One thing about G-Shocks that everybody knows? They're tough. They're also known to be absurdly numerous, various, colorful, bulbous, and brash. But if you can tune out all the noise and appreciate the brand's core concept, there's a watchmaking philosophy of creating an eminently practical, legible, comfortable, accurate, robust and fun watch, one that just happens to result in an iconic design: the original 1983 G-Shock "square."

G-Shock often strays from this ideal formula these days, what with fashion-oriented and crazily overbuilt watches, but the square has endured. It's been improved upon over the decades with features like solar charging and radio-syncing, too — and the current model, the GWM5610-1, carries the torch.

The Watch at a Glance: The Casio G-Shock GWM5610-1

Casio G-Shock GWM5610-1
$106.04 (29% off)

  • Indestructible
  • Solar powered
  • Legible
  • A design classic
  • Lightweight and highly comfortable

  • Not easy to change straps
  • Doesn't convey prestige
  • Manual radio syncing doesn't always work
Case Diameter: 46.7mm
Case Depth:
Water Resistance:
Casio quartz
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, day, date, alarm, calendar until 2099, countdown timer, alarms, LED backlight, mute, etc.

The G-Shock catalog and, even the iconic square 5000 or 5600 series, is an endless and ever evolving range of variations. This review is meant to highlight what G-Shock is all about and what it does best, but also to differentiate this particular model and what makes it a winner. The GWM5610-1 was specifically chosen for its classic design, which offers a not overbearing wrist presence and a touch of retro-futuristic nostalgia, but also for its positive display and Tough Solar.

Before the GWM5610-1, I lived with a G5600E for many years, and the new one is nearly identical to that previous watch. Past (and future) models might have a different model number — but whatever the name, color or minor tech upgrades, look for the same features you see here. I'm going to tell you why.

What's Good About the G-Shock GWM5610-1

It's tough as all hell

Of course, this is true of any G-Shock, but watches like the GWM5610-1 show the simplicity of the G-Shock concept. Some of the newest G-Shocks might have fancy features like an inner case structure called Carbon Core Guard for even more durability, but watches without it like the GWM5610-1 are more than sufficiently tough: its quartz and digital nature means no moving parts to break, and the shock absorption provided by the resin case has proven its worth.

Witness a similar model being strapped to a BMX bike tire and bunny hopped upon, or our own Gear Patrol editor getting creative in finding a way to destroy a DW5600 — the same model that got a Guinness World Record for surviving a 24.97-metric-ton truck driving over it. Like all G-Shocks, it's 200m water-resistant, equivalent to many bonafide dive watches. You can truly wear this watch anywhere without worry.

It's absurdly comfortable

Whether in the capacity of collecting or testing, I've worn all manner of watches in my time. But almost none, even the most expensive and impressively built horological masterpieces, is as comfortable on the wrist as a plain-old, plastic G-Shock. It's even more comfortable than G-Shock's own high-end titanium GMWB5000TVA.

a man wearing a casio watch
Zen Love

The case material here is central to the watch's key features of durability and comfort. We're talking a featherweight 51.7g on the wrist, and its dimensions are restrained compared to many other watches from the brand. The ergonomics are exceptional, and although plastic might have "cheap" associations, it sure doesn't feel cheap. If its diameter of 46.7mm sounds big, remember that it's wider than it is long. G-Shock's comfort and ergonomics are a bigger part of its success than is generally acknowledged.

It's a design masterpiece

Admittedly, there's some nostalgia to the classic G-Shock design, and I'm not immune to it. It's a very cool-looking retro-futuristic design to me — but design isn't only about looks. Usability, durability, wearability, legibility and ergonomics should all be part of good watch design — and when you have all those, you usually have a visually compelling watch, too.

The distinctive strap design? It's a big part of the watch's durability, acting as a shock absorber. The raised bezel protects the screen's mineral crystal from scratches. The the buttons are set into the case for protection, resulting in interesting shapes. The solar cells are visible around the screen and have a purplish tint.

All these are pragmatic features that also, in my opinion, add up to a cool, interesting and purposeful look. Its shape that's wider than it is long is also highly unique in the whole watch industry — and is part of what makes it so damn comfortable and wearable. (See above.)

casio watch on red fabric
Zen Love

It's digital

Yes, this is a good thing. Digital is Casio's soul and strong suit, and the brand essentially owns the digital watch space — the brand's recent market research-based push toward more analog watches unfortunately dilutes the brand's character (though the "CasiOak" is admittedly a smash hit).

A digital watch might not scream luxury and prestige, but it's increasingly got a retro-cool appeal. Aside from that, though, digital is cool for other reasons, too: it's instantly readable, making it objectively quicker and easier to tell the time than with analog hands. This is cohesive with the G-Shock concept of pragmatism, but also durability: moving parts like gears and hands are weak points for any watch subject to shock.

It's highly legible

Digital is superior to analog for reading the time, but you've got to be able to see the text clearly — and this means a positive display. The dark-on-light (positive) LCD makes this watch legible, and that makes it legit. A backlight (activated by the upper righthand side button) illuminates the screen.

While popular for their looks, negative displays are downright hard to read in many situations, and I'm speaking from experience. Without the ability to tell the time quickly and easily in a wide range of situations, you're essentially left with a fashion accessory. And, to me at least, an item with a simple function like telling the time that can't even do that well doesn't look very "cool." You'll never regret going for the more legible option with watches — and positive displays are always more legible on digital watches.

close up of a casio watch face
Zen Love

The battery is recharged by light

There are a number of tweaks and upgrades in the square G-Shock since its 1983 introduction, but Tough Solar is the most significant. Solar cells recharge the battery with exposure to any light source (not just the sun). It's exactly the kind of pragmatic feature that fits with the original G-Shock concept — and I fully believe G-Shock creator (and minor watchmaking celebrity) Kikuo Ibe would've included it if it were feasible at the time.

This tech means you don't have to worry about a battery change until the watch is so old that the battery itself corrodes — and that'll probably be long after you've had to service your mechanical watch that you justified by not needing to change its battery. You can leave the a G-Shock like this in a drawer for up to 10 months with no light and find it running (though it goes to sleep to conserve battery until you pick it up). I've done this. If you let the battery drain completely, it'll be revived and ready to go again (though you might have to set it again) when exposed to light. I've done this, too. Tough Solar is a feature that commands a slight price premium, but it's worth it and a feature worth seeking out.

It's more accurate than your Rolex

Typical, cheap, basic quartz is crazy-accurate by itself. I won't belabor the point, but Casio promises an accuracy of +/-15 seconds per month, which is equivalent to 0.5 seconds per day. That's standard for quartz without any additional features like radio-syncing, and it handily clobbers just about any mechanical watch.

The GWM5610-1 comes with Casio tech called Multi Band 6. This means it's got a built-in antenna to receive radio signals that sync it with standard time set by atomic clocks. There's an option to sync manually, and one gripe I've got with the watch is that I haven't been successful doing so. However, it also automatically syncs at night (when the air waves are clearer) and as I write this it's synced to the second with the clock on my computer (which is updated to the same atomic clocks via internet). This feature isn't available for every region in the world, but it's a cool bonus.

It's completely unpretentious

Pretentiousness and showoff-iness are a turnoff for me, and watches too often slide in that direction. I want a watch I can enjoy, but also that feels down-to-earth and not like it's "trying." I don't want a watch that I have to worry about damaging. I want one that doesn't nag me about inequality. I don't want my watch to be a security risk.

Check, check, check and check for the G-Shock.

A G-Shock, especially a basic model like this, probably isn't going to impress in high society, but its everyman quality is an asset from my perspective. The G-Shock GWM5610-1 (and similar) don't even have a chest-thumping toughguy vibe like some G-Shocks can, nor does it scream "hipster." I love my automatic watches too, but few can provide the unencumbered fun of a square, digital G.

What's Not Ideal About the G-Shock GWM5610

The flip side of being classic: being common

This is a familiar G-Shock look, for sure. Like other famous watches the design and appeal are rock solid, but they might sometimes be so familiar as to lose your interest. You can always go for colorful or limited edition versions (here's a great example), and you can even get this very design in more "high-end" materials like stainless steel or even titanium (though, again, they won't be quite as comfortable as the classic resin version). If plastic and/or digital watches are too pedestrian or have a negative association left over from the '80s, a G-Shock might not be your best option.

It doesn't literally "last forever"

Solar-charging watches are often misunderstood. They're sometimes erroneously claimed to not use batteries and/or to "last forever." They do use batteries, and will last longer than most quartz watches without solar charging — but like all things, they are made of physical materials that inevitably age and degrade.

It's estimated that even batteries in solar charging watches might corrode after around 30 years. At that point you can change them as you would a normal quartz watch (or just buy a new one). The resin case should hold up even longer. That said, these aren't really made to be passed down from generation to generation like a Patek or something — which, by the way, you'll need to service more often than changing a Casio battery, and you'll be paying many times the cost of a new G-Shock every time.

And, of course, it is also possible to break one — though it typically requires concerted effort.

The buttons could be easier to operate

There are four buttons on the GWM5610-1, and they're easy enough to operate — as long as you're not using them all the time. I mostly use my G-Shocks for telling the time, but you've kind of got to use your fingernails to press the little buttons and this could get tiresome when using its other features. When I reviewed the titanium G-Shock GMWB5000TVA, the higher-end feel of the buttons and their ease of use contrasted strongly against basic Gs like this one.

side of a casio watch
Zen Love

Casio G-Shock GWM5610: The Verdict

When I first started learning about watches years ago, I wanted to understand the key basic features to look for in a "good" watch, regardless of the smoke and mirrors of hype and brand prestige. The conclusion I came to was something like: accuracy, durability, comfort, legibility and style. The latter is subjective, but the classic G-Shock seemed not only to check all those boxes, but do so far better and less expensively than almost any other watch, even the fanciest and most expensive.

Obviously, I'm a great evangelist of the G-Shock ethos as I see it. All these years later, with greater insight into watches of all kinds, my opinion of the brand hasn't changed, but its most core product has been subtly refined. The GWM5610-1 is a worthy realization of the brand's original mission.