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Ever since I got my hands on a Casio G-Shock DW5600E-1V earlier this year, I’ve been obsessed with the practicality and aesthetics of digital watches. Not only are they unpretentious and fun to play with (and, usually, pretty cheap, as watches go), they’re also easy to style. They’re cool accessories of yesteryear that remind me of LCD screens of my video gaming childhood. Plus, I like the way they beep. (I am a simple man.)
So when Casio announced its Vintage A100 line—a series of watches inspired by a model it released in 1978—I felt the company was personally calling out to me. This series reimagines the F-100, a watch worn by Sigourney Weaver’s character in the 1979 film Alien and modernizes it. Wanting to see how well it performed, I reached out to Casio to get my hands on the golden ion-plated A100 watch, the A100WEG-9AVT, which retails for $74.99, to take it for a spin. After wearing it for over a month, it’s become one of my most recommended style pieces for friends looking to jazz up their wrists.
What is the Casio A100?
The A100 series is a new line of Casio watches inspired by 1978’s F-100. This was Casio’s first digital watch made with a resin exterior, giving it a lighter weight and tougher build compared to steel-made contemporaries at the time. It originally retailed at $39.95, which, when adjusted for inflation, is $170 today. The F-100 became famous as the watch worn by the character Ripley played by Sigourney Weaver in the 1979 Ridley Scott movie Alien, though it was discontinued that very year. It was only available in black.
Released by Casio Vintage—Casio’s retro label—the A100 line takes inspiration from the original F-100 and updates it. Each watch in the series features a steel band and resin case (the part of a watch that holds its display). The A100 collection includes four models: a silver edition A100WE-1A, a gunmetal ion-plated gray edition with negative display A100WEGG-1AVT, a golden ion-plated edition A100WEG-9AVT, and a limited-edition Pac-Man edition A100WEPC-1B. The silver retails for $54.95, the ion-plated gold and gunmetal for $74.95, and the Pac-Man variant goes for $99.95.
Colors aside, all A100 watches have the same features: alarm, auto-calendar (which tracks the date, automatically adjusts itself for leap years, and know which months have 30 or 31 days), LED backlight, detachable band, water resistance, 1/10-second stopwatch, and a slide-type clasp that allows wearers to adjust the band length without tools.
What I like about the Casio A100WEG-9AVT
For the last month and a half, I’ve been wearing the A100WEG-9AVT on the majority of my trips out of the house. It’s decorated my left wrist for errands, weekends in the city, and social outings. I’ve worn it with shorts and T-shirts, underneath the sleeves of various crewnecks and, on one occasion, with a formal button-up shirt and slacks. In each situation, not once did I feel the A100WEG-9AVT to be too glamorous, showy, or uncomfortable to avoid wearing. It’s as unassuming as the digital watches I love but slightly dressed up, thanks to its gold accents, making it a sharper retro watch than a G-Shock or other basic Casios. I absolutely love the style of this watch.
Let’s break down why. Like all watches in the A100 series, this piece has a clear digital display, a metal band with an adjustable clasp, and four face buttons identified by four colored bars. This is where the nostalgia flair comes in: Rather than relying on text, each button’s coordinating color indicates its function; blue is reset, yellow activates the LED light, green toggles the stopwatch (and displays the date if the mode is in time), and red is “mode,” which cycles through time, alarm, stopwatch, and the ability to manually adjust the time. For the record, I did not know what the functions of each button were when I first wore the A100WEG-9AVT, but toying with them was easy enough, and I learned the watch’s modes in a matter of minutes. (Later, however, I found that each button’s function was listed on the back casing of the watch.) I’m a sucker for this type of clean, barebones design, and I think its functionality adds to the throwback-cool factor of the A100WEG-9AVT.
The face, buttons, and band of the A100WEG-9AVT are golden in color—bright enough to shine sunlight in my face while driving and shiny enough to cast my reflection in each of its buttons. I was surprised to see how well the gold metal blends in with the digital aesthetics of a vintage Casio watch. While not real gold, the ion-plated stainless steel makes for a cheaper and lighter watch. I was half expecting this to look awkward on my wrist and especially cheap, considering the price, but this golden digital watch has a modest quality to it. I’ve gotten plenty of comments about the A100WEG-9AVT from family and friends, as well as a few from bar patrons (who, admittedly, would’ve talked to anyone), all of whom complimented the watch for its retro vibe.
It also takes up just the right amount of real estate on my wrist. The watch case measures 40.7 × 32.7 × 9.2 mm—in American terms, just over an inch and a half in length. Its smaller size makes it a solid unisex offering from Casio, and its adjustable clasp makes it fit all the better. To adjust the band size, you flick open the slide-type clasp with a small instrument, like a pen cap or a small screwdriver tip, to unlock it. Once it’s loose, you can slide the clasp up and down on the band to adjust its fit. Close the clasp when you’re happy with how it feels, and then cinch it shut. It’s an awesome feature that makes the hassle of going to a jeweler or the need for special watch tools obsolete.
Functionally, the watch gets the job done. I’ve used it plenty of times to check the day’s date by holding down its green button, and I’ve also used its stopwatch function to time some training sessions with my dog. Every button press emits a tinny low fidelity beep—which you can turn off, by the way—and its alarm is just as gentle. A countdown timer would’ve been a solid addition here, but given that this style of watch isn’t meant for sport, I’m willing to give it a pass.
What I don’t like about the Casio A100WEG-9AVT?
I felt pretty dumb using the adjustable clasp for the first time, though that could’ve been my fault for not reading the instructions first. I was under the impression I didn’t need any tools to adjust my band’s fit, but it turned out I did—a small item, like a thumbtack or paper clip, that I could use to press up the latch and move it up and down the band. As soon as I saw the latch, I scraped and chipped a fingernail while attempting to move it. Although I later made do with a tiny screwdriver, you might have issues finding a small item that’ll help adjust your own fit. It’s not as straightforward as I’d hoped, though, to be fair, I don’t think you’ll have to adjust the fit more than once.
But fiddling with the slide clasp also revealed to me just how fragile the watch’s steel band is. The clasp itself isn’t the strongest, but it led to some stainless steel scraping on the band’s underside. It also looks like it could easily crack or break on impact. I don’t think it’ll magically fall apart on anyone’s wrist, but I do think it’ll dent and scuff up over time. This wouldn’t be a major issue if Casio sold replacement bands for its A100 series online, but it doesn’t.
One last thing: The band has bendable ridges, so it pinches. This is more of a personal problem, but when adjusting, I kept catching my arm hair in the band, which made moving the watch up and down my wrist slightly painful and annoying. Hairy-armed watch wearers beware.
Is the Casio A100WEG-9AVT worth it?
Even outside of the novelty of it being an icon from the movie Alien, the A100WEG-9AVT is an awesome digital watch. This barebones timepiece has a simple, retro design, and its gold-plated face and stainless steel band give it a spiffy upgrade that’s not overly flashy. It appears to have a somewhat frail band, so it’s not the sturdiest timepiece, but it’s got enough ‘70s finesse that it’s bound to attract conversation for however long it lasts. Call me a fan.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.