Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I have a thing for watches. I have frittered away many hours on watch forums, Amazon, YouTube, and eBay looking at watches, deciding what watch brands are worth the money and which ones are pure crap. As I am not yet a rich man I cannot at this point in my life afford such lovely timepieces as Jaeger LeCoultre’s Ultra Master Thin and I don’t think I’ll ever have enough money to throw around to get an A. Lange & Söhne watch, but man are they pretty.
But this post is not about the gorgeous timepieces that I cannot afford. No, this post is about one of my favorite watch brands and easily one of the most respected and well know in the industry. That, my friends, is Casio G-Shock. Casio as a brand is right up there if not above the other reputable Japanese watchmakers Seiko, Citizen, and Orient. The story behind the invention of the G-Shock is actually pretty cool, but first, a brief overview of what these watches are all about.
G-Shocks were, and continue to be, designed primarily for sports, military, and outdoor activities where a fragile and low-on-features timepiece just won’t do. For example, practically all G-Shocks have some kind of stopwatch feature, a countdown timer, a light, and water resistance. Recent models however have become more luxurious and design oriented to try and appeal to those more fashion inclined. Like Ke$ha.
And now for the interesting history as promised. I’d like to introduce you to the man responsible for these awesome timepieces – Kikuo Ibe.
Kikuo Ibe and the Creation of G-Shock
In 1983, I created the thick G-Shock and the most important thing was that it was shock resistant. It did not cross my mind then that the product would be a part of today’s youth fashion.
When little Kikuo was but a mere youngster, his parents bestowed upon him his first watch when he graduated from high school. Unfortunately for him, (and the watch) it fell to the ground and was demolished before Kikuo could catch it. Ever since this traumatic experience, Kikuo wanted to create a rugged and shock resistant watch so that others would not have to worry about their watches being destroyed as his was. He was determined to create a watch that had sophisticated technology and a casing that made it rugged as well as stylish.
Kikuo was so obsessed with the idea that he repeatedly threw watches out his third story apartment window to test designs. In his own words, he did this “numerous times until he was exhausted.” I don’t know about you, but I find this incredibly hilarious. Can you image living next to the guy constantly throwing crap out his window? Or what about the poor people living on the first floor having stuff crashing outside their window every day? And what about the pedestrians? Kikuo here is nothing if not dedicated I say.
Working at Casio, Kikuo had the perfect opportunity to make his dream a reality. In 1981 he put together the unofficial Project Team Tough and started researching and designing potential timepieces. After countless tests chucking prototypes out his apartment window (and the third floor bathroom window at Casio) because he couldn’t use Casio’s testing labs for an unofficial project, Kikuo found inspiration in a rubber ball.
The secret to the G-Shock’s eventual realization was the ability to dissipate exterior shocks by floating the module inside the watch casing with support at just a few points. This, combined with a thick urethane outer case, made the watch highly resistant to shock damage. By seeing a rubber ball in action one day, a light bulb came on inside Kikuo’s clever head and he decided to implement these clever designs. Japanese innovation at its finest.
With this new found inspiration, Project Team Tough developed a triple-ten requirement that was the basis for G-Shock’s first official prototype. It needed to be able to withstand a ten-meter drop, be water resistant up to ten bars, and have ten years of battery life. This was when the name G-Shock was actually coined, with the G standing for gravity. Knowing the history and hard work that went into creating these fine watches makes me all the more proud to own one.
And for those of you who like pictures to go along with your words, there’s even a comic depicting the history behind the creation of the G-Shock. Yeah, I didn’t expect it either but it just shows you how big of a deal G-Shocks are. It expands a bit on the brief synopsis above and is definitely worth checking out in my opinion.
Since the original, over 30 different versions of the original form factor G-Shock have appeared on the market. There are low-temperature proof models, mud-proof watches, versions with built-in temperature sensors, pressure sensors and other support features, watches made specifically for divers, and many many more.
Kikuo is amazed at how far his watch has come since its creation in 1983. “This is truly a collaboration of our colleagues in the media and distributors worldwide that has made G-Shock what it is today. I often say to myself, ‘Oh, shock!’” He also did not imagine that the popularity of G-Shock would spread from Japan to the entire world. And boy has it ever.
Today G-Shock is very popular with paramedics, police officers, astronauts, firemen, and the armed forces. G-Shock watches are very popular with Special Forces groups in both American and other NATO nation units. G-Shocks are also very popular with military divers such as the Frogman which is used by, you guessed it, military Frogmen.
Few watches have such a wide range and fervent following ranging from Japanese schoolgirls to military soldiers like the G-Shock does. Ironically, this love for G-Shocks has inspired untold abuses. People around the world have gone to great lengths to try and break a G-Shock. They have been know to throw G-Shocks off of skyscrapers, run them over with cars, freeze them, and even boil them. And trust me, these watches are tough as nails. If you don’t believe me, just see for yourself.
Lately G-Shocks have been moving into the mainstream more than ever before. Todd Jordan, Pharrell, and Bathing Ape have all produced lines for the G-Shock. From the Navy to Kanye West, G-Shocks have mass appeal. There is a G-Shock for nearly any use and over 100 models are listed on the G-Shock website. The G-Shock is the great leveler of watches. People from all walks of life and all ranges of income adore them and are proud to have them adorn their wrists.
To the world’s WIS (watch idiots savants), there is only one digital timepiece worthy of strapping to a wrist, one battery-powered minicomputer that is acceptable to wear even among the snobbiest of watch snobs: the Casio G-Shock. Casio pioneered digital watch technology in the 1970s and produced the G-Shock in the early 1980s when the idea of a shockproof watch was just that, only an idea. The G-Shock has since gone on to become a cultural phenomenon across the world and across many cultures. You’ve seen them on pro skaters, you’ve seen them on hip-hop stars, and you’ve seen them on your company’s IT guy.
My Name is John and I Like Watches
The above watch is the G-Shock that I have. I love it. It works great as a casual watch and it really catches your eye. I’ve received a lot of compliments on it and am definitely happy with my purchase. I also really like how it has both digital and analog features. I rarely if ever use any of the many functions it is capable of performing but it is nice to know they’re available. My other two watches are a Seiko SRP023 automatic and an Orient Galant automatic. What kind of watch do you have?