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Casio's first smartwatch brings Android Wear outdoors

Big, rugged, and expensive... but it might just work

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For all the talk of smartwatches over the past year-plus, it’s been difficult to convince most people that it’s worth wearing one every day. Casio thinks it has a solution, though — while you definitely won’t want to wear its first smartwatch seven days a week, you might find it genuinely useful for one or two.

The Smart Outdoor Watch WSD-F10 is a gigantic, rugged Android Wear device with a specific use case: it’s the smartwatch you’ll take into the great outdoors. It’s water-resistant to 50 meters with MSL-STD-810 US military compliance, and comes with a pressure sensor along with the compass and accelerometer.

Casio Smart Outdoor Watch photos

The 1.32-inch 320 x 300 screen — yes, there’s a Moto 360-style "flat tire," though it matches the Casio aesthetic a little more naturally than with Motorola’s attempt at traditional watch styling — is a dual-layer LCD with a monochrome mode that can extend battery life from over a day to over a month. The watch doesn’t do anything but tell the time in that mode, though.

For the full-color mode, Casio has developed special watch faces it calls "tools" that offer convenient access to the Smart Outdoor Watch’s sensors and other relevant information. You can check altitude, air pressure, compass direction, tide graphs, sunrise and sunset times, and your own activity, and there’s a dedicated button to easily switch between each tool even when you’re wearing gloves.

And make no mistake, this is a smartwatch you’re meant to wear with gloves and maybe a North Face jacket rather than a crisp shirt. Its 61.7mm × 56.4mm × 15.7mm case is unashamedly colossal, fitting right into the same hiking aesthetic as Casio’s regular outdoor watches. For better or worse, this is a watch that knows what it’s going for and nails it. It’s available in a black finish, but I recommend the orange, red, or army green models instead — the Smart Outdoor Watch is never going to look subtle or subdued on your wrist, so you might as well own that fact.

Casio Smart Outdoor Watch photos

Beyond Casio’s own software, the Smart Outdoor Watch will come preloaded with apps from partners like RunKeeper, ViewRanger, and MyRadar. Other than that, you’re looking at the same stock Android Wear experience found on watches from Asus all the way up to Tag Heuer. But unlike most other Android Wear devices, Casio’s effort feels like it has a stronger sense of purpose and a clearer reason to exist.

Because they’re paired to powerful pocket computers that allow for complex mapping and communication functionality, smartwatches can offer more than regular outdoor watches without much compromise (though battery life would be a concern if you wanted to use all of these features on a multi-day camping trip). And while outdoor watches are a niche category, they’re a clearly defined one; they sell to people already willing to strap advanced devices to their wrists, and that’s a demographic that Casio is well placed to address as both a watchmaker and technology company.

The Smart Outdoor Watch is set to retail for around $500, which places it firmly in the upper tier of smartwatch pricing but somewhere in the middle of Casio’s lineup of outdoor watches, which go for anywhere between $65 and $1,500. It'll come to the US in early April just after a Japanese release in late March.

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