For a man of a certain age, a Casio may have been their first experience of wearing a watch. Yet, all grown up and under the spell of the romance of the mechanical, today the watch aficionado is likely to shun its watches, and the chunky, extreme, quartz-run G-Shock in particular. And they would be entirely wrong to do so. Certainly one of the latest models in the line recognises the problem. The MT-G Metal Twisted is arguably the most refined G-Shock to date – sapphire crystal glass, stainless steel bracelet, strippedback case and dial but still all the big boy's gadgets: multi-band atomic timekeeping, a dual-layer display, Casio’s Smart Access electronic quick-lock crown, allowing an easy scrolling through functions, and, naturally, a steel, resin and gel structure that makes it one of the toughest watches around, able to cope with gravitational drop, centrifugal forces and the impact of being dropped from a great height. Indeed, it was by doing just this – from the second floor of the Casio HQ – that the first G-Shock prototypes were tested. Then there is the snappily-named GW-A1100, a pilot’s watch complete with compass, alarm, world time, solar power and fly-back chronograph.
G-Shock – which this year celebrates its 30th birthday – is arguably one of the 20th century’s most important developments in watchmaking, despite the escapement and balance wheel fetishists’ naysaying. So Casio may be more associated with the electronics revolution: it was established in 1957 with the launch of the world’s first all-electric compact calculator and didn’t enter the watch market until 1974 with the Casiotron, the first computerised watch (in 2001 it would create the world’s first radio-controlled watch too). But its 1983 DW 5000C, the first G-Shock, was equally ground-breaking, the result of Casio designer Yuichi Masuda being tasked with developing an “unbreakable watch”, designed to meet so-called triple-10 standards: a 10 year battery life, 10-bar water resistance and 10-metre free-fall shock resistance. That achieved, he could little imagine that the line it led to would sell some 50 million pieces, be sought out for collaborations by fashion brands as influential as Stussy and A Bathing Ape, or find a spot in the permanent collections of design museums from New York to London. Few Swiss brands can make such claims. JS