Everybody likes a secret. “Easter eggs” — hidden features to be discovered — populate all aspects of our modern lives, from video games to movies and even cars. It should be no surprise that there are a number of Easter eggs in the watch world as well. Some, like G-Shock special-edition backlights, definitively fall under the “If You Know, You Know” (IYKYK) umbrella. Other Easter eggs, like with Rolex, are little more than anti-counterfeiting devices. And yet others transform the common watch-wearing experience into something bordering on the miraculous. If you hate spoilers, I suggest you stop here. I’m exposing some of the common and not-so-common Easter eggs that only watches can deliver.

My Casio A158WA was the first watch I bought myself. I still have it too. I wore it for years, never knowing that this modest bargain-bin quartz was hiding a secret. At some point, I learned that if I held the lower-right button on the A158WA down for 3+ seconds, the usual screen disappears. What replaces it is a blank display except for  “CASIO” spelled out as well as LCD can. It only lasts for a few seconds before returning to the usual display.

Presumably, this feature is to check if the watch is genuine. However, the Casio F91W (which shares the same module and thus features as the A158WA) is one of the least expensive most mass-produced watches in the world. It’s hard to imagine someone justifying counterfeiting it. Either way, it’s a branding flex that further elevates A158WA, F91W, and really any of those inexpensive Casios using module 593 as some of the best watches ever made. But that’s not the only Easter egg up Casio’s sleeve.

Image: Wikipedia

G-Shock’s module diagnostics

Thinking about the secret feature on my A158WA got me thinking that Casio must’ve hidden an Easter egg of some sort in its G-Shock line, the undisputed king of digital watches. It turns out there are some secret features accessible via different three-button combo presses.

If the G-Shock in question has a tilt sensor (for automatic LED illumination) and/or solar charging, chances are it will have these “secret displays”. They’re nothing more than diagnostic tools that determine if the watch is functioning properly. If the watch is equipped, pushing different combos of three of the four buttons found on most G-Shocks should pull up one of the test screens.

GShock GW-5000-U1 Diagnostic Easter Egg

For when your G-Shock’s “Check Engine” light comes on

Many if not all of the G-Shock “Squares” with the above-mentioned features (tilt-activated backlight, solar charging) access the diagnostic screens in the same way. This includes the GWM5610, GW5000, and GMWB5000. One button combo activates the LCD test, which illuminates all portions of the LCD through a series of screens. There is other information after that as well (I’m not giving everything away here). Another button combo shows the functionality of solar charging, displaying “8888” once the watch has changed lighting conditions. Pressing the “search” button from here progresses to the tilt sensor screen. This shows if the tilt sensor is working, likewise displaying “8888” once the tilt is engaged.

All diagnostic screens can be progressed through by pushing the “search” button. “Mode” exits the screen. Another button combo (at least on my GW5000) takes me to a screen with a letter above and a number below, and “search” cycles through different letters and numbers. I have no idea what this screen is for.

These diagnostic screens perhaps aren’t as immediately cool as the bold “CASIO” displayed on the F91W. However, the ability for a G-Shock to have diagnostics checked through back-end menus like a car makes it even more of a tool watch, not that we needed convincing. If you have an eligible G-Shock, try it out. Just make sure not to press the self-destruct combo.

Bodega X GShock DW56000 Backlight Easter Eggs

G-Shock limited-edition backlights

The less secret Easter eggs some G-Shocks provide are special watermarks on the dial that become visible with the backlight. These most often appear in limited-edition collaborations with other entities, usually DW5600 models. Often, the other brand’s logo or emblem is superimposed over the dial and glows a contrasting red to the green backlight. Other details of the watch are unique as well, but the backlight watermark makes the watch special to the wearer. It also adds a flourish, especially on otherwise nondescript limited editions.

Speedy Tuesday "Ultraman"

Omega Ultraman and Silver Snoopy Easter eggs

Omega has a similar Easter egg in its 2018 Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman, also called the Speedmaster ST2. Lit with lume instead of LED, the Ultraman Limited Edition reveals its secret after charging in bright light for a while and then going into darkness. In the running seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock is a lumed silhouette of Ultraman. It’s done in a material that appears black in daylight but glows orange, hiding Ultraman within the black dial until nightfall. This, in my opinion, makes the Speedmaster ST2 one of the coolest yet understated Speedies out there.

Omega Speedmaster Snoopy Easter Egg

The Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary has a different kind of Easter egg. The transparent case back shows a close-up of the Moon with Earth and starry space in the background. When the chronograph is running, a little Snoopy riding in a spacecraft flies across space. It’s quite a cool animation that one can only see with the watch off the wrist and the chronograph running.

Finding a Rolex for under $5000 easter egg

Omega and Rolex etchings

Less cool but still interesting are the little details found on a myriad of high-end watches that serve as anti-counterfeiting devices. Omega etches its trademark Greek omega symbol in the center of its Speedmaster crystals. Rolex etches its crown on its watch crystals at 6 o’clock. Other brands do something similar, with little signatures that only a loupe or certain angle of viewing can reveal. They’re somewhat hidden, but they don’t illicit quite the same joy upon discovery as some of these other Easter eggs do — unless one was worried their watch was a fake. It’s no animation on the case back for sure.

Jaquet Droz Automata — literal eggs

And if we’re talking about animations, we have to talk about Jaquet Droz. Jaquet Droz is known historically and in modernity for its intricate and beautiful automata, or clockwork automatons. The current line of Jaquet Droz Automata watches sets the time-telling face of the watch in a small circle at 12 o’clock, leaving the rest of the dial for the art. Themes range from rock ‘n’ roll to dragons to pastoral nature scenes. What they all share, however, is intricate, handcrafted clockwork that can bring the watch to life at a touch.

One has to only activate the trigger on the side of the case to set the gears in motion. With the Bird Repeater Alpine View, an already beautiful relief comes to life as parent birds feed their young and stretch their wings as a waterfall trickles in the background. Soft chimes of the minute repeater play in the background, telling the time. It’s almost unbelievable to see and mind-boggling to begin to imagine the intricate gearing necessary to achieve such a scene. It’s quite the Easter egg, especially when the unhatched egg in the nest cracks open to reveal a baby bird just as hungry for the gold worm as its siblings.

Franck Muller Crazy Hours 8880 Easter Egg

Franck Muller Crazy Hours

In a stylistic about-face, the Franck Muller Crazy Hours is the watch the Mad Hatter would wear. In a tonneau case with large hour numerals in a wild typeface, it’s already a visually loud watch. But the craziest thing about the watch is that the hours are seemingly arranged at random. Where 12 should be, there is an 8, and where 6 should be, there is a 2. The hours don’t follow any apparent pattern around the dial, yet there is still an hour hand that points to them.

One might dismiss the Crazy Hours as another kitsch fashion piece, the kind of watch where the design on the dial disregards the hands. That is not the case here. The hour hand does point to the correct time, and it also points to the correct hour numeral on the dial. Each hour, it wildly jumps to the next number in the correct sequence, wherever it is on the dial. The minute hand goes around normally like nothing at all strange is occurring.

This is achieved with intricate mechanics, with in-house calibers that deliver the sort of madness only Franck Muller can devise. The hour hand stays fixed, pointing directly at the appropriate number, improving legibility somewhat. The watch always tells the right time, only in a very wrong sort of way.

At a passing glance, the Franck Muller Crazy Hours may just look like a funky and ineffective yet still well-finished watch. It’s only under closer scrutiny and watching the hour hand at the top of every hour that one begins to appreciate the heavy lifting happening beneath the dial. It’s the mechanical magic behind the scenes that makes the whimsy work. It also makes the Franck Muller Crazy Hours an Easter egg hiding in plain sight.

Ikonact, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Easter eggs — a tasty conundrum

The presence of clever, fun, functional, or awe-inspiring Easter eggs in our watches makes the experience of interacting with them that much richer. One might ask what vintage Japanese superheroes or birds feeding their young have to do with watches. Or why can’t a watch just tell the time normally? I don’t really have the answer, but in some way, the secrets of these watches justify their existence. That is to say: the watch landscape would have a little less joy and wonder without them, and that itself is reason enough. One might equally ask what hidden eggs have to do with Easter. I don’t know and, honestly, as long as chocolate is involved, I really don’t care. The metaphoric chocolate these watches provide makes the reason for their existence a moot point.

What watch Easter eggs do you love? Let us know in the comments below.

You can also find me on Instagram: @WatchingThomas.