Today’s review is Casio’s latest in their Frogman line of G-Shock dive watches. These are the first in that line to have atomic timekeeping and solar power. Let’s take a look and see what you get for a list price of $725!
- Water resistant to 200m (660ft).
- Dedicated dive timer with surface interval measurement and logbook.
- Tide graph and moon phase (based on UTC offset and lunitidal interval).
- DLC-coated stainless steel case, integral rubber strap with double-tang buckle.
- World time in 48 cities (31 time zones).
- Automatic and manual EL backlight.
- Six-band radio reception (Japan, US, China, UK, Germany).
- Machined aluminum bezel with stainless steel screws on the face.
- 24 hour countdown timer.
- Five alarms.
- 26 month power reserve with H/M/L display of charge.
- 58.3mm by 53mm by 18mm, 115g.
Please read on for the full review and pictures.
In person or in a a picture, the first thing you notice about the new Frogman is the sheer size of it. At 50-some millimeters wide and 18 high, with a bold asymmetric shape, this is not a watch for understatement. It really is designed to be seen on the outside of a wetsuit — an impression reinforced by the extra-long strap. Casio claims that it weighs 115g, but my scale measures 135 — very heavy for a digital watch.
Here’s a wrist shot: I have a 7.25″ wrist, and it overhangs quite a bit. In its defense, the watch stays put and is comfortable, but it’s easily the boldest thing I’ve ever worn. One major win from the size increase is the more legible display, which I do appreciate.
The new Frogman increased quite a bit in cost over its predecessor. From reading the press releases, I think that most of that is due to materials. Dive watches have issues with corrosion, and the G-Shock line has plastic on top of metal which traps moisture next to steel. Even stainless will rust in those conditions, so the new Frogman goes to DLC-coated stainless for the case and and a cool DLC-coated bezel with steel buttons and DLC-coated crown. Expensive, yes, but probably worth it in the dive world. Compared to the rest of your gear, you’ll probably hardly notice it.
The Frogman has a dedicated dive mode, accessed by pressing and holding the lower left button for two seconds. It measures dives up to an improbable 24 hours, and surface intervals up to 48 hours. Logs of the last ten dives are kept in memory for displaying.
On the top portion of the screen, you have a 7-segment tide graph, moon phase, and circular timer display. You can program in your UTC offset and lunitidal interval to get an accurate display of tides; quite useful if you’re doing shore diving, fishing, or surfing.
There’s no English translation for the 3184 module yet, but I would assume that the five alarms function like those in the recent G-Rescue, with snooze, 1-month, monthly, daily, etc.
One interesting design choice is the buttons. Those on the right are large, grooved, and easy to press. The ones on the left are circular, DLC-coated, and deeply inset into shrouds. Seems that the start/stop and light buttons on the right are intended to be used underwater, but the mode/set buttons are not. If so, a thoughtful touch.
(Casio also mirrored the buttons on the left — those small polished circles of metal are decorative.)
The caseback itself is DLC-coated stainless with a robotic frog graphic that shows an unexpected amount of humor for a multinational corporation. The steel has a beautiful glossy luster, and is flawless in finish; a very good use of DLC, in my opinion.
In use, the Frogman excelled as we expect from a G-Shock: high-quality LCD, easy to use software, loud alarms, and no problems with radio-set. As functional watches go, G-Shocks are hard to beat.
If you’re a serious diver, then the Frogman is easy to recommend. If you just appreciate gear, you might want to try one on before buying as the size and weight might not work for all wrists. In terms of value, the DLC treatment is still relatively new and quite costly, so $725 list is actually one of the less-expensive watches using it. DLC is perfect for salt water, so I’d say that this is a very good value for the money.
By Paul Hubbard