Sotto Voce.

"Qui plume a, guerre a." — Voltaire

The Casio F-28W Corner

Holy Cow, I’m Wearing a Classic

A few years ago, I was waiting in line at Harvard Books in Cambridge, MA, when a clerk serving the adjacent line caught my attention, raised his arm, and pointed to his wrist. We were both wearing the same cheap black plastic disposable watch. I hadn’t even really noticed mine until then, so much a part of my daily kit had it become.

“Great watch, huh?” the clerk said with a grin. I nodded. “How long?” he then asked.

I was caught up short and had to think. Where did I buy it? Had I even met my wife then? Had I ever changed the battery in it? How many wrist straps had it gone through — at least three, right?

“Ten years?” I ventured, suddenly realizing, My gods, this watch has been running for at least a decade. It might have even been as long as a dozen years. And in that time I had never changed the battery. There have been space probes with nuclear reactors that haven’t lasted as long as this humble watch.

The clerk nodded in solidarity. “Eight,” he said. Then my line moved, and his next customer came up to the counter, and we both went on our ways having momentarily bonded over the recognition that we were both members of a club — one that, until that moment, I didn’t even know existed.

Suddenly, as I looked at it with brand-new appreciation, my watch stopped being a piece of personal furniture and transformed into an icon. I looked at the name. Casio F-28W. I realized then that I was probably wearing a classic.

Casio F-28W Fans, Unite!

This page is a work-in-progress fan page for Casio F-28W owners who love their watches the way the owners of Honda Super Cubs love their scooters — it may be an inexpensive, mass-produced, wallpaper-common piece of machinery, but it’s as reliable as air and rugged as stone. And every now and then it’s worth pausing to appreciate that.

And Casio knows it too, because the design hasn’t changed a whit. I know because when mine finally died last week, I ordered a replacement straight from Casio, and when it arrived the only difference (aside from corners that had not been slightly rounded from a decade-plus of wear) was that the battery cover on the back said “Made in China” instead of “Made in Japan.” If it lasts as long as the other one, it’ll end up costing me less than a dollar a year. That’s a better deal than even a Parker fountain pen. (I wish I had found these instructions on how to change the battery first, though.)

The thing is, a quick survey of the Web reveals that there isn’t a single site dedicated to the appreciation of this cheap disposable plutonium-powered timepiece. No discussion threads. No Flickr sets.

WTF?

There have to be as many F-28Ws out there as there are Super Cubs, at least. And statistically, some of them must be owned by people who wear them not out of necessity but as a preference. So I’m putting this page up as a signal flare, hoping that other fans out there will find this page, and we can gradually congregate to share stories, photos, and whatnot. How did you come to acquire your first F-28W? How many wrist straps have you gone through? How long has it been humming? What’s your favorite story about your watch?

And if by some chance you, reading this, were working at Harvard Books a few years ago and remember striking up a brief conversation with a bearded customer about Casio F-28Ws, that was me. Thanks! Please, leave a comment and let’s swap stories.

End of an Era

At some point in mid-2014, Casio stopped making the F-28W and moved the model’s page over to the Casio website’s archives section. However, plenty of F-28Ws are still out there, ticking (or humming) their way along. And as long as there are replacement batteries available, we fans will be able to continue to keep our watches alive.

You can find bands and the occasional watch on eBay. Although most the of watches that turn up there appear to be the F-28W’s pater familias, the F-91W, the parts should be fairly interchangeable.

Casio F-28W Links

  • How to change the battery, from Mr. Coo (in Japanese, but with detailed step-by-step photos)


44 Comments

  1. Arthur says:

    I’m with you! I’ve had mine for at least 10 years and, if it breaks, I’ll get another. Original band, original battery. The bezel isn’t even scratched! A flowaless watch.

  2. Matt says:

    I just broke my 2nd band, maybe because I work outside a lot. I like how the buttons are recessed. On watches with buttons that stick out, I sometimes noticed the date or time flashing because something was inadvertently pressed.

  3. I had one. I loved the way that it said ‘water resistant’ when it wasn’t. I saw a friend’s husband wearing one recently. He said he found it whilst cutting his hedge ! I kid you not.

  4. dave says:

    i was just saying today to a friend how good this little watch has been and that i have never changed the battery i reckon i have had this watch going on 13 to 14 years but have had 4 new straps that now cost more than i paid for the watch itself ! what a great watch!

  5. Badiuzzaman Khan says:

    I got my f28 from my father in 1990 when i was in class 5. It was made in japan and had F28 printed on the band. It lasted for 5 years may be because i used it very roughly.

  6. Mitch says:

    I love my f-28w. I purchased mine about a year ago after seeing it for sale at walmart. I loved the classic design and low price and decided to give it a buy. I started wearing it to work everyday and now I wear it all the time. It is one of the most comfortable watches I have ever worn. Not only is the case the perfect size but it is featherlite and has a decent, slim, yet long band. I am a serious watch collector and own at least over 50 watches; ranging from elgin to rado. It’s almost ashame that I would prefer a $10 casio f-28 over a $1000 rado diastar. That’s not to say I no longer wear my rado; it just say’s that casio sure has a winner with the f-28. I pray that casio continues to make this watch for many years to come.

  7. sottovoce says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your stories! It’s great (and comforting) to see that there are other devoted F-28W fans out there. And welcome to those yet to come!

  8. ike says:

    I’ve had two of these over the last eight years and I wear them for work. My job is in an industrial environment and I deal with heavy tools and machinery on a daily basis, so I bought it so I wouldn’t be worried about scratching it up. The band on my first F28W was caught in the latch of a toolbox I was handing down to a coworker. I didn’t realize it until it was too late, but lucky the band broke away and I was able to regain my balance. If I hadn’t I would have toppled over, fallen off the ledge and probably been hurt. I purchased another F28W the next day and the broken one became a desk clock. Ever since, I’ve had a soft spot for these watches!

  9. john says:

    I’ve had at least 3 of these great watches. They lasted forever even after the bands broke. It looks like Wal-Mart doesnt sell them anymore.

  10. Ramesh says:

    This was my first watch, my dad bought this for me and my sister when I was about 5 years old!

    I remember we asbused the hell out of it and it still kept ticking πŸ™‚ Unfortunately it either went in the trash or I lost it after the strap broke, and I had long forgotten this marvelous watch.

    That is until about 5 months ago, I started researching online to find my ‘childhood’ watch, and I finally discovered it was the humble F-28W. I ordered one today and I can’t wait until I get this watch back on my wrist again, this time I will ensure it will remain with me for years to come πŸ™‚

  11. Colin says:

    I had one of theses many years ago and went through acouple of straps.I never took it of even in the shower. When the buttons started to go sticky and stiff I bought another for when it died.About 4 years later the old one,still going, went in the
    drawer with the new one when I stopped wearing a watch altogether.the watch is still in the drawer it must be at least 17 years old (old one died)still holding correct time ond date.Is there anyway of dating them accurately with a code or something,I would be nice to know.

  12. Marlie says:

    I’ve only had mine for 3 years, but I’ve worn it every single day in those 3 years. I’m a commercial fisherman and on my very first day of fishing, my captain gave me my Casio F-28w.

  13. jerry says:

    ive been wearing a f-28 for over 20yrs. and yes the bands have broken long before the watch has stopped.i have two broken ones in my drawer now.i need to find where i can get the original bands.one of the best watches ever made. i rank it up there right alongside the napkin!!! lol

  14. Mikko says:

    I got my first F-28W over 30 years ago from my father, when I was beginning my academic journey by entering first grade of elementary school. At that time I didn’t quite understand this watches then-to-be iconary status. It was perfectly durable and accurate timepiece, e.g. its battery was never changed during time I had it. I remember being quite unhappy to lose it in 90’s by leaving it on the bench of a boat, and then accidentally sliding it into abyss of the lake. Got a new unit recently but this one seems to be made in China instead of original been made in Japan. Still, same featherlight design and no protruding buttons.

  15. sottovoce says:

    Colin asks above whether there’s a date code or other identification on F-28Ws. Not that I have been able to find. The only difference I’ve ever seen, as Mikko notes, is the change on the battery cover from “Made in Japan” to “Made in China.” Between us, we might be able to narrow down when that change happened. (But then again, considering how long these watches last, maybe not.)

    I find that I wear my watch less now in favor of a mobile device. How about you? If so, maybe in a few years wearing a watch will become a “statement” akin to writing with fountain pens or blogging with typewriters.* If so, I suspect the F-28Ws will be in great demand because they’re so easy to find and they run forever, like Parker pens or Remington typewriters. So hold on to your Casios, folks… πŸ˜€

    PDL

    * — And soon, pointing at your wrist to imply “time” will be as archaic as putting your hand up to your ear with the thumb up and pinkie down to represent “call.” (Although, at least, that gesture still somewhat resembles a flip-phone.)

  16. Jose Carbajal says:

    I was just checking for information about this watch and like others here I’m more than impressed with this watch I don’t even remember when I bought it, I’m looking to buy the new version of this watch I love the simplicity well that’s about it god bless all casio users.

  17. regis says:

    Hello, is that the watch will beep (“beep beep”) every hour?

  18. Brian W. says:

    I love the pure simplicity of this watch! It’s only weak spot being the flimsy band. I put mine on a Maratac MilSpec strap and now it’s my dependable, light weight, everyday, go ever wear watch! I can even wear it with a suit because its so thin it goes right under a shirt sleeve.

    Who needs a big gaudy watch to look like a tough guy. Get a light thin watch that doesn’t get in your way because you ARE a tough guy!

    • sottovoce says:

      I completely agree, Brian! My preference is always for things that actually *are* rugged over things that just *look* rugged. Quality is its own aesthetic.

    • Jerome says:

      Thanks for the tip on the replacement strap for the Casio F28W. Where did you source yours? Simplicity and ruggedness is the key! Long live the F28W!

  19. Melissa says:

    I go this watch Christmas 2010 when I realized that using my cellphone in college classes to check the time was both inconvenient for me and rude to the lecturers. I’ve worn in almost everyday since getting it because it’s so light and comfortable with only essential functions. My band is in good condition, except for a spot where my cat gnawed on it.

  20. sottovoce says:

    Three years and going strong! That’s great. May it give you many more Christmases!

  21. Dave says:

    Years ago, I received an expensive watch as a service award at work. But, after I bought my first F28W, I preferred to wear the F28W all the time. I like the way the F28W tells you the day, date, hours, minutes and seconds. Everything you need to know. Lightweight, dependable, cheap and accurate. One of the best products made.

  22. Jeff Scott says:

    Suddenly, this watch is no longer available on the Casio web site !! That can’t be good.

  23. Gregg Irwin says:

    My original just says “Japan” on the back, no “made in”. My newer one does say “made in China”. The only question for me is whether to hand it down or be buried with it.

  24. Addict says:

    The end of this classic has come. Casio has ceased production.

    • sottovoce says:

      Holy crumbs, it appears you are right! This is a sad, sad day. An era has ended.

      At least we have the comfort of knowing that that long after whatever has replaced this icon in Casio’s affections stops ticking, our stalwart F-28Ws will still be going strong.

      Let us raise our wrists in solidarity. LONG LIVE THE CASIO F-28W!

  25. Jac says:

    Mine’s over 20yrs old, 2nd battery, been around the world oz, nz, America with me and wore it doing building work until it could no longer take a strap. I then used it as a pocket watch until about ten years ago when I started using the clock on my phone. I found it about an hour ago, found this site, then pressed one of the buttons, and it came back to life! Bring back the f-28w

  26. Melanie says:

    Hello fellow casio lovers. I need some help with my watch. I seemed to have switched the time over to 24 hours and can’t figure out for the life of me how to switch it back. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

    • Carl Pugh says:

      Wait until the afternoon and press the bottom button. The time should change from say 14:00 to 2:00.

      Can change to 24 hour mode by pressing the bottom button.

  27. Soren says:

    Looking for a genuine replacement strap but unable to find serial numbers, etc. Any thoughts?

  28. Carl Pugh says:

    Fabulous watch, have used F-28W for maybe 30 years. Put in pocket and lost maybe 2 watches.
    Does anyone know where you can actually purchase a F-28W?
    Walmart and Kmart both advertise that they sell the F-28W but you cannot purchase the watch there.

  29. Alex33 says:

    Where to get?

    Where can I buy a new F-28W?

  30. Alex33 says:

    You can toggle 24h by pressing and holding for a few seconds the SET / 12 – 24 HR button.

  31. Paul 42 says:

    I inherited my F-28W from my son at some time in the distant past (about 30 years ago, I figure. What amazes me is that I can’t remember when I last changed the battery (if ever). How does the watch get its power?
    On the back, it says “Made in Malaysia”.

    Regarding the wrist band, I have an expansion band, which is just now starting to show signs of wear.

  32. Arthur Kimes says:

    After almost 20 years, the battery on my F-28W ran out.

    Thanks to this page, I found the directions for battery replacement and …
    it worked!

    F-28W should be good for another 15-20 years.

    BTW, I was able to brute-force an old Twisto-Flex band onto it so the resin band problem was fixed years ago.

    • sottovoce says:

      Twenty years! That’s awesome. I’m glad that you found this humble page and were able to use it to breathe new life into your watch. Long may it live! Thanks for letting me know.

      Nice solution re: the Twisto-Flex band. I’ll keep that in mind if I ever find myself in that predicament.

  33. Keith says:

    Great site! I found my fathers F28W the other day lurking in my garage. He died in 1996 and until a couple of years ago it was still working. I’m guessing it dates sometime from the early 90’s (may be earlier) and is different internally from the one demonstrated in the battery change section. However I’ve changed the battery and got it working fine, but I’ve a small spring surplus, anyone know where it might go?

    Thanks KC

  34. Sian says:

    I have my late father’s Casio F-28W. It must be reasonably water-resistant as he found it in a rock-pool at the seaside in Wales whilst beach-combing!. I’m sure that was in the 1980’s; it has ‘Japan’ on the back. I must try a new battery and see if I can get it going again. What fun to read the above comments!

  35. Joe Shibley says:

    Wow! I can hardly believe my good fortune in stumbling across your page here, my experience with the reliable F28-W is so similar that I could have authored this. I gradually abandoned my dressier-looking timepieces in favor of Old Faithful. I have worn it waking, sleeping, swimming, working in the yard, running marathons and all other physical activities, and it just refuses to give up. It is as much a part of my regular “attire” as is my wedding band. In fact, the only reason I regularly remove it now is due to new work requirements which forbid any accessory wear. Even so, it has accompanied me many times through the metal detector at work when I had forgotten to remove it, and not once have the detector or the security guards noticed! I found your site only while searching for a replacement battery, and I know I have had the watch for at least 20 years and this is not more than the 3rd or 4th battery I have had to exchange. A great device, and I’m happy to know I’m not the only one out there with this experience! Thanks much.
    – J. S.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *