Review: Can a Really Cheap Watch Be Any Good?

I recently ordered HONHX S-SPORTS digital watch from AliExpress for a mere price of 1.78 euros, including post and packaging from China to Finland. I put the cheap digital watch through a series of tough tests to find out whether it could endure them.

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HONHX S-SPORTS digital wrist watch.

I have always preferred digital watches over those with analogue display. For couple of decades I was using Casio digital wrist watch, but I lost it. Instead of buying a new Casio, I decided to test one of the cheap Chinese Casio clones.

The total price, 1.78 € (less than $2), which included post and packaging from China was suspiciously cheap. In fact is the cheapest digital watch I have seen! The watch was delivered roughly 6 weeks later in a simple envelope and it came with very simple cardboard package, which had all the instructions.

Operation

The HONHX S-Sports is fairly simple to operate and works similarly like any other 4-button digital wrist watch. It display 12/24h time, day, month and weekday. It can also be used as a stop watch and alarm. Pressing the light button causes the lights rotate at different colors and flash like in a disco. While this at first may appear cool, this is a bit less usable than standard back light, nevertheless it allows to read the time in total darkness. I couldn’t test the battery life, for reasons soon explained.

The watch made a beep every even hour. I didn’t figure out how to disable it, but setting time and date was simple enough.

Is it durable and waterproof?

My first test was to take the watch to a Finnish sauna. I stayed about 15 minutes in roughly 90 Celsius (194 F) degree heat. I was throwing water on the stones to make the air filled with lots of humidity. Professional watch repairmen recommend never to subject any watch to such test as even the water proof designs can leak in some moisture and the watch might also heat up. HONHX S-SPORTS handled this test without any problem. My old Casio had some moisture develop inside it, but HONHX was moisture free.

Then I decided to take a very long 15-minute shower with the watch strapped to wrist. Once again HONHX passed it flying colors.

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The watch after few dives into the bottom of the 3.8 meter deep pool.

The final test was to jump into the pool and sink to the bottom of the jumping pool, which is about 3.8 meters deep and stay at the bottom of the pool as long as my lungs allow. I dived into the water and after I resurfaced above water, I could clearly see that the watch had a lot of water inside it. The display was still showing some numbers, but they were dim and flashing. The light function got, even if I didn’t press the button. A did a few more similar jumps and dives and a bit more water leaked into the HONHX watch. It reads 30 m water resist, but I guess it really means 30 meters from the shore while sitting on a rowing boat.

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After some time the water inside the watch turned murky brown color.

Afterwards I noticed the the water inside the watch turned murky brown color. At home I opened the watch. It seems the brown color was caused by some glue inside the watch. In just 1 h exposure to the swimming pool water the tiny screws inside the watch showed some rust. The clock display was still showing light and some flashing numbers, but it never recovered. I killed the watch, but I think maybe removing the battery and drying it quickly might have saved the watch. The weakest link of the wrist watch were probably the buttons, which had insulation.

I am still inclined to buy another simple cheap digital wrist watch. Curiously this same watch is now selling at AliExpress for much higher price. 6.48 € was the cheapest price I could find now! Can you recommend me any models, which are truly water proof? (can survive a dive into the pool bottom)

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The same watch disassembled. You can see brown rust and light on the actual watch part if you click this photo to see the full resolution image. The white rubber ring is for water proofing.

Afterword

This is my first product review. I have ordered a lot of stuff online, hunting for decent quality, yet very cheap products. Please tell me if you found this interview useful or amusing.

I apologize for the relatively low quality of the watch photos. I have a good Olympus 60 mm F/2.8 macro lens, but I took all the photos using Panasonic 20 mm F/1.7, which is mediocre at macro shots.