Casio AMW320R Review

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Casio AMW320R (champagne dial)

Casio AMW320R on 22mm black & yellow NATO strap
Casio AMW320R on after market 22mm black & yellow NATO strap

As watch manufacturers go Casio is prolific. Their range encompasses all manner of styles, functions and price ranges from affordable to luxury. They are notably famous for their hardcore G-Shock series and more recently their comprehensive Pathfinder/Protek ABC (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass) watches.

They have produced some classics over the years, none more so than the Casio AMW320 and more specifically the champagne dial model. Its iconic, primarily because Arnold Schwarzenegger wore it in the movies Kindergarten Cop (1990) and Last Action Hero (1993). Prior to this Arnie famously sported a Seiko H558-500x in Commando (1985) and Predator (1987) amongst other blockbusters of the period. In watch collecting circles these are commonly referred to as the Casio Arnie and Seiko Arnie respectively.

Arnie wearing the Casio AMW320C in the movie Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Arnie wearing the Casio AMW320C in the movie Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Arnie wearing the Casio AMW320C in the movie Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Arnie wearing the Casio AMW320C in the movie Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Arnie wearing the Casio AMW320C in the movie Last Action Hero (1993)
Arnie wearing the Casio AMW320C in the movie Last Action Hero (1993)

Visually these watches are similar in as much as they combine quartz analogue movements and small complimentary LCD displays. Unfortunately, the Seiko H558 is no longer produced and its becoming harder to track down any nice clean examples. I’ve seen some NOS (New Old Stock) models sell upwards of $500 on ebay. Funnily enough the Casio AMW320 is still in production and can still be purchased new for about 10% of that cost!

The original AMW320C production line opened in 1992. It came in two dial colour options:  black and champagne. Photos don’t do the champagne dial justice – in real life its almost chameleon like – appearing gold in some lights and yellow in others. What makes the “C” model unique from the current “R” is that it employed two pushers on opposite sides of the case, the dial was made in two parts (better in my opinion) and the entire watch was made and cased in Japan.

Casio AMW320R - note the printed inner circle, second hand synced with the digital seconds and their hitting the markers - impressive stuff!
Casio AMW320R – note the printed inner circle, second hand synced with the digital seconds and their hitting the markers – impressive stuff!

From 2000 onwards the AMW320 had a few subtle tweaks. The two pushers were moved to the left side of the case and the dial face was made in one part – no doubt as a cost saving feature – the numbered inner circle was now printed as opposed to being a separate design element. Casing was also moved to China, again to save on costs (the movement is still made by Casio, Japan). Other than that the two models are pretty much identical. In addition, the letter “R” was added and stamped on the case “AMW320R” to differentiate the module modifications.

Casio AMW320R case cover
Casio AMW320R case cover

I have the current “R” model and that’s what we will look at today.

This watch is big. Don’t be fooled into thinking that pictures always make it look bigger. In the flesh it’s HUGE! The case diameter is 45mm and its 50mm from lug to lug (measured top to bottom – sizes approx). Its not particularly thick though, just 11mm.

Impressive dimensions on the wrist!
Impressive dimensions on the wrist!

If you have small wrists (like me) it will dominate your entire wrist width! I like that – watch presence for sure. The lugs are standard 22mm so no problem finding replacement bands.

Looks good on a black and green stripe NATO...
Looks good on a black and green stripe NATO…
... and a black and orange one!
… and a black and orange one!

If you have a “proper” divers watch in your collection you may be a bit disappointed by the bi-directional rotating bezel’s “feel”. Its decidedly slack compared to a Seiko Diver, but then again, I know which one I’d actually use for diving! The bezel is numbered in 10 minute increments and supplemented by compass cardinals/degrees – a combination Casio uses a lot in their sports watch collections. It clicks like one of those combination dials you find on an old safe and because it can be turned relatively easily in both directions its not the safest option for recording elapsed time underwater. I often use mine to measure timed events (i.e. countdown). For example say the actual time is 11:45 and you want to set a (visual) countdown timed event of 40 minutes. Turn the bezel so that the triangle (denoted by a N for North) is on the 45 minute hand marker. The bezel will now be in be in position showing 40 minutes as 12:25 when compared directly with the dial. Its actually quite useful in that respect.

I suppose Casio’s original idea was to give this watch “diver appeal” as opposed complete functionality – due to the higher costs involved with manufacturing a counter clockwise only bezel. At this price point, I say that is a fair enough compromise.

The solid stainless steel upper case and bezel metalwork is brushed and the sides and rear case highly polished. The case back is a combination of the two finishes.

The AMW320 is part of Casio’s “Marine Gear” range and Water Resistant (WR) to 100m/10bar/10atm. The minimum requirement for a watch to be classed as a “diver” is 100m plus and generally we accept a watch suitable for Scuba diving as 200m or greater (ISO 6425).

Casio AMW320R on standard resin divers strap
Casio AMW320R on standard resin divers strap

The watch comes on a Casio divers style 22mm resin band. I’m not to keen on these so quickly swapped it for a nylon NATO which is much more comfortable (standard 22mm size spring bars are fitted to this model). In turn its a quick and cheap way to brighten up your watch as there are numerous colours and stripe combinations available today.

Two pushers on the left side of the case for digital operations
Two pushers on the left side of the case for digital operations

Function wise it stacks up. The “pushers” control watch operations and the crown purely for setting analogue time (the crown does not lock). The upper left pusher is for “mode”, and functions are displayed in the following sequence: current time (12 or 24hr format), calendar (displayed as month-date-day), daily alarm, hourly time signal, dual time zone (DL is indicated) and chronograph (ST is indicated). The stopwatch is started and stopped by pressing the lower left pusher and reset by holding down for approx 2 seconds. The lower left pusher also acts as the “adjust” button for time/alarm setting.

A big chunky (non lockable) crown adorns the right side
A big chunky (non lockable) crown adorns the right side

There is no EL or LED light only lume on the hands and face. The lume is on par with other Casio’s I own – not the brightest or longest lasting, but sufficient. The hands are noticeably brighter than the dial markers.

AMW320R lume
AMW320R lume

Syncing the second hand with digital seconds is quite easy. Set the current digital time and reset the seconds to “00” when a reliable time signal (I use a Casio Atomic Multi Band 6 watch for this). Then adjust the analogue time and “hack” the second hand to correspond with the digital seconds and return the crown to its normal position.

The Casio AMW320 range (minus the PVD model)
The Casio AMW320 range (minus the PVD model)

Over recent years the range has been expanded to include stainless steel bracelets and additional dial colours (including white, black/gold and a stunning blue example with rectangular indices). There is even a military style all black PVD model.

I love the retro looks of the Casio AMW320R and rate it highly. It’s a solid well built watch with plenty of inbuilt functionality. With an illustrious movie history behind it – no wonder the Casio AMW320 is a classic.

Long may it continue!

Module 2701 PDF Manual

Casio AMW320R (champagne dial)

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  1. Pingback: My first Casio Diver: Vintage AMW-320C - Page 2