Hands-On Review: Casio Vintage A1100 Series In Gold, Black, And Steel
“Wear a winner from Casio — The Chronograph is both a professional stopwatch, which allows you to be part of the action, and a super accurate electronic watch with an adjustment-free calendar.” This is a quote from a 1978 Casio advert promoting the 52QS-14B and F-100C, both of which used the advanced module 52, enabling elapsed time measurements to 1/100th of a second. Not much has changed, and these words could be valid for the recently introduced A1100 re-edition in Casio’s Vintage collection. Some things have changed, though; what are they? We’ll find out in this review.
Casio Vintage A1100 series
Whether or not we can classify the A1100 as a professional chronograph is up for debate. As mentioned, the 52QS-14B used Casio’s module 52, which featured a chronograph accurate to 1/100th of a second. The A1100 series, although visually accurate, houses Casio’s newer module 3503 that offers a chronograph “only” accurate to 1/10th of a second. But still, it is an accurate electronic watch, precise to ±30 seconds per month. And, like its predecessor, it sports a four-year adjustment-free calendar (February is set to 28 days). Plus, as a bonus on top of the functions of the 52QS-14B, the A1100 offers a daily alarm and an hourly chime.
Casio module 3503
Compared to the original module 52, some things changed for the worse and some for the better. We already know Casio’s 3503 module from the F-100-derived A100WE series, among which is the sought-after Pac-Man collaboration model. There is no news here. The module still has no optional 24-hour format to show the time; it does have a “P” indicating AM/PM, though. Without a 24-hour time format, I guess a DD/MM calendar option would have been useless, so you won’t find that as a feature in module 3502 either. This one can show MM/DD only. Last but not least, module 3502 features a warm orange backlight function that looks very vintage. The 3502’s battery (CR1616) is expected to last three years when the alarm and illumination are used once a day.
The A1100 case
In reviews of Casio’s digital watches, the cases and bracelets are sometimes mentioned in one go, but I find it difficult to do so here. There’s a substantial quality difference between the case and the bracelet. Let’s start with the good part — the case. The revived design boasts a full-steel case polished and brushed to a high-quality finish. The watch head feels heavy and solid. Substantial and soft, it is a true pleasure to hold in the hand. The display glass is mineral — not plastic — and the front buttons are now metal, giving the watch some added style. Even the subtle mode-indicating engraving adds to the luxury feel of the watch without losing its retro look. How different the bracelet is…
What about the bracelet?
The bracelet is the weaker point here. Its design is not entirely but more or less equal to the original bracelet in 1978, and I think the quality hasn’t changed much either. And the latter is a pity. Mind you, in over 50 years, bracelets should have been improved, at least a bit. And we know that Casio can offer better bracelets in this price league; we’ve seen it on the A1000M models. I don’t mean to say that Casio should equip all €100+ models with a solid Polonaise bracelet with a quick-change option. But the bracelet we see on the A1100-series pieces is reminiscent of bracelets on the €30 models.
This is true for the flimsy feel, the weight, the way they have to be adjusted for length, the lack of a quick-change option, and, let’s not forget, the way the bracelet pulls your hair. Luckily, the A1100 has a common 20mm lug spacing, so many aftermarket options are available. If you do choose to use the standard flat, multi-row metal bracelet, however, you’ll find that it has a folding double-pushbutton clasp.
A1100 models and colors
As you already noticed in the title of this article, in the Casio A1100 series, there’s a choice of three colors — gold, black, and steel. For the sake of completeness, their respective reference numbers are A1100G-5, A1100B-1, and A1100D-1. While the steel version is uncoated, the gold and black ones have been colored with an IP finish on the case and bracelet The green LCD on the A1100B-1 is a nod to retro PC monitors. I don’t know where that came from, but I must admit that the green display is nice in combination with the black watch. The former 52QS-14B didn’t exist in this color anyway.
Conclusion and pricing
So, is this another member of the Casio Vintage family that strikes a chord? Probably, except for the bracelet, on which Casio has taken “vintage” a bit too seriously. Now made in China instead of Japan, the A1100 is a pleasure to wear, hold, and look at. I must admit that I didn’t enjoy wearing the A1100D-1 as much as the A1000MA-7. But, again, that’s mainly because of the bracelet. On the other hand, the overall look of the A1100 is more particular and special and will probably turn more heads and start more conversations.
What about pricing? Varying between €129 for the steel version and €179 for the gold and black models, the price isn’t as low as we’re used to with most digital Casio pieces. In fact, it is the highest-priced model in Casio’s current Vintage lineup. At the same time, the quality isn’t the same as the cheaper models either. Plus, going the extra mile to revive an emblematic model from the late ’70s in the way that Casio did with this A1100 series is certainly worth something.
For more information on the A1100 series, visit Casio’s official website.