CASIO is so well known for the G-Shock, a rugged digital watch featuring a tough resin bezel and dampened movement module that is highly shock and abrasion resistant. It has been made in so many different design configurations and proportions. Some are rich in functionality, while others somewhat minimal in functions. Some are inexpensive, while others are bordering on absurdly expensive.
Given how rugged G-Shocks are, they last and last... for decades even, and having been made in such large numbers, this opens up the possibility to obtain practically any G-Shock model produced. It's quite a trip to comb through on-line resources to see what G-Shock designs CASIO has created.
In 1996, CASIO released the first MR-G. The MRG-1. In total, 5 models were released that year. The very next year, the total jumped to 20! That includes multiple variations of main models, with different cosmetic treatments (like dial color, stainless versus titanium, etc). Plus in 1997, CASIO produced the first analog MR-G, the MRG-120. There was also an analog-digital model as well, the MRG-130. After the MRG-1, the line went from MRG-100 to MRG-220, produced up until 1999. Two additional and rather special models followed, the MRG-1000 (Tactician) and MRG-1100 (Frogman). After that, the MR-G line went to all analog, no digital models at all (as of this writing).
(As you can see, it looks MUCH better in a real photo than the stock edited photo)
When I first learned about the early MR-G line, all digital watches made with all steel cases and no resin bezel, I was intrigued. I got to know the various designs. And then I spotted it. One particular model -- the MRG-220. Something about the design really speaks to me. Part of it is the curved edging around the domed crystal with chromed inner surface, which captures an aesthetic of an EBEL watch I used to own. There's also the light button covertly integrated into the casing that you won't know is there until you read the manual or stumble onto it. The watch looks very expensive, and it was when first released (48,000 JPY and 58,000 JPY titanium version). I got mine in gently used condition for quite a bit less.
The full stainless steel version wears a bit heavy, but no more than the DW-5000D or DW-5700D. The bracelet is very solid, with links sporting a nice brushed outer surface and ergonomically polished and curved inner surface, secured with a high quality double push button clasp. Alas, the clasp has but 3 sets of position holes, which limits the ability to size the bracelet before adding/removing a link.
Functionally it has two time zones (represented by the small numeric position on the upper left), setting by geographic time zone, DST control, 30 entry databank, a stopwatch, and an alarm.
My main gripe with this watch is the lack of a CDT (countdown timer). For most G-Shock watches, a STW and CDT are practically standard... so missing the CDT is quite a surprise, especially given the esteem of the MR-G line. But it's not a deal breaker. The other is that this watch sits tall, at 16mm. That means susceptibility to knocking into things... and without a resin bezel, this means nicks to the metal. And this nice example didn't escape those, as a close examination reveals some tiny indentations. Oh well. Wabisabi!
This watch came in both stainless steel and titanium models. Mine is stainless... so it's heavy. REALLY heavy! Right up there with the DW-5000, DW-5700, and G-2000 models (all stainless steel with metal bracelets). Yet, I find it comfortable. The screw back has a rubber gasket on the outside that presents a buffer between surfaces and the back. It also helps keep the watch level on your wrist. But I have to admit, I wouldn't mind having the MRG-220T model as well, which uses titanium for a majority of the metal bits (casing, back, bracelet).
Display wise, it's a little "weird". This is one of the few G-Shocks where mode changes leaves the center time intact. The alarm and stopwatch displays utilize the bottom row, where the digits are appreciably smaller than the time keeping digits. I'd prefer that they "swap"... as the function at hand is the priority. An interesting cosmetic touch is a silver chromed overlay separating the 3 LCD sections and highlighting the 3 mode indicators (alarm, signal, and auto-light). And speaking of displays, this has a domed crystal that looks superb. I think it's mineral... not sapphire. Btw, in main time keeping mode, the bottom display can toggle between current set time zone and the year, by single pressing the adjust button (A).
Loudness wise, the alarm tones are OK. Probably about on par with a DW-5600E, if not a touch softer. Workable. Definitely no anemic GW-M5610.
Seeing how these all digital MRG watches have been discontinued for about 15 years or more, you cannot get parts for them any longer. This means no bracelet links can be bought. It's a big problem, because most of these were sold in Japan where wrist sizes are smaller on average compared to Europe and the USA. Thus, if you find a nice one used, it may end up with a bracelet that is too tight for you. In my case, the seller over estimated the size and mine ended up rather snug. I could still wear it, but if my wrist expanded during the day I'd have to take it off and let my wrist breathe for a while.
Thankfully a generous and thoughtful forum member was able to provide me a similar sized link that I could slightly modify and make fit. It worked like a charm. It's a very close match. You can see it in the photo above on the right side, just below the clasp. It saved me from trying to hunt down a workable clasp extender, which is likely the only other viable alternative.
I'm pleased with this watch, from an aesthetic standpoint. But, push come to shove, I would take the MRG-1. It has a superior module with slightly louder alarm. So... I own both and wear them on/off.
The only other model that has interested me is the MRG-110, a very square looking design. There was a limited edition "Blue Note" variant that was released with a dark blue LCD surround. It looks really sharp. I was interested in the MRG-1100 Frogman for a while, as it is probably the most beautiful model from the MRG all digital line. But... it's insanely expensive and VERY scratch prone. The catalog photo doesn't do the watch justice as the bezel and portion of the case is polished and sensitive to scratching. It sits even taller than the MRG-220. I'd be too paranoid to wear it and it would just gather dust.
One curious feature... if you put the watch into LCD test mode (simultaneously press A, B, D) there are 2 test mode patterns. Pressing the "forward" button advances the pattern. On the second press, there is no pattern at all. The screen remains blank. This is probably to test "all clear", so that no LCD segments are showing. However, this means no power is being spent on the display. It's kind of like a "hibernate" mode, so if you're not going to wear the watch for a while, putting it in this mode may save a little battery life. Another button press returns you to normal time keeping mode.
I'll try to follow up with an MRG-1 review sometime soon. It's an interesting model with a few cosmetic variants (my favorite being the black titanium one!).