with Lindsey J. Bertomen
Product Review: Casio PRO TREK PRG-550
I always wished I had a watch that looked good enough for “dress casual” yet could handle the rigors of duty — I may have just found a viable option
The law enforcement career is full of transitions. Some transitions are from vehicle pursuit to foot pursuit, uniform duty to non uniform duty and investigation to testimony.
Some of us have added fatigues as citizen soldiers to the heavy weight of the peace officer’s badge. Throughout these transitions, I have always encouraged using tools that have similar operating systems and procedures, especially safety equipment.
In the field, I always wished I had a watch that looked good enough for “dress casual” yet could handle the rigors of duty. I may have just found a viable option.
From Duty Gear to Dinner Parties
I recently tested Casio’s PRO TREK PRG-550, a remarkable analog timepiece with Casio’s Triple Sensor features. This watch proved to be one of the most useful law enforcement timepieces I have encountered.
The PRG-550 is 10-bar water resistant, sufficient for anything law enforcement can dish out. Like Casio’s G-Shock series, Casio suspends the movement in a durable case with a scratch resistant beefed-up crystal.
I dragged this watch up to 8,100 feet in the Sierras, where a little fun in the snow included a few hard landings directly on the case. The altimeter and compass read much quicker and just as accurately as most similar products.
The PRO TREK series has an altimeter, barometer and a compass, along with essential alarms, chronograph functions and the ability to calibrate things like magnetic declination. Rock climbers, surfers, and explorers need this information handy and a wrist-borne computer is the way to go.
The PRG-550 watchband is thick resin band with beefed up pins. On the wrist side are treadle like appliances, which are unnoticeable, except they raise the stainless steel case slightly off the wrist, allowing for air circulation.
The “You Gotta See This” Factor
Besides the ALTI, BARO, and COMP buttons on the right side of the face, the other buttons are “mode,” “adjust,” and “light”. The mode button gets the timer, data recall, stopwatch, world time and alarm functions. Selecting a city in the world time mode runs the hands around as if the user was spinning the crown. Again, if one hasn’t seen this in action, brings with it a “wow” factor.
The adjust button is used for calibrations in the various modes. It only took me a minute to set declination. Since this timepiece overcomes the only reason many pick mechanical compasses over electronic ones — power failure in a remote area — this product can be counted on to navigate the user in the wilderness.
Since the PRG-550 has a solar cell for the watch face, it is not backlit. Rather, a white LED illuminates it from the side. Daytime or night, this is one of the easiest reading displays ever. In fact, one can read a few lines of text when held against a book, let alone recharge the hands a bit.
The PRG-550 has a sleep mode feature, which it accesses when left in the dark for an hour. Actually, there are two sleep modes, but the other happens when the watch is left in the dark for six to seven days.
For that sleep version, all hands stop until the user wakes it. The display sleep mode, initiated after an hour of darkness, freezes the second hand on the 12. Both modes are power savers.
I have a confession. I have been covering the watch long enough to get it to sleep, just to show it to whomever I can!
The PRG-550 has an efficient solar cell charging system that works anywhere the timepiece can be exposed to light. Users are supposed to leave it uncovered where possible.
Any light will charge it, including indoor florescent light. About eight minutes of direct sunlight or eight hours of indoor lighting is enough for daily operation.
I didn’t have an incident of the “flashing L” on the digital display, despite a day of repeated compass, altimeter and barometer checks, plus an evening of display illuminations — better than 300 button presses in a 24-hour period. It didn’t hurt that the watch had seven hours of sunlight during the testing phase.
The Casio PRG-550 will provide everything the law enforcement officer needs for a versatile timepiece.