In the early 1980s, the quartz crisis takes the world of watchmaking by full swing. Quartz watches will have supplanted mechanical watches in a few years: they were more accurate and offered more features than any mechanical watch. They were fashionable, everyone wanted them. In addition, they were less expensive, less fragile and required no revision. This technological shift was missed by many, but Casio understood it well. The Japanese giant made it its profession.
History of G-Shock
At that time, the Japanese construction workers were looking for a watch that could withstand the harsh conditions of their craft: blows, falls, debris, dust, etc. Traditional timepieces were too fragile. Casio then entrusted the mission to one of its best teams headed by engineer and designer Kikuo Ibe, to design a unbreakable wristwatch. We are in 1981. They came up with the Triple 10 design: resistance to fall of 10 meters, at a pressure of 10 bar and a battery life duration of 10 years.
But this objective was very difficult to attain and the engineers came quickly at a standstill. It is then that Kikuo Ibe, watching children play ball in a park, realized one thing: no impact reaches the inside of a balloon. He then had the idea of designing a hollow structure in which the module would float. After more than 200 prototypes and many crash-tests, the project eventually surfaced. We are in 1983, the first Gravitational Shock (G-Shock) watch was born, the Casio DW-5000C (above).
The innovations over time
In constant pursuit of innovation, Casio’s G-Shock department came up with new models regularly by adding new features. Here are the most significant breakthroughs since 1983:
1989 AW-500: the first shock-resistant digital and analog model
1992 DW-5900: the first digital version from hard resin
1993 DW-6300: the first diving model resistant to 20 bar pressure
1995 DW-8400: the first model mud and dust resistant (here’s a review of the G9300, its more modern mud-resistant cousin)
1996 DW-5600E: the first model with electroluminescent backlight (LED)
2001 GW-200: the first model equipped with a solar panel
2002 GW-300: the first model equipped with a radio-controlled solar cell
2007 MRG-8000: the first watch that combined resin and DLC-coated titanium
2008 GW-9200: the first version equipped with an altimeter, barometer and temperature sensor
2010 GW-3000: the first gravity-resistant watch
2011 MTG-1200: the first model entirely analog, radio-controlled and equipped with a solar cell
2012 GB-6900: the first model equipped with Bluetooth
The structure of a G-Shock
The key lies in a hollow enclosure in which the movement floats fixed in a few points. Each inside component is reinforced by a sock-absorbing material in order to avoid operating problems or breakage in case of shock. The protruding housing structure and bezel provides protection in all directions, mitigating the direct impacts on the buttons, glass and caseback. The part where the strap attaches is curved so that the bracelet itself absorbs blows, protecting at the same time the back of the housing. Since 2012, some models bearing the label “Triple G Resist” also resist the centrifugal force as well as vibration. And to go even further, the brand introduced in 2013 a cage with a shock-absorbing gel in the central part of the housing.
The look of the G-Shock watches is radical. They cannot please everyone… they were, originally, not made for the lambda consumer. Whatever it is, it is a must and a faithful companion to follow you in your adventures (or misadventures). In the forest we can do without and opt for more traditional military style watches, but for seasoned DIYers or professionals with risky jobs, it is an object that makes the difference. In addition, there are so many models and colors available that you won’t come across someone with the same one every day.