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.
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.
Casio F-28W Links
- How to change the battery, from Mr. Coo (in Japanese, but with detailed step-by-step photos)