Casio Protrek Solar Watch


Battery-less, multi-functional timepiece

A watch is a personal thing. Some prefer analog, some prefer digital. I have numerous watches. At last count, just over a dozen watches including a Rolex and an Omega, but the watch that most often stays on my wrist is the Casio Protreck PRG90-1. In addition to being powered completely by solar (no more replacing batteries!) it has a barometer, a thermometer, an altimeter and a compass. Although Casio makes several watches with various permutations and combinations of solar, compass, barometer, thermometer, altimeter, world time, stopwatch, countdown timer, auto-luminescence (the back light goes on automatically when you turn the wrist towards you), mine is the only one with all the features I would want or use. Mine has world time, so it’s very useful for traveling. You can set the preset world time at a push of several buttons, and keep your home time in the bottom display. The PAG80-1V, for instance, has a yacht timer, but no world time. The PAG 40-3V doesn’t have solar power, a feature which is more than a definite plus.

The PRG90-1 really has the best combination of all the features I would want or use. I recently wore it on a trip to Machu Picchu, and the altimeter function was extraordinarily accurate to markings on the mountain. Although the thermometer could use work (it seems to be affected by the temperature of the wearer) I have calibrated it to measure ambient temperature. The barometer is also extremely useful to determine the immediate weather conditions (quite useful: In Peru I saw the barometric pressure drop so quickly and suddenly that I predicted rain when many of the locals said, “no, it never rains in Lima.” Needless to say, they were wrong and the Casio was right!).

If I could get another one, I’d perhaps pick up the PAW1200 series, which in addition to all of the features of the PRG90-1, also has a signal to the atomic clocks in the U.S., Japan and Germany, but those retail for well over $300. Although the PRG90-1 retails for around $250, they sell on eBay for less. I picked mine up brand new from a retailer in Hong Kong for just over $100.

-- Alastair Ong 04/15/08