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    • Frank Wulfers
      Review
      The Casio Pro Trek PRW-3500 is the latest model in Casio’s well-known line of Pro Trek watches.  The watches are geared towards adventurous and active outdoors men and women and often associated with mountain climbing, fishing, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, downhill skiing and so on.  Even when you are not into these types of activities, you still can look the part with a Pro Trek.
      European PRW-3500 models have names as is common with other Pro Trek models: Cerro Lejia (PRW-3500-1ER), Cerro Tumisa (PRW-3500T-7ER) Cerro San Clemente (PRW-3500Y-1ER) and Cerro Miscanti (PRW-3500Y-4ER).  You may be an experienced mountain climber visiting South America if these names mean anything to you.  For everybody else, these are names of mountains in Chili.
      Introduction
      The v.3 Triple Sensor Engine was introduced with the PRW-3000 in 2013 and it was an instant success because of its size (less bulky than other Pro Treks) and features.  Improvements over the v.2 sensors are smaller size and lower battery consumption.  Casio claims the sensors are 95% smaller than the sensors in version 2.  Previous watches could only use the compass for 20 seconds while the new sensors allows for 60 seconds.
      The PRW-3500 has the same features as the 3000 but is housed in a rugged case with a rotating bezel.  The most important difference for many is the ability to switch out the strap and replace it with a rubber, leather or fabric Nato / Zulu strap.  The lug size is 22mm which is a very common size so many possibilities to personalize your watch.
      The 3500 line was introduced by Casio at BaselWorld 2015 in March.  It is available with a positive display in a black case with a silver bezel, black case with black bezel and orange inserts, and a Titanium version with grey case and black bezel.  There also is a negative display which has a black case and blue inserts.  The PRW-3000 is available in many different colors so it is safe to assume there will be new colors for the 3500 in the near future as well.

      Features
      The PRW-3500 is an ABC watch which stands for Altimeter, Barometer and Compass.  There also is a sensor for temperature so it should be called an ABCT watch.  As with other Pro Treks, temperature readouts are most reliable when the watch is not worn for 15 minutes or more.
      This watch synchronizes with an automic clock in five wordwide locations: US, UK, Germany, Japan, and China.  This usually happens at night and a small triangle left of the day/date display shows if time synching was successful or not.  I live in Michigan and it synchs perfectly with the transmitter in Colorado every night.  I also used one of my Pro Treks in southern Florida and it synched fine when positioned near a window.
      Water resistance is rated at 200 meters so good for any outdoors and water activity except for serious diving adventures. Besides the specific ABCT features, the PRW-3500 also has World Time with 31 time zones, 24-hour count-down timer, stop watch, 5 daily alarms, hourly time signal, 12/24 hour format and a calendar programmed to year 2099. This watch is powered by light which can be sunlight or even low fluorescent light in case you’re dreaming of adventure but stuck at an office desk job.  The watch will continue to work up to 7 months when not exposed to light.
      An interesting feature is the sunrise/sunset display where you can see the exact times for sunrise and sunset in your location specified with latitude and longitude in the watch settings.  This can be very helpful for any outdoors enthusiast but also for photographers and videographers.  The light conditions for shooting pictures or video is often best up to 1 hour after sunrise and 1 hour before sunset.  Using this feature makes it easy to predict the best light in your location.

      On the wrist
      This PRW-3500-4CR with black case and bezel and orange inserts and strap is also sold as PRW-3500-4JF or  PRW-3500-4ER where JF is a code for a Japanese market and ER for the European market model.  It’s safe to assume CR is for the rest of the world and this naming is consistent with other Pro Trek models.  Most newer Pro Treks are made in Thailand and this one shows a manufacture date of January 23, 2015.  The display is lightly orange tinted and doesn’t seem to distract for legibility.
      The silver and black PRW3500-1 has a much more neutral look and the display shows a bit more contrast compared to the orange model.  There isn’t much of a difference in legibility in bright lights but the black/silver model is easier to see in low-light conditions.  It is not a huge difference but definitely noticable. This model is easier to pair with different color straps so a bit more flexibility than the orange model.
      The strap is comfortable and the wings between the strap and case appear to be more comfortable than other Pro Treks I own (PAW-2000 and PRG-550).  There hardly is any wrist hair that gets caught in the wings and strap, something I couldn’t stand on my other watches.
      The unidirectional rotary bezel moves smoothly without any play.  Casio says you can use this to help keep track of current and intended bearings but not sure how useful that will be in the field.    It’s a nice design feature without making the watch too busy too look at.  The bezel is made out of non-magnetic stainless steel and should hold up to daily use (and abuse) better then the aluminum bezel of the 3000.
      The buttons are large and easy to push.  The ABC buttons on the right of the watch have edges around them on the bottom to prevent accidental pushing when you move your hand up.  It’s a larger sized watch but doesn’t feel too big on the wrist.  The weight is just right and you feel you’re wearing a watch without it becoming annoying in daily activities.  It’s heavier than the PAW-2000 and PRG-550 and the stainless steel bezel is probably what’s causing this weight increase.  A future blog article will compare the 3500 with these other watches.
      The Barometric Pressure Change Indicator is a useful feature to alert you when there is a sudden rise or fall in air pressure.  A sudden drop indicates inclement weather like a thunderstorm is on its way or a sudden rise shows good weather will follow soon.  It also can show a sustained rise in pressure  and changing to a fall or sustained fall in pressure and changing to a rise.


      Summary
      The 3500 has the same recommended retail price of US$300 as the 3000.  The PRW-3000 is a nice watch but feels a bit less substantial, smaller and lighter than the 3500. Main drawback of the 3000 for me is the inability to easily switch out the strap which is a dealbreaker. Overall, the 3500 offers a bit more value for money but may be too big for some.
      Street prices will be in the lower US$200s as most are discounted 30%.  The PRW-3500 is a very nice watch that fits perfectly in the Pro Trek line-up. It is a welcome addition with the newer 3414 module from the PRW-3000 and offering the same features in a larger and rugged case.
      There are a few areas that could be improved on but that probably would make it more expensive as well.  None are dealbreakers though and I think the PRW3500 will be a long-term resident in my modest affordable watch collection.
      I used both the orange/black and silver/black models for a couple of weeks so far.  Both are great but my preference goes to silver/black model for its better display contrast in low light and the ability to pair with different strap colors.
      Do you have any comments, questions or experiences to share about this watch?  Please leave your comments below!
      Good
      Very functional with many features: ABCT, sunrise/sunset, atomic clock synching and solar power
      Great looking rugged outdoors design without getting too big and bulky
      Recessed protected crystal
      High contrast display on the black/silver PRW3500-1
      Large day and date display
      Looks and feels like a quality watch
      Very reasonably priced for what you get
      Comfortable strap, can easily be replaced with other strap
      Casio quality and reliability
      It’s a Pro Trek!
      OK
      LCD display area small compared to size of watch
      Mineral crystal, could be easily scratched
      Orange strap looks ok, would look better with black strap
      Orange tinted display legible but would be better with neutral display
      Could be a little bit too big for smaller wrist sizes
      Many features require the owners manual and some time to get familiar with.
      Bad
      Nothing!
      Actual measurements:
      Weight (including resin band): 88 g / 3.1 oz
      Lug-to-lug: 50.1 mm
      Bezel diameter: 46.0 mm
      Case width: 53.2 mm (9 0’clock to 3’o clock)
      51.3 mm (10 o’clock to 4 o’clock)
      Height: 14.2 mm (15.0 mm at N E S W on bezel)
      Check prices on Amazon through these links:
      PRW-3500-1CR – PRW-3500Y-4CR – PRW-3500Y-1JF – PRW-3500T-7CR


      PRW3500 vs PAW2000
      The Casio Pathfinder PAW2000 is an older model and has been around for quite a few years.  It has the v2 sensors but is still very competitive compared to PRW3500.  They both have similar functionality but the PAW2000 has a second LCD layer.  This makes the watch more user friendly with an easier to read compass display but also makes the display look a bit dimmer, especially in low light.
      The PAW2000 has larger digits for the main time display area and the PRW3500 has larger digits for the date/day/month display.  The 3500 is definitely the better looking one of these two but some may prefer the lower height of the 2000.  Casio moved the Adjust button from the bottom of the 2000 to the top left on the 3500.  It’s easier to press the larger Light button in the dark on the 3500.
      All pictures copyright Frank Wulfers except for stock Casio images, please do not use commercially without permission.


      Many possibilities for customization with different colors nato straps.  The black-red-green is often referred to as the Bond Nato.


      The PRW-3500-4 comes standard with an orange strap.  Pictures below show this watch on a 3-ring premium nato strap and a strap borrowed from a PRG-550.


       
       





       

       
       
       

    • Frank Wulfers
      A nice watch collection deserves a good storage and display box to keep your watches neatly organized and protected.  You can find many cheap boxes but it often is worth it to spend a little bit more and get something nicer.
      This watch box in Black Ash wood with a grey inside is made by Tech Swiss.  The wood grain finish is very nicely done and certainly gives a quality feel.  The display window is large and is made from glass, according to the manufacturer.  The lid is nicely constructed as well and has 2 small magnets.  This will provide for a secure fit to the case when it is closed.
      The chromed hinges appear sturdy and are nicely finished.  The inside is lined with a soft charcoal grey faux suede fabric.  The individual cushions are made of the same material and have a nice sturdy feel.  The cheaper boxes often have those softer pillow-type cushions which do not hold watches in place very well.
      My watches are between 40 and 44mm and they all fit fine with some room to spare.  It should be sufficient for pretty much any watch collection.  The bottom of the case is covered in a velvet-like material so it will not scratch any surfaces.
      The dark black color of the exterior together with the grey interior makes for a classy combination.  This will direct the attention to the watches and not the box itself like some other brightly colored cases.
      Dimensions supplied by the manufacturer and verified on the watch box I purchased.  You can order them directly from the Tech Swiss website but I found this watch box for a bit less money from Amazon.
      Tech Swiss makes many different kinds and sizes of watch boxes and you can probably assume quality is similar throughout the same range of models.  However, this is the only watch box I purchased and this review applies to this particular model only.  I am not a professional reviewer and just write about the gear I buy and use myself.
      Model number: TSBOX10ESSBK
      Dimension of Box: 12.25″ L x 8.5″ W x 3.5″H Individual Compartment Size: 3 1/2″ L x 2″ W x 2 3/4″H
      Tech Swiss website: http://www.techswiss.com/10-watch-box-black-ash-finish/
      Buy on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1RtzVAC
      Actual pictures of the Tech Swiss watch box:
       



















    • Frank Wulfers
      There aren't many small radio-controlled solar-charged watches available that have a classic look to them. Most of these watches are larger, have busy dial and tend to be sportier watches. This Oceanus is a nice exception from the norm.
      The actual size is smaller than the official numbers by Casio suggest. At 39mm, it is a great size for small and lager size wrist. The height is 10.7mm but that includes a slightly domed crystal. The actual height from bottom to top of bezel is about 9mm. The very low weight of this all titanium watch often makes you forget you're actually wearing a watch.
      The case and bracelet have a titanium carbide coating which makes it much more scratch resistant than regular titanium and stainless steel. The bracelet and clasp on mine have some light marks and scratches from desk diving. However, the bracelet is lightly brushed so they blend in. Adjusting the watch when travelling to a different time zone is a snap. Just pull out the crown and point the seconds hand to the new time zone on the dial.

      This Oceanus has a shock-resistant Tough Movement movement which is proudly displayed on the dial as Tough Mvt. Solar charging works great and keeps it charged sitting on my desk during the dark winter months. The radio-controlled time sync works in North America, Europe , Japan and parts of China.  I live in Michigan and it has no problem picking up the signal from Colorado.
      Time sync during a vacation in London and the Netherlands was without any issues as expected. There are transmitters in the UK and Germany and they cover all of Europe. With the auto calendar and time sync, there is no need to adjust the watch at all. Even when you don't live with the radio controlled areas, it is still an accurate quartz watch that runs ± 15 seconds per month.
      Does it annoy you when the seconds hand on a quartz watch doesn't exactly hit the markers on the dial? Never an issue like that with this Oceanus. Even when the seconds hands is knocked out of position by external shock, you can adjust it again to make it go back to normal. The date display is larger than most mechanical watches and is easy for me to see, even with my 50 year old eyes without reading glasses that I normally use when reading.
      The crystal appears to be slightly tinted. This makes the dial look a bit dim in low light but still easy to see the the time. In bright sunlight when most watch dials can look washed out, the light tint brings the dial to life. The 5-minute dial marker have a blue edge. That gives an interesting effect under different angles and light and is a nice detail to an otherwise understated design of the dial.

      There are many other Oceanus models and I think they are a Japanese Domestic Model (JDM) only. This model is part of the Classic line and there are also the Manta, Cachalot and bluetooth/gps models. These watches are very different form you regular inexpensive Casio watches most people in the rest of the world are familiar with. I also have a Seiko Presage and I think the Presage quality and attention to detail is similar to the Oceanus. This isn't the average $50 quartz beater you find at department stores.
      As these are JDM only, you'll have to find these online on eBay or other Japanese sellers. They often can be found new for about $500 which makes them an excellent value with the materials, quality and technology that is built in. I bought mine from SeiyaJapan after reading great reviews on the forums. And the experience didn't disappoint. The watch I received left the factory only a few months before and it arrived within 2 days from Japan to my home in northern Michigan. SeiyaJapan is a bit more expensive than the average eBay seller but they sometimes have discount codes and I rather pay a bit more to buy from a seller with a good reputation.

      To summarize, this is the perfect daily wearer and travel companion. Its size is just about perfect on my 7.5" wrist and the style is somewhere in between dress and sporty watch. Nothing flashy but it looks and feels nice on the wrist. It feels at home on the beach and at the office. I am very picky when ti comes to watches and there are a few minor things that could improve this watch. The bracelet is integrated with the case so toy can't easily swap it out with a leather or nato strap. But perhaps that is a good thing because it's such a joy to wear on the bracelet and it just looks great. A sliding mechanism in the clasp would be nice as well. But that's about it.  
      Actual measurements with digital calipers:
      Case and bezel diameter: 39mm
      Width at 3 to 9 o'clock including crown: 43mm
      Height: 10.7mm
      Lug-to-lug: 45mm
      Lug width: 21mm
      Bracelet width at buckle: 18mm
      Weight including bracelet: 84 g
      Module: 5235
      Water resistance: 10 ATM
      Crystal: Double-domed with inner anti-reflective coating
       
       
      Manufacturer website: https://products.oceanus.casio.jp/_detail/OCW-S100-1A/
      Owners manual in English: http://support.casio.com/storage/en/manual/pdf/EN/009/qw5235.pdf
      More pictures in the Gallery album:
       

    • Frank Wulfers
      This was my first Kontiki that I bought from a grey market dealer. These were around $500 and one of the best deals around.
      More Kontiki's in diferent colors (blue, black) followed and this one was eventually sold. One of the many watches I should have kept..!


    • Frank Wulfers
      Alpina is a brand that provides a lot of value in their watches and the Alpiner GMT is no exception. I purchased one and sold it later. After a few months, I regretted that decision and bought another one.
      Pros:
      Really nice quality and feel GMT hand is small but looks great Nice dial with some sunray effect Cons:
      a bit large and heavy date wheel is sunken quite a bit below the dial so date can can be difficult to read Compass bezel looks nice but probably wont be used by many. A countdown or 12 hour dial would be more useful Stock leather strap is very stiff and feels cheap  


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