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The History of the Casio G-Shock

by Murat Balci on June 08, 2023

Casio G-Shock is more than just a high-quality watch; it was created with a specific purpose in mind. It's a catch-all phrase for declaring one's autonomy and going above and beyond the norm.

The G-shock revolutionized the watch industry with its 10-year battery life and virtually unbreakable design. G-Shock watches have gone from being an indispensable accessory to a pop culture icon. It's a timepiece steeped in custom and history that has earned the right to be admired.

G-Shock attracted and maintained a massive fan base. There is a G-Shock for everyone: adventurers, athletes, men and women in uniform, those who follow the latest fashion trends, and tech nerds.

You'll find out why the Casio G-Shock is so iconic and how its cutting-edge technology came to be in this article.

The G-Shock's Infancy

Casio engineer Kikuo Ibe was devastated when his father's pocket watch stopped working. In 1981, he was motivated to design a bulletproof watch by three core principles.

He wanted it to be water-resistant (even on greater water pressures), resist centrifugal force, and have long battery life. Even though it seemed impossible at the time, he was able to develop a product that defied the laws of physics.

Two years and over 200 prototypes later, Ibe and his team have created a product that is tough to the core, ushering in the dawn of ground-breaking technology. The internal components of the watch were designed to absorb shock, in addition to protecting it from the elements and scratches.

How did the engineers at Casio manage to design a product that defies the laws of physics? The solution to that conundrum is straightforward, though. Ibe, the head engineer in charge, saw a bouncing rubber ball while he was at a playground. After some thought, he realized that only the ball's exterior felt the impact of gravity.

This model served as the foundation for G-Shock watches, and after two years of drop testing, Ibe was able to envision a novel shock-resistant system. The time-keeping module is housed inside a hollow case and protected by a urethane foam cradle in this basic design. Quartz is used for key components of the mechanism and this fragile material is also used to cushion them from shocks. The DW-5000C was the very first official G-Shock.

Urethane is used for the watch's protruding parts, including the buttons and the glass, making it resistant to damage from falls and other impacts. In addition, the engineers made sure the strap cushions the watch from impact.

Not only did these safeguards prevent damage to the G-Shock in the event of an impact, but they also neutralized the strong G-forces and vibrations it was subjected to. This synergy of characteristics also played a role in choosing the watch's moniker.

The term "G-Shock" is commonly used to refer to the sudden acceleration one experiences due to gravity. So, Ibe made a watch that could withstand any kind of fall and gave it its corresponding name.

Gaining Notoriety

G-Shock watches, with their huge, square case created with functionality in mind, wasn't exactly trendy when they were first introduced. This factored into G-initially Shock's sluggish sales.

American hockey players started using the DW-5200C model instead of a hockey puck in an advertisement for the product in 1984, which is when the public really started taking notice of the product. More than a year passed before G-Shock watches caught on in North American law enforcement, among other professions.

Over time, it was put through its paces by numerous individuals in a wide range of harsh conditions, and the results cemented its reputation as the toughest watch in the world. Though its shock resistance has remained the same even as the design of its protective cover has evolved, it can now sustain shocks at even greater magnitudes.

The DW-5900C model, with its revolutionary Tri-graph liquid crystal display, catapulted the watch into American popular culture in 1990. Seeing G-Shocks on popular hip-hop singers and skateboarders made them instantly desirable to the younger generation.

Sometime later, the G-Shock piqued the interest of collectors, and the watches quickly rose in value. Collectors covet every iteration of the DW line, from the iconic square shape of the DW-5600C (introduced in 1987) to the digital timepieces of the 2000s. It's interesting that the watch became famous in North America first before its native Japan caught wind of its success.

Casio G-Shocks have since become even more trendy, and not just due to their good appearance. Stussy, Takashi Murakami, Bathing Ape, and Maison Martin Margiela are just a few of the artists and streetwear designers that have worked with G-Shock to produce limited edition watches. The fact that many of them were (and are) available just in Japan has only served to raise their value in the West.

The Casio Frogman line, which is also a member of the Master of G series, is among the most sought-after models by collectors. Watches like the Frogman, Antman, Gulfman, Mudman, Riseman, and Gaussman are included in this category.

Evolution of Style

Although the G-Shock became widely known because of the now-standard partnerships, its creators understood that they would need to introduce novel features to maintain sales. Casio engineers saw an opportunity to capitalize on the brand's rising popularity and emerging status as a leader in streetwear fashion by shifting their focus even further in that direction.

After realizing that his resin watches only went with casual attire, Kikuo Ibe set out to design a metal watch that would also look good with business attire.

The original Baby-G watch, the DW-520, was released in 1994 after the decision was made to create a line of smaller, more fashionable watches for women. After only a year, Casio had designed the model DW-6900, which quickly became one of the most recognizable watch cases in history.

The MR-G series was released in 1996, and each watch was designed to look good with any ensemble. In 1997, analog models joined the lineup, laying the groundwork for a new era of expensive, luxurious wristwatches.

Late in the 2010s, after spending several years implementing cutting-edge technological advances, Casio began expanding its flagship product lines, such as the Rangeman and Frogman series.

Along with the release of the GMW-B5000, this action helped propel G-Shock to new heights of fame. However, the company's dedication to marketing and its willingness to invest in cutting-edge, practical technologies as well as its partnerships with creative professionals around the world to spread its products' popularity are also major contributors to their success.

Progress in Technology

Fashionable G-Shock models were best sellers for much of the '90s, but the company knew it needed to keep innovating with technology to maintain its success.

Casio's asymmetrical Frogman DW-6300 diver's watch was released in 1993 and features full water resistance. It was the first diver's watch to be ISO-certified to a depth of 200 meters and had a resistance of 20 atmospheres.

In 1995, the DW-8200, the first titanium Frogman, arrived soon after. Casio returned to the fundamentals of shock resistance in 1997, and since then, the company's engineers have been hard at work trying out new technologies in an effort to develop a watch that is even more robust. Models like the GW-300 started showing noticeable improvements in efficiency and features.

In 1998, the DW-9300, the first solar-powered Raysman model, entered the market. That revolutionary Tough Solar feature was first seen on this Casio watch. In 2000, the GW-100, the world's first G-Shock that could be operated via radio, was released.

This eventually developed into the Multi-Band 6 feature found on most modern digital G-Shocks. In the 2000s, manufacturers responded to consumer demand by incorporating functions like low-temperature resistance, dirt-repellent coatings, and in-built pressure and temperature sensors.

This G-Shock, first seen in 2002, featured an improved take on the standard radio-controlled technologies. Furthermore, it could be run on solar energy alone. The 2008 update, the GW-9200, improved upon the original by receiving time-calibration radio signals from six different radio stations around the world.

In the 2010s, Casio shifted its emphasis back to analog models, with the GA-100 and GA-110 series ushering in a clear revival of the original G-Shock features.

The first Bluetooth-enabled Casio G-Shock appeared that same year. This feature allowed the G-Shock to join the ranks of the earliest smartwatches by making it simpler to pair their watches with a smartphone. In 2013, to celebrate G-30th Shock's anniversary, the company introduced the Smart Access system, which facilitated the even more intuitive use of a wide variety of previously existing and brand-new features.

After that time period, G-Shock kept making digital watches, such as the GW-9400 Rangeman. One of the most popular watches of the last decade, this one featured the series' signature Triple Sensor.

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