I am an avid watch enthusiast and collector. My fascination with watches and horology in general started decades ago. I can’t put my finger on a particular time, event or place that sparked my interest. I remember my father has a small collection when I was young and being quite taken with it. I have distant recollections of receiving my first watch – a plain white face analogue with a very fetching red, white and blue nylon strap. I loved it. I also remember watching early James Bond movies and my father would invariably point our the Rolex worn by Sean Connery and extol its virtues. The seed was firmly planted.
I don’t consider myself a watch snob. At all. I own everything from Chinese “homage” (and I use that term very loosely) automatics to G-Shocks and Seikos all the way to Rolex and Breitling. Nevertheless, I would not have bet on the fact that my first post in our Horology section would be on a Casio Pro Trek. But it is. So there.
I chose it because it’s a watch that has really surprised me. Since picking it up on a trip to Tokyo in mid-2019 it has become something of a sub-conscious favourite. It gets a lot of wrist time over other more storied watches in my collection. Something about it makes me gravitate towards it. Maybe because in the “new normal” of 2020 I have spent less time in formal situations or in an office where I probably would not choose a Pro Trek to wear. But still, it’s the watch I have chosen to wear time and again. I love it when a watch or anything for that matter takes you by surprise and brings a level of enjoyment and satisfaction that was never contemplated.
Certainly, it wasn’t a planned purchase or decision. Something I had researched and pondered and strategised like so many others. One of my most favourite things to do is to spend time in Tokyo. One of my favourite things to do in Tokyo is to go watch hunting. I can spend days on the trail. This particular trip was nearly over and I had come up empty. It’s not like I have to buy something just for the sake of it (and indeed, I won’t). But I like to mark each trip by bagging something nice if I can. Call me sentimental, but coming away from a Tokyo trip without a new watch leaves me feeling a little sad. At this point, you are probably calling me something other than sentimental. Evs. It’s my journey #youdoyou
Anyway, I’m having one last look at the watch section in the Yarakucho Bic Camera. (Which, incidentally, I think has probably the best watch section of any of the Bic Camera, Yodabashi etc branches in Tokyo. If you’re in Tokyo and only have time or the inclination to visit one Bic Camera or Yodabashi- head for Yarakucho.) I spot the PRT-B50 and it catches my eye. Despite having one or two (maybe 3 or 4…) Pro-Treks and G-Shocks in the collection, I don’t have anything that is quite like it. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be too interested in something with a plastic case and lacking any unique feature or complication. (Not a watch snob, though, remember…) But something about the PRT-B50 made me want to take a closer look (and no, it wasn’t material desperation). I really liked the use of colour in the case and dial (on my watch it is the blue/gray that I liked the most). It was also super comfortable on the wrist and had a nice presence on my huge bear of a wrist. Add in the usual Pro Trek excellent build quality (for the price) and Bluetooth Connect function and I was more than willing to take the plunge. And with that, the trip was saved on the brink of doom…
The rest, as they say, is history. For the past year or so not a week has gone by where the Pro Trek has failed to spend at least a day or two on my wrist. For a purchase that was little more than a whim, that really means something to me. I don’t follow any design when it comes to making sure that I give each watch in my collection adequate wrist time. I wear whatever I feel like on the day. So it’s interesting (to me anyway) when a particular watch lands on my wrist over and above others. Time and time again. For me, it’s the true test of a watch’s worth.
I guess, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a huge fan of the PRT-B50. But enough about me, let’s take a closer look at the watch…
With a 50mm diameter and 16mm tall case, you might think that the PRT-B50 is only suited to large wrists. But the very short (almost non-existent) lugs make what is otherwise a big watch wear very comfortably. The resin case also helps. At only 64 grams, the watch is super light; adding to the on wrist comfort. The large case diameter allows Casio to use huge applied numerals, giving the dial a very distinct visage. Combined with the chunky lumed hands, the dial is super legible and probably my favourite aspect of the watch.
The movement is Casio’s Module 5601 (also used in the G-Shock Mudmaster). It is a quad sensor arrangement with Altimeter/ Barometer, Compass, Thermometer and Step Counter. THe PRT-B50 is also compatible with Pro Trek’s Connected App. The app allows a number of functions to be controlled and adjusted from your smartwatch via Bluetooth. Although I wouldn’t say it is comprehensive, it is quite handy. Allowing things like time setting, alarm setting, automatic time adjustment, world time, step tracking to be managed in a fairly user friendly manner.
A negative LCD screen takes up about a third of the lower portion of the dial. I like the fact that it is a negative (or dark) LCD. It makes the panel quite unobtrusive but still useful. The LCD can be used to display a number of functions including time, date, temperature, barometric pressure trend graph. It is also used to display readings from the altimeter, compass, barometer etc.
As much as I like the PRT-B50, there are a few shortcomings I should mention. Mostly, I think they are related to the watch’s price point. You can’t have everything in a timepiece that costs less than US$200. From that perspective, they are not so much flaws as compromises. The lack of a sapphire crystal or ratcheting bezel definitely fall into that category of “would have been nice to have”; but their absence does not indelibly mar the overall experience. For one, the mineral crystal has held up really well with no visible marks or scratches; and for another, the friction fit bezel has just the right amount of resistance which has not lessened over time. I guess my only real complaint is that the watch is not equipped with solar charging. This is a feature I have come to admire in my other G-Shocks and Pro-Treks and would have been a great addition to the PRT-B50.
Here is a collection of resources and reviews from around the web on the PRT-B50:
Gear Junkie Review from November 2019
aBlogtoWatch Review from June 2020
Professional Watches Review from February 2020
G-Watchzone Review from 2020
The Wrist Watch Review from October 2019 Digital Trends Review from January 2020
Casio Pro Trek PRT-B50 Series website
A surprisingly tough resin case with easy to read dial, easy to push buttons housing a well featured movement module with Bluetooth connectivity – what’s not to love? Well, not much at all really. Only a couple of very minor points detract from what has become a much loved timepiece. Overall, it just has that x-factor that makes me just want to put it on my wrist in the morning time and time again.