Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: Casio MDV106-1A [Analog Diver's Watch]

Everyone has a smart phone these days, so the once-practical wrist watch has now become nothing more
than a fashion statement--for most. But I am old, my eyesight isn't that great, and sometimes I want to know what time it is without trekking my phone around. I've been known to go for hours without my phone at my hip.

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch Product Link
Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch Product Link
Because of the above, I am always on the lookout for a simple, nice looking and easy to read watch that I can turn my wrist and see what time it is. Another fallout from the watch-as-fashion trend is that case sizes are getting HUGE. For the most part that's fine by me. I want a slightly bigger case so that's it's easy to read the watch, without getting into "arm clock" territory, so I've been looking at case diameters around the 40mm-ish range. My review sample was purchased from Amazon for about $40 with the usual 2 day Prime.

Product Description


This is a "diver's watch" which is water resistant to 200 meters, which is accomplished via a screw-down crown, which I've never seen on such a low end watch--kudos to Casio. It also features a stainless steel case with a rubber (they call it 'resin') band. The rest is pretty standard stuff: mineral crystal, Japanese quartz movement, etc. What really drew me to this model is a case size of only 40 mm, and not the ridiculous case sizes I was seeing like 48 mm and 50 mm. I'm not a petite guy, and I would almost wear those larger case sizes if they were more comfortable.

Official Specs (From Amazon)


Brand, Seller, or Collection NameCasio
Model numberMDV106-1A
Part NumberMDV106-1A
Item ShapeRound
Dial window material typeMineral
Display TypeAnalog
ClaspBuckle
Case materialStainless steel
Case diameter40 millimeters
Case Thickness12 millimeters
Band MaterialResin
Band lengthMen's Standard
Band width20 millimeters
Band ColorBlack
Dial colorBlack
Bezel materialStainless steel
Bezel functionUnidirectional
CalendarDate
Special featuresRotating Bezel
Item weight16.01 Ounces
MovementJapanese quartz
Water resistant depth660 Feet
Warranty typeContact seller of record
Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch On Stand

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Closeup of Dial

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Entire Watch Top View

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Closeup of Bezel

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Shown Lengthwise

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Closeup of Crown 1

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Closeup of Crown 2

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: On Stand Top View


Initial Impressions


Opening up, first off, it looks beautiful. At first glance this could easily be a Rolex or Omega, and it takes a second or third glance to see that this is a cheap watch. I certainly wouldn't think this is a Casio at first glance.

The case size is listed at 40 mm and it's a big 40 mm. The band has a good feel, and it's surprisingly comfortable for a watch of this size. The case is beefy as expected for a largish diver's watch and made from a decent looking stainless steel. I've been reading lots of reviews on Casio watches and some of the ones with the resin case/band combination have been plagued by issues with the band. That and a lot of their models use proprietary bands that cost most of what the watches cost new. The case on this watch looks very standard.

Another thing I noticed-- and was mentioned in the reviews-- is that the watch is a little confusing to set. I think it's just that the crown doesn't have an ideal feel to it.

Fit and Finish


It's hard to find anything good to pick on about my review sample. The watch came with no scratches, smudges, nicks or tool marks which are almost guaranteed at this price point. My only gripe is that the second hand doesn't hit the markers dead center. It hits all the markers a little lower than center. My OCD isn't very strong and doesn't really bother me. If I didn't look at it specifically for the review, I wouldn't have noticed myself. The bezel is also off by a hair, which I also had to seriously scrutinize to be able to detect.

Overall I would rate the fit and finish as very good, especially given the price point. Someone in their QC department is paying attention.

Dial


The dial of this model has a classic diver's watch look. Simple, functional, I'm a big fan of this style dial because it is so easy to read. All 12 main markers on the dial feature GITD material, as well as all three hands. The GITD material may be on the cheap side, but they are very liberal with it.

A date marker is featured at the 3 o'clock position on the dial. The Casio name is prominently placed, as well as a little marlin symbol with "WR 200M" below it.

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Closeup of Dial


Glow In the Dark


A cheap, well made watch has to cut corners somewhere, and one of the things that this model gives up is the quality of the luminous GITD material. Clearly this model uses the cheap material. In fact, it uses the cheap-cheap material, which is also mentioned in a few of the other reviews I read. In fact, it was hard to get a good photo of because even with a 1,000 lumen flashlight charging it for a few seconds, it still took a few tries to get a photo of it semi-freshly charged without having to crank up the exposure time.

Having said all that, as long as I charge it before bed a few seconds with a flashlight, I can usually read it just fine in the middle of the night. So it's not horrible.

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Glow in the Dark


Case


The case has a very nice polished stainless finish to it, and it's beefy and solid looking. It's almost too polished to be a natural finish, so we'll see how it holds up. Certainly no complaints out of the box. This is a standard looking diver's watch, and the case reflects that fact.

Crystal: Mineral
Crown: Screw-down crown, which is how it achieves its 200 M rating.

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Side View of Case

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Back View of Case


Band


This is a typical rubber diver's watch band. The MVD106 is not a $500 watch, and the band reflects this fact. It looks fairly sturdy but a little on the cheap side. As a rough guess, you'd probably get about 1-2 years daily use out of it, which is more than acceptable for a watch at this price point.

Because this watch doesn't use a propriety band, the one it came with is just fine for me. If I wear the band out, it means that I really like the watch, and if I really like the watch, putting an aftermarket band on it won't be an issue.

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Closeup of Buckle

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Closeup of Band 1

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Closeup of Band 2

Accuracy


Not quite as good as I'd expect, but not terrible either. It seems to lose about 45 seconds a month in the couple months I've owned it. Sometimes even quartz movements take a little time to break in and stabilize, so we'll see how it goes.

Bezel


This model features what Casio calls an "anti-reverse bezel" which means that it can only be turned counter-clockwise. Most watches with a bezel like this one can be turned either direction to sit on the minute hand, which gives you a rudimentary timer. I'm not a diver, so I don't see the point in making it "anti-reverse".

The bezel features a glob of GITD material at the 12 o'clock position.

Setting the Time


It works how you would expect except that it's a screw down crown, so you have to loosen the crown before you set it. Then pulling the crown out a half click .sets the date and a full click sets the time. It's very touchy though, and really easy to miss the date detent and wonder why the minute hand is moving when it felt like a half click. I read a couple reviews that said the same thing. It's not so bad once you know what to feel for when you pull the crown out, but it can be confusing the first time you go to set it.


Usability


Day to day this watch is pretty comfortable. Not quite as comfortable as some of my smaller watches, but not bad either. The watch sits at an angle where the crown doesn't get pushed into my hand like some watches with the larger cases do, which means I can wear it for a week at a time without having a crown-shaped indentation in the back of my hand.

The main reason I bought this watch was because of the simple, easy to read layout. It can be easily read without my reading glasses, even in the dark.

Another thing to note about wearing it daily is that the band seems to pick up dirt and other crud. It's easy to see it though and keep it clean.

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: On Wrist

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: In Glass of Water
Yep, its water resistant!


Conclusions


So far I am very pleased with my purchase and impressed with the quality I got at this price point. I have a couple minor concerns about how the case finish will hold up, but if this is a legit stainless steel finish and not some cheap chrome plating, then this watch may just be with me in a long time. Forty dollars is certainly not much to risk.

Casio makes some really neat models, but one of the problems I have with their overall lineup is that some models use plastic, "steel-looking" cases and lots of models use proprietary bands you can only buy from Casio, which are usually most of what the original watch cost. This is one of the few analog models they make that feature a classic look. Hopefully they will make more classic looking models like the MDV106.

Gallery


Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Shown With Citizen and Invicta Watches
Shown with a Citizen and Invicta for scale. The Casio has a big case but it's not huge

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: Next To Ruler

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: On Scale
The weight is reasonable given the watch's larger size
Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: In Box 1

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: In Box 2

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: In Box 3

Casio MDV106-1A Diver's Watch: In Box 4



18 comments:

  1. I considered this watch but it felt larger on my wrist than I was looking for. It looked and felt like a strong piece. I ended up going with a Citizen AW1151-04E which was more expensive but a "higher quality" piece with eco drive. Well the eco-drive didn't seem to be compatible with my work (watch kept losing time when I would wear it) and I scratched the glass (ouch) so I picked up a Casio AW-590 (G-shock) which is sturdy, and has a timer/stopwatch. - AC

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  2. I bought this watch because I'm very far-sighted and it was very easy to read. The price was $38.00 on eBay. Then I went looking for a new band for it.
    During that process I found another new watch, this time for $29.00. What a deal !!
    I've had all the other popular brands; Citizen, Seiko, Tag, etc. The new Tag band was nearly $200.00 retail so now it sits in a box while I wear the "cheap" watch.

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  3. I have had mine about 6 months and on at least three occasions, including today it has lost over half an hour. On one occasion I saw the watch had actually stopped and knocked it and it re-started. I missed an appointment the first time it happened and I thought a freind had played with it while it was on my desk - wish I had realised it at the time cos I am now 4000 miles from the shop where I bought it......

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  4. Bezel only turn one way for safety underwater. In the event it is actually being used as a dive timer, and gets jostled, it can only turn in the conservative way, that is, showing less time underwater. That way, you can't be caught too deep and run out of air because your watch was bumped.

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  5. Bought this for $40 measly bucks as a work watch to replace my 15 year old stalwart G-shock that finally gave up the ghost.
    It looks a lot better than it should for this price point. Keeps accurate enough time, looks good on my wrist and is not bulky for it's size- you know what I mean. It does not get hung up on anything nor is it constantly knocking things over like my other expensive watches.
    It is cheap- if you look hard and close enough you'll see that, but for an everyday throw away cheap watch for work, it really can't be beat and I am very pleased with the value.
    About the best I can say is that if it were splashed with solvent or paint or smashed with a tool and ruined, I would absolutely buy another to replace it.

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  6. Actually, the bezel has nothing to do with "air" in a diving tank. It's used to measure time at depth before a decompression stop is needed. For example, if your dive tables say you get 8 min at depth before a decompression stop is required....you would rotate it to the minute hand...and not stay at that depth longer than 8 min. It only turns one direction so that you can never add time at depth...only take it away. That way, you wont stay at depth to long, and miss a needed decompression stop...and get decompression sickness (e.g. "the bends).

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    Replies
    1. Actually, it's for both reasons...at least originally. You must remember that the early regulators from Aqua~Lung, Dacor, etc. were single-stage, double-hose designs that had no ports in which to connect submersible pressure gauges. So if you were doing shallow- to medium-depth dives where air, not NDLs, was the critical factor you'd plan you dive time based on experience of how much air you'd have for the given depth.

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  7. Thanks for the info! I still wear mine, and it still gets compliments.

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  8. I just got mine off Amazon.ca the other day. It's a good, no-fuss, watch. I just wish the case was less reflective.

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  9. Tathagat ChakrabortyFebruary 2, 2016 at 8:09 PM

    Dive watches used to be used by divers to get an idea about how much oxygen they have in their tanks. At the start of the dive, they set this time on the rotating bezel. Almost all the high end dive watches have an anti reverse bezel just so that if by mistake, the bezel moves on its own thanks to it rubbing against the diver, the estimate of the oxygen remaining will be conservative. i.e. It would rather give you an estimate of no oxygen remaining when there is actually oxygen remaining in the tanks rather than the other way round.

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  10. It's a big 40mm because it's actually 44mm. Not sure what specs you're looking at, but it's my second largest watch -- at 44mm. But wears smaller than that. It really is a fantastic watch for ~$40

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  11. just got this watch; love it. when is the best time of day to set the date?

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    1. Any time other than 10PM to 2AM; during those times the gears for the date are engaging, and you don't want to risk stripping them.

      What I do is turn the time forward until the date changes, and then I know where "midnight" is. Then I continue turning the time forward to the correct time, passing 12 again if it's after noon. Once the correct time is set, I then set the date using the date quickset position of the crown.

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    2. Also, don't forget that this watch doesn't have a perpetual calendar complication. In months with fewer than 31 days you have to move the date forward to the 1st manually.

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  12. In case anyone is curious, I opened mine to see what movement was in it. It's a Miyota 2115, and is covered with a full plastic movement housing, not just a little ring like some other watches have.

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  13. Thanks for all the good info, Brian!

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