Seems that there’s some new news on the diver front. We all love the famous MDV102 -- the Casio diver with the brilliant LED illumination. But it seems to have recently gone out of production. What was up till a few weeks ago one of Amazon’s very top selling watches, and a killer deal at under $50, has suddenly become unobtainable.
To refresh your memory, here’s the MDV102:
I reviewed the MDV102 here last year.
Then, meanwhile out of nowhere, on Casio’s international site, appears the previously unheard-of “MDV106”. It’s not on the Casio US site, or for sale on Amazon (as of yet) but it is available from a number of other sellers. Here is a picture:
But other than this one picture, there has been just no info out there so far that I can find regarding this watch – no additional pictures, no reviews, nuthin! So of course based on my affection for Casio I had to get me one to try it out. It sells for peanuts ($65). So I just placed the order for the black dial model on resin strap via an eBay seller.
A couple pics -- sorry, but the quality isn't very good.
The watch arrived earlier this week and it appears to be a several nice steps forward and one (big) step back:
Pluses of the 106 relative to the 102:
+ Clean, crisp, simple aesthetics. Can’t get much more “classic” diver than this. Yet without being a shamefully blatant Rolex homage or Seiko homage. It has its own vibe. I like the 106’s case shape as more traditional than the more curvaceous 102. I also like that the 106 has crown guards.
+ Great hands on the 106. Nice shape, with beveled, polished steel; much more interesting than the plain white 102 hands. The 102’s hands always bugged me just a little bit, in that the thinner minute hand looked mismatched to the wider hour hand. And I also like the red & polished combo of the 106’s second hand better than the red/white/black on the 102.
+ Much cleaner bezel on the 106, with a simpler bezel insert and less bold outer crenellations.
+ Excellent, attractive dial. Again -- cleaner. Traditional, applied round dial markers. I like that the 106 has the hashmarks on the chapter ring versus printed on the dial, and leaves off the 102’s unnecessary 1/5 second hashmarks. The 106 dial is pure black and has a satin sheen – not glossy, not matte, but in between, with a very subtle sunburst effect. The 102’s dial is more of a matte dark gray than black. The 106 has less writing on the dial than the 102. Looks like a higher dial-to-case ratio than the 102, due to the slimmer bezel.
+ Still has the Marlin on the dial. I dig that.
+ Lume. The 102’s is not fantastic, but is merely okay. However, that’s mitigated by it having that awesome LED lighting. The 106 has very good, effective Seiko-style lume. Well done, Casio.
+ The 106 has brushed, beveled lugs, and polished sides. With a less ornate case, less prominent bezel crenellations, and without the 102’s double crowns, the 106 projects much less of a blingy overall appearance than the 102. More understated.
+ The craftsmanship of the 106 seems to be at a whole higher level than the 102. The attention to detail on the 102 is impressive “for its price”, but the quality just seems a noticeable notch better on the 106. I’m referring to the visible quality of the machining, polishing, & brushing of the case, the precision of the dial detailing, the assembly quality -- are all just excellent, and without having to add the words “for the price”. It seems on a par with and compares favorably to any mid-range Seiko diver, and does not embarrass itself next to my Omega Seamaster Pro.
+ Lug width. The 102 has an awkward 21mm lug spacing. The 106 is 22mm, which gives the owner much broader strap choices. The watch is perfectly proportioned with its lugs and strap.
+ Crystal. The 102 is domed, but its thickness and shape actually makes it look a little milky when viewing at an angle. The 106 is a flat crystal, is perfectly clear, and the top surface projects very slightly – it stands less than 1mm proud above the bezel. It’s gorgeous. Both are mineral glass.
+ Strap. The 106 strap is soft, velvety, matte resin similar to a Seiko diver strap. The 102 is harder, more plasticky, less flexible. Many have complained about the 102's strap being uncomfortable, although I think it's fine. But the 106's is better. Although I do like the curved end to the 106's strap that fits the contour of the case and leaves no gap.
+ The 106 is available in both bracelet and resin strap versions. 102 only comes on a resin strap. I can't comment on the quality of the steel bracelet.
+ A silver dialed variant, and blue bezel insert variant, are available on the 106 (although I greatly prefer the black dial, black bezel “base” model).
+ Notice the small words on the bottom of the 106’s dial: “JAPAN MOV’T”. The second hand hits the markers very well on my example. The caseback is stamped “Cased in China”. Versus the 102 being all-made-in-China (not that it matters very much).
Minus (and it’s significant):
- 106 does not have electric illumination. Just conventional lume.
Call it a tie between the two:
= Caseback design. 102 has an attractive polished back with a very nice engraved Marlin. 106 – also has the Marlin, on a very nicely brush finished caseback. Both are screwdown backs.
= Both have screwdown crowns. Both work well and are secure, but the feel isn’t the silkiest I’ve handled.
= Size on the wrist. Casio’s published dimension specs (44.0mm on the 102 and 44.2mm on the 106) include the crown. The 102 is about a 42mm case size and “wears” reasonably large. The 106 appears to be about the same case size, but has a larger proportion of dial and I’d have to say it “wears” less prominently due to its more subtle styling.
The MDV-106 is a very impressive watch. Despite lacking the MDV-102’s signature feature (the LED illumination), I believe that due to its improvements in the aesthetics and craftsmanship, the 106 is a very worthy successor to the 102. It will serve as a good, solid, traditional “beater” diver. It is low cost, but certainly not low quality. It would be a great value at quadruple it’s pricetag. The MDV106 is just another everyday example of Casio bringing surprisingly great quality, appealing aesthetics, effective execution, and solid craftsmanship – all for an unbeatable price.
Cheers, and I hope you enjoyed the review. I will try to take some pictures to post to the thread over the coming weekend.