Casio F-91w Torture Test
Perchance you are familiar with the Casio F-91W? It is the ubiquitous white noise of watches. The quartz digital. Ever-present on the wrists of schoolchildren, celebrities, and horological savants. Known to watch ingenues and veteran campaigners alike, its price, inconspicuous profile, and utility make it superbly attractive. Aside from the pseudo-disposability of a watch that can be found on Amazon and eBay for nine dollars with free shipping, what does this absurd affordability translate to in terms of durability? Beginning gently and gradually increasing my severity through a series of experimental trials, I aimed to discover the true limits of this Casio’s physical endurance.
Disclaimer: All the tests performed herein reflect the unique experiences of the author over a short period. No guaranties are made or implied herein. Most of these actions void Casio’s warranty. Individual results may vary.
Test One: Daily Wear
The first and easiest test: I opened the brand new F-91W and wore it for the course of an average day. This did not include any severe manual labor, but did feature doing laundry, washing hands, dishes, and cooking. I took no especial pains to keep the watch from incidental contact with water, soap, or other substances.
Unsurprisingly, the watch made it through the day unmarred, functioning perfectly.
Test Two: Gym Wear
I don’t generally wear a watch to the gym, but I brought the Casio along for a turn through the weight room wringer. It came into continuous contact with liberal amounts of both perspiration and chalk, as well as occasional encounters with hard or sharp objects. Some minor amount of protection may however have been provided my my decision to wear it on the inside of my wrist out of personal carpal comfort preference.
The small concavities on the inside of the resin band collected puddles of sweat that squelched unpleasantly, but when the chalk dust was brushed off and the rime of salt rinsed away, the F-91W was once again flawless.
Test Three: Pool and Hot Tub
I strapped on the Casio for an evening swim, allowing it to plunge and submerge as chance dictated it during my laps. Immediately following this I crossed to the hot tub and relaxed for and extended period, the watch bobbing in and out of the water and foam all the while.
After a gentle towelling the Casio continued to perform its functions unhesitatingly. “Is this all you got?” it seemed to ask.
Test Four: Shower Time
Having proven that it could withstand the rigors of extended submersion and heat, it now faced exposure to the forcibly directed streams of a shower, as well as to the detergent properties of soap and shampoo. This is not recommended even for some watches rated to hundreds of meters of water resistance.
The watch appeared to be entirely unaffected save for being freshly scented.
Test Five: Three Story Plunge
The initial, kinder, tests were ended. I held my watch out from a third story balcony and dropped it unceremoniously onto an bed of unyielding gravel. I watched the descent to ensure it landed face downwards.
I expected to find the crystal cracked at the very least. Perhaps the shock of landing had been too much and the fragile interior mechanism had ceased to function? Unlike its fellow Casio, the G-Shock, this watch had no built-in impact protection. The reality however was that the only visible cicatrix was a minute chip in the crystal, more easily felt with a fingernail than seen. The functioning of the watch remained unaffected, continuing blithely to tell the time legibly and accurately.
Test Six: Into the Icebox
I filled a martini glass with tap water, plunked the watch in, set the glass inside my freezer, and commenced to wait.
Removing the glass hours later, confirming that the water within had frozen, I jimmied the solid cone free. Through the ice’s limpid lens, I could see the digits merrily keeping time. After chipping the watch free from its frozen prison, aside from being remarkably cold to the touch, it remained entirely unaffected by its chilly trial, time-keeping and all sundry functionality continued as per normal.
Test Seven: Crushed by a Truck
My Chevrolet Colorado was parked in the lot. It weighs a cool 4,000 lbs. (around 1800 kg.). After sticking the Casio face up behind a rear tire, I entered the cab, put the truck in gear and backed over the watch. I pulled forward to repeat the process several more times. “Surely this is the end” I thought.
The watch and band were coated in grime, but thumbing the dirt from the face showed me that not even the slightest cracking or crazing had transpired. The time readout was accurate and legible. The watch continued to function just as it had when newly removed from its package. Very well Casio, it’s on!
Test Eight: Enter the Ninja!
I frequently blend up smoothies that include everything from frozen fruit to boiled chicken breast, as well as the occasional ice-blended margarita. As such, I invested in the 1000 watt Ninja Professional, the thing is a beast. In goes the Casio. I held the pulse button for as long as I could bear the deafening cacophony produced thereby.
The resin band sustained a variety of nicks, as well as one gash that partially severed it. The plastic casing and metal backing bore a multitude of faint crosshatchings, but was absolutely structurally sound. The timekeeping mechanism was evidently unaffected as its functioning continued unabated.
Test Nine: Cooked Into an Omelette
I prepared an egg white omelette, however instead of my standard inclusions of salsa and hot sauce I added a digital watch. I monitored the process closely in case of fire while trying not to breathe any of the acrid fumes. When the puddle of albumen had far surpassed the desirable baveuse consistency I dug the Casio from the scalded scramble.
Parts of the band had melted into deformity, sticking to the pan as I attempted an extraction. Burned egg obscured the face but was easily scrubbed away. The watch’s time-telling ability however seemed altogether unaffected by the eggs and heat. (No, of course I did not eat the eggs)
Test Ten: Cup of Joe
Got to have some java with those eggs, so I plunked the F-91W into a bed of grounds, added near-boiling water, and waited several minutes for the french press to steep. Eventually I pressed the plunger home, brewing a nice, steamy carafe. I heard a plaintive beep from within.
The watch was a gloopy mess, but once fished out from the swamp of used grounds, every function and readout still worked as it had before being brewed into a pot of coffee. (No, I did not drink the coffee either)
Test Eleven: Tied to the Bumper of a Truck
Time to end this. I ran a cord around my hitch to form a loop just long enough to skate along the surface of the blacktop. I ran the watch strap through the loop and away I went. Five miles along surface streets.
And here…here we must live in a state of perpetual suspense evermore. For when I arrived at my convenience store parking lot destination to inspect the destruction I had wrought, the looped cord no longer bore a watch. Presumably the strap, compromised as it was by blender cuts and partial melting gave way en route. A more prescient experimentalist would have reinforced these areas with gaffer’s tape or the like, but alas, in the fog of my horological sadism I took no such precautions. Though I twice retraced my route searching for the stray timepiece, nothing so much as a bent spring bar was in evidence. Either the profusion of passing tractor trailers obliterated it into debris beyond recognition, or through the vagaries of fate it found refuge in a grate or ditch, there to spend its existence unseen, still telling perfect time, until the last of its cruelly long battery life ebbs away ten years hence. This latter possibility brings with it an uncanny melancholy. It endured valiantly and deserved a more dramatic end: a viking funeral or gallant Light Brigade charge.
Though the exact tipping point between survival and destruction eluded me, the Casio F-91W surpassed all my expectations, and it was with gasps of honest surprise that I discovered it to still be intact and fully operational following the more ludicrous tests in my battery. Not only is it an icon for low price, retro style, and rich functionality, but is far tougher than it has any right to be. Even my continually frustrated attempts to bust it brought with them a queer, vicious joy. The ultimate conclusion to my trials was predetermined to be ugly and unsatisfying however; as Friar Laurence cautioned Romeo: “These violent delights have violent ends.”Please don't forget to share: