There's Always Room For a G-Shock
No matter what watches I hope to get in the future and no matter what I currently have in my collection, there will always be room for the Casio G-Shock. I could have a case full of AP Royal Oaks and yet, I would always find a reason to buy and enjoy one of Casio’s solid, tough, digital and, in most cases, cheaper offerings.
But why is this? How does G-Shock resonate so much with people, even those with collections of quite high-end pieces? It’s quite extraordinary when you think about it. G-Shocks don’t boast mechanical movements, they don’t use precious metals, the straps often have a cheap rubbery feel and more often than not, they’re digital.
But I think that’s the appeal. The ease of it all. The ‘tell it like it is’, no frills, ‘what you see is what you get’ simplicity that just makes buying and owning one so easy. Also, they’re tough, like F-ing tough! I have an old G-Shock from when I was a kid (DW-5900) which I wore to school every day. It was on my wrist for the full 5 years and endured sports days, football matches, basketball games and a few fights. I kept it on when I got home, it came on bike rides with me…. it fell off with me. I think I even slept and showered with it. I changed out the battery once and you know what, I still have it and it still works. What else can do that? Let's take a closer look at G Shock
Quick history. The development of the first G-Shock started in 1981 when Kikuo Ibe, Casio’s head designer, came up with a plan to make the world toughest watch after dropping his own wristwatch and breaking it. With a design team of just three members, their aim was to create a watch that would withstand a drop of 10 metres, 10 atmospheres of water pressure and house a battery that would last 10 years – they dubbed this ‘The Triple Ten’. Over 200 prototypes into the project and the team were still struggling to find the perfect design.
Then, while on a visit to a playground, Ibe noticed a child playing with a ball. Watching the ball bounce and impact the ground he realised that the centre of the ball would not experience the same forces and impacts as the outer sides. This ultimately led Ibe and his team to create a watch whereby the mechanics would, in effect, be suspended in the centre, covered by protective cushioning and a firm outer layer that would reduce damage by impacts, vibrations and even high G-forces. The Casio G-Shock was born.
And it’s this toughness and durability that really separates G-Shock apart from other watches. Is it literally the ‘go anywhere, do anything’ watch. Sure, a submariner has 300 metres of water resistance but seriously, when I go on holiday, I’m not swimming in the sea with a £9000 watch on! Even a Seamster at £4000, Nope! And that’s the thing. Brands like Rolex and Omega can sell us on the idea that their watches can go anywhere and do anything; James Bond even wears a Seamster, but you can bet your arse if I’m headed into a gunfight, I’ll certainly be asking someone to hold my watch! Not with a G-Shock though. In a gunfight I may run out of ammo but even then, I can throw it at someone! It’d probably do more damage!
And with over 30 years of history and innovation (more on that later) there’s a high chance that this tough digital beast gave you your first taste in to the wonderful world of watches. It certainly was for me and over the years plenty of G-Shocks have come and gone during my time as a watch enthusiast. However, my passion for the brand was reignited during a hike up Mount Snowden about 6 years ago. A large group of us decided to make a weekend of it and we did have some ‘watch guys’ in the group which consisted of a few Rolex collectors and some Panerai fanboys.
But when the time came to ascend, it was the G-shock that led the way. Almost everyone was wearing one and the weekend quickly became a digital watch meetup rather than a mountain climb. There was even talk about making it a regular thing. We could organise a hike, put it on social media and just see who came, talking watches on the way…. Still might do that (if nobody steals it from this post first). “Hikes & Horolgy”. Boom! You can have that for free!
After that weekend my G-Shock game was in high gear. I started stalking the G-Shock website which let me tell you, is a rabbit hole of adventure. In my previous posts about watch collecting (here), I made a point of saying something like, “Don’t adjust your lifestyle to suit the watch…. A watch won’t make you more outgoing”. But that should have come with a caveat and what I should have said was, “unless it’s a G-Shock, then it doesn’t matter!”.
And in a way it’s true, a G-Shock isn’t going to set you back £5000, the ones I’m considering go up to around £600 (Mudmaster ref: GWG-1000) and so if you do buy one and then feel you’ve made a mistake, don’t like the watch or just don’t use it, you can always send it back or sell it without struggling to financially recover. It’s not the same as going all in on a Franck Muller Vanguard and then realising it’s not for you. And yes, this does sound like a weekly conversation I have with my wife!
As of today, I currently have 4 in the collection; The original DW-5900 which still works, a GA-100 which I use for running, cycling and on motorbike rides. I have the 35-year stainless steel anniversary edition (GMW-B5000GD-1ER) and the more recent GA-2100 (aka the Casi-Oak). Yet there are many collectors out there who only collect G-Shock watches with pieces in the hundreds. And I think what makes them so collectable and appealing is Casio’s continued push for innovation and improvement
It’s easy to look at the brand and some of their watches and write them off as the same internals surrounded by a larger, more colourful body. But take a closer look and you’ll see years of innovation and forward momentum not only in design, but also in technology. I actually wish some Swiss manufacturers had the same level of courage! For example, G-Shock had a connected watch a full 2 years before the Apple Watch was even released. Additionally, The Mudmaster, while large, houses a barometer, altimeter, temperature gauge and compass. But then, in 2019, rather than just continue making bigger watches with more technological offerings, Casio decided that it would add a subtler piece to its line-up; the GA-2100.
It is the thinnest G-Shock ever made, has both an analogue and digital display, a day marker and the new Carbon Core Guard, making it so much lighter on the wrist. The design has clearly taken inspiration from some of Gerald Genta’s infamous watch designs, but I think this is why the watch was so popular (and sold out so quickly). It was a move back to simplicity, symmetry and basics which, in my opinion, many people admired. I also have a feeling we’ll see a stainless-steel variant of this soon, maybe on the 40-year anniversary. I hope so!
A quick look on G-Shock’s website today and you’ll find a new sport edition, the G-Shock Sport. A watch with all the ruggedness of a G-Shock with fitness tracking, heart rate monitor and GPS. If anything, you have to admire their desire to keep moving forward and adding new lines. At this point, I think there’s literally a G-Shock for everyone.
Now, there are those in 2020 who scoff at the idea of buying a G-Shock for £300, £400 or £500. You’ll regularly hear someone say “I can get an Apple Watch for that!”. And it’s true, you could buy a fully connected smartwatch with a nice display, silky smooth straps, various screen options and all the notifications you’re willing to take. But I’d argue that, similar to those luxury Swiss offerings, the Apple Watch, while a fully-fledged ‘Tracky McTracker’, still can’t compete with the ruggedness and durability of a G-Shock. Sure, the Apple Watch has a plethora of functions but when I want to jump on a motorbike, run up a mountain, wild camp in the woods or just be out and about, I don’t want to have to proceed with caution and worry about my watch getting side-swiped by the elements. I’m going with the G-Shock!
Am I a G-Shock fanboy? Yes. Do I want more G-shocks in the future? Definitely! Do I think there’s room in everyone’s collection for a G-Shock? Hell Yeah! Does that make this whole blog post biased….? Actually Yes, yes it does! But there is something about the Casio G-Shock that resonates with so many of us. Perhaps it’s the watches ability to take us back to our youth. Back to our first entry in our watch journey. If like me, you had one when you were a kid then the G-Shock can promote those feelings of freedom and carefree living. Then, as we get older, the G-Shock can spark our adventurous side, our inner hiker, camper and explorer. It’s almost daring us to get outside and get a little messy while not having to worry that, in the process, we’ll damage our watch, scratch the dial or get too much water on it.
Even though we're all still in the midst of Covid-19, you can still throw on a G Shock, go on an adventure (practicing good social distancing), get some dirt on your hands (wash properly after) and mud on your boots! When things return to a real level of normality, feel free to join me in a summer hike! Bring a camera so we can officially document it as the first Hiking & Horology outing! And if possible, wear a solid watch, hikers choice!
Hope you have enjoyed this one. Thanks for your time and see you in the next one!
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Additionally, you can check out our NATO straps at the store. They are available in 20mm & 22mm. Postage within the UK is free as well as all orders over £50.