Casio F-91W range

Casio F-91W: terrorist watch

Casio F-91W disassembled

Reading a blog post about the Apple Watch today, I became aware of the fact that the old Casio F-91W I wore as a teenager is still in production! Then I was reminded of the story from 2011 that this model of watch is favoured by hipsters and… terrorists:

It is cheap, basic and widely available around the world. Yet the Casio F-91W digital watch was declared to be “the sign of al-Qaida” and a contributing factor to continued detention of prisoners by the analysts stationed at Guantánamo Bay.

Osama bin Laden wearing a Casio F-91W

Osama bin Laden wearing a Casio F-91W. The image is genuine, as far as I can tell.

The report states: “The Casio was known to be given to the students at al-Qaida bomb-making training courses in Afghanistan at which the students received instruction in the preparation of timing devices using the watch.

Casio A-159W

Casio A-159W

“Approximately one-third of the JTF-GTMO detainees that were captured with these models of watches have known connections to explosives, either having attended explosives training, having association with a facility where IEDs were made or where explosives training was given, or having association with a person identified as an explosives expert.”

More than 50 detainee reports refer to the Casio timepieces. The records of 32 detainees refer to the black Casio F-91W, while a further 20 make reference to the silver version, the A-159W.

Al Qaida watch timer on perf board

This improvised timer for a time bomb was captured in the early 2000s

“We purposely don’t market it as anything cool or trendy,” Tim Gould, head of marketing at Casio UK told the BBC.

“It’s not pretentious and doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It just a basic watch that is reliable and good value.”

The Casio Retro Range

I’m definitely going to buy one of these watches — in fact I may get a variety of colours and the steel A-159W. I’m also tempted to get one of these ‘Reworks’ editions…

Finn Magee – Reworks

The reworks series gets inside the Casio F-91W digital wristwatch, one of the most commonplace items of consumer electronics.

Casio F-91W Rework - Steel colour range

Mass produced Casio F-91Ws are stripped down and their components reworked using a combination of industrial and craft processes. They’re then carefully reassembled to build at once familiar and unique timepieces.

The Reworks story begins with growing up in the 1980’s. Back then a Casio digital watch was mandatory and when the F-91W was introduced 1991 it was the model to have. The watch felt hi-tech and was reliable, accurate and cheap too. It achieved near ubiquitous product status, gracing first and third world wrists alike.

Further reading


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s