MADE TO LAST. G-Shock releases three Master of G Series to stand the test of time and the forces of nature
The world seems to have taken a 180-degree turn since G-Shock was first introduced by Casio 33 years ago. Back then, people didn’t travel that much, and only a few would engage in extreme sports or enjoy trekking off the beaten path. But now, people do all of that and more, and more often than not, they’d proudly document their escapades on social media.
Becoming the timekeeping partner for such daring adventurers might not have been the initial idea behind the Master of G series, created by G-Shock more than 20 years ago; but other than these tough and powerful watches, what else comes close for this task?
“The basic idea was to create G-Shock pieces that can withstand all kinds of environments and pressure,” begins Tatsuya Izaki, section manager of product planning at Casio, during his recent visit to Jakarta. “We explored the notion of ‘all kinds of environments and pressure’ through interviews with soldiers as well as field and rescue workers. Based on their needs, we came up with the first digital series, such as the Frogman, the Mudman, etc. All entails the ending ‘man,’ because we wanted to emphasize on ‘toughness.’” This is on top of the “three 10” philosophy of Casio timepieces, which state that each watch should be able to withstand a fall from 10 meters, be water-resistant up to at least 10 bars (100 meters) and possess a battery life of 10 years minimum (depending on usage).
In the 2000s, G-Shock elevated the series for the mainstream market by recreating the dials in analog form. The case may turn out to be among the largest among G-Shock pieces, yet the Master of G series remains the most durable in the brand’s wide-ranging portfolio. The evolution continues to this very day, and G-Shock, being a thoroughly Japanese company, never ceases to perfect every aspect of the series.
Perfection in Performance
There are three new Master of G series recently launched in Indonesia. Each is well associated with a particular branch of the military: the Gulfmaster for the navy, the Gravitymaster for the air force and the Mudmaster for the army. Each also bears specific features suited to each respective branch, such as a high level of water resistance for the Gulfmaster and a GPS system for the Gravitymaster.
“The Mudmaster has many features, too,” Izaki enthuses excitedly while showing off the watch gracing his wrist, “but what is so important is that the design is based on practicality and functionality.” He then recounts interacting back and forth with various field and rescue workers to improve the watch’s performance. The initial case, he admits, was developed from the Rangeman watch model and used an extra cover to prevent mud from getting into the watch.
“There was a letter from one of the rescue teams,” he recalls. “He wrote that they often wear gloves when on duty, and therefore it was hard to press small buttons or to take off the extra cover.” The new Mudmaster, correspondingly, ditches this traditional design element with the application of an impressively thick sapphire crystal, large buttons surrounding the case side and an innovatively rugged yet comfortable rubber strap. “Each design element stands for a reason, and that’s what makes us, Casio, different from the rest.”
The Japanese section manager may seem to be overtly confident, but, for someone who has been with the company for 30 years, his words can’t be taken lightly. “I came onboard in 1986, but only since 1991 was I involved in the development of Casio’s timepieces. G-Shock, that is,” he fondly reminisces about the past.
In those early days, G-Shock constituted only a small part of Casio’s overall revenue. “I spent much time back then focusing on Japanese clientele. It’s not enough now. I have to see the global market, and I have to visit different continents to really grasp what the market wants,” adds Izaki. “It’s a big challenge and pretty much never ending, I must say.”
Different markets certainly have different needs, but when asked what made him loyal to the brand for all these years, he simply smiles. “It’s part of traditional Japanese culture to stick to one company until one retires. That’s why when I pick up the office phone, I always say, ‘I’m at home,’ or when I welcome someone to the office, I’d say, ‘Welcome home.’”
A small clash of cultures clash is surely unavoidable if one takes into consideration how job-hopping is basically a habit for employees in other countries, but when the focus is shifted back to the evolution of the G-Shock, it’s definitely a comforting to think that these products are cared for and nurtured by the same minds who first brought them to life. “That’s why I take pride in what I do if I see someone wearing a G-Shock—I was there from the beginning of the brand and so I also take part in that [wearing a G-Shock] somehow!” Izaki leaves the watch peering out of his sleeve as his smile concludes the conversation.
This article first appeared in DA MAN October/November’16. Get your copy here.