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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The James Bond movies employ a quite explainable concept, a secret agent with high tech gadgets in pursuit of some evil doers involved in heinous crimes. While many forget the story of the movies in general, it's the cars and the watches with cool CGI gadgets that remain in the minds of many.


Talking about watches, these movies have included mostly analog mechanical watches that don't really have anything special besides telling the time in real life with a few digital watches featured in the 80s of which the Seiko G757 Sports 100 is quite famous. But talking about features in real life usability, you won't find any of those cool looking quirks in the movies on those watches in real life.


Values have sky rocketed for those Seiko digital watches since then based on the fact that they were featured in the bond movies. They are hard to come by.


Featured in some movies in the 80s and having their own cult following, such Casio digital watches are pretty simple. Take the CA-50 as an example. It has a calculator, a stopwatch, dual time and main time keeping. That's it. No timer, or backlight so to speak. Infact, it's the only watch I found which didn't get quite famous and was overshadowed by the CA-53 introduced at the same time. Why? Because people are mistaken that the nerd hero Marty McFly wore a CA-53 in the movie and that helped tarnish the reputation of the CA-50 which was originally used to the point that it's just remembered by watch enthusiasts.


But it all changed when Casio really started to innovate.

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This small watch here has big features cramped up inside which would be considered sci-fi at the time it was introduced and it does all this wonders while weighing as light as a bag of crisps.


Infact, it is so light that even I forget sometimes that I'm wearing it until a shake of my wrist makes me remember that it's still there and has not fallen off my wrist onto the road to be crushed by a soccer mom driving her flashy crossover.


This is the DBA-800, which is the world's first watch with a phone dialer.


It came in two versions. This dressy silver version which was called the DBA-800 and in case you thought that this was too shiny and blingy for you, in a black variation with a resin strap called the DBA-80 which evoked the inner athlete in you.

Considered by many as a stainless steel variation, the only thing stainless steel about this tidbit is the caseback and the featherlight bracelet while the case is chrome painted resin which imitates stainless steel as good as imitated jewellery you'd find from a fleamarket.


Being part of the data bank line, it features your "usual" data bank quirks (that is if they were considered usual at the time) which is the ability to store phone numbers but this comes with something extra which is the ability to schedule your appointments (you have to program them first), world time, daily alarm, stopwatch, timer and the nifty phone dialer.


The data bank in particular was launched in 1983 with the first model being the CD-40 which essentially was a modified CFX-200 with the scientific calculator removed in favour of a simple calculator and some memory capacity to store phone numbers but it was as chunky, ugly and complicated to operate as an Aston Martin Lagonda.


Compare that to this and the differences are clear. This was introduced 4 years later than the CD-40 and it is clearly evident how quickly Casio was innovating and improving.

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On the home screen you have two rows of seven segment displays which show you the hours, minutes, seconds, day and month while a dot matrix display at the top displays the day of the week and the year. The watch has 6 buttons with two of them located at the front which have different functions in different modes. The buttons are ergonomically labelled and easy to press except the recessed adjust button which is like that so it doesn't easily get depressed.

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The build quality speaks for itself. After 30+ years it has only gained some black spots on the case and a scuff on the resin watch glass. It's as reliable as an old Volvo with the elegance of a boxy Mercedes.

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On pressing the mode button, we are taken to the telememo mode in which you can store telephone numbers no longer than 15 characters. The first screen you see tells you how much memory you have utilised and how much is remaining for you to use. The watch can hold 50 combined telememo and schedule records. The dot matrix display can hold 10 characters. You enter the input mode by pressing the recessed adjust button and scroll through by the mode button. Characters are cycled through by the buttons on the right side. Telememo records, once saved are cycled through by the front mounted forward and reverse buttons. When you want the watch to dial a phone number, you press the lower right button and "Phone" will appear on the screen. When you point the watch close to the microphone of a land-line phone, it emits a DTMF tone and the desired number is dialled for you. Simple and easy (take that smart watch).

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However, the quirks don't end here, press the upper right button and "No.?" appears on the upper display. With 4 numbers on the bottom counting from zero to nine. What is it? Well, the watch is asking you for the password to access it's secret storage mode. How do you input the password? Just stop a number by using the front mounted forward button. If you did it wrong then press the reverse button and the number starts advancing again. Keep doing that until you input the correct password and you can access the secret storage area where you can input numbers dear to you and that is where you can pretend to be a secret agent in real life.

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The next mode is the schedule which is basically an event reminder. It is like a multi-function alarm you see on Casio watches. You start adjusting by pressing the adjust button and advance through by pressing the mode button. You can adjust the day, date and time for the event you want to remember and choose from a list of preset messages. If you think that they aren't going to refresh your memory, then you can input your own message.

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Pressing the mode button takes you to world time in which you have to first set the time of a reference point in order to it to work. Unlike modern Casio watches in which world time is based on home time, it is independent of it in this old timer. Once you have set the time of your reference city out of the 24 cities offered, it works like a charm showing you your home time and the world time with even the differential from the UTC timezone. Pretty handy if you ask me.

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Then there is the daily alarm and then stopwatch and timer features which go on for 24 hours with the main time displayed in each of those modes which is applaudable for many.

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And then there is the back light. If it can be called one because it resembles the flame of candle breathing it's last in its fight to stay alight. But you can't blame Casio for it, watch back lights were in their infancy back then and it won't be until the early 90s that we'd be blessed with the impressive "Electroluminescent Back light" technology. It's really the Achilles heel of this watch but it's not that bad when you note that there is a reflector on the opposite side of the screen which ensures that the whole display can be lit. If you ask me, it works well in pitch black.


Casio did follow up with this model with even rarer DBA-100 (black) and DBA-900 (silver) models but then these watches disappeared for reasons unknown. All in all its a pretty nice piece of tech from an era that had flashy colours and trends going on and had cars that looked like cheese graters. If you look at the caseback, you'd realise that this watch was made to be repair friendly as it has a pry-off case back which means you don't have to go on searching far and wide for a jeweller to replace the battery. It has the coolness and a feature that smart watches of today cannot replicate. It gets a solid 8.5/10 from me. Why? Because I think that Casio made a mistake when they introduced this imitated stainless steel theme which mislead many.

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If you want detailed tutorials of how to set up the watch, Digital Casio on YouTube has you covered. Chrome Free Disco has a nice video demonstrating the phone dialer.
 

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Great review! I have a similar watch, the DB-55W and it's great! I love the many events/alarms you can set with short text prompts (50 phone #s or events/alarms.) I got it so I would have a place for important phone numbers outside of my phone/internet. The bonus is all the events/alarms you can set. I got it on ebay a few months ago from the Russian Federation through Ebay and appears to be new-old stock (pardon the finger/thumb prints in the photo, I also have a screen protector on it.)

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The calendar gives up after 2029 and for giggles I have it set to 1986 (which matches up to 2020.)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Indeed. I like how you can store important data under the password protection area so no one gets access to it. Hackers won't be able to retrieve that data from this watch while its on your wrist and millenials would not figure out how to use the password. The only thing I don't like about it is the lack of water resistance but hey, that fades away with time.
 

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Indeed. I like how you can store important data under the password protection area so no one gets access to it. Hackers won't be able to retrieve that data from this watch while its on your wrist and millenials would not figure out how to use the password. The only thing I don't like about it is the lack of water resistance but hey, that fades away with time.
How large is the password?
 

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What’s the story on the year? Is it really programmed up to and through 2020? That’s pretty cool.
 

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Great in-depth review. When you put it into perspective, the Casio DBA-800 provides a fascinating piece of technological history from thirty years ago. Thanks for taking the time to provide this review.
 

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ronalddheld, the password on the DB-55w (and I guess all watches with the 675 module) is 4 numbers between 0 and 9.
 

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brandon\ on the DB-55w (and I guess all watches with the 675 module) the calendar ends on 12/31/2029, but of course you can set it to a matching year once 2030 comes around. So 2002, 2013, 2019, etc.
 
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