It’s amazing how popular these rugged “G” shockproof style watches have become over the years, with their “tough” resin case design and macho looks. When they first appeared I was pretty impressed at this super tough case idea, though at the time wasn’t sure about the digital display. I found previous digital displays hard to read in sunlight so resisted, sticking to my analogue Seiko automatic, picked up in Singapore for a few dollars, which was my daily beater in those days. I did however succumb to the lure of the “G” and today I do have a “G” Shock Casio DW-5600-E, which whilst it has the look of the original, it’s digital module updated by nearly 15 years and with an EL back light, so a little more modern.
However I really want to ask the question of these plastic, resin cased “G-Shock” and other Shock style watches – Are they really tougher? Boy’s toys or Fashion?
The original G-Shock, the Casio DW-5000C first appeared in 1983 – designed by Casio Design Head Kikuo Ibe, with the brief that the new model should meet the “Triple 10 Concept”. Which was a 10 year battery life, a Water Resistance to 10 bar and finally, able to survive a drop of 10m on to a hard surface.
Now it is not as some think, just a resin cased plastic watch. It can have up to 10 layers of protection, urethane rubber outer, applied over a stainless steel case (yes there is one under there), hardened mineral crystal, a “floating urethane cradle” in which sits the quartz module. Even flexible cable connections to both the module and the various button controls are used and all to minimize shock. The original model actually has a screw down stainless steel back, though that changed in later models.
Such was the success of the Casio “G” Shock that over 19 million had been sold by 1998 and it has gone from strength to strength ever since (70 million would you believe). Now I’m not questioning the fantastic success or the undoubted fact that it was and is a great concept, but maybe I have a sneaking suspicion that like every great marketing idea, the market is often “created” and then placed in the minds of the customer. Most of the great products have done just that – Coca Cola, Corn Flakes (Kellogs), Beanz meanz Heinz and so on. It’s all about Brands and making the Consumer want what you have to sell.
Well “G” Shock – is certainly a classic brand – a series of “rugged” and “tough” timepieces, designed specifically for the active man – or so everyone was told. The tried and tested marketing technique, trigger words (Shock, rugged, tough, active man, etc) in the adverts and photographs and showing you the MUST HAVE features. And an awful lot of folk had to have it, then and today.
Now the fact you might not need it at all and dare I say, because you might have a conventional timepiece survivor on your wrist already. Let’s face it – watches are small, usually steel cased and externally already pretty tough. If it’s mechanical as long as it’s movement has Incabloc or similar – you have some shock protection. And if it’s quartz then let’s be honest, with few or no moving parts there’s little to worry about. Add a half decent Water Resistance, look after your watch as best you can and that’s about it.
So is it a case of Technology for the sake of Technology perhaps?
Well No has to be the answer – because things move on, everything improves, techniques, materials, movements, modules – everything – and that’s progress.
However, taking a step back here and from personal experience – my old standard 1970’s automatic Seiko 5 Day, Date (luminous, 5bar?, screw back) had been with me many years and in quite a few conflicts around the world – “muck and bullets” as we used to say, that is “tough” environments – and would you believe, it survived somewhat better than I did. A little scratched maybe (again like me) but still keeping good time and with the same strap it came with (the “resin” straps of some “G” shocks can easily break in a year of 24/7 wear). And I’m not talking of a once in a lifetime “tour”, but maybe over 20 years, where my watch and I jumped from one pile of rubble to another and from jungles to sand and back again. But that’s another story for another place.
What I’m saying is that it was a fairly common steel Seiko mechanical automatic model with analogue hands and a leather strap and yet somehow it managed over all these years and in situations that would test most things.
How would it fare on the Triple 10 concept?
Well 10 year battery – no problem – being automatic.
Water Resistance only 5bar (maybe)- but it managed and although submerged a few times, it never let in water or indeed condensation.
And as to dropping it on to concrete from 10m? Well I did a few “drops” myself, but as the watch was attached to me, you could say that I was the “shock” protection!
And I survived . . . . 😉
And so to the future – this is one of the big case models for 2104 – the GA-310
Bit of a statement this one, though if I can get past the color, I like the fact the control buttons are not quite so well shrouded and larger, which means that I can probably find them in amongst the protections around the case, without looking at the watch. Something I still find hard to do with my DW-5600E.
Anyway as to the question – Are they tough? well the answer is yes absolutely.
But if I’m honest I haven’t had any of my watches so damaged over the years to have stopped working, though one did fall about 100 feet once from a cooling tower, bounced off this guys shoulder, who was on the ground looking up (he was lucky!) and landed on his kit bag. When I got down, he handed me the watch and said “You was lucky, mate, it’s still going”. It was an old Timex Atlantis and I think my brother’s still got it!
Quite a “shock” soft landing or not!