I’m going to start off by being honest: I haven’t actually watched a Bond film before. *gasp the horror* I know, I know, it’s 2020, you get movies literally with the click of a mouse. I’ll get round to fixing that soon.
That being said, the James Bond franchise has become such a cultural presence, that even if you were to live under a rock, I’d doubt you’d be able to miss it completely. I remember using the theme song for a presentation in primary school, back when Word Art was the thing. Good ol’ days eh?
Despite avoiding death on multiple occasions, 007 himself has yet to figure out how to escape the clutches of business marketing. Product placements feature prominently in the franchise, giving those who seek to emulate the Agent’s charisma and psyche a means to do so; watches included. Check out this scene from Casino Royale, which my Marketing professor in university literally used to illustrate her point:
It is blatant product placement, but you’ve got to give it to the character: class, finesse and a license-to-kill, all in one package. The little kid in me would love to have a Bond watch. Unfortunately, that same kid does not have $12,750 to spare.
Amazingly for you and me however, there is a Bond watch you can get with just $30. In the 1983 Bond film “Octopussy“, 007 played by Roger Moore wears a Seiko G757 5020 Sports 100, moving away from the Rolex’s the character was known for then. In that era, quartz watches had risen significantly in popularity, and were seen as futuristic devices, befitting the wrist of Bond. The exact model is now rare to find, and can go into the $1000 price range on eBay.
And that finally brings me to the watch in review today. Fans have turned to a cheaper alternative, offering a similar styling at a fraction of the cost: the Casio AE1200, dubbed the Casio Royale – a play on another Bond film title.
The AE1200 comes in 3 different colours, namely black, silver and army-green. Correspondingly, there are 3 strap options, namely rubber, stainless steel, and canvas. For the Bond look, go with the stainless steel bracelet, as pictured here.
The first thing you’ll notice about the case is its shape. Unlike most watches which use a traditionally round design, Casio has chosen to adopt a squarish profile with angled edges. This may or may not be for everyone, but I do enjoy its uniqueness.
The watch measures 42.1mm across, 45mm lug-to-lug and 12.5mm thick. The watch is very compact, and wears well on the wrist. I find that the square profile actually contributes towards making it more comfortable to wear. The watch is slightly on the chunkier side however, and from experience will not fit under a shirt cuff.
At first glance, the case looks like it is constructed of metal. Take note however, that it is actually made of plastic resin, coated with a silver paint. I would have appreciated it if they had made it out of full stainless steel, and wouldn’t have minded paying more.
Because it is a coating, it may also begin to chip off after some wear and tear, especially if you’re not careful with your watch. Admittedly, mine has been through a fair bit of tumbling about, and the paint has begun to chip from the corners. This isn’t much of a problem for me as it’s my go to beater watch, and besides, you could always just pick another one up given its affordability.
The watch does however, come with a stainless steel back, held in place with four screws, which helps with its 10BAR water resistance. In the words of the official Casio website, the watch will be “Wearable around sinks, during swimming, poolside diving, snorkeling, but not while jet-skiing or scuba diving.”
The stainless steel bracelet comes with a single fold, pusher deployant clasp, and uses folded links. Some may find that unappealing, but let’s be fair; they had to cut costs somewhere. Nearer to the lugs, the steel bracelet starts off at 24mm, and tapers down to 18mm at the clasp. Note however, that the actual lug width is 18mm. I have seen examples of people swapping the stock bracelet out for nato straps, but I do find the watch looking a bit out of proportion, without a tapered strap. You could experiment or buy a custom strap to find one that works for you, though I’d prefer to keep it to the original bracelet.
The Dial, Movement & Features
As you’d expect of a Casio, the crystal isn’t anything fancy and is made of acrylic. It will scratch if you bump into something, just as mine has on several occasions. Inscribed at the top of the case are the words “World Time”, while the bottom of the dial and case features the words “10 Year Battery” and “Illuminator”. As they would suggest, these are functions of the watch.
A quick glance at the dial and you’ll immediately see that there’s a lot going on here. The main time is displayed at the bottom, together with the day, date and month. This is your main timezone, and you can toggle between 4 preset time zones; an extremely convenient feature especially if you travel around a lot.
Moving upwards, a world map sits above the day/date display, highlighting the time zone you are currently in. It’s small and arguably serves no purpose, but I simply love the aesthetic and the thought that has gone into this. The window above the world map is used to indicate your alarms, hourly signal, and the button operation tone. In this case, I’ve kept the tone off, hence the words “MUTE”.
In the upper left corner, Casio has somehow found the space to actually fit in a secondary time display, in the form of a digital-analog clock. The secondary display will always display the time of your preset home time zone, yet another useful feature for those who travel a lot, and wish to always know what time it is back home.
Aside from these features, you get a led backlight, stop watch, timer, 5 alarms and the times in 48 different cities, covering all time zones. It even includes daylight saving!
The AE1200 uses a Casio 3299 quartz module, and is rated to +/- 30 seconds a month.
The rubber strap versions typically cost around $35, while the steel bracelet ones cost a bit more at around $38. On a sale, I’ve seen these go as low as $30. With everything that you’re getting in the watch, I’d say that’s a steal!
The Casio AE1200 comes with a bucket full of useful features, at an amazingly affordable price. Top that off with the fact that it’s considered a Bond watch, and this watch has definitely got a license to kill.
While I personally enjoy this piece a lot, I have found that it is a hit-or-miss kind of piece. I love it for that quirky, retro aesthetic, but I know of people who would rather die than to have this strapped on their wrist. If you’re looking for more fashionable options, this one’s probably not for you. If you have the taste for the Casio Royale though, there’s really no excuse to not get one.