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Casio G-Shock GW-1200BA Module 3335 Atomic Solar Watch review

January 1, 2006

in All Articles,Miscellaneous

The specific model reviewed here is the Casio G-Shock GW-1200BA Module 3335.

“Wearing a watch means you’re a slave to time, and I ain’t nobody’s slave”. These are wise words from a man I greatly admire. Good advice to follow, but I don’t think he was referring to the Casio G-Shock.

Anyone who knows me and has talked tech stuff with me for a few hours, eventually figures out I have a thing about batteries. Specifically, I don’t think they’re as good as they should be. They’re a technology that hasn’t changed much, and are outdistanced by the tech they’re supposed to power. So, we’re given really cool devices that are hindered by limited batteries. Yes, certain improvements have been made with rechargeable batteries, but, I feel, not enough.

What is the Casio G-Shock Atomic Solar Watch?

The Casio G-Shock Atomic Solar watches caught my eye because they do certain things making them unique among many other watches. Yes, the G-Shock features five alarms, countdown and stopwatch timers, world time, date display, et cetera. But if you’re reading this review, you probably knew all that, or aren’t impressed. You’re more concerned about two words in the watch name, specifically “atomic” and “solar“.

Solar powered charging: They never need replacement batteries, saving you the hassle of periodic maintenance, allowing you to say, “Yes, my watch is environmentally friendly!”

Atomic clock sync: Their time never needs to be set. With the help of a freely-available radio signal, they set themselves. Your time is always accurate.

Design: These watches are STURDY. They’re solid, scratch-resistant, waterproof to a couple hundred feet, and are simply just comfortable being abused.

So what about this solar power and atomic sync?

Solar powered charging: The watch face consists of a solar cell that converts available light into electricity. This electricity charges an internal battery. That battery powers the watch. If the lights go out, the watch will continue to run for up to seven months on battery power. It’s not difficult: See the picture below for a demonstration of solar charging in action.

For detailed information about how long the watch takes to charge under what conditions, and the amount and type of light needed to maintain a charge, see the G-Shock manual: Go to, and type the module number (located on the back of the watch). This model is module 3335.

Atomic clock sync: The watch is designed to pick up a radio signal broadcast from Fort Collins, Colorado. Multiple times per night, it will look for this signal, and adjust its time if needed. This allows the watch to keep excellent time accuracy. You never need to set it. The time synchronization can also be triggered manually. The watch keeps track of its last successful sync. I was able to see it was indeed automatically syncing successfully, usually every day after midnight.

Any other features?

It’s water resistant to “20 bars”. That’s fancy diver-talk for being water resistant to 200 meters. (What is a bar? It depends on your altitude and your surroundings, but one bar is roughly equal to 10 meters. “Bars” are also sometimes called an “atmosphere”, or an ATM.)

Another cool feature is what appears to be a motion sensor: When it’s dark, and you lift and turn your arm to look at the watch, the watch senses this motion and turns on the backlight for a couple seconds, allowing you to read the time. An selectable feature mentioned in the manual, it’s clever and very handy.

Casio G-Shock Problems

Normally, the watch attempts to sync nightly with the time synchronization signal from Fort Collins, Colorado. Depending on interference like weather, your surroundings and distance from the Colorado transmitter, this doesn’t always work. I could rarely get syncing to work in or outside my home in Michigan. Granted, we’re talking about a watch that has an accuracy of plus or minus 20 seconds per month. So even a 99% continual failure rate of the atomic sync means your time may be off by just over one minute. In my book, not a big deal. The directions do say the watch will receive the sync signal from up to 600 miles away, and will probably receive the sync signal from up to 2000 miles away (this covers the continental USA, Mexico, and much of Canada), though between 600-2000 miles, “signal reception may not be possible during certain times of year or times of day”.

This is a mixed analog-digital watch, with analog minute and hour hands, and digital numbers and letters detailing seconds, date, and other aspects of the watch. These characters are tan on a black background. In bright light, the digital readout is fine, but if lighting is dim, the digital display is difficult to read (and the backlight is no help). Not a significant issue, but noticeable enough I wondered why higher-contrast colors weren’t used in the design.


Doing the job I do means I don’t wear a watch. I’d have to remove it too often. I frequently reach into computer guts and messes of cabling, and a watch would get in the way or short-circuit something important. When typing, I rest my hands on the keyboard in a way where watches press uncomfortably against my wrist. This model of G-Shock, with it’s beefier shock-absorbing construction and solid design, is a larger, heavier watch than you may be used to. If this isn’t an issue, the watch performs well, looks impressive, and has features beyond most other watches today. If I did wear a watch, I’d probably wear something much like the G-Shock. While there are plenty of Atomic Solar watches in the G-Shock line, I’d recommend the GW-1200BA for those looking for a bit of techie class.

The Casio G-Shock GW-1200BA Module 3335 retails near $250.

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