Kikuo Ibe is the founding father of G-Shock and the Chief Engineer of Research and Development for Casio Computer Co. Beginning with an idea to make a more durable watch after dropping and breaking a watch his father had given him in high school, by 1983, with a degree in mechanical engineering and a job at Casio, he invented the G-Shock watch.

The watch was not initially a runaway success, but as police and firemen adapted G-Shocks for professional use, largely because of its extreme durability, not to mention affordability, it eventually caught on. By the 1990s G-Shock was worn by skateboarders, backpackers, and military personnel worldwide. The G-Shock was both a professional watch and a fashion accessory at the same time.

Massive G-Shock sign in the center of the exhibit

Casio Power Trainer

Today, 35 years later, the Casio G-Shock is easily one of the most recognizable wristwatches in the world. And still one of the most affordable. Although in that regard the company has diversified quite a bit, beginning with the first Metal G-Shock in 1996, Casio now makes numerous models with extended features and upgraded materials, such as with the newly introduced layered carbon fiber bezel of the G-Steel and the MR-G line which utilizes hardened titanium.

Nevertheless, even with all the new collections, the old G-Shocks are still part of the core lineup, including re-editions of the original square DW-5000 G-Shock from 1983, which Mr. Ibe told Professional Watches, is still his favorite Casio watch.

Kikuo Ibe, creator of the original G-Shock in 1983

Despite much of the higher priced segments of the watch market being down in sales, particularly the Swiss, Casio has been on winning streak, largely because of their diverse target market, iconic design, and accessible price point. And so, every five years the company has a major event to celebrate their success and to grow awareness of the brand further. Five years ago Eminem performed live. This year the event ended with a live concert by A$AP Mob with Skepta and T-Pain, which you can see on YouTube.

Last Thursday, in addition concert at Madison Square Garden (Theater), Casio hosted an exhibit of G-Shocks from 1983 to 2017, including a press conference and to show off some of their most important new G-Shock releases, such as the new GPS-equipped Rangeman, the latest G-Steel timepieces, new collaborations such as with Eric Haze, new MR-G timepieces, and special 35th Anniversary pieces.

Left to right: Matt Hranek, Adam Craniotes, Kikuo Ibe, Louie Vito

During the conference, Casio brought Mark Messier onto the stage to test G-Shocks by setting up ice and a net and attaching the shock resistant timepieces to hockey pucks and letting the former hockey player fire the watches into a metal wall placed inside the net with a force guaranteed to destroy almost any other watch. They picked up the pucks afterward and all the watches were still working. Then Shigenori Itoh, Casio’s Executive Managing Officer, waved his hands, and dozens of G-Shocks feel from the ceiling (approximately 30 feet) onto a very hard surface, again demonstrating the legendary toughness of G-Shock.

G-Shock Sapphire to be released in 2018

Later on, Mr. Ibe announced the show-stopper: the new G-Shock Sapphire. Designed with the same dimensions as the original squared shaped DW-5000 from 1983, the watch is housed in a newly developed premium sapphire crystal case, reinforced with forged carbon elements, and it will go on sale in 2018. And best of all, even though sapphire is known to be brittle it’s still a G-Shock and so even if you drop it, it won’t shatter as other sapphire watches surely would.

Learn more at G-Shock.

Posted by:Jason Pitsch