Casio Duro Review – MDV106 “Marlin” : The Budget Diver

Dive watches are the ultimate tool watches. They’re reliable, easy to read, and often equipped with rotating bezels, screw-down crowns, and 200m of water resistance. It makes sense that you’d have to part with a few hundred dollars for a timepiece of this caliber.

Unless you’re eyeing the Casio Duro Marlin.

As a homage to the Rolex Submariner, the Casio MDV106 1a is built like a good dive watch. Looking at some of its specs, it’s not immediately apparent that this Casio is a budget watch at all. Still, as this Casio Duro review proves, this timepiece offers high-end features for under $70.

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Brief History of Casio

Tadai Kashio founded Casio in 1946. There was no indication whatsoever that it would go on to become one of the most outstanding watch manufacturers in the world. At the time, the Japanese company specialized in manufacturing pocket calculators.

Casio made its first timepiece in 1974, almost thirty years after it was founded. The Casiotron was the first-ever digital watch to have a calendar function. It also paved the way for the adoption of LCD technology in digital watches.

With the cutting-edge tech developed for pocket calculators at its disposal, Casio went on to mass-produce innovative timepieces in the 80’s and 90’s, including some of the first radio-controlled and solar-powered watches in the world.

Many of their early digital watches (the F-91W comes to mind) are still timeless classics today. This speaks to their ability to create iconic timepieces.

Casio Duro Dial

The Casio MDV106 has a reflective black dial with a straightforward arrangement. The date window sits at the 3-o’clock index, and the Casio logo at the top. Signifying a professional level of water resistance, “WR 200M” is marked at the 6 o’clock position.

The crisp dial | credit: @waroengnja.vimal

At the bottom, a cool marlin logo, from which the Casio Marlin namesake is derived, floats in the deep black dial.

The elegant and uncluttered arrangement of the MDV106 makes it possible to tell the time at a glance. Overall, it bears the key element of a dive watch: a clean, unobstructed look that makes it easy to tell the time.

Casio MDV106 Hands and Indices

The white hour markers contrast deeply with the reflective black dial. In classic dive watch style that originated with the Rolex Submariner,  all but the major hour markers are rounded. The 3-o’clock index loses some real estate to the date window, so it is slightly shorter. True to dive watch form, the 12-o’clock index is a diver’s double squared-off delta.

All the indices have luminescence for nighttime visibility. Admittedly, it’s not the brightest lume you’ll ever see in a dive watch. However, it lasts much longer than you’d expect from a budget watch. Most watches at this price point have a rather disappointing lume, but the Casio Marlin is not your average underdog.

The Duro’s Lume (credit: @sandeep.bhandarkar)

The hour hand has a wide arrowhead. Both hands are filled with white lume, so they are very visible on the reflective black dial. The seconds hand, which is one of the Duro’s highlights, is a thin red needle with a small lumed arrowhead at the tip. It hits each of the markers with remarkable precision and moves without any stutter—an impressive feat for a watch under $100.

The lume on the hour and minute hands is sufficient for legibility in total darkness. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the second hand, which can be a little harder to spot in dark environments.

Casio Marlin Movement

The Casio Duro Marlin is powered by one of Casio’s stock quartz movements, module 2784. Don’t let the words “stock movement” fool you into thinking that there’s anything generic about this battery-powered engine. With an accuracy that’s on par with costlier Citizen Eco-Drive watches, the Casio MDV106 keeps time with quartz precision.

Professional divers that prioritize timekeeping accuracy over aesthetics will always spring for a quartz movement over the slicker but, admittedly, less reliable mechanical one. It makes sense for a tool watch, plus it is far cheaper to maintain a battery-operated quartz watch.

Casio places the watch’s accuracy at +/- 20 seconds a month, but wearers of the Duro report that it gains/loses 1-2 seconds per week!. Long-time owners say that it takes about a year for the watch to be off by a whole minute.

Seriously, for a watch at this price point, it is remarkably good at keeping time.

Specs and Dimensions of the Casio MDV106-1A

Dimensions

At 44mm in diameter, the Casio Duro is on the larger side. It’s a good thing that it’s only a reasonable 12mm in thickness. Otherwise, it’d be quite the statement piece on your wrist.

The lugs are 22mm apart, which is the unofficial lug width sweet spot, so you’ll have a lot of strap and bracelet options at your disposal.

MDV106-1A Features

Casio Men's MDV106-1AV 200M Duro Analog Watch, Black

$69.95
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as of October 30, 2020 12:33 pm

Features

  • Black Stainless Steel case and Resin Band
  • Black Dial with date window at 3 O'clock
  • Luminous markers and hour hands; sweep second hand
  • Anti-reverse bezel
  • Water-resistant to 200 M (660 feet)

Casio Duro Specs

BrandCasio
SeriesMarlin
ModelMDV106-1A
MovementModule 2784
Accuracy+/- 20 sec / month
Case Size44mm
Case Thickness13mm
Lug Width22mm
CrystalMineral
Water Resistance200m
PriceCheck Price on Amazon

MDV106 Case, Lugs, and Bezel

It’s good to see stainless steel housing of this caliber on a timepiece under $70. The Casio MDV106 is certainly overbuilt for its price. Its stainless-steel housing is brushed and polished in the right places. The brushing on the hands matches the case brushing nicely.

And if the size of the case gives you pause, you’ll appreciate the level of details it sports. Flipping to the case back reveals more an intricate engraving—the iconic Casio Marlin logo from which watch gets its nickname. The other noteworthy feature is the unidirectional bezel.

The Casio Marlin Caseback

It rotates with 120 clicks/rotation with hardly any wiggle and even has some prominent luminescence at the zero position. And while you’ll appreciate the grippy canted edge if you’re showing off to your friends above ground, the timekeeping ring isn’t as easy to operate with wet hands.

The lug width is 22mm across, so if you’re planning to swap the stock resin strap for something more fashionable or comfortable—say, a NATO strap or a leather strap —you’ll have a long list of options at your disposal.

Some excellent strap options (credit: @kevinputra_k)

Casio Duro Marlin Strap

The stock resin strap that the Casio Duro Marlin comes with is the weak point of the watch. It arrives a little too stiff for comfort, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed by wearing the watch for a few days. It’s comfortable enough, and, with the help of a heavy-duty clasp buckle, keeps the Casio Duro securely strapped to your wrist.

The Duro’s strap (credit: @recensioniorologi.it)

Most owners immediately splurge on NATO straps, not just for the extra comfort, but also for aesthetics. Boy, does it look handsome with some well-matched NATOs, especially if you find the stock strap a little too basic. 

Casio Duro MDV106 Crystal and Crown

Nestled in the bezel is hardened mineral glass. It’s nothing to write home about, but don’t write it off either. It doesn’t quite compare to the sapphire crystal in terms of durability. Then again, you’re not paying hundreds of dollars for this watch.

Duro on a Bond NATO (credit: @relojero.peruano)

Besides, Casio has the right idea here. Mineral crystal is made for diving. Unlike sapphire crystal, which may need an AR (anti-reflective) coating to enhance readability underwater, mineral crystal keeps the watch perfectly legible.

For the money, you also get a proper screw-down crown and case back, which makes the Casio Marlin as good a diver as any higher-end one. The crown screws into place without much fuss, though it has a noticeable wiggle when fully unwound. When screwed down, it rests between chamfered crown guards with rounded edges.

Conclusion: The Casio Duro Review

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better watch than this under $70. It outshines every entry-level and some mid-tier tool watches with some impressive specs despite its modest price tag. It looks absolutely stunning with NATO straps, plus it is available in a variety of colors.

It really is a strap monster (credit: @wrightabouttime)

A world-class unidirectional bezel, impressive timekeeping accuracy and water resistance, robust build quality, and elegant design make the MDV106 Casio a formidable dive watch that could easily cost three times as much.

For a watch that graces the wrists of billionaires like Bill Gates, the Casio Duro Marlin is an absolute steal at anything less than a $100.


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