Blog about Underwater Life and Scuba Diving

Diving Icons: Casio G-Shock

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The Blue Collar Dive Watch!

Today I’d like to honour a legend in diving, and nearly every other sport and outdoor activity, a true worker’s friend – the Casio G – Shock.


From The Days When Digital Was King

In the Eighties and Nineties, digital displays adorned every available surface on any product that could power one. These displays were usually LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) seven-segment panels that became iconic in their own right because of their distinctive appearance and ubiquitous nature. These low-powered, poor resolution displays were terrible at displaying letters but were ideal for presenting numbers. This numerical prowess naturally led them toward the field of timekeeping.

In the late Seventies, right through to the mid Nineties the digital watch was the fashion accessory to have (right up to the point when they were cheap enough to be given away free in boxes of cereal – that killed their street cred’ a little). The reason for this popularity was not just because of the novelty factor (that wore off by the late eighties) but because the digital watch had many features that made it superior to the analogue watch, namely their durability, economy, precision, easy-to-read display, low power consumption and their appearance. The digital watch, although not as suave as an analogue chronograph, is better at the timekeeping job than its older brother.

However, by the mid Eighties the digital watch was loosing some of its initial “wow factor” being as it had been available for ten years or so. They were still insanely popular, but not to the same fashionable crowd. The answer was not to market it to the fashionistas, but to market the digital watch to gadget geeks (as calculator watches and TV remote control watches), to sports persons and to those that required high performance in harsh conditions (military, police, climbers etc.). The manufacturer that took specialising the digital watch to new levels was the now legendary Casio.

What Geek Didn’t Want A Calculator Watch? In My School, He Who Had A Calculator Watch Was King!

What Casio did was create a watch that utilised all the positives of the digital watch that I mentioned above, and maximised their potential in a single unit. This watch was cheap, feature packed (for the geeks), laser precise and tougher than any other watch on the market. Thus, the G-Shock was born.

Tough Enough

The G-Shock was a tour de force of near indestructible design and hardy materials. It has always been constructed from very hard plastics, although there have been some forays into metal and other materials. The G-Shock was built to be practical and hard wearing, which means its design focus was not on looking sleek and chic, but on ensuring it has a protected display (the most fragile part of the watch) and a big enough bumper of plastic around the outside to absorb shocks. Initially the G-shock was still a simple looking wristwatch that wasn’t particularly big, nor did it have a very distinctive design. However, the popularity of the initial model (the DW-5000C-1A) led to a frenzy of design evolution that strove to maximise the key attributes of this über-practical watch. The result of this constant development was a unique watch that oozed masculine design and oversized safety features.

Nothing Says “Toughness” Better Than Ten Kilos Of Plastic!

To qualify as super-tough, the G-Shock was built to be durable in all aspects. It is everything-proof:

Shock Proof

Obviously, from the very first model to the current plethora of designs, there has been but one mantra – make it rugged and make it effective. The G-Shock has been worn in every harsh environment there is and keeps on going. It can take serious knocks, scrapes, bangs, crashes and all the other onomatopoeic words that suggest serious punishment, in its stride. This is due to two major design attributes, first it is because there is an almost caricature-ish amount of super-strong plastic around the rim of the display. On top of that there is often a frame wrapped around the body of the watch that acts like a set of bull-bars to protect the screen from bashes. As if that wasn’t enough (and it is) the actual innards of the timepiece are simple, non-moving circuit boards that are also made of plastic and silicone. They are almost entirely unaffected by motion, unlike an analogue watch, which gives the watch extreme shock resistance.



This is, of course, the real reason why we divers love this watch so much – it is highly water resistant. The standard G-Shock is depth rated to two hundred metres which, although this isn’t record breaking, is plenty deep enough for the average diver. Also, most depth ratings are theoretical, or are tested in ideal situations, the G-Shock has been tested to absurd levels and has rarely given up – I trust a G-Shock depth rating. On top of this robust pressure endurance, the G-Shock is also exceptionally corrosion proof too, being as there is very little exposed metal (if any). This makes it a much better option than other metal dive watches that require careful rinsing after a dive, especially if you are like me and just want to get on with your day rather than messing around with soaking your watch after every salt exposure.


Temperature Proof

The original G-Shocks were always able to handle a fair deviation in climate – they have been proven to work in deep cold and sweltering heat – though they were never designed to be fully climate proof…but now they are! The most recent G-Shocks on the market are now being constructed with extreme temperatures in mind. They are able to function in climates that will have you passing out with heat exhaustion and in environments where you’ll be slipping into cold comas – in effect they’ve built a watch that will still work where your body wont!

Feature Filled

To appease the geeks (like me) the gang at Casio have managed to cram in a number of innovative features (though some of them are old school now), that make an outdoors person’s life easier:

  • Stop Watch – This was the coolest thing you could find in a watch when I was a boy, though it’s now beyond standard – it’s a given that a digital watch will have one built in. However, when G-Shock was first created this was the ultimate in sports equipment. A good stopwatch is used daily by sports people and scientists alike. The G-Shock usually has split time too, to make timing multiple athletes easier.
  • Solar Powered – This is another old technology that I still love. By incorporating a robust solar panel in their watch, Casio have extended the battery life of the G-Shock from around two years, to about four or five. This is pretty remarkable if you ask me, being as a lot of feature intensive watches are on their knees after one year.
  • The Solar Series Has Made The G-Shock The Longest Lasting Digital Watch On The Market

  • Atomic Radio Set – For me, this is one of the most clever features of the G-Shock because it allows a very cheap timepiece to perform better than the most expensive of Rolexes. In essence the G-Shock has a radio receiver built into it which allows it to scan for a specific signal that is widely available, in the signal is the perfect, exact microsecond precise time which is set by an atomic clock. This simple bit of technology means that the G-Shock has perfect time, all the time, without ever needing manually set!
  • Special Editions – This is where the G-Shock, and Casio, shine. Because Casio realised the potential for the digital watch to fulfil numerous timekeeping roles for many different people doing different tasks all those years ago, they have continued to advance and differentiate the watch into thousands of different models. The model which is most relevant to us, divers, is the Frogman. The Frogman is a full dive computer which has been crammed into a G-Shock. There are all the usual G-Shock goodies in there, but there is also a depth gauge, bottom time calculator, logbook and other dive specific treats. I wont say that it is the best dive computer on the market, but I’d definitely not bet against it for being the toughest! They are, naturally, much more pricey than the standard G-Shocks being as they are much more advanced bits of gear, on top of this they are also unbelievably collectable, which adds to their price tag immeasurably which is why I will stick to owning a dive computer and a standard G-Shock.

    Ahh, The One And Only Frogman! Truly A Diver’s Best Friend!

Future Proof!

There is one last proof that this G-Shock has nailed better than any other digital watch and that is future proofness (a word I just invented for this occasion). The standard G-Shock has undergone countless revisions and had many features added to its lineup over the years, but fundamentally it is the same piece of amazingly practical plastic that seems to be virtually unbreakable, it has managed to retain it’s G-Shockness with pride!

With So Many Different Fashionable Brands Associating With The G-Shock, It Has Become A Living Legend That Shows No Sign Of Going Away!


Final Thoughts

I doubt I’ll ever find another watch that can provide me with the same level of dogged and determined functionality that the G-Shock gives me. It is a faithful friend, despite the abuse I throw at it, it just stays put and works, which is more than I can say of many of my expensive timepieces!

Do you have a G-Shock watch? Are you one of the many “Shockies” that collect vast arrays of these hardy pieces of equipment? Do you dive with your G? Have you ever heard of a broken G-Shock? We’d love to hear your stories, please leave them in the comment section below.

Large selection of Casio G Shock watches available here

Happy (tough) Bubbles!

By Jamie Campbell.

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