Casio vs. Timex: Torture Test on Cheap Watches

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We pitted two titans of the watch market against each other in a head-to-head battle royale to see just how abused these sub-$35 tickers can be.

The Timex T497139J Camper ($33) and Casio FT500WC-3BV Forestry ($25) are not pretty watches. Their plastic cases, Velcro straps and simple layouts don’t exactly scream “rugged” or “all-terrain endurance” like a Victorinox or G-Shock.

And yet, these two timepieces have something of a cult. The Forester, which I’ve seen worn without irony by outdoor enthusiasts and construction workers, is considered a sleeper among ugly wrist candy connoisseurs.

This, along with my passion for beating the snot out of budget gear, got me thinking: just how much abuse could these two hiking-themed watches take? I tried to find it, for several days in the woods and trails of northern Wisconsin.

Cheap watch torture test

(Photo/Josh Wussow)

Specifications and features

The Casio is the larger of the two, at 43.9mm wide. But due to its relatively small dial, it reads almost identically to Timex’s 38mm dial. The Forest is also a bit larger, rising 12.6mm from the wrist to the 10.55mm camper.

Both come with Velcro straps attached to their 20mm lugs, mated to resin casings and mineral crystals. Water resistance is good over 100m all around, with multi-year batteries and quartz movements.

timex camper and casio forester test - led
(Photo/Josh Wussow)

Each watch comes with a button activated LED light. Timex’s crown serves a dual purpose as its Indiglo’s activation point, while Casio opted for a separate large button at the 3 o’clock position.

Once turned on, there are some subtle differences in function. The Forester’s orange LED stays on for 3 seconds before turning off, while the Camper lights up the dial itself. Timex has also included a luminous compound on the hour and minute hands, allowing you to get a general idea of ​​the time without pressing a button.

Altogether, these watches are quite similar in terms of materials, construction, and function. But we are not here for a simple comparison. Just hours after the pair landed in my mailbox, it was time to head out for the woods.

Adapt

The first day started with a 6 mile hike. I strapped a watch to each wrist and hit the trail. It was more of a feeling process, to help me get an idea of ​​what had the most comfortable ride.

Surprisingly, the results were more or less a washout. Both watches were perfectly civilian hiking companions, although the Timex’s strap was significantly shorter. If you have larger forearms, there may not be enough canvas to give you a proper fit.

Verdict: Tie (Casio is better for big wrists)

Water resistance

Things got more serious once I made camp. Watches and I had been coated in bug spray and sunscreen so a rinse was definitely needed.

Once I did a little prewash (to keep those chemicals out of the lake) we hit the water.

timex camper and casio forester test - water test
(Photo/Josh Wussow)

It wasn’t a simple dunk, however. I swirled these watches through the waves and stepped on them with all my weight, sinking them into the sand. At some point (and I didn’t realize this until later), the Timex crown moved into the date setting position, and the whole movement spun its wheel two weeks ahead of time.

Normally, this poses an increased risk of water ingress into the case. But somehow, the camper’s integrity held firm.

Verdict: Tie

Flame resistance

Then it was back to the tent for my favorite part of any trip – the fire. And while some people like to roast marshmallows or hot dogs over the flames, I came up with a slightly different idea.

timex camper and casio forester test - fire test
(Photo/Josh Wussow)

It’s true. I let the pair dry for about 2 minutes, to the point where the metal case backs were noticeably warm to the touch.

But after letting them cool, I was shocked to find no melting or discoloration on the case and crystals.

Verdict: Tie

Impact

The next day it was time for another hike. Only this time the watches went up somewhere other than my wrists.

I attached each one to the bottom of one trekking stick, with their glass turned towards the path. The purpose of this one (beyond making me look crazy) was to test the shock resistance of the movement and the durability of their materials.

And after several miles of rocks, mud, dirt and roots, both emerged with their fair share of battle scars.

timex camper and casio forester test - trekking poles test
(Photo/Josh Wussow)

But you know what? Despite my best efforts to bring them down, the Forester and Camper were still running by the time we reached the end.

Verdict: Tie

Final Thoughts

So what did I learn from this exercise? Based on my previous tests with the brand, I was pretty sure the Casio would survive. They’re budget kings for a reason, and their non-G-Shock watches have proven to be incredibly reliable.

What I didn’t expect was for the Camper to compete with the Forest, neck and neck. The last time these two competitors went head-to-head, the Timex option failed pretty miserably in my depraved tests.

But the Camper, with its slightly more compact package and impressive night light, proved to be just as robust as the Casio. Its strap is a bit shorter, the price is a bit higher, and the movement has a much more audible ticking sound, but the clean face and classic shape have a charm of their own.

In conclusion, either would make a fantastic camping watch. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced, waterproof, dusk-ready watch with an offbeat/outdoors theme, the Camper and Forester would make a solid addition to your collection.

Check the price of Camper on AmazonCheck the price of Forester on Amazon

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