The Casio Pro Trek PRW-3500 is the latest model in Casio’s well-known line of Pro Trek watches. The watches are geared towards adventurous and active outdoors men and women and often associated with mountain climbing, fishing, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, downhill skiing and so on. Even when you are not into these types of activities, you still can look the part with a Pro Trek.
European PRW-3500 models have names as is common with other Pro Trek models: Cerro Lejia (PRW-3500-1ER), Cerro Tumisa (PRW-3500T-7ER) Cerro San Clemente (PRW-3500Y-1ER) and Cerro Miscanti (PRW-3500Y-4ER). You may be an experienced mountain climber visiting South America if these names mean anything to you. For everybody else, these are names of mountains in Chili.
The v.3 Triple Sensor Engine was introduced with the PRW-3000 in 2013 and it was an instant success because of its size (less bulky than other Pro Treks) and features. Improvements over the v.2 sensors are smaller size and lower battery consumption. Casio claims the sensors are 95% smaller than the sensors in version 2. Previous watches could only use the compass for 20 seconds while the new sensors allows for 60 seconds.
The PRW-3500 has the same features as the 3000 but is housed in a rugged case with a rotating bezel. The most important difference for many is the ability to switch out the strap and replace it with a rubber, leather or fabric Nato / Zulu strap. The lug size is 22mm which is a very common size so many possibilities to personalize your watch.
The 3500 line was introduced by Casio at BaselWorld 2015 in March. It is available with a positive display in a black case with a silver bezel, black case with black bezel and orange inserts, and a Titanium version with grey case and black bezel. There also is a negative display which has a black case and blue inserts. The PRW-3000 is available in many different colors so it is safe to assume there will be new colors for the 3500 in the near future as well.
The PRW-3500 is an ABC watch which stands for Altimeter, Barometer and Compass. There also is a sensor for temperature so it should be called an ABCT watch. As with other Pro Treks, temperature readouts are most reliable when the watch is not worn for 15 minutes or more.
This watch synchronizes with an automic clock in five wordwide locations: US, UK, Germany, Japan, and China. This usually happens at night and a small triangle left of the day/date display shows if time synching was successful or not. I live in Michigan and it synchs perfectly with the transmitter in Colorado every night. I also used one of my Pro Treks in southern Florida and it synched fine when positioned near a window.
Water resistance is rated at 200 meters so good for any outdoors and water activity except for serious diving adventures. Besides the specific ABCT features, the PRW-3500 also has World Time with 31 time zones, 24-hour count-down timer, stop watch, 5 daily alarms, hourly time signal, 12/24 hour format and a calendar programmed to year 2099. This watch is powered by light which can be sunlight or even low fluorescent light in case you’re dreaming of adventure but stuck at an office desk job. The watch will continue to work up to 7 months when not exposed to light.
An interesting feature is the sunrise/sunset display where you can see the exact times for sunrise and sunset in your location specified with latitude and longitude in the watch settings. This can be very helpful for any outdoors enthusiast but also for photographers and videographers. The light conditions for shooting pictures or video is often best up to 1 hour after sunrise and 1 hour before sunset. Using this feature makes it easy to predict the best light in your location.
On the wrist
This PRW-3500-4CR with black case and bezel and orange inserts and strap is also sold as PRW-3500-4JF or PRW-3500-4ER where JF is a code for a Japanese market and ER for the European market model. It’s safe to assume CR is for the rest of the world and this naming is consistent with other Pro Trek models. Most newer Pro Treks are made in Thailand and this one shows a manufacture date of January 23, 2015. The display is lightly orange tinted and doesn’t seem to distract for legibility.
The silver and black PRW3500-1 has a much more neutral look and the display shows a bit more contrast compared to the orange model. There isn’t much of a difference in legibility in bright lights but the black/silver model is easier to see in low-light conditions. It is not a huge difference but definitely noticable. This model is easier to pair with different color straps so a bit more flexibility than the orange model.
The strap is comfortable and the wings between the strap and case appear to be more comfortable than other Pro Treks I own (PAW-2000 and PRG-550). There hardly is any wrist hair that gets caught in the wings and strap, something I couldn’t stand on my other watches.
The unidirectional rotary bezel moves smoothly without any play. Casio says you can use this to help keep track of current and intended bearings but not sure how useful that will be in the field. It’s a nice design feature without making the watch too busy too look at. The bezel is made out of non-magnetic stainless steel and should hold up to daily use (and abuse) better then the aluminum bezel of the 3000.
The buttons are large and easy to push. The ABC buttons on the right of the watch have edges around them on the bottom to prevent accidental pushing when you move your hand up. It’s a larger sized watch but doesn’t feel too big on the wrist. The weight is just right and you feel you’re wearing a watch without it becoming annoying in daily activities. It’s heavier than the PAW-2000 and PRG-550 and the stainless steel bezel is probably what’s causing this weight increase. A future blog article will compare the 3500 with these other watches.
The Barometric Pressure Change Indicator is a useful feature to alert you when there is a sudden rise or fall in air pressure. A sudden drop indicates inclement weather like a thunderstorm is on its way or a sudden rise shows good weather will follow soon. It also can show a sustained rise in pressure and changing to a fall or sustained fall in pressure and changing to a rise.
The 3500 has the same recommended retail price of US$300 as the 3000. The PRW-3000 is a nice watch but feels a bit less substantial, smaller and lighter than the 3500. Main drawback of the 3000 for me is the inability to easily switch out the strap which is a dealbreaker. Overall, the 3500 offers a bit more value for money but may be too big for some.
Street prices will be in the lower US$200s as most are discounted 30%. The PRW-3500 is a very nice watch that fits perfectly in the Pro Trek line-up. It is a welcome addition with the newer 3414 module from the PRW-3000 and offering the same features in a larger and rugged case.
There are a few areas that could be improved on but that probably would make it more expensive as well. None are dealbreakers though and I think the PRW3500 will be a long-term resident in my modest affordable watch collection.
I used both the orange/black and silver/black models for a couple of weeks so far. Both are great but my preference goes to silver/black model for its better display contrast in low light and the ability to pair with different strap colors.
Do you have any comments, questions or experiences to share about this watch? Please leave your comments below!
- Very functional with many features: ABCT, sunrise/sunset, atomic clock synching and solar power
- Great looking rugged outdoors design without getting too big and bulky
- Recessed protected crystal
- High contrast display on the black/silver PRW3500-1
- Large day and date display
- Looks and feels like a quality watch
- Very reasonably priced for what you get
- Comfortable strap, can easily be replaced with other strap
- Casio quality and reliability
- It’s a Pro Trek!
- LCD display area small compared to size of watch
- Mineral crystal, could be easily scratched
- Orange strap looks ok, would look better with black strap
- Orange tinted display legible but would be better with neutral display
- Could be a little bit too big for smaller wrist sizes
- Many features require the owners manual and some time to get familiar with.
Weight (including resin band): 88 g / 3.1 oz
Lug-to-lug: 50.1 mm
Bezel diameter: 46.0 mm
Case width: 53.2 mm (9 0’clock to 3’o clock)
51.3 mm (10 o’clock to 4 o’clock)
Height: 14.2 mm (15.0 mm at N E S W on bezel)
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PRW3500 vs PAW2000
The Casio Pathfinder PAW2000 is an older model and has been around for quite a few years. It has the v2 sensors but is still very competitive compared to PRW3500. They both have similar functionality but the PAW2000 has a second LCD layer. This makes the watch more user friendly with an easier to read compass display but also makes the display look a bit dimmer, especially in low light.
The PAW2000 has larger digits for the main time display area and the PRW3500 has larger digits for the date/day/month display. The 3500 is definitely the better looking one of these two but some may prefer the lower height of the 2000. Casio moved the Adjust button from the bottom of the 2000 to the top left on the 3500. It’s easier to press the larger Light button in the dark on the 3500.
All pictures copyright Frank Wulfers except for stock Casio images, please do not use commercially without permission.
Many possibilities for customization with different colors nato straps. The black-red-green is often referred to as the Bond Nato.
The PRW-3500-4 comes standard with an orange strap. Pictures below show this watch on a 3-ring premium nato strap and a strap borrowed from a PRG-550.