Digitally Curious - A Vintage LCD Watch Blog

Digitally Curious - A Vintage LCD Watch Blog

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  • Friday, March 27th, 2009 - 10:45 am
  • Casio W-100, W-300, W-400 [106] plastic screwback marlin trio

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    Up today, the plastic screwback marlin trio...



    As I mentioned in my VERY first article, a "marlin" watch refers to vintage (early 80's) Casio watches that have a neat little sailfish logo on them. Here's an example from today's W-100.



    Casio made many models with this logo on the face, and today all such models are considered desirable collector's items. There are some current Casio watches, mainly the DURO series models, that also have the sailfish logo; but collectors don't refers to them as "marlin" watches as they lack a certain je ne sais quoi.

    Although people argue over the pros and cons of vintage marlin watches, most people agree that they are all solid, simple, robust watches with a cool sailfish logo. When I first started collecting Casio watches I thought marlins were overly simplistic in function, unnecessarily adorned with a strange animal, and over-hyped by collectors. But somehow I got sucked in and now I cherish these little buggers.

    Marlins were marketed as part of Casio's "water sports" line, and judging by these old catalogs Casio didn't make any effort to emphasize the sailfish logo on these watches. That's somewhat ironic, since current collectors categorize Casio's vintage water sports line into two families: those with the sailfish logo, and those without! You can guess which one is more valued. ;)


    (1984 catalog)

    Of course, not all marlins were made the same. Some were plastic, others were metal. But surely, there must be something uniformly special about these watches besides the sailfish logo?!? And sure enough, there is.
    The following list is for your reference, but I have not seen all marlins watches in person so I might be wrong! If I made a mistake please let me know! For more reference and pictures, check out the digital watch library's constantly updated "marlin" section. Also check out the excellent article at the GMT+9 blog.

    There are certain characteristics present in all marlin watches. They all have:
    * A sailfish logo (duh!)
    * At least 50m water resistance
    * Tough mineral glass
    * Stainless steel buttons.
    * A stopwatch
    * At least one alarm

    But they are also as varied as they come! Some variations include:
    * Body: plastic, stainless steel, or a combination of both.
    * Strap: rubber or steel
    * Back: Screwdown-back, four-screw back or tight snapback.
    * Color: Mostly black or polished stainless steel. But there are other colors such gold, red, etc.
    * Trim: With or without trim.

    No marlin model, as far as I know, used base-metal or a loose fitting snapback. So you will never find a marlin with chrome bubbling, no matter how used and abused it is. Part of the reason they are collectible 20 years after their introduction is that they were built to last. You may not drool over them as some collectors do, but marlins are here to stay. :)

    Enough with the generalities, let's get to today's watches!



    Today I wanted to highlight a small sub-collection of marlins, a collection I'm proud to call my own. These are the "plastic screwback 106 module marlins." What's unique about them is that they are all plastic, and all screwback.



    They are all identical in size and function. The only difference is the graphics.

    The combination of plastic case and screwdown back is in itself pretty unique in the watch world, marlin or not. In fact, I have not seen a screwdown caseback on a plastic watch besides these watches, though I'm sure some must exist out there. I'm not sure why Casio's built these watch this way, as I'm sure that other designs were available to them.

    Here are some closeups, in order of release date:

    W-100, 1980 - notice this model has a serial number, and has an alias "H110" stamped instead of the actual model number.


    W-300, 1982?


    W-400, 1983


    Now, you might be wondering, where is the W-200?? Well the W-200 doesn't use the 106 module, it uses the 108 module instead. Externally the W-200 has the same shape and dimensions as the W-100/300/400, but the internal module is different. Besides, I don't own one so I can't really show one. =D

    In terms of features, the 106 module is a true classic. In addition to regular timekeeping, it has a stopwatch, timer and alarm with half-hourly chime. As many G-Shock enthusiasts would notice, the current time is displayed in the top right corner when not in regular timekeeping mode. So you always know what time it is!



    If you're a faithful reader, you might be wondering "where have I seen that display before?" You saw it here, on the original G-Shock DW-5000.



    The early G-Shocks with the 240 module are functionally identical to these marlins with the 106 module, with only slight differences. In fact many people call these 106 marlins the "pre-G" watches due to the obvious similarities between this watch and the early G-shocks.

    Okay so when you look at a DW-5000 and W-400 you may not think that they are similar. Sure the LCD looks the same but the DW-5000 is so much chunkier, right? Well it's the inside that counts. The similarities between the DW-5000 and the 106 module marlins are striking, especially when one peers into the internals.

    Hmmm.. okay, let's peer into the internals!


    Here's a quick disassembly of the W-400. The W-100 and W-300 are also identical. Don't try this at home kids!

    Flip it over and unscrew the back.



    Take out the plastic retention ring and gently pull the module out.


    The 106 module is remarkably similar to the 240 module. (Doh!, I really should have taken some pictures of the 240 module to prove my point here.) In fact it is nearly identical in size and uses the same battery type (BR2320). The large BR2320 can power the module for over 10 years, depending on use!



    Inside the case, notice the metal ring surrounding the module. This suspended module design will find its way into virtually all G-Shocks in the future! Personally, this feature proves that these marlins are the predecessors to modern G-Shocks.



    Several features to note: These early Casio modules were held together with tiny screws, and the alarm was mounted to the front on the glass. You can see a tiny spring to the right of the LCD here:



    This is one of the contact points required to make the alarm function. If it's missing you won't hear anything!

    Anyway, that's what it looks like inside. :)


    I'll finish this article with these pics. It's what I call a marlin pancake. Bring the syrup! Yum!


  • Filed under: watch
  • Comments!
  • » My friend growing up had the W-100, it was my first introduction to digital watches and the neat stuff they could do. When I saw that, I had to have one too!

    I remember the marlin and the next-to-impossible ADJUST button we needed to set the timer - it was the stiffest watch button I've ever come across. But Casio became our favorite watchmaker.

    Great collection, Gafortiby!!
  • by: Statsman1, submitted Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 - 7:06 pm
  • » mouth watering really! its a shame that casio doesnt produce marlins anymore, or something similar in quality and functionality.

    for watersports its even better than the g-shock system, because there cant be collected water between bezel and watch-body, which always needs to be cleaned on a g-shock.

    and one last word: if its good enough for sting, its good enought for me ;-) (compare sting 1980 to 1982, various pictures with the police wearing the w-100)
  • by: gerry fonklover, submitted Friday, June 5th, 2009 - 3:37 am
  • » On your section about that 106 and 240 that they are same size and i put an 106 module in dw-5200 and it fits perfect and between 240 and 106 that 240 is bolder than 106.
    http://www.geocities.com/casios1969/casio/5200-106.jpg
  • by: ron, submitted Monday, July 20th, 2009 - 12:06 am
  • » I bought a W-400 in September 1983 and it still is going strong!.... only changed the battery maybe 3 times since then! Awesome little gem of a watch:)
  • by: Stephen J Muscat, submitted Friday, September 18th, 2009 - 7:47 am
  • » My W-400 Marlin is still going strong on only it's second battery. It was purchased in '84 as my first "bought it myself" watch. My Marlin has been a faithful companion on over 80 scuba dives, including one down to 109 feet in FL, and over 20 ice dives. It has the scars to prove it, being strapped to my gauge console and bumping into **Everything**. Now it's getting a new battery so it's totally fresh, and will be my go-to watch in case the SHTF.

    Thanks for posting your collection! Excellent write-up!
  • by: Todd, submitted Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 - 1:13 am
  • » I have an original marlin w100/h110. I love the watch and would like to know how I could get a replacement black resin strap for it. Any good sources? Thanks!
  • by: Lee Winter, submitted Sunday, January 3rd, 2010 - 10:56 am
  • » I recently found my original W100 Marlin. I need to replace the watch band. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Great website!
    Thanks!
  • by: Lee Winter, submitted Sunday, January 17th, 2010 - 2:02 pm
  • » I have a marlin H110, which has been running faithfully for about 25 years as well. Mine as the one owner above, has also the LCD failure, a black stain in the centre, so I am looking for a replacement LCD screen only.
    Anyone know where I can get one.
  • by: Patrick Yeadon, submitted Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 - 2:58 pm
  • » I own two Casio's W-300 working with me for 25 years plus. One of them has developed LCD failure due to heat. A black stain is spreading from the top down.
    Are there replacements for the LCD?
  • by: SHmuel HaLevi, submitted Saturday, June 19th, 2010 - 10:21 pm
  • » I just replaced the battery in my W-300 and fitted a new band to it (I bought some from Casio before they stopped making them). This was was my first ever watch and it's in excellent condition. I would also like to locate more spare bands as I only have 1 spare one left and would like to hand this down to my Son at some stage.
  • by: Doug, submitted Monday, July 19th, 2010 - 4:24 am
  • » as a young kid, I helped a farmer way back then all summer, I used the $$ that he paid me to purchase this
    [IMG]http://i275.photobucket.com/albums/jj292/LimeNine9r/A1/008-2.jpg[/IMG]

    Five of my best friends all had these. We would synchronize our watches exactly one second apart, then activate our chimes so that when we were in the eigth grade our chimes would agrivate our teachers - big fun in those days
    I love this watch still wear it most every day, its been in the Atlantic Ocean as recently as a few months ago.
    Wish I hadn't abused it so much, but it is an awesome watch, among all the different watches I own this one is my very first and my most prized.
    [IMG]http://i275.photobucket.com/albums/jj292/LimeNine9r/A1/011-1.jpg[/IMG]
  • by: Jerry, submitted Thursday, November 25th, 2010 - 12:03 pm
  • » As a young kid in 1980, I lusted for a W110. To my delight, I got one for my birthday.

    It runs flawlessly today. During the past 30 years it has seen 3 batteries, 5 watchbands, and has served many duties, including as my everyday watch, scuba diving watch, sports watch, travel watch, building and construction watch, and painting watch. Aside from a little attention to remove a healthy dose of white and yellow spray paint, and the requisite fresh-water rinse after salt water submersion, it's been like the Energizer Bunny that keeps going... and going ...and going.

    Oh, this is funny. A few years ago I really lucked-out when I stopped by an authorized Casio watch repair center for a new battery. The German watchmaker was initially puzzled with what I gave him. After a moment to recalibrate his calendar bearings, he was absolutely floored.

    He swapped the battery and replaced the seal. When I was about to pay him he asked for a moment and went to another room. A couple minutes later he returned with a grin on his face and gave me something in a small plastic bag. Turns out he had spare 106 module tucked away in the back. It hadn’t seen daylight in 25 years. He noted it was missing the alarm spring but said I could reuse the part from my existing module whenever I choose to swap assemblies.

    Strangely, now that I've had the watch for so long, I'm now a bit of a protective father and think twice about where and when I wear it. Loosing it would really pi** me off… with long lingering staying power.

    And those minor scratches on its face and casing? Well, to me they're badges of honor and reminders of where and what I've done since my birthday in 1980.
  • by: Peter, submitted Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 - 7:45 pm
  • » I had that watch long time a go. I throw it into wall sometime, just to show some "important faces" that their watches (no matter how good are they), are bull s**t. I gave it to my father, he worked as construction worker for long time, watch never failed him. Still working, but without one button on one side. Is it possible to find this button somewhere else? I disassembled it once to repair alarm (it has small spring for front glass contact, this glass acting as PIEZO buzzer, and under the water, it can be heard from a far distance). So, i replace small coil before PIEZO sound output. It was successful. I got it as gift brought from Libya at early 90's.
  • by: pilje, submitted Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 - 3:24 am
  • » My daughters bought me the H110 for my 30th birthday in 1981. I was a keen windsurfer then and it went everywhere with me. It has the black strap and case with the stainless screwdown back. And it has the marlin on the face. I had to give up windsurfing in 1986 and the watch went into a jar in a cupboard, where it has remained until recently. A new battery and it works perfectly! It is in mint condition although it must have taken me an hour to work out how to set the time (25 years is a long time in which to forget). I have always liked this watch, but until I was looking for some instructions and found this website, I had no idea that this it was so special. My daughters will be delighted that they chose so well.
  • by: Steve Sordy, submitted Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 - 9:35 am
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