If you’ve been searching for an affordable dive watch, you’ve almost certainly come across the Casio MDV106-1A Duro on Amazon (could they make the name any longer?).
This is a watch I’ve owned for a couple of years, so I think It’s finally time I give it a fair review.
Being one of the few true dive watches in this price range with 200-meter water resistance, the MDV106 has little competition in the affordable diver space and is more or less in a league of its own.
With that said, there’s more to this affordable beauty than just the specifications it offers. I mean, heck, take a look at that little Marlin logo at the 6:00 on the dial. It’s little touches like that that show Casio were paying extra attention to detail on this one.
In this review, we’re going to be taking a look at the MDV106 in closer detail. Let’s start with the specs.
- Diameter: 44mm
- Thickness: 12mm
- Lug to Lug: 48mm
- Lug Width: 20mm
- Weight: 92g (case only)
- Screw-down crown
- Stainless steel case
- Unidirectional dive bezel
- Mineral Crystal
- Water Resistance Rating: 200 meters
- Movement: Japanese Quartz Movement
- Battery: SR626
- Check price on Amazon
The Case – Not Bad, Not Great
The case of the MDV106 is arguably one of the most average parts of this watch. A contrast of brushed surfaces on top of the case and lugs against the polished sides actually gives the watch a good visual appeal.
Unfortunately, neither the brushing nor polishing is done amazingly well, but watches at this price point rarely ever are. This is simply one of the corners cut to keep the manufacturing cost and price tag of this watch down, and it’s mostly an aesthetic thing, so don’t let it dissuade you too much.
There’s also a subtle bevel that chamfers between the top and sides of the case, making it a bit smoother of a transition between the two, and also adds a bit of “bling” when the light hits the various stainless steel surfaces.
Crown guards at the 3:00 position protrude to protect the screw-down crown, which, in turn, helps maintain the watch’s 200 meters of water resistance. Don’t forget to screw-down the screw-down crown before you hop in the pool, kiddos!
The crown, when unscrewed, has just a bit of machining and texture to allow you to grip and adjust the functions of the watch, but it’s not as textured as grippy as I typically like to see on dive watches, considering your hands might be wet when trying to adjust it.
This issue is slightly resolved thanks to how big the crown is. Not obnoxiously large, but considering this is a slightly larger watch coming in at 44mm, I’d say it has an appropriately sized crown to match, which helps when setting the time.
The case back is inscribed with a cool marlin logo that matches the marlin on the dial itself. While it’s nothing extravagant, nor is it extremely artistic in its execution, it’s a nice little detail that adds just a bit of complexity to an otherwise straightforward watch. I always appreciate when brands add a personal touch and something to make the watch a little less generic.
Solid Dive Bezel
A functional dive bezel is one of the most important features of a dive watch, next to its 200 meters of water resistance.
The bezel on the MDV106 Duro is surprisingly solid. It’s large and textured enough to be able to get a good grip to rotate it, without digging your fingers to hard into it.
The turning action feels surprisingly tactile and satisfying, as well. With each click of this unidirectional bezel, it clicks into place, with only a tiny amount of back play. I wouldn’t ever worry about accidentally bumping and moving the bezel, as it feels very secure and locked in, once set in place.
It has markings in increments of 5, and 10, as well as a lume pip that, once charged up, illuminates in the dark, helping with orientation.
Overall, this is a really solid dive bezel that feels mechanically sound and surprisingly satisfying to use.
Surprising Sunburst Dial
A rich black sunburst dial of the Casio MDV106 is definitely one of winning aspects of this watch. It varies in color slightly from charcoal to a deep black, depending on how the light hits it. I feel the sunburst dial also helps set the Casio Duro apart from the many other matte black dive watches available on the market today.
There’s also a blue dial variation, the MDV106B floating around that has an even richer blue sunburst dial. I went with black, because you just can’t ever go wrong with a black dial, and that it’ll match with just about any strap I throw on it. More about that later.
The slick black dial is contrasted by bold and legible white applied hour markings, with variations at the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock intervals. The variations in hour markings help making the watch even easier to read at a quick glance.
At the 3:00 position, you’ll find a subtle date wheel framed in white that doesn’t distract from the rest of the dial. I like that they didn’t go overboard with the date wheel, but I do like that they included it to add a bit more functionality for this piece as an everyday wear.
While the hour markings do have lume that lights up in the dark, it fades away so quickly, that it’s hardly usable or helpful. This is surprising and almost disappointing, for a dive watch, considering when diving in the dark depths of the ocean is likely when you’d need the legibility of lume the most. Good thing I’m not a diver!
Overall the dial is perfect and simple enough to tell the time easily, while still being interesting enough to look at for even a collector like myself who has a half-dozen other dive watches in his collection.
Yet another unique and tasteful design element on the MDV106 are the handset.
With white lumed arrow hands that span past the center on either direction, and are beveled on the end to catch and reflect light, these are a surprisingly great choice for a value watch.
Bevels and chamfers reflect light and add a bit of bling, and when done well, can make a watch appear a bit more expensive than it is, as long as they don’t go overboard.
A red-painted arrow second hand adds a pop of color to an otherwise monochromatic watch and adds some visual interest. It also makes pairing this watch with a red strap, or with red accents, even more appealing.
Included Rubber Dive Strap… Maybe Buy Another
The included Rubber Dive strap is nothing to write home about. It’s certainly wearable, and waterproof, but isn’t all that comfortable to wear for long periods of time, especially in warmer weather.
My guess is that the synthetic rubber material used isn’t the most breathable, like some more natural rubber options would be.
That’s why my Casio MDV almost always lives on a Barton Bands rubber strap most of the time. It also uses a synthetic silicone but is much more comfortable and breathable than the stock strap.
The good news is, since the MDV106 is so affordable, you can take your excess savings and apply them to a few watch strap options. I’ll give you a few personal suggestions later in the article.
Mineral Crystal – Not As Good As Sapphire, BUT…
A nothing special mineral crystal certainly isn’t as scratch-resistant as a sapphire crystal would be.
It does have one safety benefit over sapphire, however, as a mineral crystal will not break and shatter like the glass of a sapphire crystal might, if under extreme stress, making it less dangerous in the case of a breakage
But for an everyday watch, I do tend to prefer sapphire crystals for the added scratch resistance. Unfortunately, some corners need to be cut for watches in this price range, and the crystal is often one of the first cost-cutting corners they go with.
The movement is a Japanese quartz movement that runs on an SR626 battery.
The battery should last at least 2-3 years, and they’re very affordable to replace when the time comes.
The movement itself is extremely accurate like many quartz movements are. They’re almost always more accurate than their mechanical watch counterparts, and they have the added benefit of not having to constantly be wound, like you would a mechanical watch.
Even in my collection full of mechanical watches that I LOVE, I still find myself grabbing the Casio MDV106 from time to time, due to the simplicity and convenience of having a quartz watch. This makes it a great “grab and go” watch for when you just don’t have time to wind and set the time on a mechanical.
Dimensions and Comfort
Divers are often a bit bulky and chunky, mainly for the purposes of legibility and functionality. Not only do they need to fit a functional dive bezel on the watch, but the markings need to be bold and legible for divers to be able to read easily.
The Casio MDV106 is definitely on the bigger side, coming in at 44mm in diameter, and a lug to lug of 48mm.
It wears well on my 7″ wrists, but I would consider it on the upper limit of my own size preferences.
If you have smaller wrists, the MDV106 may not be the right fit for your wrist, unless you just prefer a larger watch overall.
It’s surprisingly thin for its size, coming in at 12mm. When worn on a NATO strap, this is raised just a bit. I personally don’t mind having a thicker dive watch. If I want a sleek and thin dress watch that can fit under a sleeve, that’s what dress watches like my Seiko SARB033 are for.
It’s a bit of a heavy watch, coming in at 96g. And it definitely feels substantial on the wrist. Not a lightweight watch by any means, but I still find it comfortable enough for everyday wear.
One of the key selling points of this MDV106 Duro is absolutely how well-built it is, for the money.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find just about any other dive watch with 200 meters of water resistance at this price.
Pair that with the overall decent level of build quality, and a relatively streamlined design, and you have yourself a really solid value for anybody looking for a true dive watch on a budget.
Alternatives To The Casio MDV106
While there are very few alternatives for a dive watch with 200m water resistance at this price range, if you do expand your budget just a bit, there are a few awesome affordable dive watches that can be had.
Here are a few examples.
Seiko SKX007 / SKX009
Often considered the best entry-level dive watch by collectors is the Seiko SKX007 and SKX009.
Similar to the MDV106, they also have a 200m water resistance. They also have the added bonus of being ISO Certified, which means they pass a certain set of requirements to be considered a professional’s dive watch. While I’ve never actually been diving with mine, just knowing how tough and robust my SKX009 is sure gives me a feeling of confidence (and watch snobbery) when on my wrist.
Although they’ve been discontinued, they were so popular for decades that there are still plenty in circulation on the market, both new and used.
While they’re a bit pricier than the MDV106, they also have an automatic mechanical movement instead of quartz, so it runs purely on motion and energy, instead of a battery.
They’ve since been “replaced” by Seiko’s newer Seiko 5 Sports divers. While not as iconic, and with only a 100m water resistance rating instead of 200m, you might have an easier time sourcing one of these new Seiko 5 Sports Divers instead of an SKX.
Orient Kamasu / Mako / Ray
Spend a bit more than the Casio MDV106 price tag and you enter the world of amazing affordable automatic dive watches.
Orient has been producing a few dive watches, in particular, the Kamasu, Mako, and Ray, that offer a ton of specs, while still keeping the overall price tag relatively affordable.
A few upgrades you’ll see in the Orient Kamasu over the Casio MDV106 is the addition of a sapphire crystal, stainless steel oyster bracelet, and a mechanical movement, all while maintaining the impressive 200m water-resistance of the Casio MDV106.
The Orient Kamasu, Mako, or Ray are great choices for someone who wants to spend a bit more for a few build-quality upgrades.
Invicta Pro Diver 8928OB
If you want to keep it REALLY affordable, the Invicta Pro Diver is simply one of the cheapest automatic dive watches you can get.
While it’s not built quite as well as the previously mentioned Orient Kamasu, or Seiko SKX,, it still has an automatic movement and a 200-meter water resistance rating, and is only marginally more expensive than the Casio MDV106.
It also has an impressive rebranded automatic Seiko movement (NH35A), which are known for their quality and durability.
That’s right! The best alternative to the Casio MDV106 is…. Another Casio MDV?
The Casio MDV106B is simply a blue dial variant to the MDV106 with literally everything else on the watch exactly the same. Great for those of you who like the MDV106 but also… Like blue.
I would get slaughtered in the comments if I didn’t mention one of Citizen’s best affordable dive watches, the Citizen Promaster.
It has a unique design, 200m water resistance, and a whole lot of fans on the internet.
While I don’t own one myself, it’s next on my list, and like many others in this list, makes a great alternative to the Casio MDV106.
The Vostok Amphibia is such a fun watch. It was made for the Russian Military, so you know it’s durable and tough. But it also comes in a variety of fun and colorful designs featuring military vehicles and such.
The Amphibia also has 200m water resistance, and although it does cost a wee bit more than the MDV106, it’s also an automatic watch, which typically comes with additional cost. (And is so worth it, in my opinion).
Check out the Vostok Amphibia if you want to try a fun automatic dive watch that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is still durable enough to take a beating on your next swimming adventure.
Casio MDV106 Strap Suggestions
The Casio MDV106 is an extremely simple and clean design, with a monochromatic color scheme. This makes it perfect for pairing with just about any watch strap of your choosing.
Keep in mind that not all straps are waterproof, so if you do plan on swimming with this dive watch, you might want to stick to waterproof straps such as rubber or NATOs.
Whichever strap you choose, just be sure to get one with a 22mm width, as that’s the lug width of the MDV.
With that said, here are a few straps that I personally enjoy wearing on my MDV106
This is honestly one of my favorite combinations for just about any dive watch that I can get away with wearing orange on.
This bright orange is definitely a bold choice but works especially well for warmer months, and the summer.
It also makes it extremely easy to find your watch, should it fall off in the water when swimming, for whatever reason. Just be careful that a fish doesn’t mistake it for food.
NATO straps are waterproof, breathable and comfortable, and can be easily washed.
They also come in a wide variety of colors, so you can really have your pick of the litter when it comes to colors, but orange is just my personal favorite when it comes to summery watches like the MDV.
A rubber strap is THE standard option when it comes to dive watches, especially ones that you plan on wearing in the water, or, you guessed it, diving.
They’re waterproof, breathable, and lightweight. They wick water and moisture instead of absorbing it, so you don’t end up with a wet soggy mess on your wrist all day.
Granted, the synthetic rubber strap that comes included with the Casio MDV106 isn’t the greatest quality, so I suggest taking a look at natural rubber straps that will be much more breathable, such as those from my personal favorite rubber strap brand, Bonetto Cinturini.
Want to make your MDV106 look a bit more vintage? Want to piss off some watch nerds? Then put a leather strap on your dive watch, and post a picture on a watch forum.
Many will complain about pairing a leather strap with a dive watch, because a leather strap is not waterproof, and thus, people find that to be a bit unconventional on a diver.
Since I spend most of my time behind a desk, and NOT diving or swimming, that doesn’t bother me one bit. The cool points of a leather strap are well worth it. Bring on the flame, watch nerds!
I personally think a brown leather strap works so perfectly on this watch, but you can never go wrong with a black leather, or even a crocodile embossed leather strap, if you’re itching to set yourself apart.
Another great pairing with dive watches are stainless steel oyster style bracelets.
They’re waterproof, and typically all brushed, meaning they hide scratches very well. With a sports watch like the MDV106, you might wear it doing any number of physical activities, so having that extra bit of scratch resistance is always a good thing.
The Casio MDV106-1A Duro is simply one of the most affordable dive watches on the market.
While it doesn’t have any fancy features, nor an automatic movement, it has 200 meters of water resistance, making it more than capable of swimming or diving, without having to worry about water damage.
The larger dimensions and 44mm diameter might be a turn off for some, but others might prefer the chunkiness.
I’m glad to have a watch like the Casio MDV106 in my collection, as I know it’s one I can always grab and wear, on just about any strap, and not have to worry about it.
Check out the Casio MDV106 here.