Casio Computer Co., Ltd. has reached an amazing benchmark with the G Shock line of tough watches reaching the 100 million unit mark. To commemorate this milestone, a special ceremony was held at the Yamagata Casio factory in Japan at the end of last Summer where the model was fitted with a special back case engraved with the number “100,000,000.”
On the heels of G-Shock’s 35th anniversary, this momentous occasion marks a key time for the brand, which was first developed in 1981 with an engineer’s passion to create a rugged watch that would not break even if dropped. After over 200 prototypes, a hollow watch case structure was finally devised that supported the core module at certain key locations. Carrying the SKU # DW-5000C, the first G Shock was launched in 1983.
Effectively creating a new category with the release of this watch, G-Shock changed the thinking that a watch was a delicate instrument that must be protected from harm and coddled like a newborn.
In 1984, a G-SHOCK commercial in the United States showed an ice hockey player taking a slap shot hitting a G-SHOCK DW-5200C instead of a puck. Creating a new “tough” watch category meant that G Shock quickly became a favorite with outdoor enthusiasts, firefighters, police officers, and almost anyone that used to wear a watch dial side in to protect the delicate device.
In the 1990s, American street fashion started to increase in popularity in Japan through features in local magazines, resulting in a new, global interest in G-SHOCK. While the DW-5900C was only available outside of Japan, it began to appear in Japanese clothing stores as an imported fashion accessory – gradually becoming a key staple among young, fashion-forward Japanese. By 1995, the total number of watches shipped in Japan grew from about 10,000 in 1990 to about 700,000.
Aiming to increase the diversity of the G-SHOCK user, Casio expanded the lineup in the mid-1990s. In 1996, the new MR-G series released new models to appeal to both adult and youth including the MRG-1 and the MRG-100, which featured a full metal casing and shock resistance. These evolutions began an effort to appeal to a wider audience that may prefer a solid metal watch’s heft and look over the plastic, rubber and resin of the originals.
From collaborations with sports teams and environmental protection groups, to sponsorships of some of the world’s largest sporting events, G-SHOCK’s brand strength was felt worldwide and by 1997, six million G-SHOCK watches were sold around the world, with 2.4 million of those units staying in Japan.
After hitting a peak in 1997, G-SHOCK shipment numbers began to decline due in part to the brand’s dedicated focus on the watch as a fashion symbol. In response, G-SHOCK re-shifted its efforts to the basics of shock resistance, tough performance, and actively adopted new technology. New models began to evolve in function and performance, introducing new watches 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.
Today, G-SHOCK is continuing to evolve, challenging the conventional notion of the watch. In 2012, the GB-6900 was introduced, featuring Bluetooth® 4.0 compatibility that linked to the wearer’s smartphone. By 2014, the GPW-1000 offered a hybrid time acquisition system, allowing it to receive time-calibration signals from both GPS satellites and six radio transmitters worldwide. In May 2017, Casio released the GPW-2000, which featured the Connected Engine 3-Way module, receiving both radio wave and GPS satellite time calibration signals, while also connecting to timeservers by pairing with a smartphone.
Among collectors and watch enthusiasts around the world the name Kikuo Ibe is almost sacrosanct - with just cause. Having met and interviewed Ibe San, he is humble, honest, an open. So, to the engineer and inventor of the G Shock watch, AboutTime recognizes the truly monumental achievements that have come from his creation and thanks Mr. Kikuo Ibe for his unmatched contribution to the world of watches.