Tough as nails, with plenty of pop appeal, Casio’s much-copied G-Shock watch has become an iconic timepiece for the company. Its sales, and longevity in the market, prove it.
The company announced this week that in August, total worldwide shipments of G-Shock watches surpassed the 100 million mark.
To commemorate the milestone, the brand has fit a luxe G-Shock (its MRG-G1000B-1A4 model) with a special back case that’s engraved with 100,000,000. Casio further feted the occasion at a commemorative ceremony at its Yamagata Casio factory in Japan on Aug. 31.
The rugged watch—with its recognizable oversized plastic case, ample round face, and indestructible rubber wristband—was developed in 1981 by an engineer who wanted to make a watch that was nearly impossible to destroy.
Two hundred prototypes were made before the first G-Shock, the DW-5000C, launched in 1983. Its name was a play on the idea of a watch being so tough, it could withstand a strong gravitational shock.
In the early 1990s, the company added innovative liquid crystal graphics (this reporter had one with a tiny figure that would breakdance across the screen), and the model slowly gained popularity with countercultural types, including West Coast skateboarders and NYC club kids and DJs. It also became a staple in Japanese street fashion (teens there nabbed G-Shocks from other markets; they weren’t sold in Japan).
A Baby-G, the smaller G-Shock, currently on the market
Fervor for the watch subdued by the 2000s, but that didn’t detract from the timepiece’s inherent good qualities—chief among them its indestructibility.
Grappling with the decline in sales, the company put more high-performance models into production, such as the GW-300 (2002), which was equipped with radio-controlled and solar-powered technologies, and the GW-9200 (2008), which can receive time-calibration radio signals from six stations worldwide.
In 2012, the G-Shock GB-6900, a Bluetooth-connected smartwatch, was introduced. And in May 2017, Casio released the smart GPW-2000, which receives both radio wave and GPS satellite time calibration signals, while also connecting to timeservers.
Few sports watches enjoy such a lengthy—and wisely navigated—evolution. And with all things ’90s now back in style, the G-Shock is poised for another go-round in the fashion spotlight. Urban Outfitters, retailer to the Coachella set, is already stocking G-Shock’s basic GA700 Utility Watch.
(Top: A Casio G-Shock MRG-G1000B-1A4)