The Grail: The Casio F19-W
I can't believe it either. As a young man who has always had a passion for watches there are those pieces which you just wish you could have some time with. An original Reverso, the Speedmaster worn on the moon, a Patek 5970. You dream and dream but you know that it's a once in a blue moon's chance of happening. Today it happened. Today I got to have some time with one of the greatest watches ever made in recent memory, the Casio F19-W.
To the layman it might not be easily understandable why this piece of haute horology is held in such high esteem by collectors. However just like how the Submariner can be construed as just "just a dive watch", the F-91W has more going for it beneath the surface. Powered by a single CR2016 lithium cell, it has a potential power reserve of over seven years with this particular model stretching that to nine years. Even today this length of power reserve seems completely otherworldly and I can't imagine how much of a game changer this watch must have been when it was released in 1991. What is even more surprising about the power reserve is that this watch boasts an alarm, chronograph and full annual calendar functions.
Easily programmable by use of the ergonomically designed pushers on either side of the case, the alarm function is surprisingly loud for the miniscule case that only measures 37.5mm x 33.5mm x 9.5mm. An industry source told me in confidence that Audemars Piguet had been in talks with Casio about replicating the fantastical auditory capabilities of this watch in the AP Michael Schumacher. Easily audible from across a loud room, the high pitch pierces the ears of anyone nearby with it's crystal clear BEEP BEEP BEEP. Truly a work of genius.
The same elegant cylindrical pushers that operate the alarm also control the chronograph, another instance of technical masterwork by the Japanese watchmaker. Accurate to an astonishing 1/100th of a second, the chronograph can measure an elapsed time up to 59 minutes, 59 seconds and 59 milliseconds. There are some skeptic out there who would have prefered a full hour but when you are dealing with an accuracy rating that high I think some substitutes are allowed.
The large blue surrounding bezel perfectly frames the subtle green glow of the dial. The choice highlights in red and yellow accent the display wonderfully and provide a dash of color to the monochrome case and strap. The lugs are a work of genius that even Gerald Genta would be envious of. Shielding the top of the tapered strap ever so slightly, these black plastic hoods drape seductively across the width of the case like a late-night lounge singer atop a piano at smokey jazz club.
Needless to say that this particular piece is not for sale and currently resides in a private collection in an undisclosed location. The owner says that they have received bids from certain Swiss watch houses (That out of politeness the collector refused to name) begging for even an afternoon with the watch and their engineers. "I know what I've got", said the mysterious collector "and I'll never sell it".