Thursday, July 19, 2007

Casio G-Shock MTG-900 Review











The last time I had a new digital watch, digital watches were themselves a new idea. I can't remember what brand it was but I do recall that it had a green LED display and the batteries didn't last very long. You had to push a button to read the thing and it couldn't do much more than display the time but it was pretty neat for its day. Digital watches have advanced just a bit since then. The G-Shock being reviewed here is, without a doubt, the most sophisticated watch I own and Casio has even more advanced models available.

The Casio G-Shock line has earned an amazing reputation for durability over the last twenty-five years or so. The stories of abuse that these watches can take are really remarkable (see this thread at Watchuseek.com. According to the Wikipedia, the G-Shock was originally designed to be at least capable of surviving a 10 meter fall, 10bar water immersion and have a ten year battery life. The basic premise is that the watch employs a series of shock absorbers within the case that keep impacts from damaging the movement (called a module in Casio-speak). In addition to the ability to resist shocks, the case is also sealed against water and dust. As good as those original specs were, the current line goes even further when it comes to ruggedness. If you are tough on your watches, get a G-Shock-plain and simple.

The MTG-900 being reviewed her is a truly amazing piece of equipment. It has the usual G-Shock impact/shock protection and is water resistant to a depth of 200 meters, which should be deep enough for anyone. But, in addition to its toughness, this model has a two features that really make it special. First off, the watch is solar charged. The user need only wear the MTG-900 and its batteries will be kept alive through exposure to light. Like Citizen's Eco Drive line, the batteries in the MTG-900 should never need to be changed. As if that wasn't a nice enough plum though, this G-Shock goes it one better-it has atomic clock accuracy. No, there is no radioactive isotope decaying in the case. Instead, the MTG-900 has a tiny radio receiver inside it that picks up signals from the U.S. Atomic clock in Colorado and resets itself to atomic time automatically four times a day (it can also be reset to the atomic clock's signal at any time by pressing a button should you really be concerned about accuracy). As a consequence of owning a watch like this, I can now honestly say that I really know what time it is for the first time in my life.

Externally, the MTG-900 measures 44mm in width, 50mm lug to lug, and 15mm in thickness. The bracelet is integral to the case and tapers from 22mm to 17mm in thickness. The crystal is made of mineral glass and is recessed below a chrome plated bezel. The stainless steel bracelet of this G-Shock is unusual and very well done. It is not a solid link design but actually looks and wears like one albeit with a lighter weight which actually makes it very comfortable. There are cut-outs on the inside of each link to make adjusting the bracelet's size by removing links very easy and I do wish that other manufacturers would adopt a design like this. The clasp appears to be very strong and well-designed. Like most G-Shocks, the actual watch case is made of impact resistant plastic which on this model is colored to match the stainless steel color of the bracelet.

Timekeeping, as you can imagine with a watch like this, is flawless. For the heck of it, I opened up the time.gov page and compared it with the time on the G-Shock-spot on. The default display gives you the day, date (whose calendar is pre-programmed until the year 2039), month, hours, minutes, seconds, battery charge status and atomic time synchronization status. In addition, to the main screen (for lack of a better way to describe it) the MTG-900's other controls support 29 time zones (set by city location), 4 daily alarms and a snooze alarm, a time recorder that can remember 30 different time records, a stopwatch and an hourly time signal. If for some reason you keep this watch in the dark for extended periods, the battery will last for eleven months without light once fully charged (The watch goes into a power save mode which appears to shut off the display. Pressing a control will wake it up). Lastly, the watch face has a backlight that can operate in one of two ways. It can be manually activated by pressing the large "G" button below what would be the 6 o'clock position on the watch case. Additionally, the watch has a sort of smart light sensor built into it that will activate the backlight in low light conditions if the wearer quickly pivots the watch towards him/herself. Basically, flick your wrist and the light will turn on for a few seconds.

The MTG-900 is one of the most distinctive looking watches I have ever seen. It truly looks like nothing else out there while still managing to look very good, albeit it a high tech way. (One friend commented that it looked vaguely Klingon in style. I wouldn't disagree with that. The styling is both tough and aggressive). I would not recommend wearing a watch like this under a dress shirt (it is thick enough that the cuff button might not close) but, other than that situation, this G-Shock has no downside. It really does it all very well.

36 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review. Just bought the same watch, along with the silver on black 500. Both for under $150, can't beat it.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

It is a really interesting piece. Enjoy!

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

I have owned a Casio G shock ever since I saw the hockey player commercial. The hockey player rared up and took a swat to that g shock, took a lickin, and kept on tickin. Always been my favorite watch. Anyway,i have only one problem with this watch. it needs to be fixed. I use the stop watch everyday. 3 or more times a day. for breaks and lunches. i use my fingernails to push the buttons. my thumbnail wore one of the button into two pieces. two more buttons are sure to follow. im gonna have to send it off to the west coast authorized dealer, anyone had any luck with the authorized dealers? hope they can fix it. if not, oh well, im sold on g shock... i will buy another. yo. have a good day

11:46 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Never had one serviced I'm afraid. Might be easier and less expensive to replace it these days though. Good luck

9:19 AM  
Blogger eric wedel said...

Nice review.

I've owned one of these for a year or two now and it works great. The latching band is a really nice feature, on top of everything else.

I'm a fan of so-called atomic watches, and this one is by far the most robust of all I've tried. The radio just begs for a rechargeable battery, so Casio has really produced a winning combination here.

Only downside is that it is so solid that I find the watch a little fatiguing to wear during extended typing sessions (I'm a software developer). But I love it anyway, and do manage to wear it with a dress shirt as well.

2:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Watch! The 3rd G-Shock I've owned. Any idea what the MT-G stands for? Thanks!

12:04 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Good question. No idea I'm afraid :)

12:12 PM  
Blogger John Sellers said...

There are a couple of downsides, I don't know if the problems are fixed, but I can't find anything in the literature to indicate they are still around.

I had a GW-500A which is basically the same watch as this with a slightly different face and plastic instead of metal band.

When I got it about 4 years ago, the battery was rechargable and rated for 5 years only...the watch worked well until the battery started to go out. I was time stamping the beginning and end of my 1 & 2 mile swims and had recorded 780 miles of swimming (see sellers.com ). Unexpectedly the watch went dead and lost several of my swims so which I couldn't remember and so I lost track of my exact milage in my maticulously kept 3 year records of my swims. I couldn't find any information on the new watchs to indicate the problem was still around...I am taking the chance and bought a new watch...the one reviewed here...so I will see.

1:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ed

I have a G-shock too - received this weekend. Mine is a G-7400.
Now the only problem I have is how to adjust the bracelet - you did say it was easy - so come on - spill the beans please !!
Thanks
Mike

11:26 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

If the bracelet design is the same as mine, on the wrist side of the barcelet links you should see a small indent with an arrow pointing toward the gap. Inside that gap is the small springbar that holds the link on. Using either a springbar tool or a small eyeglass screwdriver, compress the springbar in the direction the arrow is pointing. That should release the link for removal.

If you haven't ever adjusted a bracelet before, be careful not to slip and scratch the link. For what its worth, a jeweler shouldn't charge more than $10 to do this for you.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FWIW, the MT-G is for Metal-Twisted G-Shock. The MTG series case structure combines metal and resin layers, unlike the all-resin design of most of the other G-Shocks (or all-metal of a few). It's what gives these watches a bit of weight, and a very solid feel.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Didn't know that. Thanks

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Ed,

I just bought my 2nd MTG-900 in 5 years. My last one started having battery charging problems and the backlight went out so I decided to try another. I really like the new look for the band. A watch like this less than $100 lasting 5 years is a great deal.
Mike

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good review for this Casio g shock watch

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just bought a MTG-900 from Costco (69.99 plus tax), looks good and seems to work and function better than the Citizen Navihawk that it replaces. Like the fact that it auto updates with the time, has solar power and the biggest plus is that it has a light.

1:44 AM  
Anonymous Stan said...

I'm really disappointed with Casio.
I got my 1st MTG900 2 years ago. After 1 yr the solar charged battery would have a problem charging. As a building inspector I'm outside all the time so I get plenty of sunlight. I sent the watch back to Casio, they charged me $50.00 plus shipping and handling and sent me a replacement watch. 10 months later I have the same problem. I sent this one back, and Casio sends me a estimate to repair for $103.58.
When I called Casio about it, they told me the watch only had a 90 day warranty. I told them I could buy a new one for less than that.
I e-mailed them a letter of complaint and couldn't even get a reponse.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

That doesn't sound good at all. Mine is till working properly but I wonder if there has been a change for the worse in their build quality form the sounds of things.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

I just got my G Shock MTG-900 but with no instruction manual. Any idea where I can get a free download PDF? I'm trying to change the primary time from eastern to central time zone. Thanks...Bruce

1:13 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Email me at ebrandwein@gmail.com. I have it.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice story you got here. It would be great to read something more concerning this topic. The only thing I would like to see on that blog is some photos of some gadgets.
Alex Flouee
Phone Blocker

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have 10 + casio solar atomic and have had no problems with any of them other than one that would never show a full charge, it was always at medium. Don't ask me why I have so many. I shop e-bay and find many styles I like. I have many rugged, reliable, accurate watches for a fraction of one of the "respected mechanical watches". Personal choice I guess, but for the biggest "bang for the bucks", I would have to recommend these watches, unless you want to impress others, who probably don't care anyways.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had virtually the same problem as Stan except for writing a letter. My first watch started the "charge thing" after a couple of years. Sent it in along with $50or so and got back another. Within 3 or 4 months the new one did the same thing. I decided to heck with it. Perhaps the problem is with the charger or they got a lousy batch of batteries.

The Japanese made Casios lasted until they were too scratched and ugly to wear - still kept great time, though. When Casio went to China I believe quality stayed behind on the dock

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do I get a manual?

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Purchased this watch when it 1st came out, like 7 plus years ago I think. replaced the battery once a year ago, now replacing the band, just wore it out on my desk at work, it's been through the toughest of time and it's never failed..

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just received the 12H and 6H plastic (resin) replacement pieces but I'm not sure how to take them off? I tried removing the screws inset on the side and they would not back out. Any ideas?

4:22 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

No idea I'm afraid

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know whether the time will be kept accurate on travel abroad since the watch picks up readings from a state in the USA?

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I replaced the resin pieces last month. The screws don't come out in the sense you may think. One side unscrews, (the slot on the other side is for loosening without the whole thing turning!). Once you have 'unscrewed' one side for what seems like forever, you're done. Stick a paper clip in there or a tweezers, jeweler's screwdriver, whatever, and you will be able to pull two pieces out. Hope this helps.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Ken said...

I received an MTG-900 as a gift a few years ago. I've had no trouble except that in our dim New England Winters the backlight comes on enough that I need to set the watch next to a fluorescent light to recharge at least once each year.
Recently the watch started sporadically resetting to mdnight on Saturday January 1. I've not checked to see if that's 2000 or 2011. The reset ocurrs during the last daily calibration. That is, at 615 AM the watch reads 1:15 AM. The manual calibration has so far not worked.

2-3 days later it resets to the correct date and time. This has happened 4 times in the last month

Has anyone seen this glitch?

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how to manually set the time on the MT-G? I guess i dont get the signal from Colorado where I live.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My watch won't power on half the time. I have had it for about 3 years and I think the battery which is not supposed to ever go bad is bad.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous online pharmacy said...

that is a watch I would like to give as a birthday present to myself LOL I have a fascination with watches and I need to replace the one I have which is not working properly

10:55 AM  
Blogger Jared Mandy Jeffs Family said...

I have had my Casio MT-G for about 2 years. It no longer held a charge so I replace the battery. As I undid the cover on the back 3 springs flipped out, all being different lengths.I put it back together with the new battery and it still wont hold a charge. When I bought a solar watch I thought I could rely on it withour replacing a battery for many,many years. Although I love the features of this watch I would have to give it 0 out of 5 stars due to the charging problems.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Sounds like a factory dud. Sorry to hear it

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Renee said...

I just got my husband this watch at a thrift store, it was still packaged on the watch holder you buy it with but sealed in a zip lock bag and taped shut. When I got it home, we found it is too tight, apparently the original owner removed quite a few links. Any idea where I can buy the stainless links? We need one or two.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

I have owned my 2638 MTG-900 for 18 years now. About 2 years ago the battery indication was low and would not charge. I sent it to "The Time Machine" in Montrose CA and they reset the indicator and did a cleaning for about $30. The watch works like new. Today the resin watch band connector broke on the 6H side. I found the part on Ebay and hope to replace it myself. My goal is to see how long I can keep this watch going. I also have the original G-shock watch. It's in my sock drawer, but still works.

1:09 AM  

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