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Go to the Casio G-Shock website at any given time, and you’ll find hundreds of individual watches currently being produced. Filter for mens models, and you'll still find an intimidating number of SKUs broken into collections, features, materials and so on. It can be helpful to sort by price, but it's still confusing — indeed, even Casio seems to have trouble keeping up with their G-Shock offerings.
You might visit a properly stocked G-Shock store only to realize that physically confronting the beast does nothing to tame it. And you will not find all models in any store or other online retailer at once, try as you might, and you very well might discover yet more models.
There’s no way around it: the G-Shock collection is vast, intricate, and overwhelming. Casio makes enough G-Shocks to satisfy a ravenous collector community (up there with sneaker nerds), and Casio also caters to various professionals who need indestructible timepieces, military personnel who aren’t issued watches, athletes in training, outdoorsy folks, and even skaters and surfers and breakdancers.
Let’s contemplate the following two G-Shocks, just to get a sense of the breadth available. The first is the $380 Mudmaster from the Master of G series, an enormous battle-ready analog/digital hybrid badass with more capability than your smartphone. The second is the $150 Hotei Limited Edition from the 7 Lucky Gods Collection, which appears fey and airy but is, like all G-Shocks, tough as nails. Also, the Hotei sold out in pre-sale, and is inevitably bound for sale on the nerd-forums for multiples of the original price. Two very different audiences, two very different watches.
Herein lies the dilemma of parsing the G-Shock collection: it appeals equally to a camouflage-clad soldier serving overseas as it does to the 13-year-old anime junky in Tokyo’s suburbs. What unites these two seemingly disparate G-Shock communities is that both wrap their imaginations around these watches, and both demand unparalleled durability, functionality, and style.
So let’s carve up this beast of a lineup known as G-Shock, paring as we can along the way. The first thing to recognize is that many individual reference numbers are really just alternative colorways for many G-Shock models. That helps simplify things…a little: the brand regularly updates existing models with more design changes than merely colors. Then there are fully digital models, analog/digital hybrid displays, and a slew of analog-only models, too. The analog/digital divide turns out to be where Casio cleaves their G-Shock offerings, so we have grouped this guide in three major categories: digital-only, analog/digital hybrids, and all-analog. It’s a start.
Almost all G-Shocks will have a stopwatch, a countdown timer, a backlight, and 200m of water resistance. Beyond that, Casio riffs endlessly with style and functionality, from resin-cased altimeter- and barometer-loaded models to precious-metal atomic-clock referencing dual-time world travelers. In reality, it's tough to wrangle all of G-Shock constantly evolving offerings into a coherent picture, but this guide should help you navigate your way to one (or 10) that suits you.
These are any models that lack analog hands. Many harken back to the earliest G-Shocks with squarish cases that appeared in 1981 from the drawing pad of renowned Casio designer Kikuo Ibe. The broad category of digital watches, however, ranges from small retro-styled units to some of the wildest behemoths in the G-Shock range.
This is essentially the base model, the modern version of the original G-Shock. One test of a great watch design is how well it works in different colorways. Go Rasta, denim or crystal, and you’ll have the 1980s on your wrist. Or, if you’re more into the 1990s, there’s a rave-inspired model with teal and purple, that decade’s favorite colorway. Or a woody-surfboard vibe? Check. Or a khaki military inspired colorway, or…well, you get the idea. Thankfully, Casio seems to provide a steady supply of these less expensive models, so you can readily snag one.
Functionality: Various colorways (using separate reference numbers), plastic construction, illumination, standard stopwatches, solar charging (on some models) and alarms
These relatively premium G-Shocks are popular because they’re so damn great, but they remain pretty readily available. Styled just like the originals, but now with fully metal construction, including bracelets on some models. These look like the 1980s but function futuristically with solar power and they come in a range of finishes from traditional steel, gold or black to some typically G-Shock, funky iterations.
Functionality: Alarms, stopwatch, countdown timer, illumination, solar power, bluetooth, metal construction, more
These are a little like the 6900, but feature the three-subdial layout and a more toned down, octagonal retro-vibe. The blacked-out version is especially striking.
Functionality: Alarms, stopwatch, countdown timer, illumination, plain styled band, classic styling
These are similar in appearance to many other 1983-based models, but offer specific functionality for surfers with tidal information. They also typically come with smartphone connectivity and steel bezels.
Functionality: Alarms, stopwatch, countdown timer, illumination, steel bezel, tide graph, bluetooth, more
Nothing lacking here, despite the incredible prices. These watches feature Blutotooth connectivity that allows the nerdiest of workout analysis.
Functionality: Round dials, fully digital, alarms, laps timers, countdown timers, stopwatch, Bluetooth, step tracker, more
What sets these apart are the bar protectors, claimed to be favorites of skateboarders who will beat the crap out of anything strapped to their wrist. The fabric strap helps wick moisture during those all-day street sessions.
Functionality: Plastic construction with metal bar protectors, alarms, laps timers, countdown timers, stopwatch
After the square 5600, this is the most recognizable G-Shock look and is a popular choice for police, soldiers and other such professionals around the world. There are a slew of one-offs in the G-Shock digital lineup inspired by the classic 6900 model — some of them common and others which can be hard to get your hands on.
Functionality: Various colorways (using separate reference numbers), plastic construction, illumination, standard stopwatches and alarms
With a display like like a 5600 but an overall round case, these lack the big G on the bottom and have a more retro-look to them than, say, the 6900 watches. Your choice of colorways will dictate how loud or subtle the watch is.
Functionality: Mellow retro aesthetics, alarms, stopwatch, countdown timer, illumination
With their four pronounced bezel bolts and unapologetic technical aesthetic, the 7900 models are badassery personified Japanese style. The feature set includes tide graphs, which suggest that this watch is ideal for oceangoing activities around the world.
Functionality: Standard feature set with atomic timekeeping, tide graphs, moon tracking, and solar power
With all the goods you’ll need to dive in any conditions, the Frogman is the rare dive-oriented G-SHOCK. It’s not a dive computer, however, and shouldn’t be confused with one. It is, however, rich in dive style, with a range of limited editions and colorways.
Functionality: Standard feature set, tide graphs, 31 time zones, timers, more
With all the G-Shock toughness but also a full touchscreen display, this is the brand's first smartwatch line to feature Google's Wear OS and the massive range of functionality it offers.
Functionality: Smart connectivity through Google Wear OS, touchscreen, heart rate sensor, g-shock tough build, 200m water resistance, more
Analog-Digital Hybrid G-Shocks
Analog/digital G-Shocks all have traditional watch hands, giving them at-a-glance legibility and a sense of time itself that’s lacking on a fully digital display. There’s something about looking at a whole watch dial that offers a broader perspective on time, and this is certainly part of the allure here. There’s also an argument to be made for an activity-oriented watch having real hands, as once you’re bouncing through the rapids on your kayak or dangling thousands of feet from a cliff, making out a digital display isn’t always so easy.
In the brand's professional-oriented "Master 0f G" collection are multiple sub-collections, among which is the Gulfmaster. Made for marine-related work, the Gulfmaster has hands only limited digital displays alongside its main hands for the time and subdials for other information like tide and moon data. It also includes sensors and a unique feature that allows you to move the watch hands out of the way of other information temporarily.
Functionality: Altimeter, barometer, depth gauge, thermometer, and all the other standard timers and calendars
Also in the Master of G collection, this is one of a few dedicated pilot's watch families from G-Shock, and it proves itself with bulletproof construction, killer high-tech looks and unmatched accuracy across all the world’s time zones. Additional features depend on the generation and model, with later iterations being analog-only.
Functionality: Bullet-proof construction, bluetooth connectivity, and standard timer features
These are pretty straight up analog/digital G-Shocks, and there’s very little to say about them other than that they’re totally badass, especially at these prices.
Functionality: 3-D-sculpted dial, alarms, timers, week and date display
Building on the digital Power Trainer lineup, these are all about tracking your workouts, whether they’re elaborate interval programs or simply a series of steps. The colorways are intended to make them more wearable with everyday clothes, encouraging you to keep it on and keep fit.
Functionality: Connected phone app for fitness tracking, multi-timer, auto-time correction, calendars
These watches are pushing 80s style into modern proportions like a trunk-pumpin’ remix of DeBarge. Yes, they’re incredibly capable and tough watches, but that’s not quite the point of these bad boys…well, unless you’re going to do a headspin on a piece of cardboard in it. Models like the GA710 and GA400 are closely related.
Functionality: Standard feature set with calendars, timers, etc (no connectivity)
Casio tells us that they’re going for hip-hop fashion statements with these watches, but what really sets them apart is the rotary control dial in the crown position. This unique feature allows for intuitive control over whatever function is selected.
Functionality: Standard calendar, alarms, and stopwatch functions, along with a unique rotary dial for quick-setting
It’s slightly busier than the GA-400, and for this reason, Casio is pushing this as “Street Fashion”-oriented. What we see is more of an automotive vibe coming in with the perforated hands on many models that suggest both old-school steering wheels and perforated driving gloves. But, yes, they’ll also color-coordinate with your most high-tech sneakers (in just about any color) for mad street style.
Functionality: Calendar, alarms, timers, etc.
Like their GAS cousins below, these models exude a perhaps unintentional driving motif (depending on the colorway), while providing street-ready style, as well. The alternative dial layout is the kind of thing the G-Shockers will fuss over on the forums, but you can go with your gut and let the kids do the arguing. Rock the purple and green colorway for mad retro-90s style.
Functionality: Calendar, alarms, timers, etc.
If a G-Shock can be elegant, this is the one. The subtle tie-in of color from the dial to the inner strap, along with toned down contrast across the watch make for a (relatively) understated affair.
Functionality: Calendar, timer, alarms, solar power
With a more stripped-down dial and a mid-sized case, this model is aiming for a little less on purpose. It won’t dominate your outfit, but will bring the high-tech vibe of a G-Shock nonetheless. Need a gift for a teenager? Go ahead, make their day.
Functionality: Standard alarms, stopwatch, etc.
Atomic clock referencing for time-zone alignment and the most accurate timekeeping on Earth, these G-SHOCKS may look more basic but hold some of today’s most advanced watch technology.
Functionality: Atomic timekeeping, daily alarms, unique hand adjustment capability
These G-Steel watches use steel cases and bezels to offer a more traditional kind of G-Shock, but the functionality and durability is as cutting-edge as ever. (Note: Most are ana-digi, but one of these models is all analog.)
Functionality: Timesetting via mobile link, carbon bezel, stainless steel case, tough solar tech, battery level indicator, timer, alarm, calendar
Not to be confused with mechanical watches, analog simply refers to watches with dials and hands rather than numeric displays to provide information. All the movements here are quartz-driven, providing the same reliability and durability found in the other models, while the presentation ups the elegance to some. G-Shock likes to give its most premium models all-analog displays, and prices will reflect that.
Yes, you can spend “Rolex money” on a G-Shock by aiming for the MR-G line. The number of incredible finishing processes, especially for the bezels and bracelets, is astounding. Casio is giving Grand Seiko a run for their money in terms of Japanese handcraft. The atomic-clock aligned movements will provide accuracy that’ll trounce that of Rolex and Grand Seiko. Prices start in the couple of thousands and can go up significantly.
Functionality: Time-zone tracking and atomic clock referencing, with standard analog subdials
MT-G is a premium tier of G-Shock that sits below the absolute luxury-level MR-G. You'll find it features metal construction, bluetooth connectivity, atomic clock syncing to provide dead-accurate timekeeping, dual time zones and more.
Functionality: Bluetooth connectivity via Connected App, automatic time setting, world time, stopwatch and more
The latest generation of the famous Frogman watch with its lopsided case has an all-analog display, and Casio is really excited about it. It includes all the latest tech and durability specs, as well as a unique diving-specific feature which allows you to hide the hour hand under the minute hand when diving to avoid confusion and allow you to only focus on the minutes, which are most important.
Functionality: Dual time, tide data, concealing hour hand, solar charging, more