Evolution of the Casio F91W into the Most Notorious Watch in the World

Since its production in Japan in 1989, the Casio F91W has become a legendary timepiece. Initially sold for approximately $20, it was one of the first affordable digital watches on the market. Even today, Casio manufactures over 3 million F-91W watches annually.

The F91W by Casio is renowned for its durability. It can withstand being run over by a car, struck with a hammer, and submerged in boiling or frigid water without breaking.

Casio F91W-1 Classic Resin Strap Digital Sport Watch

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

Watches tell a tale, and the Casio F-91W has quite the reputation. Some people even refer to it as the “terrorist watch." Here’s why.

What Watch Did Osama Bin Laden Wear

Casio expanded its product line to include rugged watches, such as the iconic Casio G-Shock, but the F91W remained the go-to watch for military use. It was the only branded accessory that Osama bin Laden was seen wearing publicly, despite the era’s iconic weaponry.

According to reports, al-Qaeda distributed these watches to trainees at their terror camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan from the 1990s through the early 2000s. As a result, al-Qaeda and bin Laden are believed to have started the “terrorist watch" trend associated with the Casio F91W.

what watch did osama bin laden wear
Sourced from @watchesofespionage

During the Global War on Terror, the US government quickly noticed the prevalence of the Casio F91W among terrorists. In 2011, Wikileaks published a document called the “Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants," intended to help Guantanamo staff determine which detainees were most likely to attempt suicide attacks.

The document stated that wearing an F-91W was the most significant indicator of a serious terror suspect, along with owning a satellite phone, a radio, and a large amount of cash.

However, this wasn’t just paranoia. Other leaked Wikileaks documents revealed that roughly one-third of Guantanamo inmates were apprehended wearing an F-91W, and had a known association with explosives. The F-91W watch appeared in over 150 leaked prisoner evaluations from Guantanamo.

It’s not just jihadist terrorist organizations that wear the watch, though. Subcomandante Marcos, who led the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in Mexico, was pictured on horseback, smoking a pipe, and wearing the iconic watch.

What Is the Reason Behind Terrorist Groups’ Preference for Casio Watches

The Casio F-91W watch is favored by terrorists not only for its durability and dependability but also for its extended timer, which makes it a useful accessory for bomb-making by various terrorist groups worldwide, from Afghanistan to Chechnya.

Numerous case studies have documented the deadly application of the watch. US intelligence officials claim that the watch can double as a bomb timer, as its alarm can be set for more than 24 hours.

In 1994, Ramzi Yousef used a Casio F91W watch to explode Philippine Airlines Flight 434. Fortunately, the explosion did not destroy the aircraft, allowing it to land safely in Japan. However, the watch proved highly effective in remotely detonating bombs.

How The Casio F91W Became The Worlds Most Dangerous Watch
sourced from @watchesofespionage

Al Qaeda distributed the watches at training camps throughout Pakistan, including to Ramzi Yousef, who tested the device in a crowded theater in Manila in 1994.

In September 1999, a sequence of bombs exploded inside four Russian apartment buildings located in Moscow, Volgodonsk, and Buinaksk. These bombings resulted in the deaths of 367 people and injured over 1,000 others.

Russian investigators determined that the attackers were trained at terrorist camps being conducted by Ibn al-Khattab in Chechnya, which had just obtained precarious independence after the First Chechen War.

Investigations conducted in Chechnya revealed that the explosives utilized in the bombings consisted of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder, with plastic serving as an intermediate explosive.

The detonation mechanism employed a combination of a Krona battery and a Casio F-91W watch.

Casio F-91W Specs

  • Diameter: 34mm
  • Depth: 8.5mm
  • Lug to lug: 38mm
  • Weight: 20g
  • Water resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Casio digital 593
  • Case material: Resin
  • Lug width: 18mm
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Price: ~$20

Although the F-91W watch may prioritize function over form, it is a must-have timepiece for any watch enthusiast. It can serve as an ideal first watch or as an affordable daily wear.

Wrapping It Up!

The F-91W has become a favorite among international terrorists due to its affordability, durability, and reliability, similar to other terrorist accessories like the Kalashnikov and Toyota technical. Its battery life of 7 years only adds to its appeal.

When the Guardian News reached out to Casio’s PR department for a statement regarding the watch’s use by terror groups, they received a generic response indicating no further comment at that time.

In conclusion, the Casio F-91W is an iconic digital watch that holds a unique place in watch history. It can be purchased for around $17 on Amazon if you want to own a piece of this odd history.

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