Digitally Curious - A Vintage LCD Watch Blog

Digitally Curious - A Vintage LCD Watch Blog

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  • Monday, July 13th, 2009 - 2:27 pm
  • Casio first plastic F-100 [52] chronograph alien watch

  • I'm baaack! :) Sorry for the long wait, I had to settle down before I could break out my watch box and get back to the collection. I still don't have my normal photo setup, but I hope the pictures are okay.


    What is the typical Casio watch?

    Even though I do not own one, the F-91W is probably the most ubiquitous Casio watch out there. That small rectangular black resin case has been a staple of Casio's watch design for decades, and this is what most people think of when they think of Casio watches. (Besides the G-Shock/Protrek nuts out there.)

    But it wasn't always like that.

    When Casio first started making watches in the mid 70's, they started out with heavy stainless steel watches like the Casiotron R 17. In fact all of their early models were made of solid stainless steel, and you had to dig into the electronics to find any plastic. It wasn't until 1977 that Casio started using plastic as their watch case material.

    I learned from other collectors that this move was based on marketing/financial reasons, since plastic cases drastically reduced component costs. Therefore Casio could produce value-priced watches that could be sold to the mass market. I don't have any proof, but that story seems true enough to me. :)

    And so it was, Casio produced their very first plastic watch, the F-100, in 1977.

    The F-100 was actually one the first vintage Casio watches I acquired as a collector. It was an accidental discovery from a pile of junk I bought on ebay.

    Compared to the $100~$300 price tag on the Casiotrons of 1976, the Casio F-100 sold for a meager $39.99 (Some say $29.99, I don't know exactly).

    Was it a digital sensation? Did they sell millions of these? Well I don't know, but I did manage to acquire an old promotional leaflet that details the watch.

    Look how the advert makes a huge fuss about the chronograph capable of measuring 1/100 of a second. Why is that a big deal? Nowadays, anybody can pick up a digital watch with a 1/100 stopwatch for $10 at the local shop. But in 1977, a 1/100 stopwatch was unheard of! Keep in mind that most mechanical chronographs use 1/20 second timing, and some of the older Casiotrons were only capable of full-second chronographs (not even 1/10 seconds).

    Although very simple by today's standards, the 52 module was well ahead of its time.

    It has a built in light, (remember, it's 1977)

    with a 1/100 second stopwatch, (remember, it's 1977)

    that has a lap function, (remember, it's 1977)

    and shows the full calendar info with a two-character ENGLISH day display, (remember, it's 1977)

    AND, the color coded buttons are placed on the front.

    Um.. what's with the buttons? Just imagine that it's 1977 and most of the watches out there have CROWNS and pushers on the side. What's this? a watch with buttons on the FRONT? How weird is that?!

    As for the color codes, I'm not sure what the motivation was. Being a plastic watch, it was easier to make groves and paint the color on the case--maybe Casio was trying to prove that engineering feat, or just trying to make a fashion statement. Well either way, it's pretty. :)

    Ahem.. anyway... The watch was so futuristic and unconventional that it was used in the 1979 movie Alien and worn by Sigourney Weaver's character. What you see on screen is actually a modified F-100; The moviemakers glued two F-100 watches together and painted the button codes red and blue.

    Fans of the movie will buy two F-100's and glue them together whenever they get a chance, which makes the original F-100 very scarce. In fact I would put them on the list of endangered models.

    I love the movie Alien. But for me, the true historic value of this watch is that it was Casio's first all-plastic case. I actually own two F-100's, but I would never glue them together. :p

    Oh and check this out, even the caseback is plastic.

    The plastic caseback is, in my opinion, bad engineering. The molded plastic clip that holds the caseback in place breaks off very easily on this watch (I know, I've had 4 and 3 of them broke). By the early 80's, Casio would settle on a hybrid design, using a plastic case with a metal caseback. I guess Casio learned their lesson after this one. It's a good thing for Casio that casebacks can be made from cheap sheet metal.

    By the way, you see those two metal versions of this watch in that pamphlet? I have those too. :D

  • Filed under: watch
  • Comments!
  • » Is this the model worn by the Warrant Officer Ripley character in ALIEN? If so, is it next to impossible to locate/buy? Thanks for entertaining my amateur questions.
  • by: JANIS JONES, submitted Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 - 5:58 am
  • » Janis,
    Yes it is the watch worn by Ripley in the movie. The watch is hard to locate, it only shows up only once or twice on ebay per year. Good luck!
  • by: admin, submitted Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 - 9:26 pm
  • » I too have one of these bought when it came out - unfortunately the strap is missing!
  • by: Malc, submitted Monday, June 13th, 2011 - 6:16 am
  • » I bought one of these back in 1979. It seemed very cutting edge back then. As an indication of this it was worn by one of the presenters of the Tomorrow's World programme on the BBC (Keiran Prendeville I think). I still have it, though the strap fell off a long time ago. It has sat in a drawer since the beginning of the 80s. I'm going to get a battery & strap for it & see what people think of it now.
  • by: Mark , submitted Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 - 3:35 am
  • » I recently found an F-100 lurking in my kitchen oddments drawer. I decided to recommission it, and while searching the 'net for a new strap I discovered that a well used example sold for £120 (GBP) in 2014 via eBay. I'm going to enjoy wearing it for a few months and will then - maybe - see if I can sell it for a similar price.
  • by: Graeme, submitted Thursday, February 12th, 2015 - 9:29 pm
  • » Having stop or eroded all the metal watches I owned, even a pocket watch, (magnetism and acid in the wrists), when I saw the casio F100 on Tomorrow World and then my neighbour/pal with one I went out bought the watch for £25. I used it without any problems until I was unable to get a replacement battery several years ago. Unable to find anything with no metal and buttons on the front I bought a casio 1572 although up to date not a patch on the F100. When the battery ran out on the new watch and I was unable to get the back of to replace it (tiny warn screw) I went back to the F100 where the battery is easy to get at. I still could not get a battery but with a bit of card as a holder I found one off a £1 shop selection that fit the bill. March 2015, just replaced the battery again and it is still working fine. I never was keen on wearing expensive items, in those days £25 was to me, if you say F100 is a rare collectable am I still wearing something expensive on my wrist. One thing for certain it has been the best watch I have owned and is still serving me well.
  • by: Robert, submitted Sunday, March 29th, 2015 - 6:43 am
  • » I paid $39.99 @ Big 5.......I had to wait in a long line. I still wear the watch and used it to time my Track runners for 38 years! It is a bit difficult to find the 393 battery at my local watch shops.
  • by: Jerry , submitted Thursday, May 5th, 2016 - 5:25 pm
  • » I have an f100 watch i bought in macys dept store in new york in the late seventies on a shopping trip, in its original box an even has the price stickers on the box and a mark down price $29 us its it good working order
    What kind of value would you put on it ? As have no idea
  • by: Rob, submitted Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 - 2:08 am
  • » I am the owner of a Casio F-100C1 which I bought in 1991-92 together with some other new watches. It has never been used and looks like it did when it left the Casio factory sometimes 1977-78.
    What would be a market price for it today among true collectors??
  • by: Jan Mattsson, submitted Tuesday, July 17th, 2018 - 2:20 pm
  • » My uncle bought this watch for me in 1977. I was in fifth grade. I was the coolest kid in the class.

    I would like to surprise him with one before he passes. If anyone out there is willing to part with their F-100, please contact me at the email address above.
  • by: Anthony Nastasi, submitted Tuesday, August 21st, 2018 - 11:55 pm
  • » Well, I just found my old F-100 that I got for Xmas in 1977. Sadly, the strap has long-since gone but I'd love to get a replacement and put it to use again. Does anyone know of a modern-day resin strap that matches well? Will any one with an 18mm lug work fine?
  • by: Wil, submitted Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 - 3:22 am
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