Up Close With Casio’s Latest Edifice Surf Watch

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The Curse Of The Network Effect

With summer coming and surf season in full swing, I thought I’d take a closer look at the Casio EMA100-1AV Edifice watch with tide graph and moon-phase data. Casio is best known for its G-Shock line of beefy (and some would say ugly) plastic sports watches, so this steel-cased model is a departure for the brand. Casio announced the watch in April and it is on sale now for $250.

So what’s special about the EMA100? First, it is surprisingly staid and classic for a “water watch.” The face is quite dark and the two LED registers — one at 6 o’clock and one at 2 o’clock — are reflective and nearly invisible in low light. Even the blue LED backlight is better at lighting up the luminous hands than the actual registers. The Edifice line uses polished metals to great effect, giving what would be a normal, albeit rugged, quartz piece a bit of class.

The watch has a number of basic features, including stopwatch, timer and alarm. It also has a built-in thermometer that can usually take an acceptable ambient temperature reading (although it will be thrown off if it’s worn on the wrist.) It also has support for 29 time zones and 48 cities, which makes it a nice travel companion. Most important for the water-bourne among us are the tide indicators that show the time to next high tide as well as a high/low tide indicator at 11 o’clock. There is also a moon-phase graph at four o’clock. The built-in calendar is accurate to the year 2099 and the battery lasts three years.

I rarely write about watches here unless I think the timepiece is particularly noteworthy or unusual. I think this piece is both. The Edifice line is Casio’s reaction to Seiko’s classier Sportura line of metal and rubber sports watches and so it is aimed at a different, more refined market. The Edifice is made of steel and is water-resistant to 200 meters, making it acceptable wear for both the office and the beach. The heavy rubber band is quite long, so it will fit a bigger wrist, and the 46mm case, while a bit small for my taste, is boldly styled with a unidirectional bezel and heavy-looking “bolts” in place of the 12, 3, 6, and 9 pips. Even the lack of LED visibility is an asset because it makes the watch look far sleeker than it is. Rather than looking like you’re wearing a helicopter cockpit on your wrist, this Casio leaves a bit to the imagination.

I’ve seen plenty of multi-sensor watches that can tell you your altitude, geographical position, and blood sugar readings (not really). However, it’s refreshing to see a classically styled sports watch focus specifically on a niche — in this case the surfing crowd — with a watch that is both water-resistant and doesn’t look like a plastic hockey puck. At $250 I’m more than willing to recommend this watch to folks who need to know the tide charts and, more important, want to get a little ocean time in between meetings.