Perhaps you can relate to the following: I heard of the Casio G-Shock even before I got into watches. I didn’t know what it was and let alone what to think of it. But I knew that Casio makes something called a G-Shock. I eventually looked it up and immediately realized it wasn’t my thing. Too large, too much plastic, too digital. But I couldn’t just ignore G-Shock as many of my watch enthusiast friends owned a version of it and praised its toughness. A G-Shock is the type of watch they wear for mowing the lawn, hiking, sky-diving and playing in the mud with their children. Not their $5,000 luxury Swiss tool watch. Well, I didn’t want to be the idiot in the village, not knowing exactly what a G-Shock is and what has contributed to making it so popular. So, in this article we’re going to take a look at its beginning and what makes it such a desirable timekeeping device.
Brief History of the Casio G-Shock
In the early 1980s, Casio’s head of design, Kikuo Ibe, had an unfortunate experience that changed his life. As the story has it, he dropped a vintage watch he inherited from his father and broke it. Naturally, it is not uncommon to drop stuff on the floor but the consequences of doing so with a nice watch can be catastrophic. So Ibe started working on a watch that could withstand being dropped and still function, and eventually work itself into the activities many adults and children embark on daily. He formed a team of three people—called “Team Tough”—and spent two years developing the first model. The first one was released in 1983 and is known as the DW-5000C.
According to experts on the subject, Ibe designed the first G-Shock following what is generally referred to as the Triple-10 concept: waterproof to 10 bar, shock-resistant to a drop of 10 meters, and a battery life of 10 years. None of the G-Shocks released since have strayed one iota away from these three core design principles. So you might wonder—just as I have—what makes the G-Shock so tough? Well it is thanks to a unique construction that it can resist such bad treatment: a metal case holds the quartz movement and dial and is inserted inside a rubber case and held in place by a gel-based cushioning compound. The band is also made of resin and the buttons are protected by synthetic materials so that they can’t get damaged when the watch is dropped or hits something.
Genius, if you may ask.
The First G-Shock: DW-5000C
As mentioned above, the first G-Shock was released in 1983 and came with the reference DW-5000C. It showcased a square case (and all G-Shocks with the same case shape are now referred to as “Square G-Shocks”) measuring 41mm in diameter and coming with the 240 quartz module which offered such functions as displaying the time in 12-hour and 24-hour formats, daily alarm, a 60-minute stopwatch, a 12-hour countdown timer, and automatic calendar and a backlit screen. A bit like a F-91W on steroids. Its raisin band made it comfortable to wear and is resistant to sweat, dust, and dirt, while its 200 meters of water resistance and screwed-down case-back made it suitable for any adventures. If I am correct, Casio has re-released the original DW-5000C after having created multiple versions of it.
Evolution of the G-Shock Family
There are now hundreds of models of G-Shocks that span several collections. These watches are so tough that they are worn by police officers, the military, scientists, and movie stars. Amongst all of noteworthy models, we can highlight the following ones: the DW-5600C-1V released in 1987 was both known for appearing on the wrist of Keanu Reeves in the movie “Speed” as well as for having been qualified for space travel by NASA; the AW-500 released in 1989 was the first G-Shock with an ana-digi display, meaning having a combination of a digital display and hands; the DW-6300-1A Frogman (see picture below) released in 1993 was the first G-Shock ISO-6425 certified as being a true dive watch; the DW-8200 released in 1995 was the first G-Shock made of titanium.
Now G-Shocks comes with even better tech. For example, timekeeping radio-controlled to ensure excellent accuracy and functions such as a hygrometer (to indicate humidity,) altimeter (to indicate height,) and thermometers. Modern G-Shocks are also Bluetooth and GPS enabled so that they can be used in remote areas. All in all, the Casio G-Shock has continued to be a go-to robust tool watch for many professionals working in various industries. What’s perhaps the most surprising tidbit of information is that G-Shocks remain generally affordable, ranging from $80 to a few hundred depending on which functions and materials you choose.
Reading about the Casio G-Shock has helped me appreciate the reasons why so many watch enthusiasts own one. A $200 G-Shock can do much more than a $50,000 Swiss luxury timepiece equipped with a mechanical perpetual calendar or a moon phase. And, it can be dropped, banged, and submerged in water and mud and survive a storm and even function on the surface of the moon. Although I still don’t like the way they look and how big they tend to be, I could see myself buying one for my next extreme adventure.Featured image: www.casiofanmag.com