The Casio GA900 – reviewed here as the GA900E-1A3 – elicits multiple conflicting reactions. Hey, that looks cool! Wait, I’m not sure I like it. Hold on a sec, I think I DO. Naaa. Now that I looked at it I don’t like it. No matter how you look at it, the Casio GA-900 is fatally flawed . . .
If I was to describe the GA-900’s polarizing design succinctly, I’d call it a Bob the Builder collab. The face, hands and LCD windows look like they were cobbled together with the visual elements of a construction site.
The hands are easily the Japanese watch’s most striking visual feature. They’re shaped like skeletonized throwing knives. Actually, “striking” might not be the right word.
Decorated with nested alternating black and gray chevrons, the GA-900’s hands are reminiscent of WW1 dazzle camouflage (a.k.a., razzle dazzle).
The hands blend in with the face – only the bright orange tips make them usable. There is no lume on the hands (or anywhere else).
Sitting in the upper left: a negative LCD window with an barely visible “visual effect.” The complication displays passing seconds as a bar graph making its way around half a racing oval. It’s about as exciting and useful as watching an inchworm on a slow-moving treadmill.
On the upper right: a small and dark negative LCD panel that serves as a mode indicator – in case you couldn’t figure out the selected mode by the display in the lower LCD panel.
You’ll need a jeweler’s loupe to read it. Ironically, I picked this particular colorway (right above) because it was the only one with the positive main LCD panel. I find negative LCDs a bit hard on my 56-year-old eyes. But this isn’t any ordinary positive LCD display. It’s a positive LCD that aspires to be as unreadable as a negative LCD.
Mission accomplished! In bright light, with the exact right viewing angle, it’s a sharp and easily read LCD with an anti-freeze-green shaded background. The best viewing angle seems to be low-left. Call it 7 o’clock low.
If you’re right-handed and wear your watch on the left wrist, you’re OK – as long as you’re in bright light. At any other angle, even in bright light, the LCD characters fade or disappear. In low light, you can’t read the Casio GA-900 at any angle. It’s the most peculiar positive LCD I’ve seen (or not seen).
Negative LCD watch fanbois will say,”Just light that bitch up with the backlight!” Excellent idea! Only there’s no backlight for the main LCD display. A $160 ana-digi watch without an LCD backlight is like a Ferrari on ply tyres. Even the $14 Casio F91 “terrorist” watch has a backlight.
The Casio GA-900’s analog face is illuminated by a single LED located just to the left of the 6 o’clock hour index. Activated by the button located on the bezel below the 6, it does an adequate job. In the dark, you can’t read the LCD displays, full stop. At night, the GA-900 is just a simple analog watch.
The Casio GA-900’s four easily found buttons (or “pushers”) are large and textured. They’re ensconced in shrouds that nearly encircle them as guards. You have to position your finger so that the tip pushes the button without getting caught on the guards.
The GA-900 adds world time to the usual bevy of G-SHOCK functions (countdown timer, 5 alarms, stopwatch). In Time Mode, you have a choice of displaying the time in digital format or the day and date in the LCD panel. It also has a convenient “hands shift” function if they’re blocking the main LCD display when you need to use the other functions.
While the GA-900 lacks the increasingly popular solar rechargeable battery and “Multi-Band 6” atomic clock syncing, the battery is rated for seven years.
The wide strap – complete with a double-prong buckle – is as comfortable as any other Casio resin strap. Which is to say it’s the least uncomfortable way to strap a watch that measures a massive 52.8mm x 49.5 x 16.9.
The Casio GA-900 is one of the few G-SHOCKs with one-touch stopwatch initiation. Pushing the lower right button in time mode instantly switches the watch to stopwatch mode and starts the timing. You don’t have to drill down through multiple modes to get to the stopwatch, but you can get to it that way, as well.
If only I could easily READ the stopwatch in the pathetic LCD display. The Casio GA-900’s ergonomics suck.
The GA900E-1A3 colorway comes with a bonus – a “industrial” yellow cloth band that incorporates a white strip that is both reflective and glows in the dark.
Perhaps the utility of this band is intended to be like those jogging / cycling safety bands worn on arms and ankles. You can never be too safe while wearing your G-Shock!
Its aesthetics are a love-hate affair. People who love the watch consider it [Bob the Builder] badass. People who want to use the GA-900 will be less than thrilled after they buy it. Probably best not.
Model: Casio GA900E-1A3
Movement: Module #5637
Battery life: 7 years
Functions: Analog Hour and minute, LCD graphic seconds, digital hour / minute / seconds (available in lower LCD), date, day, stopwatch (1/100th), countdown timer, Five daily alarms (1 snooze), 12 / 24 hour format, world time (29 time zones / 48 cities), hourly time signal, auto-light, hands-shift
Water resistance: 200m (660 ft)
Weight: 71 grams (vs. claimed 65 grams)
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * * * *
It’s a daring design, intended to provoke. You either hate it or love it. Or you hate it and love it.
The analog face is easy enough to read with large indices and hands that are surprisingly effective. The digital portions are dismal.
Comfort * * *
Typical for a G-Shock- the double-wide strap and buckle effectively spread out the load.
Overall * *
Bought for G-SHOCK value, collectors will buy it and not wear it. Same for disappointed rubes.
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No considerations were provided for this review.
You really put into words my internal prejudices against the looks of thing. I’m sad that the supposedly hideously practical G-SHOCK line has gotten a little fashion over function here.
I really can’t stand the looks of that light button. Why is there color on the sides, and why the meat tenderizer knurled pattern? That same threshing drum look is on the uh wrist rests (?) beneath it, giving a real “keep hands away” look, and all for what? So your finger doesn’t slip off the button? If my hand is that grimy, the grime is going to be collected right in all those little nooks.
Correct me if I’m wrong on this. If it’s 1:30 and you want the hands out of the way, the minute hand is going to do 11.5 rotations before stopping?
Hi Oscar! Thanks for reading my review and commenting.
The timing of your last question is fortuitous, as it’s just about 1:30 right now (actually 1:25). So, I just performed a “hands shift” on the watch. It took 1-3/4 clockwise turns of the minute hand (and commensurate hour hand movement) to “3:15” position, nestled perfectly between the upper and lower LCD panels. When I “un-shift” them, they go in reverse back to the correct time.
I agree that the light button is weird. It looks more like a scolling button, since it’s knurled and cylindrical. It’s not often I have grimy hands, so… not an issue there. Nevertheless, I’m sure you’re right that the texturing there will gather “schmutz” over time, even if you never pushed it.
Alas… perhaps you and I (without knowing your age and making some assumptions) are not the target market for this “fashion” G-Shock. In any case, there are over 300 other G-Shock models to choose from.
Considering that they all have very similar functions, we could argue that they’re ALL “fashion” pieces. Going on functions, alone, there would otherwise be about 3 G-Shock models. 😀
Ah, some other model in a video had the “move hands out of way” position at 12 o’clock high, but here it is a horizontal spread eagle due to different layout. Still, as the gearing is still fixed between the two hands, there is a point (just after 3:15, I guess) where a whole lot of spinning is required. Two hands… so that’s why the goofy graphical seconds display exists.
The textured buttons baffle me. I think you can locate them by feel regardless and slipperiness shouldn’t really be an issue. My only guesses are either “premium feel” or “it looks cool.” Not to get into hipster authenticity talk, but it seems the show/go ratio is off in the wrong direction for this particular model.
I’ll admit liking the textured buttons (except the oddly-shaped light button). I like them on my G-Shock Rangeman (below).
It adds to the “rugged” look, I guess.
The hands-shift feature on the GA-900 is ironic… since you can’t read the LCD anyway. 🙂
Great work! Though myself, I’m a fan of the negative dial 🙂 Though I hate the fact that it is a fingerprint magnet. But I’m surprised that the display of the watch (as you described it) is so shabby!
Also, I wrote a review of the 5600 and a bit about its history, do give it a read too 🙂