The Xenomorph Wearing A Custom Double Casio F-100

Acamera seemingly flies through the infinity of the cosmos. It pulls backward over what looks to be the surface of a foreign planet before revealing the shape of an egg. The screen devolves into a David Lynch-style fever dream. It’s sensory overload as the egg is slashed open and clips of space adventure horror appear on the screen. All the while, a title is slowly building itself until the words “Alien” are fully formed – met with a simple tagline, “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

What I’ve just described is the trailer for Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), a sci-fi slasher film that completely changed cinema in ways it barely gets credit for. I recall a documentary where Scott mentioned being inspired by George Lucas’ little space adventure Star Wars (1977) – not necessarily the story or tone, but the production design. The idea of a fantastical universe that felt lived-in, used, visceral, and gritty spoke to the young director. Scott also happened to release his first major motion picture, The Duelists, in 1977. With Alien, there was no sophomore slump. In fact, he would go on to deliver perhaps the best one-two punch in science fiction cinematic history with Alien and Blade Runner (1982).
Alien, in many ways, represents the first truly modern genre film. It doesn’t have the hokey pretense of Star Wars (this coming from a massive SW fan, btw), and draws on its inspirations masterfully, pulling from the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) with a bit of Hitchcock thrown in. But leaving aside the filmmaking prowess, it did something many films were afraid to do: it centered around a female hero played by Sigourney Weaver as Ripley. She carries the film with a presence and physicality that has made this film a classic, going toe-to-toe with the iconic alien creature all the while wearing not one, but two Casio watches on a single wrist… sort of.
There are some movies that I kind of feel don’t require a reason to watch. And while Alien is certainly one of them, I’ve got several perfectly good reasons to pop this one into the VCR this week. Being that it was released in 1979, the film is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, which warrants celebration if you ask me. Add that to the fact that the first trailer for Alien: Romulus was released this week. And as if I needed more reasons, this week’s release of the Snoopy MoonSwatch put me in a space-faring mood, and today’s story on the site on the green-glowing Casio G-Shock “Hidden Glow” only cemented the occasion.

The film follows the crew of a commercial vessel called the Nostromo. The ship is so named for the Joseph Conrad novel, which is an interesting coincidence as 1979 also happened to be the year Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was released, itself based on the Conrad novel Heart of Darkness, but I digress. The crew of the ship, which includes Warrant Officer Ripley (played by Weaver), are awakened from a deep sleep and are confronted by a distress signal that leads them to a moon close by. On that moon, they encounter an abandoned ship with a deceased extraterrestrial pilot, but that’s not all. They soon arrive in a chamber filled with eggs, one of which hatches and attacks crew member Kane. Let’s just say this isn’t the last we see of these eggs as chests explode and an alien, which we now know as the Xenomorph (inspired by H.R. Giger’s Necronom IV painting), runs rampant on the ship, taking out its crew and leaving Ripley to battle it on her own.
This is the kind of movie that commands the audience’s attention with suspense (and beautiful cinematography) in such a way that you have a hard time paying attention to tiny details – such as the watches on the characters’ wrists. But in this case, the watch is too cool and too distinctive to miss. What I love about it is that it marries the use of a watch in deep space with prop-making and movie magic. That is because the props team on Alien opted to take a regular production Casio F-100 from 1979 Earth and turn it into a dual-watch model fit for this fictional universe.
That’s right, if you look at Ripley’s wrist (and that of Tom Skerrit’s Captain Dallas), you’ll notice they are wearing two connected Casio F-100 models with a red border on what appears to be a standard rubber strap. Just like Scott, the F-100 made its debut in 1977 as the futuristic follow-up to the Casiotrio (which just celebrated its 50th anniversary with a faithful re-release). A major hallmark of the F-100 is that it was one of the very first watches to be made from resin, making it far lighter than its metal counterparts. Aesthetically, the “face” of the F-100 is reminiscent of Darth Vader’s chest plate, with large buttons and a blue and red color code. These buttons sit beneath a large rectangular display for the digital time readout.
It would have been perfectly reasonable for Scott and the prop master to have looked at the standard F-100 and thought, “Yeah, this looks right for our universe.” But despite the watch’s futuristic look for its time, it apparently wasn’t futuristic enough for Alien. And so this bespoke prop variation containing two watches was born. The F-100 is no longer in production, but Casio has somewhat revived the watch by way of the modern A-100, which takes many of the visual calling cards of the original and brings them to the modern day. The brand has yet to take the – logical, in my opinion – leap and create a 1:1 Alien F-100. Maybe we have to wait for the 50th anniversary.
Back to the film, the watch fits seamlessly into the carefully curated Alien universe and looks like a piece of kit alongside the Nostromo crew’s standard issue uniform set. For Ripley, the watch gets a ton of screen time and is hard to miss with its red flourishes. You see her wearing the watch in the more mundane scenes with her crew eating breakfast to literally battling the alien, weapons in hand, in the corridors of the ship. We all talk about the “Ripley” Seiko in Aliens – a film featured early on in Watching Movies – but I think this Casio represents a better partnership between watches and the silver screen because of the sheer creativity and imagination that brought it to life.
When the Nostromo decides to act on what they believe to be a distress signal, a portion of the crew departs for this nearby moon. Ripley stays back on the ship and communicates with her crew mates over the radio. In a scene where she is asking her shipmates to further investigate the nature of the call they’ve received (what would later be determined not to be a distress signal, but a warning), you can see her standing drinking a cup of coffee with her Casio F-100 in view.
Later in the film – in one of its most iconic moments – Kane awakens from the alien egg attack-induced unconsciousness and rejoins the crew for a meal. But his recovery is short-lived as he immediately exhibits signs of discomfort and distress, leading the team to clear off the table, lay him down on it, and attempt to give him aid. As the team attempts to pin him down you can see the Casio F-100 on Ripley’s wrist as she tends to Kane in vain. Shortly after, an alien explodes from his chest – in shocking fashion – and quickly disappears somewhere on the ship. And so the true action of Alien begins.