Casio G-Shock GA-800-1A – The best clutter-free watch ever built!

If you are like me (which is quite unlikely but still) you really appreciate a clutter-free experience. I had been trying to find a proper watch for months but there seems to be one diabolical design pattern in every combination analog + digital watch. The designers try to fit F-117 cockpit worth of gadgets to the bezel! It just does not work. With tedious work I was finally able to find one simple watch that caters for my tastes, namely Casio G-Shock GA-800-1A. Read below for my introduction about the watch.

Layout of the watch

The GA-800-1A features 3 analogue hands on a 12 hour dial. The seconds hand advances every second, the minutes hand every 10 seconds. There is single, positive, or “normally” polarized LCD screen in the bottom of the dial. 5 buttons exist, namely:

  1. Reset (top right)
  2. Start (bottom right)
  3. Light (far bottom)
  4. Mode (left bottom)
  5. Adjust (left top)

The dial includes positions reading “LAP”, “ON”, “OFF” and “SET”. More about this later.

Main functions and logic of the watch

The watch incorporates 6 different modes of the LCD screen operation, being:

  1. Main time display (Including date when the Adjust button has been pressed. Naturally works in both 12 hour and 24 hour modes.)
  2. Stop watch with lap support. Current lap is indicated briefly by the seconds hand position on the bezel.
  3. Mode for recalling 120 previous lap times, including the day and time. This is probably very good feature for athletes.
  4. Programmable countdown timer with resolution of 1 second. Maximum time is 99 minutes, 59 seconds. When countdown reaches zero, alarm is sound. Very convenient feature for cooking for example (yes, I mean warming frozen pizzas in the oven).
  5. Alarms view. This view has 5 programmable alarms and also the beep alarm for every new hour beginning.
  6. Another time zone view. In this view you can set another country time in 15 minutes resolution. This is very handy for me because some of my relatives live abroad and I can use this mode to make sure my phone calls don’t wake them up in the middle of their night. So very cool feature also.

Moving between main modes is possible with the Mode button. Holding the Mode button down for a bit takes the user back to the main time display. The big light button on the bottom illuminates the dial and also the LCD screen. This is extremely important, as some watches only use one sad LED which does not do much. In GA-800-1A there is dual illumination LED on the left side and LCD screen illumination on the bottom. The bottom has possibly 1 LED and 1 backlight mechanism for the LCD. I’m not sure which scenario it is, but it works very good even in pitch black darkness. Following picture demonstrates the light, in night indoor lighting conditions:

And the next one display how about it shows illuminated in the dark:

The time for the illumination can be set to either 1.5 or 3 seconds. And there is also possibility to set automatic illumination after hand hand rotate. I tested, it works, but it will probably be bad for the battery, so I don’t use it. I think I read that the mode would also turn off after some hours but I was unable to see the remark again from the instruction booklet.

Autonomously moving hands

You might wonder now, how does one control the hands actually without additional “mechanical buttons”? Well this watch features something I have never seen, namely autonomously moving hands. It’s quite a cool feature, you just set the LCD time, exit the adjust mode and the clock autonomously moves the minutes and hours hands to match the digital time! See for example here where I am setting the time to 18:21 :

After the adjust, hands start automatically move to the new position:

Finally the hand movements stop to the new position:

But there is more! In some adjustment modes the hands automatically move away from obscuring the LCD screen! Here I was adjusting the alarm, and the hands move away from the LCD so I could see everything:

As you can see, the minutes and hours hands are moved to sit together off-screen. Very cool. Well, how do we know the hands don’t show the current time? There is indicator saying “HANDS” on top of the LCD screen.

If hands happen to go out of sync with LCD for some reason, one can re-synchronize then with a setting also.

Seconds hand as an indicator

The seconds hand also acts as an indicator on some cases. As told earlier, it can tell the current lap ordinal and lap recall mode (for some reason I don’t readily understand). There are also ON and OFF indicator areas. I have seen them working with setting alarms. Here is an alarm which is set to On:

And when I disable the alarm, the red hand moves instantly to indicate Off state:

Interesting. One downside of this indication though is that if setting the alarm in pitch black, it is very hard to see if the specific alarm is on or off.

Miscellaneous stuff

There are a couple of things still worth mentioning.

  • Buttons are a bit stiff and almost impossible to hit by accident
  • Button pressing sound can be configured On or Off
  • A daylight saving mode can be configured (but I’ll probably just keep adjusting the actual time during DST changes)
  • Pressing Start button while in main time display mode instantly starts stop watch (and counts up)
  • There is automatic calendar until year 2099: You just set the year, month and day and the watch calculates the correct day of the week
  • One can also force the hands to move away from LCD screen with a button combination in case one needs unobstructed view (maybe good in sports events time keeping with stop watch functionality)

Conclusion

I cannot believe someone still makes a dual analog/digital watch which actually does not clutter the bezel with distracting gizmos like it was the cockpit of a fucking F-117 stealth fighter jet. There are still cool subtleties in the watch but they are a bit hidden from distracting the user, which is excellent.

Also, this watch does not include any kind of unnecessary functionalities like Bluetooth connectivity to your spy phone, biorhythmic sensors or anything else warranting a weekly or even bi-daily recharge (battery lasts 3 years). Finally a simple product that just works as it should. Thank you team Casio, you truly rock!

4 Replies to “Casio G-Shock GA-800-1A – The best clutter-free watch ever built!”

  1. Great review! Totally agree with you.
    I have a GA-800 too. To me is a “root” G-Shock, extremely relief and easy useful.

  2. I’ve had my GA 800 for about 2 years now. It is my daily “beater”. This is from a avid watch collector. I have expensive watches and a few that just don’t make sense. For a general work or grab and go watch. The GA 800 makes it all work without being “bloated”. It’s about time!

    1. Yes, non-bloated and simple is something I always seek. GA 800 is good. However, I need to admit that my absolute dream watch would have these qualities:

      1. Have analogue display
      2. Have 2 LCD screens, one showing date, one showing whatever you choose
      3. Have powerful enough backlight to help survive briefly in dark situations
      4. Have synchronization between analogue and digital

      I had earlier also one watch which almost fulfilled these qualities. It was kind of no-name watch bought from Mexico City streets. Absolutely fabulous. Until I discovered analogue got out of sync even with fresh batteries. After this the GA 800 has been the best one I have come across.

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