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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.
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. 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, 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 sense of the breadth available. The first is the $350 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 $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.
How Tough Are G-Shocks, and How Are They Tested?
G-Shocks will actually be subject to abuse like few other watches to test their durability. That includes the brand's own laboratory-like testing facilities, amusingly brutal trials on Japanese TV and our own Gear Patrol staff 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.
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 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 (see article linked to above). 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's a reason that it's so common to find a G-Shock on the wrists of people in the physically roughest professions from military and police to firefighters 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.
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.
Casio G-Shock 5600 Series
This is essentially the base model, the modern version of the original G-Shock, but better. We recommend looking for a display with dark text on a light background for legibility and paying a little more for Tough Solar (solar charging). Aside from being the OG G and tough as nails, it's just a great design as evidenced by the multitude of color variations that look great on it.
- Functionality: Various colorways (using separate reference numbers), plastic construction, illumination, standard stopwatches, solar charging (on some models) and alarms.
Casio G-Shock Full Metal
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 charging and they 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.)
- Functionality: Alarms, stopwatch, countdown timer, illumination, solar power, Bluetooth, metal construction, more.
Casio G-Shock GW6900 Series
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.
- Functionality: Various colorways (using separate reference numbers), plastic construction, illumination, standard stopwatches and alarms.
Casio G-Shock 5900 Series
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.
- Functionality: Alarms, stopwatch, countdown timer, illumination, plain styled band, classic styling.
Casio G-Shock G-Lide Surf Watch
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.
Casio G-Shock Power Trainer Series
Nothing lacking here, despite the incredible prices. These watches feature Bluetooth connectivity that allows the nerdiest of workout analyses.
- Functionality: Round dials, fully digital, alarms, laps timers, countdown timers, stopwatch, Bluetooth, step tracker, more.
Casio G-Shock 400 Series
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
Casio G-Shock 7900 Series
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.
Casio G-Shock Frogman GWF1000 Digital
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. Though current Frogman watches have gone analog (see below), we much prefer the OG digital versions, and they're still available.
- Functionality: Standard feature set, tide graphs, 31 time zones, timers, 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.
Casio G-Shock GA-B2100 Series
When the GA-2100 came out it caused a sensation like few other G-Shocks have in recent years: they 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.
- Functionality: Tough Solar, Carbon Core Guard, Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity, Find My Phone, etc.
Casio G-shock Gulfmaster GWN1000
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 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.
- Functionality: Altimeter, barometer, depth gauge, thermometer, tide graph and all the other standard timers and calendars.
Casio G-Shock Gravity Master GRB200
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 depending on the generation and model, with later iterations being analog-only.
- Functionality: Bullet-proof construction, Bluetooth connectivity, and standard timer features.
Casio G-Shock GA2000 Series
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.
Casio G-Shock Power Trainer Ana-Digi GBA800
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.
Casio G-Shock GA700 Series
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 G-Shock GA-400
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.
Casio G-Shock GA-110
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.
Casio G-Shock GA100 Series
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.
Casio G-Shock GAS-100
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.
- Functionality: Calendar, timer, alarms, solar power.
Casio G Shock AWG-M100
Atomic clock referencing for time-zone alignment and the most accurate timekeeping on Earth, these G-Shocks may look more basic and retro but they hold some of today’s most advanced watch technology.
- Functionality: Atomic timekeeping, daily alarms, unique hand adjustment capability.
Casio G-Shock G-Steel Series
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.
- Functionality: Time-setting 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 is meant to up the elegance to some. G-Shock often likes to give its most premium models all-analog displays, and prices will reflect that.
Casio G-Shock MR-G Collection
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 their 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.
- Functionality: Time-zone tracking and atomic clock referencing, with standard analog subdials.
Casio G-Shock MT-G Collection
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.
Casio G-Shock Frogman GWFA1000
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 that 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 when diving.
- Functionality: Dual time, tide data, concealing hour hand, solar charging, more.