I’ll be the first to admit that the Casio Pro Trek line is more than a little bit outside my own horological comfort zone. I’ve never been described as an “outdoorsy” type, and I’m far more likely to be spotted wearing a vintage racing chronograph than anything solar-powered. That said, it’s hard not to be charmed by the blend of quality, affordability, and sheer overwhelming functionality of this particular model, the Casio Pro Trek PRG600YB-2.
For those who have never handled a Pro Trek before, the general concept of this watch is that it’s a G-Shock that isn’t a G-Shock. While it may not have the impervious-to-small-arms-fire durability of Casio’s legendary Shock Resist, these watches still pack the same wide variety of functions into a more affordable package that’s still tough enough to handle mountaineering, long hikes, and the general rigors of the outdoors.
There’s no getting around the fact that the Casio Pro Trek PRG600YB-2 is a massive watch. At 51.6 mm across, the hard plastic case feels almost like a hockey puck on the wrist at times, but the effect is mitigated somewhat by the nearly flush lugs with their aggressive (and adjustable, for those with larger wrists) downturn. In addition to a respectable 100 meter water resistance and a feather light weight, however, there’s a surprising amount of intricate detail in the case design that goes above and beyond the bare bones functional needs of this kind of watch. Each of the four pushers is topped with crosshatch knurling for a pleasing tactile feel, while the prominent gray crown at 3 o’clock is impressively detailed with a streamlined coin edge, a groove adding character, and a clean divot on top in place of a signature.
It’s a piece that so easily could have been without any detail at all in a function-focused budget ana-digi field watch, but its presence here helps to show the level of care Casio puts into each element of these pieces. The real star of the case, of course, is the blue PVD stainless steel world-time bezel. Beyond adding a pop of color and a dynamic brushed texture to an otherwise matte black mass, the etching of the time zone locations around the bezel is impressively sharp for this price bracket and adds some real functionality for the globe-trotting outdoor adventurer.
The ana-digi dial of the Pro Trek PRG600YB-2 manages the balance of providing a massive amount of information without cluttering the overall dial design solidly well, with a basic field watch layout featuring lumed sword hands alongside tall applied indices and clean Arabic numerals at 3, 9 and 12 o’clock. The lume fill is impressive, with an impressive initial glow that lasts well into the night. If that isn’t enough, an additional pusher at 6 o’clock activates an LED shining light across the dial face. No need to fear about legibility during the late nights in a tent in the wilderness here. Of course, the real strengths of this watch come courtesy of the sweeping indicator at 10 o’clock.
A quick rundown of the functions here include a perpetual calendar, a second time zone selector, a thermometer, a 24 hour 1/100 second chronograph with a recording function, a countdown timer, and five daily alarms. Each of these display through the 6 o’clock digital dial, and in practice these range from the everyday functional to the borderline esoteric. When viewed through the lens of a focused timepiece for outdoors activities, each of these make perfect sense. During my own hikes with the watch through the hills and canyons of southern California, the thermometer and barometer were both constant reminders of our perpetual fair weather, but if I needed to pitch a tent ahead of an approaching storm that barometer could have been a lifesaver. The Pro Trek PRG600YB-2 offers a pair of additional complications controlled by separate pushers, as well. The first of these is a digital altimeter, which is another excellent addition for mountaineers and long distance hikers, but while the readout is a useful tool for plotting your way across a topographical map during tests I noticed discrepancies of up to 30 meters between readings in the same position. Of course, that won’t stop anyone from finding, say, the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro with this watch, but it bears mentioning. The compass complication, on the other hand, uses the central seconds hand as a pointer with precise readings on the 6 o’clock digital dial. Unlike the altimeter, this complication remained dead accurate throughout tests. What’s more, it’s not a consideration that comes up often when looking at timepieces but using the compass was simply plain fun. It brings out the inner six-year-old in me, out on a school science hike and wanting to explore what was over every hill.
The broad blue nylon strap of the Pro Trek PRG600YB-2 also feels a bit like a school science hike, for slightly different reasons. It’s a lightweight, rugged and practical match that solidly fits the ethos of the watch, but the stainless steel buckle and two matching keepers are rather unusual for a watch strap. These pieces feel more like hardware on a backpack than a typical pin buckle, but work well with the rest of the tough, sporty design.
The Pro Trek PRG600YB-2 is powered by Casio’s Module 5497 quartz movement, featuring its discreet Tough Solar charging system with 7 months of power reserve. In addition, this movement boasts radio controlled time adjustment, and a +15/-15 second per month accuracy rate.
Overall, the Casio Pro Trek PRG600YB-2 is an impressively robust choice for the dedicated outdoor sportsperson that packs a solid punch for its $350 MSRP. While its hefty size, camping-gear design ethos, and sometimes slightly inaccurate complications keep it from being a choice for daily wear, when placed into its element it certainly shines. For more information, please visit Casio’s website.
>Model: Pro Trek PRG600YB-2
>Size: 51.6 mm-wide, 13.4mm-thick.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Off-roading, exploring national parks, camping.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: An avid rock climber, hiker, or field equipment geek on a budget.
>Best characteristic of watch: Surprisingly intricate case design and broad variety of functions.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Massive size and flimsy-looking strap hardware.