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I must be hitting mid-life crisis time here, hankering after my youth or something, because just recently I've been overpowered with the urge to buy a digital watch!
That's only half true actually.
I wanted a watch as a workhorse rather than for dressing up - something tough, robust but still with some style - that I could wear to the gym and while cycling that I didn't have to worry about knocking or getting dirty.
After asking around, almost everyone pointed me in the direction of the Casio G-Shock - a watch I've previously avoided because...well, it's a Casio.
Once again, ignorance brought on by watch snobbery almost allowed an absolute gem to pass me by, but I'm happy to attest that I am now Casios biggest fan!
So, after reading a few (hundred!) reviews, comparing models online and roaming the high street, I plumped for this one - a 3500B.
It does exactly what most of the G-Shocks do (which is to say, everything!) but the colour scheme jumped out at me and reminded me of the outrageously expensive Audemars Piguet 'Bumblebee' I spotted while on holiday recently.
£150 seemed a less extravagant investment than £25,000 after all.
Rather than being an all-out digital watch, this one has a full analogue display, with minute and hour hands on the main dial. Personally, while it makes the watch look a little more busy than it needs to be, I prefer having hands display the time rather than a digital read-out.
This watch does it all!
We've established that the hands display the time, but there are LCD readouts top and bottom for any of the other features, which include 5 alarms (why five?), 'World Time' from 26 cities across the globe, a 24 hour chronograph timer and a 1/100th second stopwatch.
It's also water resistant to 20 atmospheres (200m to you and me!), and just about completely shock-proof with its moulded resin outer case built to absorb any jolts it might take, while the workings are encased in a second steel compartment within.
This is what tempted me to an atomic model - the watch, erm, sets itself.
At six locations across the globe (the UK one is located at Anthorn in Cumbia), there is a radio tower connected to an atomic clock.
The atomic clock is the most accurate timekeeping device on the planet. Atoms are passed through a tube and exposed to radiation, causing the electrons within that atom to hop between states of energy. This is measured and totted up by a detecting device at the end of each tube, with just over 9 billion energy cycles adding up to one second.
Having such a ridiculously precise way to measure a second gives a margin of error of 0.03 nanoseconds per day - or one full second every hundred million years!!!
The atomic clock is connected to a transmitter which sends out a pulse once or twice a day that is picked up by the receiver inside the watch, and it 'corrects' itself - jumping forward or backwards a few seconds so it's in sync with the atomic clock.
This is a 6-band watch, meaning that it can instantly connect to any of the 6 transmitters depending which is closest. If you take it on holiday to America it will pick up the signal coming out of Fort Collins (Colorado) and set itself to local time.
This model is a 'perpetual calendar', so also sets itself to the correct date ever during a leap year.
I'm still getting over how much technology is held inside this watch for such a low price!
The source of its power!
Easy enough, this is a light powered watch, with a slim solar cell just beneath the dial catching ambient and artificial light to keep the watch fully charged for months on end, even if left in total darkness!
Living with it:
This is not a daily wearer, it's just too cumbersome!
The case, despite being made of lightweight resin, is 50mm across the widest point. Given that most sports watches are in the neighbourhood of 40mm and dress watches usually around 36mm, this is a beast!
I am no stranger to large watches, but this is probably the biggest I've had. That's partly a good thing as it was bought to be an action watch - I like to be able to glance down and read it easily when cycling - but frankly this doesn't have much practicality away from that.
Despite marketing the 'G' for the sports market initially, Casio have tried pulling it back into the casual/everyday category and a case this size really doesn't fit there.
Aside from that there is no question that it's an attractive and useful watch, but if it doesn't fit under a shirt cuff it's not much use to me day to day.
One little downer is the strap. I really don't like these rubber/resin straps and I'm currently looking for something fabric to swap it for. When it gets too warm it becomes very sticky and clammy and makes me sweat quite a bit. When its cold it feels stiff like plastic and quite uncomfortable on the wrist.
This has an RRP of £230, but G Shocks seem to be widely discounted online and I found this model as cheap as £130. I paid slightly more for mine, £150, but had the added peace of mind of a 2 year warranty from a bricks and mortar shop which I think is quite important.
Good looking watch that does everything you could ever want.
The size is a downer as it rules it out of wearing to work or out on the town, but then again I bought it partly for its size as it added to its functionality as a sports watch.
The technology inside is top drawer. Though a lot of it is widely available now across the watch industry, nowhere will you see better value. Citizen do a lot of similarly tech'ed watches and they cost three times what a G Shock does.
I can pick faults with it if I'm being fussy, but on reflection this ticks every box I needed ticking when buying a sport/utility watch, it cost less than I'd budgeted for and has every feature I need plus a few I don't.
The reason it doesn't get the 5 star treatment is that strap - but I'd still happily give it a 4.5 if we were rating half-stars.
If you need a gym watch, have a look at these - some are £20 on e.bay and this one at £200 is one of the very top end ones, so great value.
Casio Men's Watch (GW-3500B-1AER) / Shape of the case: Round / Glass type: Mineral crystal / Casing material: Stainless Steel / Wrist band material: Synthetic / Colour of the dial: Black / Black coloured strap/bracelet / Digits: no digits / Clock mechanism: Solar / Radiocontrolled: yes / Water resistant: yes / Water resistance: max. 20 bar