Gear Review: Casio RFT100 Referee Watch

UPDATE: As of 30 January 2015, the RFT100 is no longer available.  You might consider the SPINTSO Referee Watch 2S instead (at the same $99 price).

The Casio RFT100 Referee Timer achieved notoriety as the official referee timer in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Although it has been quite popular in the referee community, it has been nearly impossible to buy one – at least in the USA – for several years.

Our friends at Referee Store.com have solved the sourcing problem and now offer the RFT100 for sale on their site for $99.

The Basics

The RFT100 is made from high impact PVC, and is two-tone blue (sorry, no referee black).  The watch face is larger than other watches I’ve worn (including the previously review Casio XYZ), making it easier to read.

There are six buttons on the watch: Adjust, Mode, Start/Stop, Vibrate, Reset, and Light.  Most of these are self-explanatory, but the single button for Start/Stop is a most welcome feature.  That button is bright yellow, making it very easy to find quickly.  The Start/Stop button also feels different, as it is rectangular in shape and it surrounded on three sides by a hard plastic cowling.  This makes it easy to find the button without looking down at the watch.

The watch strap is plastic, which I personally prefer as it is more sweat resistant.  The strap uses a standard hasp-and-hole mechanism and has 11 size stops.  It employs a unique shape at the top, matching the “offset” design aesthetic of the watch itself.  While this makes for an attractive watch, I wonder about the availability of replacement straps.

The RFT100 requires a CR2025 battery (included).

The manufacturer claims the watch is water resistant to 50 meters, although I did not confirm this through testing.

While Casio provides a 2 year warranty on this watch, Referee Store.com offers its’ own 2 year  “warranty on defects where we will replace any watch that is defective due to no fault of referee/user.”  Nice.

Operation

Using the watch is very similar to the W756B-1AV Digital Sport Watch, and, I suspect, all Casio watches.  The Mode button allows you to enter any of six functional modes: time, stopwatch, timer, alternate time zone, world time, and alarm.  Once you’ve entered a mode, the Reset button allows you to modify certain parameters of each mode – alarm time, for example.  As with the W756B-1AV, the timer function features nine useful preset countdown timers: 45, 40, 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, 12 and 10 minutes. Pressing the Reset button cycles through each of these choices in turn.  After you’ve selected the appropriate half length, timing commences by simply pressing the Start/Stop button.  Should you need to stop timing for injury, substitutions, etc., a quick press of the Start/Stop button halts the timing.  Pressing Start/Stop again resumes timing.  While the timer is running, time of day is displayed in the top section o the watch. You’ll have to calculate added time on your own by consulting your backup watch.  If your backup is counting down also, then simply subtracting the time remaining on the RFT100 from your backup gives you added time.

The most important feature of the RFT100 is the ability to set alarms – including the countdown timer alarm – to vibrate when expired instead of the usual audible beep.  This avoids the problem of players asking why play is continuing after your watch has beeped. The vibration pattern is ten successive double vibrations of 1 second each; the vibration alarm does not repeat after completion.  Once reaching 0:00, the timer function automatically begins counting up and continues until you stop it.

In testing in two matches, the RFT100 performed perfectly and was very easy to use.

Recommendation

If you’re ready to step up your gear, but don’t want to spend $150 on the SPINTSO referee watch, the RFT100 fits the bill quite nicely.  The large watch face and easy-to-feel Start/Stop button are big plusses, and the vibrate-on-alarm feature is one I haven’t found on any other referee watch under $100.  It’s easy to use, durable and is manufactured by a reliable brand name.

Overall, I rate the RFT100 four stars out of five.

The only factor preventing me from giving the RFT100 a top 5 star rating is the price.  $96 is a bit steep for what you get; A $79 price point would put the RFT100 closer to the middle between the entry level W756B and the top of the line SPINTSO (which will be reviewed in this space soon).

User Manual geek?  Click here.

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Gear Review: Casio Digital Sport Watch

While the SPINTSO seems to be the preferred watch for many advanced referees, the idea of plunking down $150 on a watch I wear a couple of times a week makes my knees weak.  I’ve tried a couple of different watches, including a Timex Ironman that works fairly well, and a Wal-Mart generic brand that has almost no features, but only costs $10.  Both were suitable to the task, but I continued to search for a watch that had referee-specific features, including a countdown timer, and, ideally, the ability to easily stop and start one timer, while keeping another continuously running.

Enter the Casio Men’s W756B-1AV Digital Sport Watch ($20, Amazon.com).  The Casio is packed with features, with perhaps the best being a very reasonable price.  Among the many features of the Casio are countdown timers featuring preset countdown intervals of 45, 40, 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, and 10 minutes.  In stopwatch mode, two clocks appear on the screen; the larger, main timer is always running.  The smaller timer in the lower right corner stops when you press the large Start/Stop button at the bottom of the watch face.  The difference between the two clocks gives you the amount of added time.  (To be fair, the SPINTSO watch calculates added time for you; you’ll have to decide if that level of subtraction is worth the extra money).

In timer mode, the watch can be set to countdown from a preset interval, say 45 minutes, then start counting down a halftime interval, say 15, minutes, then start counting down the second 45 minute half, all without touching the watch after setup.

Buttons are logically laid out using a typical watch format: upper left is Adjust, lower left is Mode, upper right is Light, and lower right is Reset.  The large grey start/stop button on the face is especially convenient.

There are a couple of drawbacks: the alarms that sound at the end of the countdown period cannot be disabled, so you have to remember to turn it off before it gets to zero.  Also, if you’re in the over-40 crowd and wear contact lenses when you ref, the small timer in the lower right corner can be a bit hard to read.

Overall, the Casio W756B-1AV Digital Sport Watch is a great value for the price and I give it a four whistle rating (out of five).

If you like to read user guides (like me), you can download it here –>casio_qw3100

Casio Sport Watch