The secret of G-Shock's cool factor

Over three decades have passed since the world set eyes on the first G-Shock watch, but a slew of culturally relevant collaborations have helped the iconic brand stay as popular as ever.

Developed by Japanese consumer giant Casio, G-Shock's philosophy is centered on durability. The first model launched in 1983, the DW-5000, was branded as indestructible—a quality that was quickly proved by tests of toughness, including dropping the watch from helicopters.

Since then, models have incorporated the latest technology, from solar power to Bluetooth, but have always retained a central focus on shock resistance and strength.

Its original users may have been outdoorsmen, but the watch's consistent blend of fashion and function appealed to urban dwellers too, as lovingly documented in the 2015 'Temple of G' magazine, a special edition of respected publication Sneaker Freaker.

"G-Shock's heavy-duty vibe was an instant hit in the 90s, with the rap and graf set [rappers and graffiti artists], who admired the indestructible nature of the watches while also appreciating their capacity for personalization," the magazine said.


Music label Darker Than Wax (DTW) partnered with G-Shock to produce a limited edition watch that comes with a USB key containing a special compilation of tunes produced by DTW's global artists.
Marc Tan Photography
Music label Darker Than Wax (DTW) partnered with G-Shock to produce a limited edition watch that comes with a USB key containing a special compilation of tunes produced by DTW's global artists.

Indeed, a look back at G-Shock's recent partnerships, which reads like a who's-who list of cool celebrities, is testament to the brand's creative firepower.

Hip-hop legends Eminem and the Wu Tang Clan, BMX rider Nigel Sylvester, pro skater Todd Jordan, streetwear fashion giants Stussy and A Bathing Ape are a few of the notable names who have produced watches with G-Shock, allowing the brand to resonate with a wider audience. Other notable alliances include the U.K.'s Royal Air Force and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

Collaborations have certainly helped us retain our cool factor, said Teppei Takahashi, assistant general manager at Casio's timepiece division.

The fruits of G-Shock's latest alliance—the very first with a music label—was displayed on Dec. 9 in Singapore and will be unveiled in London next month.

Singapore-based Darker Than Wax (DTW), an independent collective of producers and DJs, has co-designed a limited edition G-Shock for music, design, and lifestyle enthusiasts in conjunction with DTW's five-year anniversary.

"We always collaborate with people or brands that represent 'absolute toughness.' This isn't only physical but mental toughness as well," explained Takahashi.

"DTW started in tiny Singapore and have since made the label international. The global music scene is ever changing, but DTW manages to keep their roots and still make creative new music. We think this represents their mental toughness," he continued.

And it's that consistent focus on values, not trends, that has underlined G-Shock's status as a legacy brand.

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