Switching from mechanical analog, to quartz digital watches

By Jeffrey the Barak.

My Rolex Submariner

I have been a quite an avid watch collector and flipper for some time, buying and selling my way through dozens of wildly different styles, (mostly Seiko), albeit with three periods of minimalist one-watch heaven. I have always preferred dive watches and big watches, and been a heavy user of the venerable rotating bezel.

At the high point of my obsession I owned a vintage Rolex Submariner, but my three favorites were the one I just sold, a Seiko Prospex “Sumo” SBDC001, as well as a less enormous Seiko Prospex Titanium Solar Scuba (quartz) SBCB009, and some time before that a Seiko “Orange Monster” SKX781. All three were kings of extreme luminescence, and the Solar kept perfect time.

So what happened? Perhaps due to the clock on my smartphone, and the synched clock in my car, and the clocks on my computers, (including my favorite, time.is), and my preference for 24 hour military time, acquired during my transportation career, I have been responding more favorably to the digital time format, and have started to be less enthralled with telling the time via clock hands, as taught in Kindergarten and never forgotten.

And then there is an obsession with accurate time, which we all must admit, is usually better served by quartz movements than by any high-end Swiss or Japanese movement.

In addition to this there is my loss of lust for expensive watches and a new appreciation for pure function.

In case you have not guessed from the above, this has led me to the iconic entry-level, $40, black resin, Casio G-Shock.

Casio G-Shock DW5600E-1V

Why this one as opposed to others that offer more functions? Well, “Wave-Ceptor” atomic time does me no good in Hawai’i when Fort Collins is far around the curvature of the Earth and well out of range, and while “Tough Solar” solar charging is fantastic, you cannot currently get this feature without also getting Wave Ceptor.  Sure, when you set HNL as the time zone, Wave-Ceptor deactivates, but it is not something I need to pay for.

Plus the basic G-Shock is simpler to use than the modules with five alarms, world time zones etc. So in many ways the $40 Casio G-Shock DW 5600E-1V is actually better than others costing many times more, even if I might have to pay $10 for a battery change every couple of years.

In use, it feels odd at first to only have 54 grams of slim resin on my left wrist after years of heavy steel and less heavy but equally large titanium. Not only does it matter little if the $40 watch gets damaged, it is also very unlikely to happen, because these things are as tough as their advertising suggests.

But I definitely feel that my appreciation of fine mechanical movements has diminished and the tiny quartz crystals are calling to me with their eternal constant vibrations. Even if it turns out that the digits eventually drive me nuts and I yearn for hands again, I will almost certainly stay with quartz movements, just to get relief from the obsessive synchronization that I usually find necessary with clockwork, regardless of the caliber.

I like to look at the time setting website time.is, and at my watches, and see the precise same seconds at the same time. Anything else is not good enough.

In practice, reading the time on a digital watch is not really so different from letting your brain interpret three hands at a glance. Using the timer and stopwatch functions are certainly different from a simple twist of the dive bezel, but are impressive in their micro-detail. Of course I almost always have a smartphone around also, which will provide a stopwatch or a countdown timer in response to a gentle voice request.

In practice using the buttons to extensively navigate the alarm, timer and stopwatch functions makes my hands ache a bit, so I will probably always use my smartphone for such functions and let the watch show the weekday, month, date, hour, minutes and seconds all of the time.

Besides possibly coming to the realization that I miss big clear hands, I suspect that the loss of a rotating dive bezel may be another factor that could take me back to analog. I used my bezel all the time, and it was all I ever needed to time one thing at a time. It has been years since I did not have a dive bezel. We will see how I fare with launching timer mode via a button or two, or as I said above, transferring that task to my phone.

It is remarkable how many people have chosen this and other G-Shock watches. It is by far the most common watch worn on the International Space Station, and several celebrities who might be expected to wear pricey or vintage watches at all times, are frequently spotted with the lowly square $40 5600E on their wrists. There is a cool factor to the old square G-Shock.

Almost anything good has its legion of collectors, and Casio watches are no exception. Some people buy every style variant that comes out each year, investing thousands into their obsession. While you may get a big box of Casios for the price of a single Rolex, it can still add up to a small fortune. There are specific collections of just the square Casios, like my DW5600E-1V, its predecessors, and variants.

Some other G-Shocks are collaborations with fashionable designers, and some are marketed to police and fire personnel, and of course, the military who are huge consumers of the Casio G-Shock line.

Coming from high end and vintage collecting, it can be a surprise to stumble upon the passion that exists for the plastic resin and often brightly colored riot that is the Casio G-Shock quartz watch. However, while some models may look a bit enormous and extreme, they all do their job well.

Update July 2nd.

Yes I did it, I acquired a quartz analog diver to alternate with the G-Shock.

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