I'm wearing a 'terrorist' watch, and I bought it for $20 at Duane Reade

Casio's most retro watch gets an ignominious fashion label.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read
Great drugstore bargain, or ominous watch of terror?
Great drugstore bargain, or ominous watch of terror? Scott Stein/CNET

Turns out the government's concerned about the threat possibilities of a low-tech piece of equipment--one that I just discovered on my own wrist.

Around the time I started working at CNET, I bought a Casio watch from my local Duane Reade pharmacy. My other watch broke, I just had a kid, and having a watch made things easier: no fishing for my iPhone while holding the baby, plus it had a stopwatch for timing feedings.

Who knew my watch would become this infamous?

According to training document on Wikileaks, the Casio F91W watch was worn on the wrist of a large number of Guantanamo Bay detainees, and has been linked to the manufacture of explosive devices. As I read this story, I glanced down at my very similar-looking watch, then checked the model number. It was different.

Of course, then I read that the document includes the metal-banded A159W, too. Mine is technically the A158W. Still, it's essentially the same watch.

What does this all mean? Will I now get an extra shakedown at airports? Will my watch be removed? The truth is, there are several good reasons anyone--detainees, myself, or otherwise--would use this watch: it's cheap, versatile, and reliable. I can't remember the last time a cheap little gadget was given such an ignominious label, especially one that can be gotten for so little at nearly any corner store.

Despite its apparent newfound fame in security circles, I won't be taking my Casio off. It works well. It doesn't cause me problems. Hopefully, neither will my next airport security check.

(Source: Gizmodo via Boing-Boing via The Guardian--and thanks to Dan Ackerman for pushing me to write about it)