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Is This the Ultimate Watch for G-Shock Fans?

Or are premium materials and refined details total overkill?

g shock titanium watch worn on wrist
Zen Love

In its most essential form, a G-Shock watch is squarish and made of plastic. For its price, reliability, durability and fun factor, it's kind of perfect — but sometimes you might want a step up. Watches like the GMWB5000TVA are meant to offer exactly that: the quintessential G-Shock experience, elevated. Instead of plastic, you've got a digital watch in titanium with sapphire crystal, refined details and a rather significant jump in price. But is this "the ultimate G-Shock" or just overkill?

Key Specs:

Case Diameter: 43.2mm
Case Depth:
13mm
Water Resistance:
200m
Movement:
Casio Tough Solar
Price:
$1,650

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Casio G-Shock GMWB5000TVA Titanium
ebay.com
$1,650.00

Notable

Yes, this is essentially an evolution of the now iconic square design that launched G-Shock in 1983. And yet this model offers so much more than that. It's got a titanium case — and full titanium bracelet — as well as endless little refinements, details and premium features. That's anti-reflective-coated sapphire crystal, as typically found on luxury watches, protecting its screen. The user experience is refined a multiple ways.

This isn't the first metal or even the first titanium watch G-Shock has made in recent years, but it might be the coolest. Its gaming theme, expressed in lots of subtle design touches, distinguishes it and adds a modern feel to an otherwise retro design. This particular model also checks the basic requirements of a good G-Shock with Tough Solar (solar charging) and a positive (dark-on-light) display for legibility.

g shock titanium watch
Zen Love

Who It's For

People who grew up around the original G-Shocks and who, now older and wiser, find them to in fact be impressive little machines, packed with nostalgia. That's not quite as niche a market as it might sound, as there are many of us superfans. Those who fell in love with that cheap, charming, plastic gadget might have also wondered what would happen if the same design and concept were executed with high-end features, materials and refinements. This watch answers that question by taking the basic design and upgrading it all around.

Who this watch isn't for? Those who want a more formal and mature style, as few will recognize this as anything other than the familiar G-Shock. Those people probably want an analog watch. Finally, you need to be flush enough and a big enough G-fan to drop around $1,700 on one — but there are enough such customers for this particular reference to have sold out quickly on the G-Shock website. (Don't worry, Casio will continue making similar G-Shocks, and you can still find the GMWB5000TVA for sale online elsewhere.)

g shock titanium watch
Zen Love

Alternatives

There's really no direct analog to a watch like this except within G-Shock's own lineup which features the iconic square case design in multiple forms. The look is there in the OG resin-cased versions (alternatives to which might be the Regulus and other digital watches from Nixon ($125+), but as this review intends to show, they're worlds apart from this titanium model. You can get metal versions for a few hundred bucks, too, and you can even go much higher-end with G-Shock's MR-G collection which takes the concept and craftsmanship even further.

Those who are into high-end digital watches have relatively limited options, but they might also be interested in the likes of Omega's Speedmaster Instruments collection ($5,900+) or Breitling's Aerospace Evo ($4,375). Stylistically, there are also retro options like Yema's LED ($249+) or Hamilton's PSR ($745+).

Review

Most people who glance at something like the GMWB5000TVA on your wrist won't think it's anything other than your typical plastic G-Shock. That's because its look is so familiar. This is essentially the design (though evolved) that established the brand in 1983 and exists in the modern catalog in various forms. They probably wouldn't know that it's made of titanium, sapphire crystal and costs nearly $1,700.

The appeal of a high-end G-Shock that more or less looks (from afar) like a pedestrian plastic one might seem very niche and rather meta. Of course, brand fans will know that it's no ordinary G, and for us (yes, I am one) it theoretically (arguably) represents the ultimate expression of a G-Shock. I was excited about the concept when these models were first announced, but it wasn't until seeing them in person that I could really confirm whether or not they were the super-G-Shocks of my dreams.

g shock titanium watch
Zen Love

The verdict? Expectations: surpassed. At least in terms of quality and execution. This is no rough translation of a $150 plastic G-5600 into titanium. Go ahead and compare its construction, finishing and tolerances to Swiss watches around the same price point. You'll find contrasting matte and polished surfaces across the complex case, bracelet and other components that about any watchmaker would be happy with. Don't miss the polished sides on each of the tapering bracelet's links that contrasts with its matte-finished top. Bracelets are notoriously complicated to design and execute well, especially in titanium.

Yes, it's as admirable in many ways as a lot of entry-level luxury watches. While of course the GMWB5000TVA doesn't offer something like an automatic movement, its technology is in-house and impressive. While it's no Apple Watch, even the list of features on a basic G-Shock watch can be overwhelming, and here they're only upgraded and expanded (stopwatch, world time, alarms, "Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping," Bluetooth...). While I mostly only use the most basic of them, the general user interface feels appropriately elevated in comparison to your average Casio.

On basic G-Shocks, you might have to use your fingernail to press one of the side buttons, but here they're easy to press with a solid and soft (dare I say luxury-feeling) action. Activate the button in the upper righthand corner and the LED backlight fades pleasingly on and off — again, unlike basic models. In other words, Casio took the extra steps to ensure that you're getting a digital watch that feels like the kind of money you spent on it.

These details and the use of titanium are what takes the brand's watches like this to the next level. Anyone whose worn a G-Shock knows how light and comfortable they are, and titanium helps preserve that experience. I admit that a basic plastic G-Shock is probably even lighter (about half the weight) and more comfortable than the GMWB5000TVA, but the details and cool factor make up for the difference of about 50 grams.

g shock titanium watch
Zen Love

Fitting well with the brand's reputation of near invincibility, titanium is also ridiculously hard. As a metal, however, it won't absorb shock like plastic, so Casio has used a plastic "buffering component" between its outer titanium bezel and the inner case. Casio wants to show it off, too, and has incorporated multiple openings that reveal the red of this plastic part.

The GMWB5000TVA case is covered with laser etchings that are mostly aesthetic, giving the watch a kind of tactical look (apparently inspired by gaming and virtual reality) — but if you care to read them, they spell out a whole host of the watch's specifications. "Diamond like carbon" is repeated in multiple places, and this coating gives the watch its black finish and also protects the base metal from developing a layer of oxidation that can get scratched. You can probably take it anywhere you'd take a plastic G-Shock.

Verdict

A simple plastic G-Shock G-5600 with Tough Solar is still perfect, in my mind, for what it's meant to offer. Its affordable price fits its casual persona, and it's still one of the most comfortable watches on the planet. Something like the GMWB5000TVA, however, is precisely for people who appreciate G-Shock for those reasons and want to experience the brand at another level. While Casio might be associated with affordable, mass-produced watches, a high-end G shows that the brand can do much more.

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