Some of my readers may know that I hate most digital watches like Casio G-shock and all those others. I know they are rugged and meant to be worn while doing some sports or any other activity where you don’t want to break your good watch. But the problem for me is that they look ugly, I just can’t stand them. I know for example that some Casio watches are very important in the watch history and I respect the technology and kudos to them. But the design aspect each time I wanted to try one out was just throwing me off. There are some great looking vintage digital watches from Omega, Pulsar or Bulova, but that’s it. And so one day just looking at some microbrand pictures on Instagram I noticed this one cool looking digital watch and learning how they built one, I was intrigued to review it. And so today, thanks to Allay, we have one in for review.
So the company is called Allay. They come from Germany and only recently got into making watches. But the most amazing thing is that the whole watch is made from stainless steel in Germany with their own custom digital module. And I really like their whole “Not Give A Fuck” promotional campaign, haha. The only model they have right now is called El Capitan and it comes in gold and silver colour variations.
So the watch came in a small hard travel case with a zipper, inside you will find the watch, warranty and card with a QR code that goes to the instructions manual for the all functions. The first impressions when I took the watch out were wow. I have handled many digital watches over the years, but this one feels so well built, immediately when you start looking closer at the case and bracelet you notice that this watch is no joke and isn’t your regular plastic toy watch, you heard it Casio!
The El Capitan case is made of 316L stainless steel. The machine work is really good, just like German made watch should be. The case shape is octagon/square. The finishing all over the case is satin brushed which gives it that tool watch look, another signature thing for German made watches. The El Capitan in width measures at 36mm, lengthwise it measures at 42mm, the thickness is 12,1mm. The proportions, in my opinion, are spot on. At both sides of the watch, you will find two buttons for all functions (light, mode, start, reset). The buttons are also made from stainless steel and have a very nice feel to them when you push them. The solid stainless steel case back is held on with 4 small screws and has some specifications and Allay logo engraved on it. The water resistance is 100m (10ATM) and Allay is even encouraging you to swim with it. I wouldn’t risk it anyway, cause I’m careful with my watches.
When it comes to the dial, well there isn’t any, because there sits a screen with black and white colours and blue backlight when the light button is pushed. But the surprising thing is that the crystal over the top of the screen is a flat sapphire crystal. I don’t know if Casio uses sapphire, but this one has it. Some may say it is overkill, but I think it just makes the watch more rugged. On the crystal, you will find the Allay logo and of course the “El Capitan” model name.
Inside the El Capitan sits a custom LCD digital module, dual time, time of day (12h or 24h), day/date, auto calendar, chronograph with 1/100 sec resolution, lap counter, dual time alarm, countdown timer and light function. So a lot of things. For me, it was pretty hard to find how the functions work, but Allay was pretty fast to respond over Instagram and sent me the instructions manual cause the one that could’ve been downloaded through the QR code wasn’t working at the time. After reading the instructions it is pretty straightforward to set everything. I used the alarm setting a lot as I always wanted a watch with alarm function and I never had one in my life, and I got to say it is pretty useful. I know you can set alarm on your phone, but I just wanted to try this one out and it was pretty loud for a device this small. The blue backlight also is very helpful in the night.
The El Capitan comes with three strap colour options. The first is a black rubber strap, stainless steel bracelet and the same stainless steel strap in black colour. I chose the all-steel look and it just looks so good. The bracelet is pretty good looking with the almost H link style links. The removable links to adjust the strap are held in with those smash with hammer pins, I would’ve chosen the screws rather than pins, but if you are careful and have the right instruments, adjusting the bracelet won’t be a problem. All the links are solid so it has some weight when it’s on your wrist, but it isn’t that heavy to notice it in daily wear. The milled buckle is a pretty standard one but works fine. The buckle is signed with Allay logo. The buckle has 6 micro-adjustment positions so you can get that perfect fit. The bracelet is 20mm wide with no taper. So there will be a lot of nato strap choices for you to choose from, or maybe even leather one too?
Overall I really like the watch, I spent 3 months with it (yup, this review took a long time writing). The only thing maybe that everyone could be scared off buying this is the price, it costs 200€ and that’s a lot more than some of the competitors, but you must remember that this is no ordinary digital watch. You get all stainless steel case, a custom digital module with a ton of functions, sapphire glass, 100m water resistance and of course the whole watch is made in Germany! I think it is a pretty fair price for a very solid and well-built watch! If you are a fan of digital watches, I should suggest you get one and fast!
|case material:||36 mm, 316 L Stainless Steel|
|lug width:||20 mm, spring bar|
|strap/band:||polyurethane | 316 L Stainless Steel|
|Uhrwerk:||custom lcd digital module, dual time, time of day (12h or 24h), day/date, auto calendar, chronograph with 1/100 sec resolution, lap counter, dual time alarm, countdown timer and light function|
|production:||Made in Germany|