A Review Of The Casio F-91W Digital Watch

The Casio F-91W has had a cult following for decades and is still a world's best seller today for good reason. It's rare to find a utilitarian device that marries classic retro design so seamlessly.

A Review Of The Casio F-91W Digital Watch
© Nicklaus Walter

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Who really needs a watch these days? Arguably, almost nobody. Thanks to smartphones, we have a dead accurate clock within arms reach at all times. If we simply need to know what time it is, realistically the wristwatch has been obsolete for some time now. But what if the purpose of the watch isn't just about time? What if it has a style component to it, something akin to a personal signature? Or even to provide a much needed break from staring at high resolution blue screens all day long?

More and more lately, I've been looking for a solution to cut down on the number of occasions that I check my phone. Since it's been the only way of keeping time I've had on me for years now, I'll be checking the time on my phone first, followed by my email, and subsequently social media, the news, etc. At this point, I've wasted a couple of minutes when all I intended on doing is checking the time in the first place. I'm likely not alone in this behaviour either. It only takes a brief moment of critical reflection to realize that the obvious solution to this bad habit is to start wearing a wristwatch. I'd seen the Casio F-91W digital watch in stores many times and always thought they were an interesting option. This is the timepiece that immediately came to mind, so I decided to pick one up in short order.

© Nicklaus Walter

Features & Size

Casio was founded in 1946 in Tokyo, Japan, and has been making the Casio F-91W since 1989. It features Casio's well regarded 593 quartz movement along with a clear and easy to read digital LCD display. The watch band and glass are made of a high quality resin, while the rear is encased in a stainless steel back which is held together with four small screws. On the sides of the watch, you'll find three stainless steel buttons that have multiple functions depending on the mode you're in. In terms of physical dimensions, the Casio F-91W is on the smaller side with a 34mm diameter, 8.5mm depth, and spans 38mm lug to lug. Not only is it physically compact but it's also lightweight at a mere 21 grams.

The Casio F-91W runs on a CR2016 battery which lasts for a minimum of seven years and can be found easily at drugstores, electronics shops, or online. The watch is water resistant up to 30 meters. Although you can't go swimming with it, I have seen some torture tests where it survived being submerged in shallow water for a few minutes. I don't recommend pushing the limits though, so it's best to consider it splash proof. The Casio F-91W also packs a surprising number of useful features given it's small size and super affordable price. Being a chronograph, it includes a handy stopwatch function that I find myself using multiple times a day. It gives you the option to choose from a 12/24-hour format, and displays the hour, minute, second, pm, date, and day at all times. There's a daily alarm and optional hourly time signal as well. Lastly, the watch has an auto-calendar feature and is accurate to within ±30 seconds per month. Not bad for a watch that can be had for under $25 USD.

© Nicklaus Walter

Build Quality

In terms of build quality, the Casio F-91W is built to a much higher standard than you'd expect for the price. It's increasingly difficult to buy electronics at this price point without sacrificing quality immensely, so this comes as a welcome surprise. It's clear that Casio has kept the quality and materials to a respectable level. That said, while it can certainly take a beating and survive, it will show scratches. The strap is a classy and unobtrusive matte black finish that fits comfortably around the wrist for long periods of time. In fact, I don't even notice it on my wrist unless I'm checking the time.

The LCD Screen is clear and easy to view under a variety of light sources, including direct sunlight. This does bring us to the one major flaw of the Casio F-91W however, which is that awful built in LED light. Technically it is serviceable, but it only lights up a small portion of the left side of the screen. This does allow you to tell the time in the dark if you squint closely enough, but this is one aspect of the watch that does leave me wanting more. Timex definitely does it better with their Indiglo watches.

Due to the massive popularity of the Casio F-91W, there are countless counterfeit knockoffs for sale on the market. Thankfully, there's an easy way to check if the watch is real or fake. Just hold down the button on the right hand side for a few seconds. If the watch is a real Casio, the screen will display the word CASIo (exactly like that) until you release the button. Pretty neat, right?


  • Handsome vintage 80s style
  • Extremely affordable
  • Small and lightweight
  • Battery lasts for several years
  • Water resistant up to 30 meters
  • Includes many useful functions while still being easy to use
  • Excellent build quality for the price


  • The built in LED light is terrible
  • Not scratch resistant


The bottom line is this. The Casio F-91W proves that there is still a place for digital watches today. It offers an exceptional value proposition in a small package that is not only functional and accurate, but intuitive and easy to use. It has the perfect amount of modes, with several great features but not too many for it to be confusing or difficult to change settings. It functions in complete silence (aside from the optional alarms) with time tested durability that will keep on going. And even if the watch does break at some point, the price point is so low that it can be replaced at a moment's notice and you won't stress about it.

The Casio F-91W has had a cult following for decades and is still a world's best seller today for good reason. It's rare to find a utilitarian device that marries classic retro design so seamlessly. Albeit, this 80s styling won't be for everyone but you'll know right away if the idea of having what looks like an understated calculator around your wrist appeals to you or not. Yes, the watch does have an LCD screen but it feels primitive compared to modern phone screens. It almost seems analog in comparison. In essence, this is technology that's reminiscent of a simpler time. If nothing else, it will help you reach for your phone just a little less often which is always a good thing.