So, I'm weak , I pull the trigger on the PRG-600. I got it for a pretty good price for this recently released watch. It's basically the cheapest Casio watch you can get for new with a smart crown. Without further ado, here are my initial impressions for this watch. I will explain a little further after the Pros and Cons lists.
- Different buttons layout & use of smart crown meaning a steeper learning curve.
- Hand alignment is fully automated and not user adjustable.
- Mode hand is mostly unnecessary and can be easily obscured.
- Bezel provides little or no protection to the crystal, since it's not recessed.
- Steel backplate is a little heavy and could give strain to wrist when worn for a long duration.
- Some cost cutting in plastic fit and finish for the watch case.
- Smart crown can still be wobbled slightly in fully locked position.
- Only a 60min timer.
- Excellent dual LEDs illumination for face and LCD. Not too bright and not too dim.
- Decent amount of traditional lume on hands and markers.
- Excellent legibility for the STN negative LCD display for day and night, as well as in different angles.
- Very comfortable silicone strap, which does not attract much dust either.
- Versatile lug design and can fit many aftermarket straps.
- Latest gen Casio analog automation technologies, including tough movement, independent hands and smart crown.
- Second hand hits every marker accurately.
- Accurate and familiar Version 3 ABC/T sensors. Though no horizontally compensated compass.
- Just the right size, not too big and not too small.
- Overall a great field watch design, with some dressiness yet subtle and functional.
In this watch the smart crown replaces the adjust button (10 o'clock). The 10 o'clock button is now for some other functions (not much in the PRG600). While the crown is not too complicated to use, it certainly adds an additional step to unlock it if not already. Some of the button controls could be a little weird at first, such as the time settings are divided into 2 portions: part of the settings via 8 o'clock button and part via the 10 o'clock button. Such as to do a manual hand parking (to 2 o'clock resting position), you need to press the light button first, hold it, then press the 8 o'clock button, NOT press them simultaneously! So it could be a bit of learning curve to those used to normal G-Shock button operations. Here's the manual for those interested in the detail operations.
In my opinion I think the smart crown is a totally optional design, and the PRG600 can easily be designed with just button operations for all its functions. Having a smart crown does not reduce the overall number of buttons, yet adds unnecessary complications and potential source of failure. The PRG600 also suffer some observable cost cutting in the plastic fit and finishes. The plastic case under the metal bezel looks obviously cheaper (see 1st pic below). You can see in the 2nd picture below my crown is not exactly flush with the watch case in the locked position. I can use my finger to wobble the crown a little bit sideways (toward its guards each side), even in the locked position. Although the movement is very small and I am sure it does not affect water resistance, it's never the same sense of security as a true lock crown in a traditional metal diver watch.
There's a hand home alignment mode, but the alignment is done automatically via its tough movement self-correction capability. Unlike in some other Casio watches, such as the GA1100, where user interaction is required for aligning the hands, the PRG600 does not allow any user interaction. So you're basically stuck with whatever alignment given by the manufacturer. Gladly mine is accurately aligned, even though it doesn't seem so in the picture below.
You can see in the picture above the mode indicator dial is fully in view, but in reality in the timekeeping mode it is being obscuring most of the time. It can be obscured by the second hand slightly. It can be obscured by both the tip (white part) and the back (black part) of both the minute and hour hands. The mode dial does not provide indications for the compass and altimeter modes either. Since the mode names are also indicated in the LCD, the model dial is truly redundant. The watch can do without it for sure. Without the crown and the mode dial, Casio could have a watch even cleaner in its look and even lower in cost.
The back of the watch is consisted of a big slab of steel with the raised section beautifully etched. Good thing, bad thing. Good thing is that it makes the watch feel more substantial. Bad thing is that it adds weight and makes the cheaper plastic case sandwiched between the steel bezel and steel back even more out of place. I tend to get more skin irritation from etched steel than polished steel too.
The band is very soft and comfortable for both wearing it a bit loose or tight. As noted in my Pros, the PRG600 with its excellent LCD legibility, night time illumination, and the "good old" ABC/T sensors is no doubt a competent field watch. It has its shortcomings, but just as in any Casio watch or any watch for that matter.