Oceanus seems to represent Casio’s desire to creep upmarket in the US. In Japan, you can actually drop over $1,000 on a high-end Casio G-Shock, but to most Americans, the brand Casio usually means geeky at best, and cheap at worst. Frequent readers of Watch Report know better, however. In my opinion, Casio makes some of the most technologically advanced, rugged, and interesting digital watches available. But since Casio doesn’t have time to wait for Watch Report to enlighten the entire American watch-buying public, they have repackaged their ingenuity into a shiny new brand: Oceanus.
I do think Oceanus watches are deserving of a brand all their own. With features that go beyond even my favorite US G-Shocks (titanium construction, handsome, low-profile cases, sapphire crystals), they deserve a chance to make their own way in the market.
The Oceanus 5 Motor is a further refinement of the Oceanus line. It boasts most of the features of the Oceanus Chronograph, but without the LCD in the 3 o’clock position. Why was Casio motivated to completely remove the LCD and figure out how to cram five individual motors into a single case? The point of the Oceanus 5 Motor is that it’s a geeky watch that doesn’t look like a geeky watch, so the fewer LCDs and LEDs, the better.
The downside of removing the LCD is that the watch gets slightly more complicated. The unit I received didn’t come with an instruction manual, and after about 10 minutes of playing with buttons and watching the seven hands (seven!) spin and reel, I headed online to hunt down a PDF version of the booklet. Fortunately, with a little guidance, I found the 5 Motor fairly easy to use, however if you’re the type who refuses to read manuals, you probably won’t get the most out of this watch.
Features of the Oceanus 5 Motor include:
- Atomic timekeeping. The Oceanus watches will pick up time calibration signals transmitted in the US (Fort Collins, CO) and Japan. It will try to calibrate up to six times per day at predefined times during the wee hours of the morning, and the watch can also be placed in calibration mode manually. If you’re in an area where you can’t receive a time calibration signal, Oceanus watches can also be set manually.
- Solar powered. All Oceanus watches have solar cells which recharge batteries capable of keeping them running for up to four months when fully charged. The Oceanus 5 Motor has a low power indicator to let you know when you haven’t been spending enough time in the sun.
- World time. The subdial between the 2 and 3 o’clock positions is a 24-hour dial with both hour and minute hands to display the time in 27 cities (29 different time zones). 30 different time zone options expressed as either city abbreviations or GMT offsets are printed around the perimeter of the dial, and switching between them is as easy as pushing the lower right-hand button (the chronograph’s second hand moves to the currently selected city). Since the world time feature uses a subdial, when the watch is in world time mode, you can actually see the time in both your home time zone, and in the secondary time zone simultaneously.
- Time transfer function. The time transfer function allows you to swap time zones between your home time zone and the watch’s secondary time zone. For instance, if your home time zone is LAX and your secondary time zone is Tokyo, and you travel to Tokyo, you can easily reverse your home and secondary time zones so that your home time zone is Tokyo, and your secondary time zone is LAX. When you head home, just invert them again. (I first discovered this feature with the Seiko Sportura SNJ005 and later with the Tissot T-Navigator 3000.)
- Chronograph. The Oceanus 5 Motor has a stopwatch with a resolution of 1/20th of a second, capable of measuring elapsed times up to 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 59.95 seconds. The stopwatch’s second hand is the third primary hand (which is usually the second hand on analog watches without chronographs), and the subdial at the six o’clock position which normally measures seconds in timekeeping mode measures fractions of a second in chronograph mode (only for the first 60 seconds).
- Daily alarm. When in alarm mode, the world time subdial allows you to set a single daily alarm.
- Automatic calendar (through the year 2099).
- 24-hour subdial at the 9 o’clock position.
- Titanium case and bracelet (also available with a black leather strap) .
- Synthetic sapphire crystal. A sapphire crystal (virtually scratch-proof) is not something you see everyday on a Casio, but on an Oceanus, it’s standard.
- Water resistant up to 100 meters, or about 330 feet.
On top of being a functional, sturdy, and a nice looking timepiece, the Oceanus 5 Motor is exceedingly comfortable. I’ve been wearing it for several days now, and it has a way of making you forget it’s there. The titanium case and bracelet keep it lightweight, and the contour of the case keeps it perched properly on top of my narrow wrist. Speaking of titanium, I’ve had trouble in the past getting titanium atomic watches to calibrate, possibly because it’s more difficult for the signal to penetrate titanium than plastic, however the Oceanus 5 Motor has no difficulty receiving a signal from San Francisco. (Disclaimer: I can only vouch for signal reception in San Francisco — as with all atomic watches, your mileage may very depending on where you live.)
Although I’ve been very happy with the Oceanus 5 Motor, there are a couple of minor issues. First, it doesn’t have any type of lighting system other than luminescent paint on the hands and hour markers. Although I’ve found that the luminosity does last all night (this was easy to test because between kids, earthquakes, and general city cacophony, I’m awakened at all hours of the night), I wouldn’t mind seeing the 5 Motor outfitted with the same LED illumination system as the Oceanus Chronograph. The 5 motor is also not the easiest watch to get the hang of. I’m a watch geek, so I picked it up pretty quickly, but for some, there will be a fairly steep learning curve. Fortunately, there’s a little cheat sheet etched in the back of the case next to the pushers in the form of ALM (alarm), WT (world time), ADJ (adjust), and CHR (chronograph) to remind you which buttons do what, so you can always refresh your memory while standing in line at the DMV.
The Oceanus 5 Motor retails for $580 MSRP, and can be purchased at several retail outlets, and here and there online.
By Christian Cantrell