Hands-On: Casio Vintage A1000MA-7EF And A1000MGA-5EF — The Digital Classics We Love, But Better
Casio has added two attractive models to its A1000 Premium lineup. The series now consists of silver-, yellow gold-, rose gold-, and multi-colored digital watches. The A1000 Premium models are part of Casio’s Vintage Iconic collection, a successful attempt to revisit Casio’s digital-watch roots.
Casio A1000MA-7EF and A1000MGA-5EF
Let’s start by putting these new Vintage Premium models where they belong. You probably all know the ultra-cheap plastic and metal-like digital watches that Casio has produced for ages. Who hasn’t seen an F-91W or an A164W? And although A1000 models from the Casio Vintage Iconic line may look more or less similar, technically, they’re not. While the functions of the Premium watches probably don’t differ much, the quality of the watches certainly does. In terms of materials, these are made of solid stainless steel and sport real mineral crystals (not acrylic ones). But the quality of the movements is better as well. For instance, all Vintage Premium models have a much clearer Illuminator display, only found on the more expensive models in the regular Iconic line. But there’s more.
A1000 Module 3479
Casio refers to the movements of its watches as modules. I already mentioned that the Premium A1000 module (3479) does not differ in functionality from the module 593 found in Casio’s cheaper models. Both feature the time, the day and date, a daily alarm, and a stopwatch. There’s a difference in accuracy, though. The Premium module 3479 is accurate to ±15 seconds per month, and the cheaper modules have to settle for double that possible deviation. I already mentioned the significantly brighter illumination. What I didn’t mention, however, is the smaller battery. The A1000 uses a thinner CR1616 lithium cell, which, undoubtedly, helped make the watch 1mm slimmer. In combination with the apparently less energy-efficient Illuminator display, the smaller battery in the A1000 causes a substantially shorter battery life. It’ll last three years, unlike the CR2016 battery in the A164W that promises to last seven.
The F-91W is clearly a watch made of plastic. The A164W mimics stainless steel, but it isn’t. Its case is made of resin(*) covered with a steel-like layer. This is where the real difference is, and it shows. By producing the Vintage Premium models in solid metal, Casio took the chance to enhance the finishing substantially. The entry-level high-gloss models can’t deny their cheap origins. The Premium models, on the other hand, show classy brushed and polished surfaces. This quality translates into the weight of the watch as well. At 70 grams, the solid A1000 brings 30% more to the scale than an A164W.
(*) On its European website, Casio indicates the case of the current A164W is resin. I’ve seen an older Casio A164W whose case seems to be made of some type of chrome-plated metal.
A1000 bracelet and case back
Another advantage the Premium models have is the bracelet. First, it wears more comfortably, and it feels (and is) more solid. But the watches are also equipped with a quick bracelet release that enables the wearer to use different straps without the need for any tools. Furthermore, the above picture confirms that the case back is of much higher quality and looks way better than that on the A164W. By the way, the big “S” isn’t present on regular production watches; it merely indicates that this watch is a press sample.
The proof is in the pudding
Now that I’ve correctly positioned these new A1000 models at the top of Casio’s Vintage line, the watches have to prove that I was right. And they don’t disappoint. Wearing one of these Premium models is quite a different experience than wearing, for instance, the previously mentioned A164W. The feel of an A1000 is solid, comfortable, and compact. The look on your wrist is very different as well. The case shows its slimness, and the polished and brushed finishes exude quality. The diagonally woven Polonaise mesh bracelet (which Casio nevertheless calls “Milanese”) is solidly made and looks the part.
Steel and gold
The new Casio Vintage A1000 Premium models are available in classic stainless steel (A1000MA-7EF) or in an ion-plated gold finish (A1000MGA-5EF). Although both are attractive, my personal preference would be the stainless steel version. Maybe it has something to do with my skin color or the fact that, in my humble opinion, a gold-colored watch should be solid gold. In any case, it has nothing to do with the difference in price, to which I will come in a moment. They’re both worth the money. But while I can almost see the steel version as a serious watch — at least that’s how it looks and feels when I’m wearing it — the gold-plated version would be more of a gimmick to me.
Final thoughts and pricing
Having made my choice brings me to a conclusion. Would I buy this watch? Yes, I would… and I will! While writing this article, handling and wearing the watch convinced me that I need one. I feel that it is a premium product and that the wearing experience has little in common with those of Casio’s cheaper digital offerings. Which, by the way, I do enjoy as well. I can see this in line with a Premium G-Shock Square and its resin counterpart that costs a fraction of the price. I was crazy enough to buy one of those Premium models in titanium as well.
That leaves me to reveal the price. For the stainless steel A1000MA-7EF, the list price is just under €100. The gold ion-plated A1000MGA-5EF version will set you back €149. I can imagine that people, comparing the costs of these Premium models to entry-level ones, think these prices are ridiculous. But for the products they are, in my opinion, these prices are very reasonable. The 50% difference between the two seems a bit weird. However, we’re only talking about €50, which is likely needed for the gold ion-plating process.
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