal G-Shock for this purpose. There are others though that excel at night reading.
Other functions the watch has are pretty standard Casio G-Shock fare. Calendar, timer, alarms, world time, auto LED, chiming features, and lots of durability. The Japanese quartz movement is a lot of what you expect in Casio watches. Here, the watch has a value price because higher-priced functions such a solar charging, and atomic clock radio synchronizing are absent. Not that all watches with these features are much more expensive, but they would have made the design of the GA100’s dial not possible, and would have risen the price. The watch crystal is actually really clear, with next to no glare making the dial very easy to read. The main allure for me of the watch is in fact the high-style dial. The stacked brick texture with the instrument like windows is well-designed and feels like a modern tale of the G-Shock ideals. Symmetry is also good – especially as many G-Shock dials feel off-centered to me.
The watch case is actually about 51mm wide, but you’d never know that wearing it. It wears smaller actually, and doesn’t look silly. The case architecture looks good. Large contrast color pushers are easy to find and press, and the style of the strap is actually press nice. The resin materials the case is make out of are better than usual. There is a soft, satin feeling to the plastic which is a step above what you might have been used to in the past. The strap connects via double pins for a secure buckling.
In addition to the black and red colored version you see here, there are some fancy color combos that are really fun. My fav is the white and purple (yes, that is my favorite), and there is a CAT tractor looking yellow and block style. In Japan, there will be even more styles if you feel like seeing what is available overseas. Overall a great new G-Shock collection, especially for people who wouldn’t normally consider a digital watch. While the GA100 X-Large Combi is not without its minor issues, it is an enjoy experience, and a good looking watch that is bound to lift your style just a little bit. Once again, retail price is $99.
Learn more or get one at Casio here.
Thanks to Casio for the review unit, Opinions are 100% independent.