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Casio watches with the most features for under 20 bucks

Casio F201

Let's see what happens when you go for cheap Casio digitals that offer the most for the least.

There's a certain joy in getting a watch that offers a ton of features for next to nothing. However, you have specifically know what you're looking for to get the most features you can.

For example, there is the tried-and-true F-91W. That's a great watch that will last for years, but it's really basic. Time, date, 1 alarm, stopwatch, that's it.

What I'm talking about is getting a Casio digital that packs the most usable features for the cheapest possible price.

My definition of "usable features"

I'm only going to list feature-rich watches here that people could actually use.

The best example of something not usable the DB36. Yes, it's under 20 bucks, and that watch has a 30-page DataBank that can store 30 pages, each with a maximum 8 letters and 12 numerals. And it can do it in 13 different languages...

...but you actually are better off simply writing down what you would otherwise put in the watch on a memo pad by hand. You'll get it done literally 5x as fast or faster by putting pen to paper.

The only thing good about owning a DB36 is security through obscurity. If you needed to store a password somewhere that you know absolutely nobody would ever look for it, use a DB36. Otherwise, it's not something I'd recommend getting.

My required watch features for this list

  1. Must show time, weekday and day-month on the face all at once
  2. Must have a decent nightlight so the face can be read at night easily
  3. Must have more than 1 alarm
  4. Must have a countdown timer

Why wear a cheap digital watch?

The reason for wearing a cheap digital feature-rich watch is because it's a nice little life organizer that goes places your phone can't go.

Places phones can't go is anywhere there is water, dirt, oil or debris. A few examples are the kitchen, laundry room, outside when doing yard work, garage and so on. Sure, you can take the phone to those places, but you're just asking for it to get damaged every time you do. With the watch, you don't care if it gets scratched, scuffed, dinged or whatever since it was so cheap to begin with.

The life organization part comes from knowing the time and date instantly with a turn of the wrist, and the fact you can set reminders via alarms and countdown timer. Lots of people use the countdown feature as a cooking timer. The multi-alarm feature can be used as reminders for appointments or to take medication (should you take any,) and so on.

Two more things to mention before showing the list: Most of these watches will last 5 to 7 years on a single battery before needing a change, and you only need to adjust the time twice a year for Daylight Savings. Or if you don't live in an area that observes DST, the time only needs to be adjusted about once every 6 months (where at most it will only be off by about 30 seconds.)

The list

Rich's picks

Toughest for the money: AE1000

This is the biggest watch on the list. But even so, it's still surprisingly size-friendly as it fits pretty much fits any wrist from about 6.5-inch to 8-inch.

The other very good thing is that it has a thick, wide strap with good buckle. A common complaint with cheaper Casio digitals is that the strap breaks too quickly. Not so on the AE1000. It will last.

For under 20 bucks, this is as close as you're going to get to a G-SHOCK. It has 100M water resistance, big easy-press textured buttons and can take a beating.

Easiest to get along with: W213

The W213 (which by the way also has a silver case version) also benefits from a thicker (but not wider) strap, has a better-than-average amber nightlight for night viewing and 50M water resistance. The side buttons are textured, and while not as large as the AE1000 are still very easy to use.

It's the display that sets the W213 apart from the others. Very legible and very easy to see which of the 5 alarms are active by a quick look at the top left circle. The display also has eye candy as the top bar animates when seconds pass or when stopwatch is in use. It's also very easy to swap between 12-hour and 24-hour time with a single press of the bottom right button on the timekeeping screen.

Most for the least: F201WA

The F201 at the time I write this is almost under 10 bucks new, never mind just being under 20. This is the cheapest digital watch where you get the most for the money. Nothing out there can touch what this thing offers for the price. Where penny pinching is concerned, this is as good as it gets. The only way it could be better is if it were free.

Don't be fooled by the 41 x 34 x 10.5mm dimensions, either. This watch is ultra-readable because the display is designed smartly and has no clutter to it whatsoever.

There is literally no other watch sold new right now that delivers as many features for so cheap.

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