Casio’s making a G-Shock smartwatch, and it’s going to be tougher than any other

casio g shock smartwatch ryusuke moriai interview
Ryusuke Moriai, Casio’s Head of Watch Design, with the GMW-B5000V G-Shock watch. Andy Boxall/Digitaltrends.com

A Casio G-Shock smartwatch is in development.

That’s according to Casio’s head of watch design, Ryusuke Moriai, who told Digital Trends in an interview. The watch is not yet ready for release, and details are still strictly confidential, but we do know that when it’s released, the G-Shock smartwatch will meet the strict toughness standards essential to any timepiece bearing the G-Shock name.

Work on the smartwatch comes at the same time design and materials used in the G-Shock range are also changing, but the principles that make a G-Shock a G-Shock watch — supreme toughness — are still at the heart of all that Casio does, along with the exacting attention to detail that attracts so many to the brand.

Smartwatch development

Casio already makes smartwatches and connected traditional watches, and they represent some of the best examples of both available today. So far, G-Shock watches have only featured basic Bluetooth connectivity. But as the Pro Trek smartwatch and Casio’s Connected app prove, the company knows what it’s doing in the connected space.

I asked Moriai if a G-Shock smartwatch was coming:

“Yes, we have started to develop a smartwatch,” he replied in his native Japanese language, which was translated for me. “I’m trying my best to make something really unique.”

When pushed for details, Moriai said this was all he could say on the project, and would not confirm if the watch would have a touchscreen. But seeing as there are already non-touchscreen connected G-Shocks, it’s safe to presume he’s working on a touchscreen model.

But will it be a real G-Shock if it does have a touchscreen? He continued to talk about the essential elements a G-Shock watch, including a smartwatch, must have:

“There are three really important points for a G-Shock: Shock resistance, waterproof, and longer battery life,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be Tough Solar [the solar power system used on many existing G-Shock watches], but we are looking at longer battery life than other brands. We are not just going to launch anything with one of the functions, because we don’t want it to disappear from the market.”

Casio’s Pro Trek WSD-F30 smartwatch effectively utilizes two screens for long battery life — up to a month in low-power mode — so we can speculate a version of this may also be used on the G-Shock smartwatch too. Regarding the water resistance, Moriai wants the G-Shock smartwatch to be able to handle a depth of 200 meters — he called this a “G-Shock rule.” For reference, most smartwatches today can withstand 50 meters. The requirements to meet such a criteria are very different, and a huge technical challenge for G-Shock.

Attention to detail

casio g shock smartwatch ryusuke moriai interview gmwb500v front
Andy Boxall/Digitaltrends.com

Moriai has been driving the design direction of G-Shock watches since 2010, but has worked on G-Shock watches since the brand launched in 1983. He penned the original Casio F-91W, and is also responsible for many G-Shock models including the GA-100, and the iconic Frogman diver’s watch. He was in London to celebrate the second anniversary of the G-Shock store on Carnaby Street, and to show a new limited edition G-Shock — the GMW-B5000V.

A new Full Metal 5000 Series watch, the V stands for Vintage and refers to the special ion-plating (IP) coating that has been artificially aged, giving the body a beautiful patina that’s part steampunk, and part homage to the longevity of this classic watch design. To achieve the aged look, each individual component is put in a barrel polishing machine — which looks like a washing machine for watch parts — containing specially-made abrasive particles that give the originally grey IP parts their new, distinctive grain, finish, and color.

The process isn’t an exact science and the finish can become too shiny, which isn’t the effect that’s desired. Casio is forced to discard those parts and only chooses the best components to build the final watch. It’s a strictly limited edition, and although a total number has not been revealed, there are only 300 made for the U.K.. It’s not just the IP coating that makes it special: Moriai pointed out the negative display and the black buttons as two of his other favorite aspects.

The GMW-B5000V has Bluetooth connectivity and will connect to Casio’s Connected app — where multiple time zones and alarms can be set using your phone — plus it has Tough Solar for power, and uses Multi-band 6 radio waves for accurate global time-keeping.

The time is right for a smartwatch

Casio Gravitymaster review
Casio’s G-Shock Gravitymaster watch. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Casio understands the watch industry must evolve if it wants to survive, and new materials and production methods are helping it change the G-Shock range, so it appeals to more people. The new Gravitymaster, Mudmaster, and fashion-based GA-2000 models are all made using carbon fiber, with the Gravitymaster using a full carbon monocoque design. The slimmer, lighter construction makes them appeal to more people.

“We want to make more models that are suitable for lifestyle and fashion,” Moriai said.

Is this a shift away from the familiar tough looks, and even the tough construction? Absolutely not — it’s a push in a new direction, enabled by evolving technology. The carbon monocoque Gravitymaster G-Shock watch represents the first time Casio has not used a resin shock-resistant body in its 35-year lifetime. Called Carbon Core Guard, it does away with button guards and tank-like shapes, yet still offers the same required degree of toughness. Advancements in construction mean the designs can also change, so is this the end of the iconic tough G-Shock look?

“Both of the styles are very important,” he said. “We are not going to discontinue the iconic bulky G-Shock style. There is now a slimmer style that will attract more G-Shock fans.”

Combine a sleek new carbon fiber monocoque design with Casio’s Connected app, its impressive dual-screen technology on the Pro Trek WSD-F30 smartwatch, overall attention to detail, and promise to make a smartwatch that adheres to the G-Shock principles, and it’s clear everything is coming together so it can build an exciting, genuine G-Shock smartwatch.

At the time of writing there is no release date for the G-Shock connected watch, and Moriai said engineers and designers are currently deep in discussion about the watch and its features itself. When the prospect is this tantalizing, I’m prepared to wait. If you want the new GMW-B5000V, it’s yours for $1,000, or 900 British pounds, through G Shock’s online and retail stores. Just don’t wait too long, as numbers are limited.

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