Welcome to my review of the Casio "Duro" mdv106. The Casio mdv106 is a solid dive watch. Retailing at well under three figures, it's one of the cheapest on the market. With a unidirectional bezel, screw down crown and being easy-to-read, it's a quality watch. And I'd recommend anyone thinking about budget dive watches to seriously consider it.
As a fan of affordable watches, I've collected real oddballs from all over the world. But this one I'd be proud to show off to anyone. In this review, we'll take a dive (sorry, I promise, no more dive watch related puns) into the features that make this watch a popular choice amongst hobby collectors.
The Casio mdv106 comes in three flavors: the mdv106-1a has a black dial and bezel, the mdv106b-2av has a blue dial and bezel, and the mdv106g-1av has a black dial and gold bezel trim. All three Casio models come out of the box with a black resin band and all have a stainless steel case. But apart from the different colors (and a few dollars) they're all the same watch.
My favorite is the 106b-2av. As Casio state in their marketing, 'the 106 is inspired by the sea' and I think the blue dial adds to that aesthetic. Whichever color you choose, they all look good.
The mdv106 is a 20om water resistant watch at a wallet friendly price tag. I'm a big fan of Casio and sometimes think the name come in for undeserved stick. I love the mdv106 with its classic looks, large size and fantastic price point. I think it makes a lovely addition to any collection.
For those like me, that prefer big watches, the 44mm diameter is a satisfying size and for a watch in this budget class, it's well made and feels solid to the touch. It has good tactility and just the right amount of stiffness in the bezel and crown.
The one less than impressive feature for this watch (and, at prices approaching $50 dollars, Casio had to compromise somewhere) is the strap. It's a black resin affair, and for me feels a little plastic (because it is). It collects moisture quickly. But this is something that you can rectify easily by replacing the strap with an affordable, breathable alternative.
So, let's get down to business. For an in-depth review of all the details on this beautiful, quality and affordable dive watch, read on.
The Casio mdv106 is a no nonsense diver, its 200m water resistance is impressive. It's a simple watch with all the fundamental features you want in diver inspired, affordable, arm candy.
The sunburst finish speaks to more quality than you'd expect for the price point, and no-one is going to suspect you paid less than three figures for this beauty. Casio has gone for a timeless look, a far cry from their modern g shock range.
The case is a decent build quality but not exceptional, the unidirectional bezel is solid, the screw-down crown is protected from accidental knocks, and the bezel, hands and face markings are all clear to read and luminous. Casio's are usually reliable but if you get an issue, you have the standard Casio warranty.
Here are the dimensions and technical on the Casio mdv106 'Duro' dive watch:
Yes, it's big, so you can see it clearly underwater, yes it has a unidirectional bezel to help with dive time, and yes Casio give it a depth rating of 2o0 meters. But a 200 meter water resistance rating is not the same as being able to take your watch 200m below the waves (even if you could dive that far without serious commercial equipment).
Divers need a watch they can trust, but I think it might just be the cost. I'm not sure I believe you can make a true diver for $50. Hopefully, someone out there can prove me wrong.
I prefer the term (as Casio does itself) dive inspired. If you go searching through Casio's FAQ's you can find what they recommend about their own water resistance ratings. And there they clearly state don't go scuba diving with watches that aren't marked specifically with 'DIVER'S WATCH 200M'.
But the thing is, I still think this is a pretty amazing timepiece. Now let's get down to business!
Just to clear things up you'll sometimes see this referred to as a Casio 'Duro' or Casio mdv106 'Duro'. Technically, it's not really. I think (although I'm not 100% sure) the Duro designation came from more than one watch, so the Casio Duro is actually a series, rather than an individual watch.
But heck, it doesn't really matter. Search online for a Casio Duro and the mdv106 comes up.
I think the mdv106 is a good-looking watch. I love its chunky simplicity. It's got the fundamentals and doesn't waste time (no pun intended) on anything else.
But don't let that fool you. Take a closer look and you'll see the little details that give this watch personality.
The Marlin logo on the dial and engraved on the caseback is a feature of Casio Classics that are rated at 20om water resistance or more. It's a clever branding touch. The flash of red that is the second hand is a cheeky touch. And the sunburst finish that subtly changes color depending on how the light shines adds a classy vibe.
Casio has contrasted the brushed surface on the top of the case and lugs with the polished sides. And this is another delicate addition that gives a little extra.
I've seen reviewers compare the look of this watch to the Rolex Submariner, and I can see where they got the idea from. I think this adds up to a smart and functional look that appeals. And when you take into account the cost, I think there's not that many watches out there that can compete in this space.
It's a dive watch. Dive watches tend to be big and at 44 mm diameter and 48 mm lug to lug the Casio mdv106 is no exception. It's not that chunky though, with a 12mm thickness. And this, and the fact Casio added the right curved edges, means this dive watch has a good shape and sits well.
Unless you have really thin wrists, I don't think its size will be an issue. And even then, unless you don't want a watch that is easily noticed, the 106 is comfortable enough to wear for anyone.
The stainless steel case on the 106 is a decent example of this price range. It's solid and doesn't scratch easily. At 44 mm it might be on the larger side, but with a relatively modest case thickness of 12mm the watch doesn't feel too chunky on the wrist.
A rounded edge on the bevel, the tactile texture and the contrasting polished and brushed surfaces, all combine to refract light in different ways. Making sure the Casio mdv106 case catches the eye.
Turn the watch over, and Casio has clearly engraved the screw down back with make, model and 200m water resistance, as well as that marlin. And its finish is acceptable, if not outstanding.
But, there is no avoiding the fact it is a budget watch and if you look closer, you can see where Casio has tried to save on production.
If you get really personal, the polished sides on the tops of the case and lugs aren't first class and neither is the brushing on the tops. It's not a big issue, and you have to get quite close to notice, so it's not something that I find detracts from this dive watch's looks.
Casio has added a date window, and that's something that I always appreciate. But I'm a bit odd, and I like my date window bigger. And on the mdv106 I think the small window looks out of place surrounded by the chunky elements of this watch. But that's just me, and I'm sure most people wouldn't even notice.
With two horizontal lugs, Casio has protected the mdv106's screw down crown from accidental knocks and nudges. It's a useful addition (especially if you take it swimming or diving, where a loosening of the crown might ruin your watch).
And Casio has even thought about the details for the details. They have lovingly shaped the guard lugs to avoid them digging into your wrist.
Casio has given the mdv106 crown a good polish and added rough texturing to aid you in turning the wheel. It is a good size and isn't fiddly or awkward to use. With wet hands it might be more awkward, but you probably shouldn't be unscrewing it near water anyway.
The Casio mdv106 has several little mechanical finesses that I usually don't expect to see at this level. One of them is how precise and stiff the crown is. Unscrewed there is almost no wiggle, and it turns and operates smoothly.
While we're on the subject of mechanical finesse, the bezel is another part made with love. As a proper dive watch (or at least dive inspired) the mdv106 comes with a unidirectional dive bezel, and it's a good one.
The bezel feels solid, with none of the wiggle that can occur on cheaper diver's. The 120 clicks are satisfying and accurate. And each one has the right amount of resistance.
It doesn't feel like you could easily knock the bezel out of alignment or skip a click when turning. And if you really were going to test the 200m water resistance, that would be reassuring.
The marker pips line up accurately with the hand positions and numbers on the face, and all the markers are luminous, so you can (at least theoretically) check the time in low-light conditions. But more about luminosity in a minute.
A budget watch will always include compromises. But the Casio mdv106 doesn't have many. I'm not sure the outside is grippy enough for a true diver. Dive watches need big, easy to operate bezels that can you can grip with wet hands or in diving gloves.
With dry hands it's more than good enough, and won't be a problem for everyday use. But if you're an avid swimmer or diver, and want to use the bezel on your mdv106 with wet hands, you might want to check it out first.
The black, or blue in the case of the mdv106b-2av, coloring on the bezel doesn't seem to pick up scratches easily. I think this is a watch that can tolerate (reasonably) heavy use.
But if you do pick up a scratch on the bezel, the contrast of black and metal underneath does mean you can notice the scratch a little more than some watches I've reviewed. This isn't as noticeable on the blue mdv106b. And it's not a big concern.
Moving to the centrepiece, the Casio mdv106 has a sunburst finish on the dial. It gives off flat black or smoky shade or pearlescent depending on the angles. It's another of the many details that lifts the Casio beyond its budget.
The indices are raised white circles with oblongs at the quarters. The markers are big enough to read at a glance, without overpowering the dial. The raised metal outline adds a touch of style without being flashy.
The hour and minute hands are the same pearl white and silver as the markers, and it makes them distinctive. For the second hand, Casio has spiced things up and made it a different colour depending on the model.
The black and silver mdv106-1a has been given a red second hand that works well with the other colors. The blue and silver mdv106b-2av has a silver second hand. While the black and gold mdv106g-1av has a gold second hand. And for the mdv106g they have replaced the silver with gold for all the hands.
Personal preferences are what make watches such good collectables. There is always something for everyone. And you can spend hours arguing the case of why your favorite is better than your mate's. Any review I write always finds someone with a counter view.
For the Casio mdv106, one of my least favorite things is the strap. There is nothing bad about it at all. It is a black resin band. Comfortable enough most of the time, and its thickness matches the rugged dive watch aesthetic without being too thick against the relatively thin case.
I just think it looks and feels cheap. But then, it is cheap. This is obviously one of the areas Casio has compromised on to keep that excellent price. But since they've managed to make a watch that looks way above its cost, with 200m water resistance, I can't help feeling the strap let this timepiece down a touch.
Luckily, that's an easy fix. A new strap doesn't cost the earth, and with all the money you've saved buying the watch, it might be a good investment to replace the stock strap.
I know a lot of people that swear by NATO straps, but I always think they take ages to dry, and for a watch that's supposed to get wet, I prefer something that repels rather than attracts water. But not everyone is going to get it wet often, so a leather strap might work. Or possibly a black stainless steel bracelet.
If you are going to change the strap, take note. I've seen a lot of sites specify a 20 mm lug width, but I'm sure it's nearer 22 mm. Best to check it first. But there are loads of strap options available for good value on the internet.
Aside from the strap, luminosity seems to be the biggest issue people have with the Casio mdv106. While the white on the hands, dial and bezel is luminous, it doesn't last very long.
After a few minutes, the lume has gone, and the watch becomes much harder to read in low light conditions. It's a shame, and if you need a watch that is readable when it's dark, this might be the only deal-breaker this watch has.
I know nothing about the coatings they use for luminescence. But I can only assume it's another area the manufacturer felt they needed to keep production costs down. Although I can't imagine a lume pip costs that much. Other watches the Casio is competing with have better luminosity.
Casio really only had two choices for the mdv106. For watches at this price range, it's mineral crystal or plastic for the protection. Luckily, they chose mineral crystal.
While sapphire crystal is more scratch-resistant, it's also more expensive. And at the low price of the mdv106, Casio could easily have chosen a plastic option. And I don't find the glass that bad when it comes to picking up scratches.
A Japanese quartz movement keeps the mdv106 ticking. For the detail-orientated, it's Casio's model no. 2784, one of their stock quartz movements. And it's powered by a SR626 battery which should give it around three-years of life. The battery is very reasonable, and with a screw down back you should manage it yourself.
Although Casio doesn't really advertise the accuracy rating, I've seen other reviews mention it at +/- 20 secs a month. But I've also seen several reports that say they've seen nothing near this number (more like 3-5 seconds a month). A Japanese quartz watch is usually a pretty reliable analog watch.
And it's still a lot more accurate than a mechanical.
Although the Casio mdv106 is a quality diver watch, there are alternative dive watches at this price. I've picked out three you should consider for comparison. They're all under three figures and offer everything the Casio does, with 200m water resistance and good value.
They might not be everyone's first choice (but then what is?) but I like Invicta watches. They're unique, bold and excellently priced. And the Invicta Men's Pro Diver 37.5mm, is no exception.
It's stainless steel with a black dial and white markings and 200m water resistant.It looks great and I prefer the stainless steel metal band on this one to the resin on the Casio. Unlike Casio, Invicta promotes the Pro Diver's suitability for professional marine activity.
It's heavier than the Casio and thicker, but at a modest 37.5mm it means it still suits most wrists. (although there is an automatic version at 40 mm for those who want it bigger).
Another good choice is the VOSTOK Classic Amphibian. VOSTOK makes good watches. They base them on their work for the Russian military, so they're hardy and take a beating. They are slightly more expensive than the Casio, but you can still pick them up for under $100 dollars.
VOSTOK offers a range of strap choices, and the Classic Amphibian is an automatic. So, you don't have to worry about batteries.
Full disclosure, I haven't had the chance to review the VOSTOK in detail, but it looks great and those who have given it a full review seem to like it.
The third alternative option I recommend looking at is the Stuhrling Original Aquadiver. Coming in at just under the 100 dollar mark, it's another black and polished stainless steel dive watch.
The Aquadiver is 42mm with a 12mm thickness, so it's similar in size to the Casio and looks stylish. A slight quibble for me is that fact that the second hand is black. On a black dial, it makes it hard to read.
I'm a fan of the Casio MDV106 (or Casio Duro if you prefer). If I gave stars, this one would get five. All three versions are great looking. It is a genuinely impressive watch at a can't be beaten price point.
This review has shown that it's solid, durable and suggests a quality associated with much more expensive timepieces. At 44mm, it's on the large side. But since that's what I want in a diver, it makes me happy.
Aside from an average strap and poor luminosity, there are very few negative aspects with this watch. And if you're picking apart a 200m water resistant watch with unidirectional bezel and screw down crown, remember the Casio mdv106 comes in at around $50 dollars.
I hope you've found my review of the Casio mdv106 helpful. Now it's time to get out there and take a look for yourself.