Casio Duro MDV-106 review and ideas

[Tiempo de lectura 9 m]

Casio Duro MDV-106 review and ideas.

With the Duro (meaning hard in Italian and Spanish), Casio has the opportunity of achieving something truly special, and they’re so very close it’s baffling they failed the goal —which of course we don’t know what it really was, aside from selling units.

So, listen up, Casio, I’m going to tell you my opinion on this great wristwatch and how could you achieve immortal greatness and eternal glory with your next iteration.

Some previous Marlin (the Duro’s fan mascot name: every legendary diver has a fan given mascot name, this one cheats somewhat, because there’s the marlin up front) was this monstrosity:

Casio MDV102, one of many Marlins.

Which is, let’s face it, quite cheesy, with its huge illuminator button —even worse than the Omega Seamaster’s laughable manual He valve— the knobby-like-a-tractor bezel edge, and 4 lines of text. It’s very clearly a Casio, and that’s not bad per se, but if you’re making a diver to compete with all the divers out there (and I’m not talking ISO 6425: the Marlin is not a proper diver, it’s a desktop diver, a fashion diver… Type Diver as in the great Japanese tradition of naming things), you need to ditch a bit the funny funky childish look.

Then, Casio has a whole lineup of Duros with chronographs and whatnot in their MDV3xx:

Which is also what you’d expect from Casio, endless iterations on the same subject with the goal of appealing to everyone and land a sell. But somewhere along their road I asume they had a designer, who must be elevated in range and position —he should be given rum and treasure— for he had a vision and they managed this watch:

Casio MDV106. The only proper Marlin.

If you know anything about diver watches, you’ll immediately notice this is no mere Casio Cheap Diver, you’ll notice this is a Submariner homage, which in turn is a Fifty Fathoms —as worn by Jacques Cousteau— copy!

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is the archetypal Diver’s watch, the very first one, but the look was popularized by Tudor and Rolex (in the 1950s!!!) and it has been so successful people relate it with “diver watch” with just a side glance, every brand out there has their interpretation on the Submariner (even Ferragamo ffs! /facepalm), and cemented Divers as a pillar of horology (Divers, Chronographs, Field, Dress and Fashion being the main branches into which watches divide).

You’ll notice the rotating bezel, hashed to 15 and every 10, the 12 o’clock lume pip, the big legible hands and function check (lume pip to know your watch is still ticking in the dark) in the seconds hand.

Casio’s version is incredibly well done for less than 40USD and this is why we have to forgive them everything wrong with the Duro, but them being who they are, I’m sure they will do better, so here are the things I’ll improve if I were Casio:

Things to improve for the Duro to become a Japanese legend:

Improve finishing, just a bit.

Is a bit hard to capture it but this is enough for you to get the idea: the lugs have 3 visible faces, a polished side one, a polished inclined small one (between red arrows) and a brushed horizontal one. The small polished ones are different in width, left one being wider. And this is not a small mistake, I’m amazed no one has mentioned in their reviews: this is very noticeable once you know. It’s a result for the need to accommodate the crown guards, and I think this is a very easy mistake to fix, Casio needs just adjust and improve the CNC or whatever method they use and make them more symmetrical. Of course you can let it go because the watch costs less than 40USD. But there’s an important improving opportunity.

I’m going to obviate the price thing for the remainder. It’s clear if they improved all the points I’m making, then it would cost 5 times more… but one can dream.

Cheap movement.

Apparently (I haven’t opened mine), Casio uses a cheap Miyota (owned by Citizen) for this, and it shows: hour hand is almost always off: when the minute hand reaches 12, the hour hand is either a few minutes behind or a few minutes ahead, it’s seldom spot on. The second hand also doesn’t hit all the marks all the time: on my 12 marker it lands perfectly half the time, and almost perfectly half the time —it’s a thing to live with with most quartz movements in whichever price range. When I bought mine, this problem was so blatant —even considering the price!— I had to return it and ask for another one, which came better, but still imperfect. Even when setting the time you can tell this is a very cheap movement, the crown stem feels wobbly, the hands jump all around the dial. This is expected but to Casio I say this:

You have one of the greatest traditions as far as modern watch brands go, you continuously produce high tech, top of the line movements, digital and analogs (your G-Shocks and ProTreks are unmatched by whatever Swiss brand you care to name, what you’re doing with the Oceanus line is amazing). Your innovation, research and development, and technology creation are the best in the field—and other fields!
By now you must understand your legions of loyal fans expect you to make an accurate (as in the hands hit the marks), tough, reliable, and inexpensive quartz movement yourselves, and not to rely on cheap Miyotas.

I’m not asking for a mechanical movement —you’re Casio, not Seiko— just a decent, accurate quartz. This is expected of you.

Several design issues.

  • The watch is a monster. It’s huge, it needs to be around 41mm bezel outer diameter, 45mm lug to lug to be perfect. Wearability is an issue, you’re always taking care of not hitting it against everything, a nato-zulu strap is unusable because the watch ends up skyscrapper-high. It took me about three weeks to get somewhat accustomed to it, which is ridiculous.
  • Date is very hard to read because its minuscule size, so much it’s almost unusable.
  • The crown is very small, this is a tool watch, it needs a bigger crown. Also, it looks silly.
  • Underside of lugs is not evenly finished: on mine one of the lug edges is almost razor sharp; another one I use to fillet my steaks. A better sanding-finishing work needs to be done.
  • Lume is definitely a sad laugh. Pictures may show otherwise (because cameras are much more sensitive than your eyes), but the lume is practically non-existant. Yes it flares right after the sun hits it and looks quite bright, yes it lasts the whole night, but unusable: you need complete darkness. This is usual of Casio’s Lumibrite, but if Citizen and Seiko can do better at any price point, they can too.
  • The coin edge could be better, just take a look at the beautiful edge on the Seiko Submariner (SKX031) pictured below to get an idea of how to do a proper and beautiful coin edge. While you’re at it, look how well balanced that Seiko looks: that’s because it’s smaller and the crown is bigger. It would be the perfect diver but for a missing 12 o’clock lume pip and the usual Seiko issue: missaligned chapter ring / bezel.
  • Change the name! With Seiko, fans name the watches because the official way is preposterous, and with this one the obvious naming is the Casio Marlin, because you know, it has a marlin printed on the dial and engraved on the back. So ditch the Duro moniker which is hideous.
  • Remove all the text. Ditch the “WR 200M” legend below the marlin. Be classy, not like Rolex and its dial text-walls. We know you Casio also love printing everything the watch can do on the dial, but this is pretending to pass as a classy diver… Oceanus anyone?
  • Of course, the movement. Why we have to put up with a cheap Miyota instead of a proper Casio Tough Solar is beyond me. While you’re at it, throw in MultiBand 6 and WaveCeptor and we’ll be talking.

Design issues that are OK.

The previous are the issues that need to get fixed in order for the Duro to become a legend on it’s own, Casio can start something as special as the SKX007s. There are other issues that their fixing would increase the price several times, so they can stay as they are and I’m just going to mention them for the sake of it.

  • Aluminium bezel insert. Well, duh! A ceramic one is out of the question —also, to me a ceramic bezel doesn’t look good on a tool watch, too flashy, too girly. The lume at 12 obviously needs to be upgraded as mentioned.
  • Mineral glass crystal. Casio’s mineral glass is particularly soft and you can be sure it will get a scracth or two in the first minutes of use, but a sapphire one would increase the price too much. Not even Seiko uses sapphire in their entry level diver’s.
  • Clickety-clackety could be better, it feels spongy and has a lot of play when rotating (but stays firmly in place when left alone). Grip is poor because the edge is too soft and the notches are too close to one another, this is an issue that’s solved with a better coin edge as mentioned.
  • 120 clicks are perfect, don’t listen to the absurd Citizen 60 clicks crowd. After getting a Citizen with 60 clicks (and after using 120 on the Casio’s and previously on a TAG Heuer for years), I now think otherwise: 60 clicks is much better because you can get to the desired point faster, most times with just one swipe (it also helps the Citizen I got has a grippier bezel).
  • Buckle says “stainless steel China” which is annoying, I have a couple of replacement bracelets for G-Shock that read “Casio Japan”.
  • Dial is warped? On the applied indices and under hard light, you can see the dial is not perfectly finished, it appears warped around the indices, but it’s really not a big deal and improving it would increase pricing too much. At least the warping doesn’t look like a mistake and it’s evenly distributed across the indices. The sunburst is passable—if barely visible.
Casio Duro MDV106.

Too bad the height increases to unacceptable levels with a ZULU and twice as much with a NATO.

So, there you have it Casio. You could end up with a legend of a watch with the next Casio Marlin! Oh, and here’s a couple extra ideas to finish convincing you, like improving the line-up:

  • Casio Duro Marlin – This one, a three-hander 41-42mm improved beauty. As is in blackish sunburst; add pearl sunburst and Caribbean blue sunburst.
  • Casio Duro Sailfish – Four-hander GMT. Dark ocean blue dial with red GMT hand. Keep diver’s bezel.
  • Casio Duro Swordfish – Six-hander chronograph. Inverted panda (black dial with white chrono sub-dials), red chrono hands. Keep diver’s bezel, add tachy scale in minute ring / rehaut—although you could do away with the tachy scale, the most useless and unused complication ever.

How about it, eh, Casio? I’m I a genius or what?

My personal opinion.

I’m quite happy with the watch, I’ve been in the hunt for a proper diver since after I got my TAG Heuer Formula 1 more than 10 years ago (which is not a diver), and found the Marlin (we fans are not calling it Duro anymore, just so you know) by mere chance on a YouTube review; previously I was considering a Seiko SKX or Sea Monster, or a new micro brand like a Zelos / Axios or a resuscitated brand like a Zodiac or even an Oris 65, but this Casio does it. You really can’t believe they managed to produce such a watch at such a price.

It checks all:

  • Lume pip at 12 and almost decentish lume.
  • Unidirectional rotating diver’s bezel.
  • 3mm width crystal.
  • Screw-lock caseback.
  • Screw-down crown.
  • 200 bar WR.
  • Date window.

And then some:

  • Faceted hands.
  • Applied indices! And they are gorgeous!
  • Polished / brushed surfaces.
  • Engraved caseback with logo.
  • Ultra cool logo! (But not the original marlin, which wasn’t turning but straight, and the watches were ugly digital cheap FW-91 copies.)

Also, of course, I’ve always loved Casio. They’ve been part of my life since I was a little kid and received my first Casio Calculator; my Riseman Dragon is always with me while exercising and on vacation and it has survived huge waves, bicycle crashes on the mountain and pavement, and all sorts of abuse.

I read I’m late, I even tried to send this by all Casio contact forms I found, but the second next iteration of this watch could be something truly special.

I realize this won’t happen. Casio aimed to a market zone that really haven’t got a diver watch, if you wanted one you had to put up with a more expensive entry-level price, so why would they lose that market when they have no competition there?

And it’s significant: if they fixed all the things I listed, the Marlin would suddenly cost 5 times more. I’m sure most won’t look any further…
But some’ll do… I just ordered a Citizen Excalibur to replace my Marlin because precisely it’s good, but not good enough. It offers way more than any other diver for the price, yes, but it’s still not what’s expected of a diver (yes yes, ISO certification costs money on top of what they’ll spend making the watch, and perhaps it’s not fair to compare it with an ISO diver, but if you look like a diver and act like a diver…)

So, all in all, unbeatable for the price, if you like divers, you’ll ve very happy with the Marlin.


It’s the lume and the bloated size, I can live with everything else, but not with the terrible lume, you just know you wont be able to tell the time an hour after dark —lume pip much earlier. That’s the raison d’être of a diver, that’s why I’m changing it for the Excalibur (which is damn amazing; you can tell the time in the dark two days after it got charged. It’s insane— and it’s no Seiko!)

Servicio de Excelencia

[Tiempo de lectura 5 m]Servicio de Excelencia.

Hay algo que tienen las marcas extranjeras, gringas en particular, el famoso Servicio de Excelencia.

Parte de su filosofía que The Customer is Always Right (el cliente siempre tiene la razón), y llega hasta el extremo de considerar más importante la recomendación de boca en boca -la presencia de su marca- que cualquier otra cosa, esto es, hace muchísimo más daño a la marca un cliente insatisfecho, pues hablará pestes de ti con todos, que beneficio un cliente satisfecho, pues en general como su producto funciona bien, no dirá nada.

Yo he tenido muchas experiencias a lo largo de los años con garantías extranjeras, en ninguna me han dejado de sorprender esas marcas: es algo que simple y sencillamente en México no pasa, aquí un pequeño recuento de las que me acuerdo, y una explicación un poco más larga de la última con RockShox / SRAM.

  • Logitech
    Es una marca suiza con mucha presencia en América.
    Compré un mouse gamer con 80 botones en Palacio de Hierro y dejó de funcionar en algo como dos semanas.
    Palacio de Hierro no da garantía en electrónicos, y lo ponen muy claro en su ticket.
    Me comuniqué a Logitech, les expliqué el asunto, me dijeron que me sentara a esperar mi nuevo mouse sin ningún costo.
  • Canon
    Compré una EOS 20D, una DSLR semi-profesional, tenía dos o tres pixeles muertos en el sensor. La garantía cubre me parece que alrededor del 5% de pixeles muertos, no dos o tres.
    Fui a Canon en Lomas de Chapultepec, Ciudad de México, me cambiaron el sensor sin ningún costo.
    También tenía una Point & Shoot que después de años de uso desarrolló unas bandas verticales en la pantalla. La garantía había vencido hace mucho tiempo.
    La llevé al mismo lugar, me cambiaron la pantalla sin ningún costo.
    Ellos hacen plumas fuente, son de Taiwán.
    Me gané una pluma en un GiveAway de un blog de plumas fuente, independiente a TWSBI, y me enviaron mi hermosa pluma.
    Después de un par de años de uso, se rompió una parte, le escribí a TWSBI preguntándoles si podían enviarme repuestos y en cuánto me saldría.
    TWSBI me dijo que me sentara a esperar mis repuestos gratis. ¡Ni siquiera el envío me cobraron! ¡La pluma yo no se las había comprado a ellos!
    Es de notar que ellos hacen mucho caso a lo que dicen los usuarios de sus plumas y cada nueva generación incluye las mejoras que los usuarios han detectado como fallos.
  • LAMY
    Ok, no Lamy como tal, un distribuidor en Japón. Lamy también hace plumas fuente. Me compré una y en las fotos venía con un estuche chafita de plástico. Llegó sin el estuche. Dejé una calificación negativa en Amazon.
    El distribuidor se comunicó conmigo informándome que algunas así le habían llegado, pero que de todos modos era su culpa por no haberse fijado bien en las fotos, y que me había reembolsado el total de la pluma y el envío, y que si podía por favor quitar mi calificación.
  • Portland Design Works
    Compré una lámpara trasera para bicicleta Radbot 1000 que dejó de funcionar. La abrí y limpié la circuitería lo mejor que pude y nada, les escribí pidiéndoles consejo, quizás solo era cosa de volver a soldar algo, y que no, que tenían ese problema las generaciones anteriores y que me sentara a esperar mi nueva lámpara completamente gratis.
  • Trek
    Estos hacen bicicletas. Compré una en 2005 o 2006 y en 2014 se fisuró el cuadro. Trek tiene garantía de por vida en cuadros.
    La tienda donde la había comprado ya no existe. Me comuniqué con Trek y me dijeron que fuera a otro distribuidor, en mi ciudad (en un estado distinto al que la compré). Fui a la tienda, analizaron, y me dijeron que me sentara a esperar una bicicleta nueva, sin ningún costo.

Y el último caso fue con una suspensión de esa bici, marca RockShox, y aquí es donde entra la necesaria comparación entre los extranjeros y nosotros, los malhechos mexicanos:

  • RockShox
    Tuve que comprar esa suspensión cuando me dieron la bici nueva, pues el cuadro no admitía frenos V, que eran los que yo tenía, sino de disco (en la parte trasera, la delantera depende de la suspensión, pero se iba a ver algo ridículo disco atrás y V adelante).
    La tijera tenía un problema desde nueva, pero lo ignoré, excepto apenas que compré una llanta más ancha y el problema se hizo muy evidente.
    Tienen garantía de dos años.
    La llevé a la tienda donde la compré, la analizaron y detectaron el problema, la enviaron a donde ellos la compran, en Benotto en Ciudad de México.
    Esa tienda Benotto la mandó a otra tienda Benotto (matriz, creo) en donde mi suspensión estuvo más de tres meses. ¿Tres meses para analizar algo que debería tomarte dos horas a lo mucho?
    Desde que mi tienda me informó que tenía que enviarla a otra tienda decidí establecer contacto con SRAM (la marca dueña de RockShox) y por Twitter me proporcionaron un correo, en el que les estuve informando todo lo que yo sabía.
    Al fin mi tienda me informó que la última tienda había hecho pruebas y habían determinado que la suspensión no tenía ningún problema y que venía de regreso. Se lo comuniqué a SRAM informándoles que no era posible, había pruebas de la falla (fotografías), una tienda me respaldaba (donde la compré) y que la culpa era de ellos por no tener un método de atención al cliente más directo.
    Me dijeron que me sentara a esperar una nueva suspensión.
    Llamaron a Benotto y regañaron a todos -o eso me informó mi tienda- y me enviaron la nueva versión del mismo modelo de la suspensión que yo había comprado, agradeciéndome mi paciencia.

¿Por qué nos cuesta tanto trabajo hacer lo mismo a los mexicanos? ¿Por qué Benotto se rehusó a validar la garantía? ¿Por qué les tomó tres meses? ¿Será por nuestra filosofía de el que no tranza no avanza y por tanto no podemos confiar en nosotros mismos para hacer un reclamo honesto, y preferimos que el cliente se vaya enojado?

Por supuesto no todos son así, mi tienda, Bikes, Rides & Fun es la que se ha encargado de gestionar mis últimas garantías (el cuadro Trek y la suspensión RockShox), apoyándome en todo lo necesario, ¡ellos entienden el concepto de Servicio de Excelencia!

Sin duda es algo para reflexionar, en mi negociotratamos en la medida de nuestras posibilidades, de aplicar el Servicio de Excelencia en todos nuestros tratos. A veces lo logramos, a veces no, pero ¡el primer paso es tratar!

Actualización Febrero 2019:

  • Revant Optics
    Los Oakley Radar (y los Pitch de 2006 son mis favoritos) son de las mejores gafas para hacer ejercicio que hay en este mundo, y al ser usados así pues se gastan bastante y es imposible tenerlos inmaculados. Mis Black Iridium Polarized ya estaban muy dañados e investigando me decidí por Revant Optics como remplazo (esto es porque Oakley no envía a México, ya están descontinuados, y de conseguirlos cuestan un ojo de la cara, un robo sin ninguna duda).Total, compré hace más de un año unas Black Stealth Polarized y unas transparentes y he estado muy contento con ellas; apenas se me cayeron mis black stealth sobre concreto con las consecuencias previsibles, así que tuve que ordenar otras (pues, obvio, los rayones quedaron justo en la línea de visión central). Lo comenté en Twitter, y Revant al ser otra marca fregona, me dijo que les mandara un mail a soporte, y que aunque técnicamente nuestra garantía no cubre rayones por uso diario, hay algunas reglas que están hechas para romperse. Esto fue después de yo haber ordenado mis nuevos lentes, así que me ofrecieron enviarme otros completamente gratis, e incluso se tomaron la molestia de leer todos mis tuits y con base en lo que puse, me sugirieron los Ice Blue Polarized debido a su tinte rosa cálido (prefiero lentes cálidos a fríos) completamente gratis. Solo porque sí. Para tener contento a un cliente que ya les había comprado dos veces antes, que les estaba volviendo a comprar, y que no estaba exigiendo ningún tipo de servicio o garantía; simplemente estaba comentando y mini-reseñando sus ópticas.

    Revant hace micas para montones de marcas, así que si requieren remplazo, ¡ya saben dónde!

¡Increíble, más marcas así, caray! Directo a la lista de compañías chingonas, ¡cliente de por vida de todas ellas sin duda!

My Brief History with Watches

[Tiempo de lectura 15 m]I, like all kids of my childhood, grew up admiring watches, particularly digital ones, and it sparked my interest on the subject to the point that I now consider myself a watch fan, and even maybe a bit more.

So, this is my very brief history with watches.

I believe my first watch was something like Casio calculators but cheaper, or maybe it was a Casio but in those dark ages the most basic ones were cheap.
Or perhaps it was a Transformer watch, red, with a little digital LCD. I also had a Mickey Mouse one with the arms as hands, and one with a cute little spider on its web circling the dial as the seconds hand.

From there on, I treasured them everytime I got to be gifted a new one; several other Casios passed through my hands. They turned into Benettons (by Bulova)—they predated Swatch—as I grew and had to have more fashionable pieces in order to be cool. Sad, I know. I was young and knew nothing.

I can’t believe there’s no mention at all of Benetton watches in sites.

But obviously the Casios always were there; my dad had this OG G-Shock—you know which, the 5000 or 5600 or whatever number with the screwable caseback—besides his Omega and several other fine gold watches. And they were inexpensive (regular Casios, not G-Shocks), so we (as in my little circle) got them often. This is important later.

We were absolutely in love with digital Casios, they did so many things, they were tuff, they took several beatings, they were precise and futuristic. They had sensors and were capable of storing phone numbers, they had calculators and TV remotes. And as proof of how well built they were, the two of them that I’ve managed to bring with me to this day, still work perfectly.

My Casios. I still have the newer Databanks.

You have to understand cell phones and computers came much later. We had very few things as ubiquitous and amazing as watches, thus they were an important part of our lives and got used and abused.

So, we loved them and it was an event of the highest importance when someone came with a new one to school; we all had to see it, find out what new marvelous things it was capable of.

A granddad gave me a fake large Mido Commander in silver, and an uncle a fake Cartier Tank. Which of course I wore happily, never truly wondering if they were real or not; they were just fancy watches that did their jobs while looking cool on a highschool and college kid.

But sometime we had to grew. As I did, I diverted my attention to fashion watches, why that crap, you ask, well, I certainly could not afford—nor even knew—a Grand Seiko back then, so fashion watches were the closest for me to a real watch. I knew enough of horology, or rather, I’ve heard enough of it to understand there was a whole as yet inaccesible to me category of watches with names as Rolex, Tissot, Mido, Omega and Cartier, so those—the fashion ones—had to do for then.

An incalculable parade of Benettons came and went, we couldn’t believe our lucks, for that a watch as nice, dependable and fashionable as those were in our family’s reach, continuously, was quite nice. I was very lucky, I now understand. I opened them and interchanged dials between them. I like to see and learn how things work, and those watches were a great and cheap way to find out. Swatch were mostly out of the question, as you couldn’t get them in Mexico, only kids with families that went on vacations to El Gabacho (USA) had them and they were the coolest kids around.

They didn’t last, of course, they weren’t Casios. They all ended up in the garbage. Lost to what they measure.

This went on until I got my first real job, with a contract and all.

There was this new fashion clothing store in town and it was a big deal; fashion, accesible clothing for youngs, beers and papas locas, and they were the only ones that had a diverse G-Shock inventory—other stores had only the basic models—and I promptly got a job there and they were nice enough to give us slaves a discount in all the merchandise, so with my first salary I got two Stargates (called so because they were used in that movie a couple of years earlier than I got them), one red, one yellow, and gave my dad the yellow. That was back in ’96; they still work perfectly. We have changed both batteries and straps only once.

I began realizing one of horology’s hidden—by the luxury brands—truths:

A watch is first and foremost, a tool. And as such it should be first measured.

I had the incipient thought that a tool watch was better than a beautiful or famous watch. Particularly after my experience with fashion watches, that yes, were cheap and couldn’t really be expected to last, but then again so were Casios inexpensive, and they lasted ages.

I wore that huge piece of tech for years, I got maybe one fashion watch after.

I finished university, got a job, changed jobs and cities, and started earning some money. So I got me and my girlfriend a couple of Victorinox V7 translucent ruby 3-handers, stainless steel rated to 100m (unlikable, because of the regular crown, now I know), screwable caseback, laser-etched branding, engraved caseback and sapphire crystal, all of which was unheard of in that price range. They still work flawlessly.

I bought a couple of Nike sport watches, one for runners (I am) and I got rid of them very quickly: they were of an unacceptable low quality for me—misaligned everything, poorly made, cheap materials, low quality screens.

After those two abominations, I decided it would be better to spend time educating myself about watches, so I began buying magazines and read all I could in forums, in order to gain a vantage point from which were I could better chose.

As I was on a sports watch phase, and have always liked exercising outdoors, I did my research and decided on my second G-Shock, the Riseman with a dragon on the caseback. I specifically ordered the one with the dragon—most others have a flying squirrel—and it’s somewhat rarer today, at least every single one of them on Instagram has the squirrel. It still works flawlessly and I wear it as what snobs (sorry; you are) call a beater.

I couldn’t be happier, and actually never have been as, with the watch. It simply was an amazing piece of tech that had a thermometer, barometer, altimeter, it synced on its own (what sorcery?!), and didn’t need batteries!

About that time I also got a dark blue dial Particularly Robust and Sporty 516 from Tissot and a titanium Captain from Mido. Both automatic as Cronos intended watches to be, which was nice. I even got the original leather strap for the Tissot, and had to take it to be regulated sometime. Both got sold years later.

So it was some years before I got the bug again. I knew a bit more (still nothing, I realize today) and could decide perhaps not as naively.

Being a F1 fan, I went for a Williams F1 Oris special edition in PVD stainless steel, 3 hands, day-date, and cool design. That sums how little I actually knew.

Still, I loved the watch, it was so cool, jet black, gloss and mate, rubber strap, big legible fake-carbon black dial with white hands, hands and markers lumed.

When I bought it, I was between that and a Seamaster, which was more expensive, but not inconceivable so. With hindsight, I should’ve got the Omega for the resell value, but I knew back then that most Swiss brands were of similar qualities, and I wanted to project an image of authenticity, not owning what everybody was familiar with, but instead a piece that maybe sparked a watch conversation opportunity. Being a watch fan, you could hardly blame me for searching ways to talk about why I liked, with akin minds.

In between the Victorinox and the Oris, I got my girl and myself several Swatches (by the way, it means Second Watch, not Swiss Watch), they opened several shops across town and a couple of my friends got to work there, so discount!
Swatches I looked from afar as a child because they weren’t that common and affordable. Each a fashion watch, they were disposable. I’m recently selling two of my last three and I foresee they’ll go fast. But I’ll came to that later. I still sometimes miss Ambitious Goal and Zebah, one had a translucent smoked lovely plastic case with a color combination I really liked, and the other was an aluminum (!) watch that had a kind of dial indigloo that looked very cool. I half heartedly decided not to ever sell a watch again.

After the Oris, I got an almost true tool watch, with the meaning of not buying anything else afterwards for a while (I still got one last Swatch, so fail).

I got another F1 related—albeit a subtler one—watch, a TAG Heuer Formula 1 series 4, which I found out years later it actually had a story and could claim some pedigree, which is somewhat rare for a Swiss quartz (follow the previous link if you own a F1, it’s quite interesting).

Stainless, sapphire, 200m with screw-in crown and caseback, sporty / casual design, titanium carbide (that material is fantastically resilient) in bezel, crown and crown guards, brushed bezel numbering, and a single-sided rotating diver’s bezel.

A rotating bezel, I decided, is the most useful complication along with the date, and the only one ever needed in an analog watch—the date windows sometimes ruins the dial design. A chronograph of course does it better, but it adds to the complication and price and subtracts from legibility.

Considering what I know today, I would never buy the Oris or TAG again. Neither similar pieces. Nor any Swatch.

But I was very happy with them. The F1 could take a beating. It still does. I still wear it and I still like it very much. They way it’s a sports watch, but has faceted high-polished hands is quite pleasant.

In the back of my mind, I was forced to think automatics were just better, and tended to regard my Oris higher than all the others, and the TAG—a quartz—as good as the other automatics. The G-Shocks were in a category of their own, and the Victorinox was special.

But I also knew a quartz watch could survive what no automatic ever—a quality well made one, like the TAG, not like the disposable Swatches. So they were closer to the ideal tool watch.

I debated between that for years, and sometimes I still think about it, specially after reading the snobbery that’s spilled on watch sites and YouTube videos: always the mighty automatic comes ahead, disregarding the obvious and indisputable superiority of a quartz movement. Also, a quartz suits me better because I have an active lifestyle. I exercise, go places, go outside, swim, run, cycle. For me, an automatic can’t keep up as a beater and considering all I know now, if a watch can’t be a beater, it has no merit as a tool (remember a watch is first and foremost a tool), and only has looks, status, things like that to his name. I didn’t like that I couldn’t treat my automatics as my quartzes. It bothered me.

Still, I got myself yet another Swatch for my birthday, a beautiful automatic skeleton that’s just gorgeous.
Swatch and Casio are the only brands that are truly beyond whatever measure you want to use to describe other watches. A multi-million dollar collection can as easily have those, and the owner will wear them proud, because those brands stand for themselves as True Watches, not pretentious, ostentatious, luxury, status seeking brands. A true fashion watch and a true tool watch.
Seiko too and to a greater degree even, but I learnt that later.

That skeleton has a very basic ETA movement, doesn’t hack, non decorated except for some laser etching, and slow beating. Gorgeous nonetheless.

I stopped buying watches. I had certainly enough. But more importantly, I knew more and realized several things.

A watch just measures time.

It’s silly to place more value in a famous watch, just because its fame. A well built watch is not inferior to a well built luxury watch.
This is not the same as cars, in which one could argue a Ferrari and a Beetle both take you from A to B… but one does it faster and in a high-tech manner, while the other maybe barely will arrive. No, watches only measure time, and any 5 usd Casio F-91W will out-perform whatever million dollar brand you care to name.
By the way, there’s a hipster craze about vintage Casios in rose gold, gold, and silver nowadays.

It is as Noah Harari says in his Sapiens book: value is just another of our myths. Materials have no inherent value (besides their physical characteristics, of course; iron being harder than copper is better for making tools, and so on); we give gold and diamonds its value, not them by themselves. And that was continuing what I believed when I got the Oris and not the Omega.

I started selling most of my collection (ugh, the snobbery again) and began searching for an unsuperfluous tool of a watch to use daily along my Riseman. I wanted what the F1 failed to do: be The Watch for me.

Anyway, I got this Seiko at a tianguis, a type of flea market in which you can find food, clothing (mostly imported) and assorted items (sadly, a lot will be from robberies), a retro futuristic chronograph that was amazing. Just as I was passing by I knew it had to be something special; there was a watch I’ve never saw before, but with a recognizable design (from the ´69 Omega Speedmaster Mark II which is one of the best looking watches ever), that surely was old, with lots of style. I strove to keep my cool with the seller and tried several other of his watches first, all used. I bargained (you do that even when buying expensive watches on jewelries, didn’t you know?) With a later crystal and battery change, I spent 19 usd. Mine has the central seconds hand a bit crooked, but I like it that way, it has character.

So, I was right and the Seiko turned out to be the first analog display quartz chronograph in the world. An icon in a brand of icons. A world first. I couldn’t believe it! What luck to own a Speedmaster 7A28 and for that price!
It’s no longer water resistant, and I don’t know anyone here that can fix the pusher gaskets, and it’s also no longer lumed, but I don’t mind, the movement works flawlessly.

So, I searched and continued informing myself, forums, sites, YouTube. I concluded, as I’ve mentioned of the rotating diver’s bezel, that I only needed a diver. But a true one, not like my TAG that lacks visibility at night (because the lume is sparse and not very lasting, but the faceted hands and glossy hour markers do help a lot) and a 12 o’clock bezel lume pip.

While on vacation I tried the new GW9400 Rangeman at a G-Shock store, which was a step up from my GW9200 Riseman. In action it amazes, the sensors are blazing quick, and the design is unapologetically G-Shock. I almost got it, but the fonts used are the same size as in the Riseman but the dial is larger so there’s unused space, which goes against what a G-Shock should be. Also, and after the initial impression, I like the Riseman more, so sticking to what now I believe / want, there was no point in getting it. Maybe when my Riseman dies, but then again, there’s the latest Rangeman, which is stupidly and absurdly incredible, and one can only wonder what will Casio manage in the years mine still has.

Seiko was the obvious answer. Not a SKX007/013 (seriously, what’s with Japanese brands’ naming?), because their designs are a bit outdated for my tastes, and the dial-bezel is a bit busy. Also the dreaded chapter ring / bezel misalignment stories are no fun. But a Diver’s from Seiko would surely be my next and hopefully last for many years.
I also liked a lot the new Oris 65 re-interpretation, and one or two obscure brands like the Zelos Hammerhead, any Sinn diver (that tegimented steel is out of this world!), the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf “Gulf” re-issue… but they are vastly more expensive than a Seiko, and if a Seiko is (and this is the consensus), the better watch, why should I pay more? Brands trust us to be naive.

Anyway, I kept looking on and off, and at the same time I took out from my rotation (that also sounds terribly snob, and you know it) most of my watches but the Riseman, the F1 and the Body and Soul. A sport tool, a casual tool, and a dressier piece.

I discovered Seiko Monsters and was instantly in love with them, particularly the new Sea Monster and the Orange Monster. They weren’t too expensive.

I tracked the blue one and almost got it used at a great price, but the seller backed off at the last minute. New costed twice as much and I couldn’t justify it, so I ended up not getting it, and kept on searching.

By now, I know a lot more about watches than ever, I can tell which watches are worth it, which ones are famous, historical, from where they come from, what are their influences. I know that Jaeger-LeCoultre supplies movements to the holy trinity of Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe. I can tell the Nautilus from the Royal Oak, and that Hublot is cheap, its ex boss Jean-Claude Biver to blame, and he’s proceeding to ruin also TAG Heuer… but he also helped save the Swiss industry from Japanese and American quartz, turned Omega into what is today, and brought Blancpain back from the dead. I know Tudor divers were first, but held back by Rolex in order for the latter to gain a false prestige. I know Makos and Rays from Turtles and Hammerheads, Searamblers from Super Oceans… I also know cosmographs don’t really graph the cosmos, and that in order to impress you have to write everything on the dial, after having your watch officially and professionally superlatively certified, in Rolesor, of course. I understand Valjoux, ETA, Miyota and Seiko, and the achievement and value of an in-house movement.
I hear with contempt those poor souls that think Rolex and Omega are truly luxury brands, or the best watches ever, or those that dismiss Seikos and Casios, knowing nothing of horology.

As I’m older, my tastes change and I have to leave behind—to a point—most flashy things, instead opting for a more appropriate look. Think a Fifty Fathoms. Those are very nice looking watches (and Jacques Cousteau’s choice, if you’re into that kind of thing, better company than Steve McQueen or Paul Newman), simple and to the point, no superfluous things in them—the originals, of course, not the modern jewels they try to pass as tool watches. But terribly expensive, and again, I don’t want a jewel.

One fine day, wondering the deep trenches and abysses of the internets, I discovered a true jewel. The Casio Marlin Duro MDV106.

It had all I wanted! Black sober dial, but with a lovely sunburst! Applied indices (you don’t even see this on the 3-4x priced Seikos), decent lume, legible big fat—but not Seiko fat—even faceted hands! 200m, screw in crown and caseback, date and rotating aluminum insert bezel with lume pip at 12. A true diver!
Even better: it is quartz! So it will keep up without me baby sitting it.

The truly amazing thing about this Casio, is the price. This is a watch well under 50 usd. You simply can’t get all that this Marlin offers at this price point (actually, at several times this price point) from any other brand, not even a Seiko 5 comes close. This Duro (duro meaning hard in Italian and Spanish) really makes you wonder what scams, pillages and robberies all the other brands are inflicting upon us.

This is an obvious homage to bigger names, the dial is unmistakably Submariner with circles and rectangles for the markers (which actually come from Blancpain, as the Rolex Submariner came after the Fifty Fathoms), the sunburst also comes from Blancpain. The 12 o’clock lumed bezel marker is a must in a diver, and this is Casio’s particular design (they’ve had it on several divers). The Marlin is a great touch, particularly on the caseback were it shouldn’t be because of the ridiculous pricing. A true tool, a beautiful watch, a serious diver, a daily beater, an inexpensive—not cheap—piece. A watch to be truly proud of.

As always with Japanese divers, because their ridiculous naming system, they get a fan name (turtle, monster…); the official name for this is Duro, but the fan name is obviously Marlin, which always adds and endears.

The only negatives, besides the ugly plastic bracelet—well, not ugly but sparse, it actually is a Casio trademark with its deep grooves—are that it has no sapphire but mineral crystal (because price!), that 200m legend doesn’t look so good and the crown is on the small side. And of course the finishing and faceting is not quite up there, again, price! But considering from where it comes from it’s an almost unthinkable improvement. The father of this is the original Marlin MVD102, which being honest is not very nice looking at all, bulkier and busier, unnecessarily so; this one being so clean, neat and packed speaks wonders of Casio’s designers.
Also, you really can’t find negatives on a watch that has all this one has for that price. Well, the size is also wrong, 45.5ish mm is on the large side; 43 would have been so much better.

The original Marlin had too much text (and that’s a hideous thing, eh Rolex?), a cheesy “super illuminator” legend (but in red, so you know who was their inspiration even then), a robust but busy design. The new version is surprisingly lean to say the least.

So, this was it! I ordered mine! I will change the strap for a gray, brown or green zulu and maybe even a lovely diver shark mesh bracelet in the future, and be done with all my other watches (except the Riseman for exercising and the skeleton Swatch for dress-up—the Victorinox stays, obviously, as well as my Stargate and Databank, but I’ll sell all the others, maybe even the TAG. The Speedmaster is on sale but I really don’t want it to go, so I listed it a bit over what I’ve seen on ebay (but mine is in better condition than most I’ve seen), because it’s a part of horological history after all, and my only watch as such.

At last, a True Tool, a proper watch, besides G-Shocks, as I’ve mentioned, they’re on a category of their own.

And it’s a Casio! A brand I’ve respected and admired from the moment I got my first one for what they’ve accomplished! I can’t ask for more. As a plus, being so inexpensive, if I get robbed—this being Mexico—it won’t hurt as much and will be easily replaceable.

I intend to not buy anything else for years, but maybe one day I will get one of these: the evolution of the Rangeman. I truly believe this model is the future for G-Shock, embracing what G is, and what a smartwatch could do. The Ressence Type 5 oil filled watch is a thing of beauty and a very authentic and original brand—that planetary dial must look amazing. And of course a proper luxury Seiko Diver.

So, that’s my not so brief after all history with watches. I’ve liked them always, and it’s a subject I enjoy a lot.
Casually, just yesterday I got to try an Omega 007 Seamaster from a friend and… well, it’s incredibly bulky, a huge and heavy lump of steel. Yes, beautifully made, but it didn’t speak to me, less because (now I know!) it’s a pop watch, a mass marketed, machine made, James Bond endorsed (that’s cheap, that’s Omega) expensive thing that marketing will have you believe is top of the hill.

I’m glad I spend time educating myself about the things that I like.

Hopefully you enjoyed the long read!

Update 2020:

I ditched the Marlin after using it for about a year, its terribly poor lume, humongous size, and hard to turn bezel are why I exchanged it for a Citizen Promaster BN0100, fan named Excalibur, no longer made. I also sold the Seiko chrono, and miss it terribly. My Redrum Swatch is gone too. I’m not buying watches anymore, until my Riseman dies and I’ll exchange it for another, more modern, G-Shock.

The Excalibur has all the good things I liked about the Marlin, plus incredibly bright two-tone lume, butter smooth bezel, a bit smaller than the Marlin, better design (hands don’t protrude from the center, minutes in orange, hashed more like a Longines Legend than a Submariner, much better finishing), and it’s an Eco-Drive —everyone knows solar-powered quartz movements are simply the best movements, perhaps second only to the radio/GPS controlled ones. It came on a steel diver’s (adjustable on the fly) bracelet, but I use it on a Barton elite silicon. It’s also a true diver, in the sense that it complies with ISO 6425 —which of course older and more luxurious brands don’t care about.

Best thing is I got it for about 35usd!

Casio G-Shock GPRB1000 Rangeman

[Tiempo de lectura 3 m]

Contra el Rangeman anterior, ¡de la luna!

El nuevo G-Shock Rangeman de mil dólares es justo el camino que debe tomar Casio para el futuro de los G. Olvídense de ediciones especiales de bisel martillado por Atenea y con manecillas, ¡ESTO!

Excepto por los mil dólares, claro: históricamente, G-Shock ha sido una marca accesible. Y ahora tiene un segmento de lujo 🙄. Peor, su intención es justamente posicionarse como una marca up market.
Este reloj es cinco veces más caro que su predecesor, que aún está vigente. Casio parece estar haciendo un Seiko.

Hacer un Seiko:
Tratar de convertir o posicionar una marca tradicionalmente accesible, muy bang for the buck, en una de lujo entry-level, y no parar, cada vez sacar modelos más y más caros hasta que la gente se haya acostumbrado y no haya de otra.

Casio debería darse una vuelta por los blogs, para medir un poco el descontento general contra ellos y Seiko por inflar sus precios. Y, quizás sea justificable hasta cierto punto—es un hecho que estos son relojes superiores—pero uno está acostumbrado a otra cosa con ambas marcas.

Eso si, el G-Shock GPRB1000 Rangeman se ve del futuro; en comparación hace ver primitivos a los LCDs. Es el primer Master of G de última línea no solo completamente digital, sino ¡qué chulada de digital!

Estoy convencido que Casio le dedicó mucho R&D a la línea análoga, por que en sus juntas alguien decidió que querían dejar de ser vistos como relojes para niños, y en el brainstorming siguiente se determinó que las manecillas son cosa seria. El Rangeman es la aplastante demostración que están equivocados, que G-Shock siempre debe ser digital.

Comparándolo, se ve como proper electronics. Algo que leí alguna vez de los electrónicos de Apple, es que no se ven como aparatos electrónicos propios, sino como ejercicios de diseño, y siempre he preferido los electrónicos que se ven como lo que son y hacen. Se ve como un G-Shock muy maduro y eficiente, contra el tal vez infantilismo de una pantalla de cristal líquido. Se sigue viendo como un juguete, sí, pero como un juguete con propósito, útil y resistente, no como los smartwatches normales que se miran muy frágiles.

Tiene peros, claro, y son más evidentes al tratarse de G-Shock: la ya mencionada incongruencia entre precio y company core value, la batería no dura nada—para un GShock, estos miden sus cambios de pilas en décadas o nunca—y si la función solar no es al 100% (la carga principal es via USB inalámbrico), ¿porqué no dedicar más espacio a display en vez de a bisel solar, o mejor aún, hacer el reloj más pequeño?
Y por último, eso, su tamaño. No incluyo foto con alguien usándolo, pero de verdad se ve ridículo. En la primera foto está con el modelo anterior, y ese GW9200 ya era muy grande.
(Sí, sí, entiendo que lograr 3h de GPS con una carga solar de 4h en este formato es un hito en la ingeniería, pero de verdad las pilas de estos relojes duran o más de 10 años o la vida útil del reloj).

En algún momento pensé upgradear mi Riseman por el  anterior Rangeman que menciono, pero aún este ya se me hacía un pelín caro para ser G-Shock, a unos $6,000 en su momento… El nuevo Rangeman ronda los 20mil.

Esperemos 3 ó 4 iteraciones más, y ya tendremos mejor carga solar y proporciones.

Facebook es un Jardín Cerrado

[Tiempo de lectura 3 m]Jardín cerrado

Facebook es un jardín cerrado

En computación y telecomunicaciones, se dice que un sitio, portal, página, es un jardín cerrado cuando los suscriptores solo tenemos acceso a un rango limitado de información, y eso es justamente lo que pasa con las redes sociales (con todas en general, pero particularmente con Facebook).

¿Lo han notado? Todas las “noticias” de las que se enteran actualmente fue por que… ¡las vieron en el perfil de alguien! ¿Entienden las implicaciones? Si sus contactos del feis son un hatajo de ignorantes (y es lo más probable), solo se enterarán de noticias chafas y apócrifas (¿se tomaron la molestia de verificar que de verdad sea el sitio de Carmen Aristegui, Brozo, del cual están pretendiendo compartir algo?)

Yo veo esto como un gran problema, todo mundo pasa innumerables horas en Facebook y no estamos leyendo nada que sirva, nada real. Puras estupideces.

Antes, en la prehistoria, hace unos pocos años, recuerdo que muchos de mis conocidos usaban lectores RSS, o al menos procuraban visitar varias páginas agregadoras de noticias, varias veces al día, las páginas de inicio nos dejaban agregar varias páginas favoritas y mostraban las actualizaciones… Si, cuenta mucho que mi ámbito laboral era telecom, y el actual es moda, pero el cambio aún así ha sido impresionante; incluso gente que antes lo hacía ahora solo “checa su feis“.

Respóndanse honestamente ¿hay algo que lean en facebook que de verdad valga la pena? ¿De manera continua (o sea, no solo un buen artículo cada 2 semanas)?

Google tiene cierta culpa

RSS es un conjunto de normas para difusión web que los sitios ofrecen (o, deberían) para que un programa -perdón, una app- los junte todos y nos ahorre la molestia de visitar tantas páginas al día, así solo visitamos nuestro reader y listo, nos enteramos de todos los temas que nos interesan.

RSS tiene desde mediados de los 90s y nadie se podía poner de acuerdo en como funcionaba y que debería incluir (vaya, hasta las siglas tienen varios significados), pero con el nacimiento de los Blogs en forma (WordPress) también nacieron los RSS Readers, y de ellos Google Reader era el lector RSS por antonomasia.

¿Por qué? Por la sencilla razón que Google es ubicuo y por tanto es más fácil que la gente use sus servicios, aunque desconozca por completo que es un blog, un feed, rss, sindicación… Pero G tuvo a bien descontinuarlo y… Bueno, no es que no haya readers por ahí, sino que se han convertido en programas de nicho, que solo un “geek” conoce y utiliza… Cuando la idea era que todos usaran uno y leyeran y se enteraran de los temas que ellos buscaran por su propia cuenta, y no lo que Facebook y nuestros contactos nos empujan (que, como ya sabemos, por lo general son idioteces, memes, o publicaciones muy personales).

En fin, obviamente el problema es más viejo: la gente no lee. Y solo se ha exacerbado al ahora solo leer sinsentidos.

¿Cómo usar un RSS Reader?

El mejor reader que he usado actualmente es The Old Reader, con una interfaz muy similar al viejo GR y muy bien hecho, son contados los feeds que no he podido añadir ahí. Uno solamente inicia sesión creando cuenta o con los servicios permitidos y añade feeds a gusto personal… Puedes añadir tu feed de noticias de Facebook, obvia e irónicamente.

Escribo este post, además de para quejarme que nadie lee nada y todos son cada día más idiotas por ello, y encima lo poco que leen son tarugadas, por que configuré un sencillo lector rss escrito en PHP en mi dominio propio, en este, y me recordó aquellas épocas primigenias cuando monté un servidor de Jabber para correr Messenger (el original, el de Microsoft) bajo Google Talk (por que Google Talk era hermoso y Messenger un asco), en alguna computadora del trabajo y lo usábamos varias personas en D.F.

RSS Reader

KrISS feed.

P.D. ¡Lean! Al menos tómense la molestia de verificar si lo que están leyendo es verídico… aunque supongo si no leen, no pueden verificar nada 🙁