Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Casio G-Shock

When we talk about vintage watches in this series, the topic of conversation is almost always one of the most iconic mechanical timepieces from the past hundred or so years. The reasons for this focus ranges from reader interest, to availability and reliability of information, to continuity of production, to my own personal preferences. However, it is easy to forget that there are also a few no-less-iconic quartz watches that have come to shape the modern market. Probably the most influential of these is the piece we’ll be covering today: the Casio G-Shock.

Casio G-Shock - original

In the eyes of many hardcore horological purists, the G-Shock series has come to represent some of the vices of modern watchmaking — mass production, quartz technology, huge case sizes, and the list goes on. But this model’s impact on the market is comparable to that of some of the biggest names in the industry. Similar to the way the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore ushered larger watches into the luxury market in 1993, the G-Shock had a similar effect on the entry-level market in 1983. Like the automatic chronograph race between Seiko, Zenith, and the Chronomatic Group in the late 1960s attracted many new consumers, the G-Shock similarly garnered quartz sports watches mass appeal among a previously unexplored market. The G-Shock broke some serious ground, and so, naturally I wanted to explore a more modern reference to see how it stacks up to the original game-changing piece from the 1980s.

Casio G-Shock reclining on rock

Coincidentally, as I began researching for this article, I received a press release from Casio on a watch planned for an early November release, the DW5600HR-1. This piece (above) is an homage to the original G-Shock reference DW-5000C of 1983 (at top), and was developed specifically to retain the original proportions of that watch. With a thick, 42.8-mm black rubber case, its iconic octagonal bezel, and its integrated bracelet, there’s no mistaking this piece for anything other than a G-Shock. The bezel has the series’ flagship “Protection/G-Shock” engraved text, while the bracelet is reminiscent of the red accents seen on the original DW-5000C, with dual black and red coloring. The dial lists all of the watch’s functions, from chronograph to countdown timer to multiple alarms, all of which are operated by the four pushers on the sides of the piece. Also on the dial is the trademark “Shock Resist” G-Shock logo seen on all watches in the series. The digital display uses a nontraditional black background, with white readouts for the day of the week, the date, and the time (in either 12- or 24-hour format). Available at various retailers in the next few days, the watch will be priced at the relatively accessible price of $99.

Casio G-Shock - folded

When the G-Shock first began its developmental phase in 1981, Casio’s head of design, Kikuo Ibe and his team of three researchers had set out to create a virtually unbreakable timepiece. They sought to reach a target they dubbed the “Triple 10” — the idea that the watch should be able to withstand a 10-meter drop, have up to 10 bars of water resistance, and offer a battery life of 10 years. Luckily, after years of trial and error, the team was eventually able to reach this goal and bring to market the first G-Shock, the DW-5000C.

The modern reference we’re covering today is not much different than that original model. While this specific piece doesn’t happen to carry with it a 10-year battery life, it does have a 20 bar (200 meter) water resistance, and can withstand drops much higher than 10 meters. The design, credited to the original blueprint from the 1980s, is more or less the same: a thick, matte rubber case protecting the inner workings; a simple and easily readable dial; and a comfortable, wide rubber strap to secure the watch to the wrist.

The differences between the models are also not incredibly noticeable. Today’s reference uses a black background for the dial instead of white, the modern piece uses many more red accents than the vintage, and some of the dial features have been moved around from the top to bottom or vice-versa. The only major change is that the modern piece uses a mostly plastic inner framework to protect the movement compared to the vintage model’s steel — but this of course is a reason Casio is able to price the watch at less than $100. And for those searching for an even more historically accurate modern variation of the G-Shock, some models, still developed in Japan, use the slightly more expensive steel inner structuring, such as the Ref. GW-5000-1JF.

Casio G-Shock - reclining

Overall, while many of the modern pieces in Casio’s G-Shock lineup have proved controversial to many watch lovers — largely for their increasingly massive cases and sometimes gaudy color schemes — I’ve found the DW5600-HR1 to be a much more classical-looking watch. Its proportions remain true to the original ethos of the series, and its look is not only playful and sporty but retains much of the original character that made this model so important to the history of watches. The Casio G-Shock has become a favorite among military personnel and pop stars for a reason, and this modern reference shows once again why it’s been able to maintain its popularity for more than 30 years.

Casio G-Shock - modern - front

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first learning about horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field, and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers, alike. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.

5 Affordable Breitling Watches for New Collectors

Many brands offer aviation-themed timepieces, but when you think of fighter pilots and the instrument watches made for them, chances are that one brand comes to mind: Breitling. Here are five Breitling watches that are in stores now* at accessible prices.

Breitling Colt Automatic

Breitling created the Colt in the 1980s. Originally intended for use by the armed forces, the watch developed a wider following in the civilian world and soon established itself as the most accessible Breitling. The Colt features many of the visual cues that give Breitling watches their unmistakable look. The broad unidirectional rotating bezel with a satin-brushed finish and engraved hour-markers features the brand’s trademark rider tabs. These tabs improve the grip on the bezel, making it easy to rotate even when wearing gloves. They also help to protect the glare-resistant sapphire crystal, and they can be used to track elapsed time or to serve as a reminder for a future event. The Breitling Colt’s 44-mm case is water-resistant to 200 meters. The Colt Automatic is powered by the mechanical Breitling Caliber 17, which is a COSC-certified chronometer. The Colt is available with black, blue and silver dials, and a variety of straps and bracelets. The Breitling Colt Automatic is priced from $3,090.

breitling colt automatic
The Colt Automatic offers the unmistakable Breitling look at an affordable price.

 

Breitling Superocean 42

For those who enjoy underwater adventure, Breitling created the Superocean. The look is classic yet modern, and the colorful inner bezels give these timepieces an instantly recognizable look. The inner bezels are available in blue, yellow, red or silver, each with a black dial. There are also two limited editions of 2,000 pieces each, one with an orange inner bezel, and the other with matching blue dial and blue inner bezel. The Breitling Superocean case is milled from a solid block of stainless steel. The final product is 42 mm in diameter and water-resistant to 1,500 meters. (A 44-mm version is also available). The screw-locked crown incorporates twin gaskets to seal out water, and the pressure release valve located in the side of the case at 10 o’clock is a mark of a true professional dive watch. The Breitling Superocean is also powered by the COSC-certified Caliber 17 automatic-winding movement.

The Breitling Superocean 42 is priced from $3,295.

breitling superocean
Breitling’s Superocean features a 1,500 meter depth rating and a helium escape valve at an attractive price.

Breitling Aerospace Evo

First launched in 1985, the multi-function Aerospace became the face of Breitling’s SuperQuartz-powered instrument timepieces. The movement, which is 10 times more accurate than a standard quartz oscillator, offers a variety of easy-to-use functions, including a 1/100th of a second chronograph, countdown timer, second time zone, alarm, audible time signal and calendar. All of these are accessed and operated by simply rotating and pressing or pulling the crown. The Aerospace also features a very effective backlight system that is compatible with night vision goggles. Fashioned from light yet strong titanium, the 43 mm satin-brushed case is water resistant to 100 meters. The caseback includes conversion scales for English and metric measurements.

The new Breitling Aerospace Evo is available with black, blue or gray dials, and comes fitted with a leather, crocodile leather or rubber strap, or a titanium bracelet, priced from $3,460.

Breitling Aerospace Evo
The new Aerospace Evo offers rugged good looks and excellent functionality.

 

Breitling Super Avenger II Chronograph

Our next selection represents a step up in size, and in mechanical complexity. The Super Avenger II boasts an impressive 48-mm-diameter, polished steel case designed to provide maximum strength and reliability. Water-resistant to 300 meters, the case includes substantial lateral reinforcements for improved shock protection. An extra-thick anti-glare sapphire crystal protects a display that employs oversize hands, numerals and hour markers for improved legibility in all conditions. The chronograph counters measure elapsed periods of 60 seconds, 30 minutes and 12 hours. The Breitling Caliber 13 automatic winding mechanical chronograph movement is a COSC-certified chronometer.

The Breitling Super Avenger II Chronograph is available on a strap or bracelet, priced from $5,335.

Breitling Super Avenger II
The Super Avenger II Chronograph is not for the faint of heart.

 

Breitling Chronomat 41 Airborne

Our final selection takes us into the rarified realm of in-house Swiss-made chronographs. Only a handful of watch brands produce these movements. Naturally there is a step up in price, but there is also a step up in prestige and exclusivity. The Breitling Chronomat story began in the early 1980s, when Ernest Schneider, who had recently purchased the company from Willy Breitling, learned that the Frecce Tricolori, the Italian airforce aerobatics team, was seeking a manufacturer to create an official watch. Schneider determined to create an all-new aviation chronograph, working in close cooperation with the squadron. The Chronomat launched in 1983, and Schneider decided to make it the flagship of the Breitling brand. In light of that status, in 2009 the Chronomat was the first model fitted with the new Breitling in-house chronograph caliber B01. To celebrate the Chronomat’s 30th anniversary, Breitling has issued a special series, designed to capture the spirit the of the original Frecce Tricolori chronograph. The Breitling Chronomat Airborne is distinguished by its satin-brushed bezel, and a caseback engraved with the inscription “Edition Spéciale 30e Anniversaire” (Special 30th Anniversary Edition), as well as the outline of an Aermacchi, one of the ten planes flown by the Italian squadron. Available with polished steel cases in both 41 mm and 44 mm sizes, the Chronomat Airborne features Breitling’s manufacture Caliber B01, which is a COSC-certified chronometer. The movement runs at 28,800 vph in 47 jewels with a 70 hour power reserve. The dials are available in Onyx Black and Sierra Silver, with choice of military strap or Pilot bracelet.

The Breitling Chronomat Airborne is priced from $8,030.

breitling chronomat chronograph
The Breitling Chronomat Airborne pays tribute to the original model.

 

This article was originally published in 2014; prices are subject to change.

 

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