Behind the HYPE: A look back at G-SHOCK’s heritage

G-SHOCK is a hot topic on various online forums dedicated to collecting watches. For many, the brand evokes nostalgic memories, as recent converts splurged to purchase their first affordable, quality timepiece intended for everyday use. The working class watch, the G-SHOCK watch, is built with strength and longevity in mind. However robust, unbreakable and tough, the Japanese brand refrains from treating aesthetics as an afterthought. G-SHOCK’s ground-breaking leaps in glass technology, metalwork and incremental improvements with its proprietary shock-resistant construction have cemented the brand’s reputation as a durable, trouble-free watch that stands the test of time. In the latest episode of Behind the HYPE, Hypebeast pays tribute to the people’s watchmaker, unpacking influential subcultures the label has graced in fashion and cinema and the many celebrity wrists that have donned the iconic chunky silhouette on screen and beyond.

The extreme evolution G-SHOCK has undergone to remain timely and practical in the digital era is an impressive feat. Evoking the colorful, electric magnetism of Casio’s Tokyo presence, the label introduces some of the boldest, futuristic models available in contemporary fashion and shows no signs of slowing down. Exciting cross-over collaborations with established lifestyle and streetwear brands such as CLOT, Jordan Brand and Stussy have catapulted the brand into America’s mainstream. Rising labels such as NEIGHBORHOOD, Krink, Stash and STAPLE have introduced elements of street art and graffiti to the label’s rugged façade.

Casio’s head of watch design, Kikuo Ibe, pioneered the brand’s “triple 10” criteria: 10-meter drop resistance, the ability to withstand 10 atmospheres of water pressure and 10 years of battery life. After 200 failed prototypes, Ibe discovered that hanging the watch’s module in the center of the case provided exceptional protection while maintaining an elegant, compact design. This defining feature – the Carbon Core Guard – introduced what is known as G-SHOCK’s five-level shock absorption, a hallmark of the brand’s ultra-tough construction, and further established the brand as an authority in workwear accessories.

To celebrate its 35th anniversary, G-SHOCK reached out to designer and music producer NIGO to help brainstorm and create neon NIGO® × K. IBE Special Collaboration Models, including vibrant neon watches DW-5635-9 and DW-6935- 4, both sold through a raffle. Reaching a younger audience, the collection merged Japanese street style with pop-inspired accents. Speaking of celebrity cosigns, G-SHOCK boasts an impressive A-list roster, gracing the wrists of BTS members Eminem, G-Dragon, A$AP Ferg, Rihanna, Kid Cudi, Lady Gaga and many more. In the early 90s, G-SHOCK cemented its status as a globally recognized brand, making its Hollywood debut when a young Keanu Reeves wore the G-SHOCK DW-5600C-1V in the campy, popcorn thriller Speed. Additionally, Tom Cruise donned the Casio DW290-1V in the first Mission impossible movie released in 1996. Recent cameos in American sniper saw Bradley Cooper wearing the G-Shock DW-6600-1V and Chris Pratt wearing the GA-700-1B in the blockbuster. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Considering G-SHOCK’s prolific presence in the fashion and music spaces, watch collectors are never short of coveted and limited editions. On average, the brand releases more than 100 units annually, with more than 100 million styles sold worldwide. In 2019, G-SHOCK made strides with the release of the GA-2100, equipped with a uniquely designed analog-digital display that references the cult classic DW-5000C series. Recently, G-SHOCK announced its all-metal GM-B2100, highlighting the model’s innovative Tough Solar technology, built-in Bluetooth functionality and connected capabilities with G-SHOCK’s Connected app, which offers customizable specifications and a smart phone finder function.

For a deeper dive into G-SHOCK, watch the video above to learn more about the brand’s impact on fashion and pop culture. For a closer look at the aforementioned watches, head over to G-SHOCK’s website, and read more about the brand’s latest series here.

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