I like analog-digital watches, and Casio makes some of the best. Today we review the GW-3500B-1A, a new entrant from their Aviation series of G-Shocks. Designed for flying and high acceleration, this reverse-LCD model is on the high end of the line:
- Case is 49.1mm by 16.4mm, 75g, rubber and plastic with stainless steel caseback.
- Domed mineral crystal
- Radio set, six bands ‘atomic timekeeping’, rated to 15 seconds per month in the absence of signal
- Tough solar power and tough movement, where the hands sense and correct their positions as required. Six month power reserve.
- World time, with 48 cities in 29 timezones
- Water resistant to 200m (660ft)
- Four daily alarms and a fifth with snooze function
- 1/100th of a second stopwatch, up to 24 hours
- 1 hour countdown timer
- Lumed hands, indices and bezel section plus auto-activating LED backlight.
- Rated for up to 12G of acceleration.
- List price: $260USD.
Unusually for a G-Shock, the lume is excellent. Interestingly, the side sections of the bezel glow too, though other than style they aren’t particularly functional. I like the six and twelve numerals. The subdials aren’t lumed, alas, but they’re a little small to read at night anyway.
Just in case the lume doesn’t suffice, the 3500 also has a bright yellow LED at six o’clock too, complete with auto-on. If you’ve not seen it before, auto-on is almost magical; the watch has a tilt sensor and will activate when you tilt your wrist, and only if its dark.
The thing I like about analog-digital is the combination of instantly readable hands with the multiple functions and precision of digital. It’s really hard to make a precise analog stopwatch that’s easy to read, but a single LCD display does it perfectly.
In this case, the reversed LCD displays are closer to the black dial color and thus less obtrusive at a glance. You give up a bit of display contrast for reverse LCD, but not a lot and the result is very attractive. Casio adds two small subdials at three and nine o’clock as well, to complement the three LCDs.
This one has the Casio module 5173 (PDF), the usual powerhouse of multifunctionality. High-end G-Shocks are amazing that way.
It’s easy to wear, midsize compared to the new GX56s, and actually kind of unobtrusive in person. Very light and comfortable at 75g. I used for a lapswimming set and it worked OK, but the stopwatch display is a bit small to read on the fly.
At $260 this is one of the more expensive of the G-Shock line, but if that exceeds your budget Casio has other models galore, and going without atomic and/or solar power reduces the price.
Our thanks to Casio for the review loaner.