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Casio celebrates 50 years of the Casiotron with a commemorative edition

The Casio Casiotron TRN-50 Limited Edition in stainless steel case and bracelet.

The limited-edition TRN-50 retains the signature retro-futuristic aesthetic of the 1974 original with updated hardware.

There have been a number of anniversary models released in the last year, and we’ve covered a number of them, but Casio’s 50th anniversary tribute to the 1974 Casiotron hits differently. The creator of the world’s first electric calculator in 1957, Casio expanded its reach into consumer electronics in the subsequent decades. The Casiotron made its debut in the world of watches in 1974 and was the first-ever digital watch with an automatic calendar function. Casio proved itself to be a pioneer with the Casiotron, setting a milestone in horological history.

The Casio Casiotron from 1974, with a bracelet that would not look ou of place today.
The Casiotron from 1974, with a bracelet that would not look out of place today.

To appreciate the importance of the Casiotron, one must consider the digital watchmaking space in the ’70s – there wasn’t much of one. While Hamilton’s Pulsar and Girard-Perregaux’s Casquette represented a very different kind of digital watch, Casio put the original technologies it developed for its calculator business to work in the Casiotron. The result was an accurate timekeeper that also functioned rather like an annual calendar complication, automatically adjusting for each month except for the leap day of Feb 29.

The new Casio Casiotron TRN-50 limited edition.
The new Casiotron TRN-50 limited edition.

As with most anniversary watches, the new TRN-50 adopts the aesthetic qualities of the original while incorporating technical – in this case, technological – updates that make it better suited to contemporary needs. Adopting a 39.1mm width that’s close to the original, the watch boasts exceptional build quality – certainly, a Casio signature – and a sleekly modern take on the delightfully nerdy original.

The caseback of the Casio Casiotron TRN-50 limited edition watch.
The caseback of the Casio Casiotron TRN-50 limited edition watch.

The gradient blue dial around the display ringed by a fluted flange is from the original, as is the brand emblem and model name at six and 12 o’clock. Polished surfaces lend the watch a distinctly retro-futuristic charm. The integrated bracelet, pushers, and sloping bezel are also from the original Casiotron. The caseback, where the brand’s emblem is engraved, includes a unique serial number for the 4,000-piece limited edition watch and an FCC ID revealing its upgraded hardware, which is where the new Casiotron really stands out.

A closer look at the design and operation of the Casio Casiotron TRN-50.
A closer look at the design and operation of the Casiotron TRN-50.

The solar-powered 3542 module provides 11 months of autonomy with normal usage, double that on power-save mode. The backlit display indicates a host of functions, including a world timer indication, a chronograph, a calendar, and a total of six alarms – and fully customisable automatic LED backlight illumination. We’re a big fan of the automatic radio-wave time synchronisation function (it only applies to a few countries, though, including Japan and the US), while the Bluetooth connectivity to smartphones also means easy adjustment of the time and, importantly, a find-your-phone function.

The Casio Casiotron comes in environmentally-friendly packaging.
The Casio Casiotron comes in environmentally friendly packaging.

There are many aspects of the new Casiotron that make it desirable – the rugged build, a reliable 50m water resistance, and the steel bracelet, which the brand doesn’t do very often. And then, of course, is the sheer nostalgia of owning one of the most seminal pieces in Japanese watchmaking history. Purists may call the Casiotron TRN-50 a fans-only watch, but do you not consider yourself one?