on August 16, 2014
I like my PAG240B.
The PAG240 is an upgrade of the PAG40. It’s an ABC watch (altitude, barometer, compass). Many reviews call it a mid-level ABC, but in I think it is the lowest priced ABC Casio offers (and I think the best bang for the buck).
In addition to the ABC features, this watch also measures temperature.
The features the PAG240B lacks over the other more expensive Casio Pro Trek watches are: Atomic (self setting via radio), tide, and moon phase. All are features I don’t need in an ABC watch.
You could pay a lot for a Pro Trek which has exactly the same features, having only the addition of the atomic function.
The PAG240 models have a 24 hr stopwatch, which is the minimum I would think those interested in an ABC watch would require. For example, if you were timing how long it took you to hike a long trail, or your door-to-door time in world travel, 60 minutes won’t do. A lot of the more expensive models only have a 60 minute stopwatch.
There are several models of the PAG240, differing only in color and wrist band. The PAG240B is dark blue, with a high contrast screen, and has a dark blue nylon band.
I prefer the nylon band for a outdoor watch, on account that it won’t scuff like a rubber band or resin band will. It also won’t break. That’s a big plus.
A typical nylon band suffers the disadvantage that if you sweat, it will get into the weave and eventually smell. That can be easily remedied by washing it with soap and water. However, the inside of this nylon band has a faux leather lining. Therefore it won’t get nearly as much sweat into the nylon weave as a typical nylon band (such as Free Style). I have never had this band smell.
The faux leather did eventually start to come up on the edges. I glued it back with contact cement. There are NATO bands on eBay that I have seen photos of people using if you eventually want to replace the nylon band. However, you’d need to save the pieces on your nylon band that attach to the watch and fit the NATO band into those.
I’ve had my PAG240 for about two years, and so far, have not replaced the original nylon band.
Comparison to the Suunto Core
Those of your considering a Casio PAG240 should also look at the Suunto Core (which also come in various colors and with various bands).
My fundamental concerns with the Core is:
Its not solar (to be discussed later).
Many early reviews reported significant quality control problems. I don’t know if that has been resolved, but it is something to be aware of.
Cost. Depending upon which models you compare, there can be a $100 difference between the PAG240’s and the Core’s.
The two models have very similar specifications. But the Core appears to have more user functions. It has more logging functions, more alarm functions (e.g., bad weather alarm), can measure depth under water up to 10 m, and has a finer resolution on the altimeter (1 m instead of 5 m).
Given the above, I think the real advantage to the Core is appearance. Its a stunning looking watch. You could wear it to business meetings or to a nice restaurant, whereas the PAG240 is unabashedly an outdoor watch. It looks like something an Eagle Scout might wear, and if formal appearance is something you care about, probably not the watch you would wear to the opera.
The Core altimeter measures in 1 meter increments, whereas the Casio is in 5 meter increments (you can set it to feet). Some reviewers therefore say the Core is more accurate than the Casio.
Comparing these watches, there are two advantages to the Casio that I see, and one to the Core.
The PAG240 is solar, whereas the Core runs on replaceable batteries (to be discussed later).
The Casio is less expensive. Using the REI website as an example, the PAG240B can be $100 less than the Core, depending upon which model you compare it to.
The Casio Pro Trek line (Pathfinder) and the Casio G-Shock line are very different. G-Shock has, for lack of a better term, an appeal to urban youth fashion. G-Shocks come in different colors, have layered 3D-like faces, negative LCD displays, and graphics.
The Pro Trek’s appeal is in the functionality. You’re not going to win a fashion contest with a Pro Trek.
To get a feel for the user interface on this watch and what the various screens look like, I recommend you watch YouTube reviews of it.
This watch is solar, and that’s very handy (to be discussed later).
Comment on Solar
The advantage to solar is that your watch won’t die at an inopportune moment. ABC watches in particular consume a lot of power. I’ve read batteries in the Core last a little over a year. The older non-solar Casio PAG40 manual listed its battery life as 18 months.
The Core battery is easy to change, and you can preemptively change your batteries before you go on a big hiking excursion or overseas trip (which is the application I bought the watch for), but that’s one more thing you have to remember to do. Cost is not an issue - batteries are cheap. It’s the inconvenience of being without a watch when you need one that makes solar advantageous.
To put it in perspective, suppose you were on a tour in Europe where there are tightly scheduled activities every day. If your watch dies, you either have to buy another watch, go without, or spend half a day looking for batteries, which means you might miss one of the activities that you paid for. Watch batteries dying on a trip are not common, but I’ve seen it happen more than once.
For travel, I highly recommend a solar watch. Casio makes a host of solar watches. So does Citizen (their Eco Drive line).
If you’re thinking of buying a used solar watch on eBay, there is something you should be aware of. Some solar watches (though none of mine - and I own several) have been reported not to hold a charge. I leave mine in bay window, but not in direct sunlight.
I have seen pictures of used solar watches on eBay (e.g., the Casio GW2500) whose charging indicator shows M. That’s “medium”. I saw a used PAG240B that showed M. That could indicate the watch is not holding a charge. I’d recommend not buying a used solar watch if the picture shows the charging anything less than H (high).
I know a guy who has a Citizen Eco Drive that has been running over ten years. I know of a guy that has a solar Swatch that has been running over twenty-five years. I expect my solar Casios to run upwards of thirty years. But if you get one and have reason to believe the battery is not holding a charge like it should, return it and have the re-chargeable battery replaced. I’ve never met anyone who has had this problem, but you will read an occasional rare blog where that seems to have happened.
My PAG240B keeps unusually good time. Initially it lost about one second every ten days. After about six months it begain to gain one second a week. That’s exceptional. My three other G-Shocks gain about 15 sec/month. The PAG240B is listed at +/- 15 s/mo, but does far better than that. I’ve read other reviews that say the same. I have read reports that the accuracy of the Core is not particularly good.
Minor comment on setting the PAG240B seconds:
After ten days, when my watch is 1 second behind, I reset it. To do this, I put it in the set mode (seconds flashing), wait until the 59 comes up, and reset. What I’d like to point out, is that even though I do this at 59 seconds, the minute still rolls over.
So if the reading is 5 minutes and 59 seconds. And I reset the seconds. It will jump to 6 minutes and 00 seconds - which is exactly what I want.
That’s a nice little feature.
Casios Will Scratch
Casio advertises their watches as “tough”. In particular, that is the motto of the G-Shock line.
While it is true they are very shock resistant (versus a mechanical windup type watch), and they are very waterproof, one thing they are not “tough” about is that they scratch easily. This is because they are made of plastic.
This watch is definitely larger than average, will bulge out more on your wrist than with your other watches, and therefore is even more vulnerable to your accidentally banging it into things.
Treat a Casio well. Don’t do things like change the oil on your car, or go rock climbing, while wearing any watch, let alone a watch like this. If you have to pick up heavy things (furniture, boxes), take your watch off and put it in your pocket. That’s good “watch hygiene” in general, but particularly important for a Casio.
Eventually you’re going to be doing something like hiking down into the Grand Canyon, slip on some gravel on the trail, put your hand out to break your fall, and lo and behold, your watch is going to be scratched. Its unavoidable. But if you treat it well, you can keep it to a minimum.
Casio advertises the PAG240T as “titanium”. I haven’t examined one in person, but my reading says that only the band on this model is metal. The case and bezel are still resin. Some people like metal link bands, but I don’t think the face of the Titanium model is going to be anymore scratch resistant than any of other PAG240’s.
If you get a model of the PAG240 other than the B or T, they will have a rubber strap (T has a metal link band). When putting the watch on and off, try to keep the resin or rubber strap straight (don’t bend it) when passing it through the buckle. If you bend the band, it will eventually break. Casio bands are often hard to find and expensive.
That’s an advantage to the B, which has a nylon band. It will never break. I will say, the loop that you slide the band into to keep it from flopping, is made of plastic. I wish it were nylon weave. I suspect its possible the loop will break or tear if not treated carefully. I treat mine well, but if it does eventually break or tear, I’ll just make another one out of nylon.
If you get a Casio with a resin or rubber band that you think you are going to keep a long time, it might be worth considering buying an extra band (they are often available on eBay).
ABC Watches are a Supplementary Tool
If your life depends upon a compass, get a good magnetic compass (e.g., Brunton).
If you’re application is traveling in a foreign city where you don’t speak the language, get a hand held GPS (e.g., Garmin eTrex for $100).
I have a $100 GPS, and its great. I mark my hotel before I go out. It doesn’t have street maps, but I can check that the hotel is three miles “that way”. I’ve used it a number of times when I was mildly lost.
And don’t forget this important travel tip; always take a hotel card with you from the hotel desk, so that if you had to hire a taxi to get you back, without speaking the language, you could just show the hotel card to the driver.
If navigation is your application, and you can only afford one item, get the Garmin eTrex ($100), and just wear a less expensive watch. The Garmin should be a higher priority. You can get a solar Casio G2310 for a hundred bucks on Amazon. That and a Garmin eTrex are about the same cost of a PAG240.
Having said that, ease of use counts for a lot. It means you are more likely use it. An ABC watch is on your wrist and always on.
Comment on the Altimeter and Compass
The altimeter is barometric. That’s a good thing. If it were GPS it would consume a lot of power (which means it couldn’t be solar) and would be a lot more expensive.
A barometric altimeter needs to be calibrated, however, when the pressure changes due to weather. A lot of reviewers don’t seem to understand that. Its not a problem. But it means just sitting on your porch, the altitude could show to vary by a hundred feet over the course of the day, if a storm moved through.
This watch has a reasonable altimeter. You just need to know its barometric.
One problem with the compass is that I find I have to calibrate it frequently. More frequently than the compass on my Casio Mudman G9300. The good news is that it can be calibrated.
The virtual needle displays only to 16 points on the circle (every 22.5 degrees). But the digital readout is to every degree.
What that means, is that if your watch was pointed at 13 degrees, it would display at NNE (22.5 deg), but read out 13 degrees.
In the above case, I rotate the bezel to about 13 deg in the top position.
That’s not a problem for what I do. Just something you need to know.
Of course you can buy a regular magnetic compass that will do more, and cost a lot less. It just won’t be as convenient, and won’t be as fun.
The Alarm is Weak?
Several reviews have claimed the alarm on this model is unusually quiet.
I have compared the alarm on the PAG240 to two other solar Casio G-Shocks I own (GW5600 & GW7900), and it seems to be the same volume and duration. The countdown timer on the Pro Trek is shorter duration.
HOWEVER, my solar watches have half the duration of my battery powered Casio G9000 Mudman. The G9000 even has a flash alert, which is handy.
Solar powered watches are more stingy with their energy than a conventional battery powered watch.
If this is potentially a big issue to you, I suggest you try to look at the watch in person. REI carries them. I’ve never heard the alarm on a Suunto Core, but I read a review that said the alarm was the same volume as that of the Casio.
I consider the alarm supplementary. If I really need to wakeup, I don’t rely on it. A small $10 quartz travel alarm does the trick.
You Can Download the Watch Manual
The manual is thick. This watch has a lot of features and you won’t remember how to do everything. You can download pdf manuals for free from the Casio website. The pdf is very readable on my Google Nexus. Handy pointer for traveling.
Eyesight and Digital Watches
For a digital watch, either you have to have good eyesight, or you have to wear glasses. I wear progressive lens glasses, and can see the smaller numbers on this watch. If you only wear reading glasses, you’ll find any digital watch frustrating. That’s because you’ll have to pull out your glasses and put them on every time you want to see the face, but particularly for a complex multifunction watch like this.
The regular time display on the PAG240 is substantially larger than on most other Casio watches.
A Couple Cons to the PAG240
- The rotating bezel has deep grooves around it which isn’t obvious in photos. While it rotates smoothy and performs its function well, I would not want to get sand or dirt in the grooves. All rotating bezels have this vulnerability, but this one it would seem in particular. That being said, as of yet, I have gotten no grit in the grooves.
The two buttons, ADJUST & LIGHT, which are side by side, are small and relatively stiff to press. They’re stiff for a good reason. You don’t want to accidentally press Adjust. But I wish the buttons were a little bigger.
The PAG240B is Fun
More than anything else, this watch is fun. That’s the point. Its not a Tricorder, but getting there.
I think this model is the best bang for the buck in the Pro Trek line. Its the lowest priced ACB watch Casio offers, yet has the functionality of the expensive units.
Wearing a watch like this probably makes you look like a geeky tourist. Big deal. You’ll fit right in with the other hikers, birdwatchers, and physically fit travelers.
on February 21, 2013
I've owned a few G-Shock watches over the years. This is my first Pathfinder. I've had it for about a year now. I share a lot of the sentiments of the 4-Star and 5-Star reviewers. I love the watch. I have never spent so much money for a watch. But, I think I got my money's worth on it (retail $250, but I got it for about $160 + tax + shipping).
On a side note, I ran into a Marine that owned the same exact watch that I had, at a deployed location in Africa. He liked his watch a lot as well. Like me, at the time, he hadn't read the entire user's manual yet (he had just bought it) and wasn't utilizing it fully but what he did figure out, up to that point, were features and functionality that were very useful to him.
I thoroughly researched several styles and brands, including Suunto. I was looking for something that was solar-powered and waterproof and had a compass, thermometer, more than one alarm, altimeter, and timer/stopwatch.
The moon phase and tide features of the watches in the next higher tier watches interested me but I was unwilling to spend an additional $75-$100 to get those features. Atomic would be nice but I would want to be able to adjust the time manually (is that possible with an atomic watch?) and really, a quick call to the US Naval Observatory (719-567-6742) and I've got atomic time again. I have noticed that this watch does not drift as much as my Casio G-Shock, maybe a few seconds a month.
Overall, the watch has everything I need and it's very easy to use. Aesthetically, it's a nice-looking watch. I don't like the 'flashy/goofy' watches that have strange colors. I tend to like the black, blue, dark green, & grey (neutral colors). The numbers & letters on the watch can be any color, though. Any criticisms that I have are minor and aren't a 'deal-killer' or anything.
Has all of the features I was looking for; Looks good; I like the ability to change units (Celsius vs. Fahrenheit, etc.) turn on/off sounds, set LCD light time, etc. is really nice; user-friendly functionality; when I compared this watch to other Casio watches or other brands, the other watches didn't have all of the functions that I 'had to have.' I also like the watchband. I don't want the metal linked one with the metal clasp; I prefer the leather, cloth (or both) style or the hard rubber (waterproof) style.
The bezel ring should have a 'notch' or 'detent' with North ("N") at the top, a bit annoying because it drifts, now and then; I like to be able to rotate it but it needs something to keep it in place in the 'north up' position; the alarm is a bit soft, though it always wakes me up; Accuracy is sometimes off; the fact that I have to take my watch off to take any reading is a CON; Sunset and sunrise are +/- 5 to 10 min off when compared to actual/internet; Ballpark it's fine, you'd have to get Consumer Reports to test the accuracy and compare it against the other watches. You can adjust (if you had to) the compass readings (I didn't), altimeter readings, and I think the baro one also.
You really have to read the instruction manual to fully utilize the features of this watch. It'll take some time but it's worth it and it was written in a way that makes sense (it shouldn't be confusing to you). You'll be glad that you did.