G-Shock not for you?

The title poses the question:  What if you don’t like the G-Shock style?  What else is there?

It depends, apart from a fashion thing, on just what you want from a watch.

G-Shock Stealth

G-Shock Stealth

If it’s just toughness (perceived or otherwise), then it’s relatively simple especially as in reality the question is – How “tough” does a modern watch actually have to be – honestly.    And let’s face it, most good watches are intrinsically pretty tough to start with and “on your wrist” they are very much part of you – so whatever happens to your watch, may well happen to you!

My own view is that whatever model I pick, tough or otherwise it has to have certain basic Watch requirements.

1) – I have to be able to read the time – easily – and that’s day or night (a basic requirement in my book).
2) – 100m Water Resistance minimum – OK that’s not silly.
3) – Not too large – PLEASE!  Too large and too thick, it starts to take on comic proportions!
4) – Battery quartz is fine – It doesn’t have to be Solar, World Time, have Multiple Alarms or Chronograph – though “some” functions can be useful.
5) – It doesn’t have to survive a 10m drop to concrete – it really doesn’t (definitely the forté of Casio)

And are functions essential? –

  • Chronograph/Stopwatch – when did I last use a chronograph/stopwatch?  Answer: Can’t remember it was so long ago!
  • World Timer settings – I can manage that on any cheap analogue model in 5 seconds (without referring to the instructional booklet – IF I can find it).
  • Solar (Eco-Drive etc) – Battery is fine with me, with a cell change every 2 to 5 years. (Kinetic is another option).

So in reality (and that’s the point here) it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a relatively “tough” watch model that can meet sensible requirements.

Knowing I was writing this today I asked a friend (this morning actually) what functions had he actually used on his G-Shock DW5600 (I have one of these myself) in the last month?   And his answer didn’t come as much of a surprise – “None” he said, “except the time, day and date plus the back light”.  And that really does say it all . . . . . and had I asked myself the same question, the answer would have been identical!

However, G-Shocks usually come with a large function set, whether used, useful or otherwise and a major reason for their attraction.  However as to the hard knobbly looks, overly protected pushers, and surprisingly not too intuitive settings/controls and arguable legibility, are often NOT as one would like – hence the reason I like to look for alternatives.  Incidentally Casio do make the odd model that whilst not as obvious in shock protection terms does have that facility and without the “macho” look (I’ll perhaps consider them at a later date).

So what’s out there?

I was advised Luminox are a good alternative, but after checking them out I thought them a little overpriced for what they offer.  Mechanical prices for average quartz – not an option for me.

In fact my 6 year old Uzi Protector (looks like Luminox) costs around £175 today and it’s managed all those few years without any issues of any kind and still going strong.

Uzi Protector - Swiss Quartz and 200WR

Uzi Protector – Swiss Quartz and 200WR

200m Water Resistance, analogue H,M & seconds, plus Date, Tritium light source, battery Swiss quartz and a tough blighter it is too.  40mm x 14mm dimensionally with webbing strap.  No fancy functions, but a very good performer that meets my basic requirements and is pretty tough I’d say.

So that’s one option, so then I looked for a model that was both tough and had a comparable function set and this one came to mind.  The Momentum Format 4 – which is smaller than it looks and also in Titanium.  Some would immediately comment that Ti will scratch and it won’t last etc etc.  Well I have to differ on that as I have 7 Titanium watches and they look as good now as when I bought them many years ago.

Momentum Format 4 Titanium

Momentum Format 4 Titanium divers strap

The Format 4 actually has an impressive function set – both analogue and Digital displays.  Analogue Hours, Minutes and Second hands and Digital two Digital displays which can show a whole range of indications – such as – World time (59 cities plus user defined), 5 Alarms plus a schedule Alarm, Date, Day, Month, a Chronograph and Stopwatch 23, 59,59 with multi-laps, Timers.  In addition the digital displays can be switched OFF facilitating power savings with or without auto on feature and the watch has Super-luminova analogue hands and indices, plus a 3 second duration EL back light, so no problems in the dark, even if not using the digital features.  The watch has a Mineral anti-glare crystal, uni-rotating bezel (useful), a 200m Water Resistance (20ATM), with large screw down crown and back and takes a standard 22mm strap or bracelet and is powered by a Swiss quartz movement.  And the 2 year Guarantee is extendable to 6 years.

And whilst I said it looked big and it does, it only measures 43mm x 14.5mm and in Titanium weighs just 90 grams and it looks pretty tough to me.  Now I’d say this is a decent alternative to the G-Shock style and OK the watch face may not have much protection, but personally I’ve never had a shattered watch glass on any watch I’ve owned in my lifetime, so not a priority for me.

What I do see is a very fast legible take up analogue face, plus a secondary digital display and function set that meets and surpasses anything I’m ever likely to need or even want to use.  So I’m happy with this choice.   There are of course others out there, perhaps obscured to some extent I suppose, by the hype that “G”, “Shock” and “Tough” descriptions engender, but they are there – you just have to look.

Note – The Momentum 4 is also reasonably affordable and highly competitive in comparison to many of the G-Shock variants, especially considering the function set.  Currently it sells for around £180 in the UK, which is pretty good for a Titanium cased Ana-Digi Diver Grade 4 Water resistant model.  In fact I liked it so much I ordered one myself which will join my other Divers models, though this particular model I’ll have to consider my first real G-Shock alternative.

However – and there’s always one of those – IF you can’t get your head round the fact that it’s not that easy to inadvertently smash or crack your watch glass – and it really isn’t – you do have another option.  And this model from Citizen might just solve your concern.


Citizen Royal Marines Commando Eco-Drive

This is the Royal Marines Commando Titanium from Citizen which whilst it doesn’t have a great function set, it does the “tough” basics very well – in fact just what I needed when I was in my action days!

The one piece IP plated Titanium case is 42mm x 13mm, with an ultra thick 2.5mm sapphire glass, which is just about bomb proof I would have thought.  Eco-Drive Citizen movement with the basic analogue functions of Hour, Minute, Seconds and a date window @3.  Plus good luminous numerals/indices and hands means decent night use.  Good crown protection and with a tough Kevlar strap and a commendable 300m Water Resistance all point to a seriously “tough” watch.  It comes with the Citizen 5 year warranty.  Price should be no more than £300 here in the UK.

So there you have it, after a few minutes crawl around the net and already I’ve come up with a couple of decent contenders.

And I have to admit (and the reason for this post) personally I was becoming a little bored by the whole G-Shock and “tough” watch concept, especially as the prices seem to be rising with each new model.  And with few “new” features in the latest models, with the exception of a more extreme case, an extreme name and a larger SIZE, it’s little surprise that I decided it’s time to look elsewhere.

And very glad I did too, as there are certainly alternatives out there – you just have to get past the “G’s, “Toughs”and “Expeditions”, to find them.
And what of the two I’ve found here?  Well I like them both and whilst I hear the concerns about watch glass breaking, I really have no experience of that ever happening to me.  The odd scratch maybe, but nothing serious.  So on that basis considering the impressive function set and the price, the Ana-Digi Format 4 is maybe the one I’d pick.  Mind you the Citizen is one seriously smart and tough piece of work – a bit like the guys it was named after perhaps . . . . .

But there will be others around, you can be sure of that, so have a trawl – you might just be surprised.

But – and here’s a “but” to contend with!   The Casio G-Shock for all it’s macho looks IS a seriously tough watch, though whether you actually need one is another matter entirely and just to illustrate the point I show youthe “drop test” video from Casio.  And you have to admit – it IS very impressive!

Categories: Watch reviews

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