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Saving the Casio F-28W

Casio F-28W

This is something I had on the backburner for a long while and finally got around to doing it.

The F-28W is a watch that Casio does not make anymore, although sometimes in rare instances they can be found.

I originally bought mine a little over four-and-a-half years ago in April 2011. Yes, I've had the watch that long. The reason mine looks as good as it does is because I've barely worn it.

There were four reasons I bought the F-28W. First, it just screamed "Retro '80s Casio Watch". Second, it was cheap. Third, it is one of the few Casio digital models that shows weekday, month and day all on the face all at once. Fourth, I love how unbelievably basic the watch is.

The F-28W only has two recessed buttons on the left side of the case. The first is to switch between 12-hour and 24-hour time. The second is to adjust the time. This watch has no backlight, no alarms, no stopwatch, no timer, no other screen modes other than what you see in the photo above. All the F-28W does is tell time and date. That's it.

Also, the F-28W is a featherweight. More on that in a moment.

The one problem with the F-28W... the strap. This watch originally came with the absolute cheapest possible strap Casio ever manufactured, which is the one made out of what they call "resin".

What is Casio's resin made out of? I've no idea. All I do know is that it's a synthetic compound of some kind.

The problem with the resin strap is that it will crumble apart. Yes, will and not might. One day the watch will just fall right off your wrist.

My F-28W's strap didn't fall off my wrist, but one day I picked it up to put it on and the strap just crumbled right apart, almost like a really stale cupcake.

This is not to say that all resin straps by Casio are bad, but we're talking about the cheapest of the cheap watches here that sold new for under 15 dollars USD. Quality of strap was not exactly a major concern with the manufacturing of these things.

Replacing the strap... a royal pain in the ass, because the watch does not use traditional spring bars that can be popped out using a spring bar tool. Nope. These spring bars have to be physically slid out of the case. And there's no civilized way to do it.

You can maybe remove the bars 3 or 4 times before the case cracks or the spring bars bend out of shape, at which point you have to throw the watch in the trash.

When my original resin strap crumbled, I knew this, so I opted to instead buy an 18mm fabric NATO strap.

Problems and solutions with replacing the strap

A common problem with installing a NATO style strap on a small Casio watch is that there is almost no room under the spring bars for adjustment, and the F-28W is no different.

The solution to this is to remove the bars first, then install the strap, then put back the bars over the strap.

When I took out the bars on mine, did they bend a little? Yep. But I knew they would do that. I tried removing the bars the "civilized" way using a proper spring bar tool, but nope, that casing did not want to let the bars slide through. I then had to resort to using a small vise-grip pliers. That worked. I got one bar out, then the other.

Could I have replaced the bars with new ones? Sure. But the cost of getting them just isn't worth it on a watch this cheap.

The strap was installed, and since I've no intention of ever removing it, the watch is pretty much all set until the battery dies (which will probably happen in about 3 years).

Is there any room to slide the strap under the bars? Yes, but just barely.

Too light to wear?

So the strap has been replaced with one that will never crumble. But I can't wear it for the reason the watch is too small and too light to wear.

For all intents and purposes, the F-28W is kid's size/women's size watch. It measures 31.5mm long x 32.5mm wide x 8mm thick. That's frickin' small.

Also, the watch is so light that it doesn't even feel like it's there. Ordinarily, most watch-wearers would consider that a good thing. I don't since I started wearing proper men's size timepieces. I like knowing my watch is there just by feel, and I don't get that feeling with the F-28W.

The weight of the F-28W with its original strap is just 14 grams. That's insanely light.

This is the weight with the NATO strap:

Casio F-28W with NATO strap weight

Yep, just 22g.

In comparison, this is the weight of a Timex Weekender 38mm size watch with NATO strap:

Timex Weekender with NATO strap

Bear in mind the Weekender is considered a lightweight watch, and it's more than double the weight of the F-28W with a NATO on it.

Was it worth it to save this watch?

Yes. At the time I write this, Casio no longer makes a super-basic digital like the F-28W. This is sad because there's a nice charm to basic technology that just works.

I like my analog watches, but I also like my totally retro, totally basic F-28W. While it's doubtful I'll wear it with any regularity, I was happy to re-strap it so it can now be used again.

Like 1980's Casio style? You have alternatives

The F-28W is a cool watch, but since it's not made anymore, they're tough to come by.

Fortunately, there are others that are still made, totally have that 1980's vibe to them and are very easy to come by.

Here are a few you would be interested in.

The three I own personally aside from the F-28W:

I bought the AE1200 originally because I wanted something with a countdown timer that had a nylon strap option. I bought the B640WD because it's basically like a F-28W that's been upgraded and has a great look to it. I bought the A500WA because it is the best dress digital watch that exists (and that's no joke), and also has a feature set identical to the AE1200.

Others that have decidedly '80s styling to them:

Last but not least...

Casio CA53W - This is the calculator watch. The same one seen in Back to the Future that Marty wears. If there is any cheap '80s-styled Casio watch you should buy right freakin' now, it's this one.

Why buy it? Casio doesn't list it in its catalog anymore on their web site, meaning it's threatening to go extinct, just like the F-28W. If you like it, get it before it disappears.

Published 2016 Jan 23

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