Welcome to Brand Breakdown, a series of comprehensive yet easy-to-digest guides to your favorite companies, with insights and information you won’t find on the average About page.
Go to the Casio G-Shock website at any given time, and you’ll find hundreds of individual watches currently being produced. Filter for men's 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.
The Vastness of 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. 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, overwhelming and constantly changing. 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 taste of the breadth available. The first is the $800 Mudmaster from the Master of G series, an enormous battle-ready analog/digital hybrid badass with almost as much capability as your smartphone. The second is the powder-blue, $180 limited-edition DW-6900-PT1 collaboration with Hodinkee and musician John Mayer: it appears playful but is, like all G-Shocks, tough as nails. Also, the DW-6900-PT1 sold out almost immediately and is inevitably bound for nerd forums and eBay, where it'll go 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 effete watchnerd in a New York City apartment or a 13-year-old anime junky in Tokyo’s suburbs. What unites these seemingly disparate G-Shock communities is that all wrap their imaginations around these watches, and all demand unparalleled durability, functionality and style.
How Tough Are G-Shocks, and How Are They Tested?
G-Shocks will be subject to abuse like few other watches. That includes the brand's own laboratory-like testing facilities, amusingly brutal trials on Japanese TV and a GP staffer once running one over with his car. Brand lore tells of its now-celebrity creator Kikuo Ibe dropping watches out of windows during development of the first models. While the original G-Shock concept was for the watch to be able to withstand any fall the wearer him- or herself would survive, its technology and durability have since evolved far beyond that.
Basic G-Shock models are made in China, Thailand and Japan, while the higher-end and special models are fully Japanese-made. In those Japanese facilities is where R&D happens — and where G-Shocks are tested. The name G-Shock comes from the term "gravitational shock," and it seems to refer to the field of mechanics in which shock is measured in the unit g. A typical G-Shock watch is built to withstand a good shock, 200m of water pressure, plus other dangers a watch might encounter — and then some.
Besides the water, hammer and drop tests other watchmakers use, you'll find Casio staff abusing prototypes and randomly selected watches in a range of ways. Some G-Shocks are even specially built to withstand the ingress of dust and mud — a somewhat different challenge than, say, water. In short, there are good reasons it's common to find a G-Shock on the wrists of people in physically rough, demanding professions such as the military, firefighting and more.
Casio G-Shock Buying Guide
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 mere colors.
Then there are fully digital models, analog/digital hybrid displays and an increasing number of analog-only models, too. The analog/digital divide is one way in which Casio cleaves its G-Shock offerings, so we have grouped this guide into 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's constantly evolving offerings into a coherent picture, but this guide should help you navigate your way to one (or 10) that suits you.
This category includes any models that lack analog hands. Many harken back to the earliest G-Shocks with squarish cases that appeared in 1983 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.
Casio G-Shock 5600 Series
- Functionality: Various colorways (using separate reference numbers), illumination, standard stopwatches, solar charging (on some models) and alarms.
The 5600 is essentially the base model, the modern version of the original G-Shock. We recommend looking for a display with dark text on a light background for legibility and paying a little more for premium features like Tough Solar (solar charging) and Multiband 6 (as in our top G-Shock recommendation, the GWM5610). Aside from being the OG and tough as nails, it's just a great design as evidenced by the multitude of variations that look great.
Casio G-Shock Full Metal
- Functionality: Alarms, stopwatch, countdown timer, illumination, solar power, Bluetooth, metal construction and more.
These relatively premium G-Shocks are popular because they’re so cool (and a little meta), but they remain readily available. They're styled just like the originals, but now with fully metal construction, including bracelets on some models. They might look very '80s but they function futuristically with solar charging and come in a range of finishes from traditional steel, gold or black to some typically G-Shock, funky iterations. (Want even more detail and premium features in metal? It also comes in a killer titanium version — and even a high-end MR-G version.)
Casio G-Shock GW6900 Series
- Functionality: Various colorways (using separate reference numbers), plastic construction, illumination, standard stopwatches and alarms.
After the square 5600, this is the most recognizable G-Shock look and is a popular choice for police, soldiers and other professionals around the world. There is a slew of one-offs in the G-Shock digital lineup inspired by the classic 6900 model — some of them common and others that can be hard to get your hands on.
Casio G-Shock 5900 Series
- Functionality: Alarms, stopwatch, countdown timer, illumination, plain styled band and classic styling.
These are a little like the 6900, but feature the three-subdial layout and a more toned down, octagonal retro vibe. It's just an example of the kind of design variety you'll find come and go in the G-Shock catalog. The blacked-out version is especially striking.
Casio G-Shock G-Lide Surf Watch
- Functionality: Alarms, stopwatch, countdown timer, illumination, steel bezel, tide graph, Bluetooth and more.
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.
Casio G-Shock Power Trainer Series
- Functionality: Round dials, fully digital, alarms, lap timers, countdown timers, stopwatch, Bluetooth, step tracker and more.
Nothing lacking here, despite the incredible prices. These watches feature Bluetooth connectivity that allows the nerdiest of workout analyses.
Casio G-Shock 400 Series
- Functionality: Plastic construction with metal bar protectors, alarms, lap timers, countdown timers and stopwatch.
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.
Casio G-Shock 7900 Series
- Functionality: Standard feature set with atomic timekeeping, tide graphs, moon tracking and solar power.
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.
Casio G-Shock Frogman Digital
- Functionality: Standard feature set, tide graphs, 31 time zones, timers and more.
All G-Shocks are rated to 2oom, but the Frogman is the rare dive-specific model. Though not a dive computer, it's rich in dive style and is one of the most iconic designs in the G-Shock catalog. It also has a strap long enough to go over a wetsuit, but be warned that it can be a bit too long for some wrists when you're not wearing a wetsuit. Though recent Frogman watches have gone analog (see below), we much prefer the OG digital versions.
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's cyclical nature 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 analog allure. 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.
Casio G-Shock GA-B2100 Series
- Functionality: Tough Solar, Carbon Core Guard, Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity, Find My Phone and more.
When the GA-2100 came out, it caused a sensation like few other G-Shocks have in recent years: it became one of those sold-out objects of pure hype. Part of that probably has to do with it reminding people of the also octagonal Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (though Casio says the resemblance is unintentional), earning its "Casioak" nickname. It probably just comes down to a good design with a thin case and simplified elements that riff on the original G-Shock's shape — and best of all is that newer models (GA-B2100, with a "B") feature upgrades like Tough Solar (we reviewed one alongside a MoonSwatch here).
Casio G-Shock Full Metal GMB2100
- Functionality: Tough Solar, Carbon Core Guard, Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity, Find My Phone and more.
Yes, this is part of the 2100 series but, yes, it's in stainless steel. Like the above-mentioned digital square model, the "CasiOak" is iconic enough to merit the "Full Metal" treatment. In doing so, it steps even closer to the famous Royal Oak for which it is nicknamed. Steel is a premium material in G-Shock world, and so this'll come with other features you'd expect from a premium G-Shock (similar to those found in the GA-B2100).
Casio G-shock Gulfmaster GWN1000
- Functionality: Altimeter, barometer, depth gauge, thermometer, tide graph and all the other standard timers and calendars.
In the brand's professional-oriented "Master 0f G" collection are multiple sub-collections, including the Gulfmaster. Made for marine-related work, the Gulfmaster has digital displays alongside its main hands for the time and subdials for other information like tide and more. It also includes sensors and a unique feature that allows you to move the watch hands out of the way of other information temporarily.
Casio G-Shock Gravity Master GRB200
- Functionality: Bullet-proof construction, Bluetooth connectivity and standard timer features.
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.
Casio G-Shock GA2000 Series
- Functionality: 3-D-sculpted dial, alarms, timers, week and date display.
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.
Casio G-Shock Power Trainer Ana-Digi GBA800
- Functionality: Connected phone app for fitness tracking, multi-timer, auto-time correction and calendars.
Building on the digital Power Trainer lineup, these watches 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.
Casio G-Shock GA700 Series
- Functionality: Standard feature set with calendars, timers, etc (no connectivity).
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 them. Models like the GA710 and GA400 are closely related.
Casio G-Shock GA-400
- Functionality: Standard calendar, alarms and stopwatch functions, along with a unique rotary dial for quick setting.
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.
Casio G-Shock GA-110
- Functionality: Calendar, alarms, timers, etc.
It’s slightly busier than the GA-400, and for this reason, Casio is pushing this watch 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 driving gloves. But, yes, they’ll also color-coordinate with your most high-tech sneakers (in just about any color) for serious street style.
Casio G-Shock GA100 Series
- 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 hardcore 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 ultra retro-90s style.
Casio G-Shock GAS-100
- Functionality: Calendar, timer, alarms and solar power.
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 makes for a (relatively) understated affair.
Casio G Shock AWG-M100
- Functionality: Atomic timekeeping, daily alarms and unique hand adjustment capability.
These G-Shocks may look more basic and retro, but with atomic clock referencing for time-zone alignment and the most accurate timekeeping on Earth, they hold some of today’s most advanced watch technology.
Casio G-Shock G-Steel Series
- Functionality: Time-setting via mobile link, carbon bezel, stainless steel case, tough solar tech, battery level indicator, timer, alarm and calendar.
The G-Steel series uses steel cases and bezels (and, often, bracelets) to offer a more traditional-watch kind of G-Shock, but the functionality and durability is as cutting-edge as ever.
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-regulated, providing the same reliability found in the other models, while the presentation is meant to up the elegance. G-Shock often likes to give its most premium models all-analog displays, and prices will reflect that fact.
Casio G-Shock MR-G Collection
- Functionality: Time-zone tracking and atomic clock referencing, with standard analog subdials.
Yes, you can spend “Rolex money” on a G-Shock by aiming for the MR-G line, which includes analog models as shown here but also the likes of high-end versions of the famous square design. The number of incredible finishing processes, especially for the bezels and bracelets, is astounding, giving Grand Seiko a run for its money in terms of Japanese handcraft. These watches are also packed with top-shelf tech. Prices start in the couple of thousands and can go up significantly.
Casio G-Shock MT-G Collection
- Functionality: Bluetooth connectivity via Connected App, automatic time setting, world time, stopwatch and more.
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.
Casio G-Shock Frogman GWFA1000
- Functionality: Dual time, tide data, concealing hour hand, solar charging, more.
This is the newer generation of the famous Frogman watch with its lopsided case, but with an all-analog display. It includes the latest tech and durability specs, as well as a unique feature that allows you to hide the hour hand under the minute hand to avoid confusion and allow you to only focus on the minutes, which are most important when diving.