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Why I'll always keep this Casio Digital Sport Watch around

This $13 watch is the reason why our editor hasn't caved and bought an Apple Watch (for now).
Casio F91W-1 Classic Resin Strap Digital Sport Watch is the best men's watch according to an NBC News editor. Here's why this $13 watch is his fashion must have for the last decade. Shop Casio watches including G Shock and more.
Why everyone should have one of these $13 watches tucked into a drawer or glove compartment, just in case.Casio; Getty Images

I always try to keep a watch on my wrist for easy access to the time as even the best smartphone begs to be pulled from a pocket before it will confirm the date. And while I’m inching ever closer to investing in an Apple Watch — a steep climb given my ongoing loyalty to the Pixel 4 — I’ve yet to find a wristwatch as all-around perfect and useful for me as the Casio F91W Digital Sport Watch. My father sported it in yellowing photos I’ve come across and I distinctly remember him sporting the metal model, which equips Electro Luminescence. Regardless, the point is that the watch stands the test of time. As far as I’m concerned, everyone should have one of these $13 watches tucked into a drawer or glove compartment, just in case.

I first got one of these a few years out of high school, strapped for cash and grabbing bargain tech to get me through. A watch that ran me about $10 back then (and just a few dollars more in the years since) became one of the most long-lasting, functional and efficient devices I’ve ever had. And I think it’s presented similar value to others:

I’ve personally bought this watch four times (maybe five) in the last decade, rebuying it to replace the last one I’d lost during a move or under a bed (just once). Sure, something this simple isn’t for everyone. But its biggest value, in my opinion, is specifically everything it doesn’t try to do or be. The Casio sport watch tells me the time, repeatedly, no matter what I’m up to: running, working, swimming, walking, hiking, beaching, biking and so on — it doesn’t do much more than that, though. This watch plants itself solidly in a bed of mediocrity and, in that space, it carries itself with the utmost confidence. That’s the kind of watch I’d want to have strapping me during an apocalypse — or pandemic.

Casio F91W-1 Classic Resin Strap Digital Sport Watch

The Casio wristwatch is water-resistant so you don’t have to take it off for a shower, nor when you hit the pool or beach. It’s also virtually invincible — I’ve accidentally smashed it and dropped it but it has never broken or gone silent — it will scratch, like any other device will, but it won’t complain about it. The display is clean, simple and informative:

  • You get the time, which you can format to a 24-hour output, a must for me in any timekeeping device
  • You can set alarms
  • You can start a stopwatch
  • And you can use its backlight for nighttime timetelling — and I mean an actual light, a bulb in the back corner of the display that faintly spreads it glow across the digits, lighting them up just enough so you tell the time in pitch darkness.

But all of that aside, we have to talk about its style because a watch is as much an accessory as it is jewelry. And in that space, the Casio watch achieves a wonderful compromise between ancient tech (from the 20th century) and the modern aesthetic: It’s cool. You get the essential functions of a watch that isn’t one bit smart (well, the alarm is quite punctual) with a style that fits 80s nostalgia as much as it fits modern (though distant) boardrooms, where minimalism and aloofness dominate. Of course, if you wanted to get the value of a Casio-built watch and crank up the styling, you’ve got plenty of options.

Casio Men's Vintage A168WA-1 Electro Luminescence Watch

The backlit display of this Casio watch gives you a greenish glow across its back, so the digits get especially easy to read at night. Otherwise, it sports lots of the same functions and amenities as Casio’s other baseline watches.

Casio Men's G-Shock Quartz Watch with Resin Strap

Maybe you’re more active or want to strap that fitness-first aesthetic onto your wrist. Either way, the iconic G-Shock line from Casio is still a relatively affordable upgrade to consider.

Casio Men's Classic Quartz Watch with Resin Strap

Finally, perhaps you’re way too advanced for digital watches and rather lean on the analog display of the truly timeless. This simple Casio watch will run you the same as the sport watch and likely fits better with a nice going-out suit than the former.

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