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When you think of a digital watch, what first springs to mind? Surely it’s either a G-Shock or the unequivocal F-91W: a real, genuine cult-classic. It just goes to show the influence Casio has been in the watch industry – that this was it still so popular, almost timeless, over 25 years past its release.

Originally released in 1991, it’s not changed at all in its lifespan and was one of the worlds first mass-produced digital watches.

It’ll cost you less than £10 / $15. So the question is, should everyone own one?

Video review

The specs

The case

Let’s start off by saying it’s not the most fashionable – but that’s not its aim. It’s incredibly comfortable – you barely notice it’s perched on the wrist. This is mainly thanks to the ridiculously light weight of 20g and petite dimensions.

The case is made of resin, with an angular approach to a rectangular shape; almost cushion like. The pushers are easy to use and are small steel cylinders.

On the front is a shatter-resistant acrylic “window lens” – aka the crystal. Whilst it may be shatter resistant, it’s not scratch resistant – as mine has a bit of a battle scar by the bottom right pusher. The lens provides exceptional clarity to the LCD screen, which is perfectly visible from every angle, even in direct sunlight.

The caseback is steel and is secured by 4 screws. It has some details stamped into the centre.

The dial

The “dial” isn’t really one as such; but rather an LCD display. You’ve got to love it – it’s clear, crisp, and has everything you need at a glance: time (obviously), day and date. The electrodes of the LCD are super sharp, even under a macro lens.

The display is always easy to read, even in direct sunlight.

The backlight isn’t the best – it’s basically a weak green LED which shines across the dial from one side.

The strap

The strap is made of resin and is very soft and comfortable. There’s some horizontal linear detailing at the top, by the lugs, as well as a channel on the opposite end. The thin nature of the strap makes it a key factor of why the F-91W is supremely easy to wear.

The buckle is plastic, with the Casio logo deeply embossed into the top bar. It’s easy to use, however it could be liable to break due to the material. If anything’s likely to break, it’s this – but if it does, at least it’s cheap enough to buy another one.

The movement

If you’ve not played the game as a child (or adult) where you try to get the stopwatch as low as possible (if you got less than a 10th of a second then you’re a ninja), or dead on 1 second (again, ninja) then you’ve not lived. Period.

A couple of other funky things to be aware of (believe it or not there are fakes of this watch out there): 1. press all the buttons together to display all the digits and 2. hold the bottom right button for 5 seconds for it to read “Casio”.

There’s a 7-year battery life stated, but reports suggest it’s more like 10. It’s powered by another classic: the CR2016 battery. Easy to source.

Functions include a stopwatch up to an hour, a daily alarm, and a beep function on the hour.

Final comments

So should you own one? Whilst it’s not to be used as a fashion piece (unless you’re a hipster), if you do any sort of physical exercise (which you should, I asked your doctor), then yes, without a doubt. It’s just so perfect for being lightweight, comfortable, durable, and crazy cheap. Really, due to the price, there’s no excuse not to. It’s perfect for DIY, walking, the gym, or any exercise.

It’s a watch that is instantly recognisable – apart from perhaps the Rolex Submariner, it’s got to be one of the most well-known timepieces. And as for me, I’m over the moon to own such a classic; which will be there for me whenever I need it.



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View comments 9


  1. Mark Houghton

    Good review Josh, I had one of these when they were out in the early 90’s. A very nice reliable watch indeed. Interesting to see a retro review.

    1. Joshua Clare-Flagg

      Thanks, Mark! Crazy to think it’s still going since 1991 – not changed one bit and so cheap.

  2. PlusWatches

    The Specs are truly amazing. The watch can be wore as a formal and an informal wear. Your review looks quite honest, you’ve done a great job.

  3. Tony Alvaro

    I bought one of these in 1996 when i went to work/live in was my only electrical device and its alarm got me up for all the jobs i did over two years.
    repping, apartment painting, driving jeep safari, construction work, bar work ,boat fishing and i snorkelled every day before or after work and never it missed a beat.
    only reason it failed after five hard years was when the strap broke back in the U.K..
    great watch to take any where as its reliable, non assuming and inexpensive to replace .

  4. William Chow

    Interesting that you’ve photographed the F-91W against the downtube of your Specialized road bike. It’s the perfect watch for cyclists. Light enough for gram watchers, stop watch function for racers, resin strap that won’t rot on sweaty wrists. I’ve just bought one, partly for nostalgic reasons (I had one in the 90s) and partly to avoid damage to a more expensive watch if I should take a tumble. Which I have done a few times before, unfortunately.

    1. Joshua Clare-Flagg

      Thanks for sharing – it really is perfect for cycling isn’t it.

  5. Mike S

    Thanks for a great review! I owned one of these in the 90’s and in the Autumn of my years have ordered one a couple of days ago. I have too many watches already but this one is a classic, I couldn’t resist.

  6. Jay Z.

    Responding to Tony Alvaro’s comment:
    For a Quartz movement it is not terribly accurate. I’ve had at least two different F-91W’s that were as much as 37 seconds ahead of the actual time (atomic clock). My experience strongly suggests this happens if I wear it close to computers. When I keep it away from my computer, it runs ahead of the real time only by 4 seconds per day. Some automatic mechanical watches keep better time (+-2 secs/day).
    But then again, this Casio timepiece is astonishingly cheap, so it really should not be expected to perform with outstanding accuracy.

  7. Tom

    The computer can have no impact on a digital watch like this. I have a couple of these and they stay with half a second a day. Experience of people who have bought counterfeit watches, suggests some of these lose or gain ridiculous amounts of time. I wonder if you accidentally got one of those? The sellers present them as the genuine article and con the buyers with a very bad version which may look the part but contains a VERY substandard circuit.

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