The original post is rather generalized, and just a basic guideline to help focus one's intentions on what kind of G-Shock to consider. But once that is done, where do you go from there? While Watch Shock
is a really useful archive of G-Shock models to peruse by model number and/or name, the divisions aren't self-evident as to what those models are about. There is of course the G-Shock Perfect Search
, which is handy for narrowing down models based on some criteria. But it has quite a few limitations. So, I'm going to take a shot at providing an overview of Casio G-Shock model categorizations.
In the catalog of G-Shock models, there are "tried and true" model lines that have been produced for over a decade or more. There are specialty purpose watches that comprise the "Master of G" series. Aside from all digital displays there are all analog and analog-digital (ana-digi) models as well. Some models go quite a bit beyond typical time keeping and provide sensors for collecting data. And between all of these is a rather large array of models that have been mostly about mixing up basic functionality with various casing designs (round, square, half-round, oblong, etc) and material variations (resin, steel, titanium, leather) to suit personal aesthetics.
Given all of this, it's a bit complicated to categorize G-Shocks. One can certainly do it by model number, as CASIO has usually provided a logical model number designation for each model (although some have been used inconsistently, when compared to past usage). Prior to listing the G-Shock categorizations, it's important to recognize the basic model numbering nomenclature. This is usually 1-3 letters, a dash, and then a series of 3-4 numbers that often have a 1-2 letter suffix and in some cases a single letter prefix (e.g. GW-M5610BC).
[3 most common and long running]
- a historical designation that indicates a digital watch with high water resistance, but without any solar recharging/atomic sync functionality (e.g. DW-5600C).
- the watch is usually equipped with atomic sync functionality called "Waveceptor" (and always includes solar recharging). Only exception noted is the GW-2xx Frogman series which is solar but without Waveceptor.
- this single letter is commonly used to imply just "basic G-Shock" (e.g. G-7900, G-8900), but it is sometimes used to indicate solar recharging without "Waveceptor" atomic sync (e.g. G-6900 vs. GW-6900, G-5600 vs. GW-5600, G-2310 vs. GW-2310).
- Analog water resist.
- Analog Waveceptor.
- large format G-Shock with analog display and sometimes digital as well.
- large format G-Shock chronograph with analog display and multiple sub dials.
- large format G-Shock with all digital display.
- new larger format, the first of which has enlarged the 6900.
- twin sensor G-Shock, featuring altimeter, barometer, and thermometer. "F" may mean "field", implying outdoor use.
- means the "G-Lide" series, targeted to surfers and snowboarders. Most incarnations have moon phase and tide graph.
- a version of G-lide with special cosmetic variations (leather bands, special dial treatment, etc).
- an expansion to the G-Lide series.
- "Ride Extreme" series (solar recharging equipped).
- the GIEZ series, which is like an analog metal MTG but with screwback case; "essence of G" (with Waveceptor).
- the all analog aviator series. This is the newer designation, as previous aviators appeared as GW-2500, GW-3000, GW-3500, and GW-4000. The GW-2500 and GW-3500 are analog-digital models. Most have Waveceptor.
- The first "extreme" sized models, like the GX-56 affectionately dubbed the "King" by CASIO enthusiasts.
- The same as GX with atomic sync functionality included.
- The "metal twisted" line, which involves the use of much metal around the casing and a metal bracelet.
- The "Mr. G" top of the line models, usually with analog-digital displays and made of titanium. There was series of vintage models that were all digital.
-- Frequently overshadowed by the ever iconic 5600 and 6900 series, the G-2300 appeared in 2001 and has been the longest running solar recharged CASIO watch model. The GW-2310 later appeared with atomic sync (Waveceptor). It has undergone many cosmetic variations (including straps, outer bezel, inner bezel, positive-negative display, and LCD background) and several different model numbers (2300 and 2310 are the most prevalent). It had one notable module update that eliminated the full year on time display and dispensed with telememo, but improved readability and battery life.
-- Often recognized as the 5600 series, because the original 5000 had been retired long ago and only anniversary re-issues appear from time to time (e.g. DW-5025, DW-5030C). This is the small square form factor that echoes the design of the original DW-5000. It's essentially the smallest G-Shock made. The DW-5600E is the quintessential affordable G-Shock with basic functionality. The GW-5600 introduced solar recharging and Waveceptor functionality (the G-5600 is solar only) . There is even a G-Lide series made on the 5600 that includes moon phase and tide graph. The official top of the line model is the GW-5000, which has a nearly black DLC coating over the casing and back. There have been over 125 model variations made in the DW-5600 model line alone. Be sure to check out these articles as well:
-- The second most iconic of the G-Shock models. This one has been revisited with the most collaborations of any other G-Shock model (meaning a celebrity, brand, designer or design house is involved in the appearance). It is also well known to be worn by law enforcement and military personnel, so frequently there are military themed versions created. There have been nearly 200 model variations made in the DW-6900 model line alone.
-- This is a series that has a very bold presence in the G-Shock line-up, although a number of variants were eventually discontinued. It has been known as the "Rescue" G-Shock, equipped with big easy-to-press buttons (even with gloves on), which included moon phase, tide graph, dual stopwatches, and low temp LCD display (on non-solar version). Unlike other G-Shock models, the Waveceptor version on this line has a prominent visual distinction of 4 faux metal "screws" at the bezel corners instead of the plastic plugs on the standard version.
-- Recently released "XL" extra large sized G-Shock with basic functionality, with or without solar/atomic. Accompanies the GA|GD-1xx series.
Master of G:
These are G-Shock models that were designed for certain outdoor activities in mind, although they're certainly not limited to them. Some models are offered with or without solar/atomic functionality. Historically, CASIO came up with the "Master of G
" product line title long after the "[name]-man" naming theme was already in use, starting in 1985 with the first Mudman (DW-5500C). It may have already been in use internally but the prominent marketing campaign for "Master of G" appeared sometime in the late 1990's. In 1993, the first Frogman appeared, which was later followed by the Fisherman (which became the Gulfman) and Riseman. Six "Master of G" models have since been retired. There was a nearly 13 year gap before a new Master of G model appeared, with the Rangeman announced for 2013.
Model Numbering [prefix: DW, G, GW]
: 9700, 9100, 9125, 9110
: 8400, 9000, 9010, 9025, 9300, 9330
: 9100, 9200, 9230
: 6300, 8200, 8230, 8250, 9900, 200, 225, 1000, T1000, T1030
- equipped with a titanium back plate for frequent water exposure; most come with moon phase and tide graph.
- outfitted with a single piece bezel that covers the buttons, for maximum mud resistance. Later model comes equipped with thermometer, moon phase, and compass.
- equipped with altimeter, barometer, and thermometer, to support elevated "rising" activities.
- latest Master of G model that comes fully equipped with altimeter, barometer, thermometer and compass.
- designed for SCUBA diving activities, despite the lack of a depth indicator, with either stainless steel or all titanium case.
- the first atomic sync G-Shock.
- first model to provide moon phase, tide graph, sunrise/sunset, and moonrise/moonset data.
- first to provide significant magnetic resistance.
- first to provide pulse sensing, along with temperature.
- first model with solar recharging, also equipped with yacht timing functionality.
- first model with electronic compass.
: [GL, GLS, GLX, GRX]
These are designed with surfing or snowboarding activities in mind ("gliding" with a board over water or snow). Most models come with moon phase and tide graph along with standard functions, in addition to a wide range of extreme color choices. For a time these were made as their own unique model casing designs (like GL-110 and GL-150), but eventually they came to be incorporated into existing models like the 2300, 2500, 2900, 5500, 5600, 5700, 6900/7900, and 8900.
Some models come equipped with sensors for collecting thermal, barometric, and directional data. For a long while, all that was offered was the Riseman with altimeter and barometer. Eventually, thermal data was added to the Riseman. The "GDF" later appeared, probably as a cheaper alternative to the "Master of G" Riseman, with the same altimeter, barometer and thermometer functions. Next a Mudman was released, equipped with a thermometer and compass, in addition to moon phase (but no alti/baro). Finally, the Rangeman was made that puts the bulk of ABC functionality into one watch (altimeter, barometer, thermometer, and compass).
Sky Cockpit (Aviator)
- GDF - "F" for "field" or "function" [altimeter, barometer, thermometer]
- G(W)-9200 Riseman [altimeter, barometer, thermometer]
- G(W)-9300 Mudman [thermometer, compass]
- GW-9400 Rangeman [altimeter, barometer, thermometer, compass]
- GA-1000 Aviator analog [thermometer, compass]
:[GA-1xxx, GW-A1xxx, GW-2500, GW-3000, GW-3500, GW-4000]
These models all feature analog hands for hours/minutes/seconds, and mostly analog indicators for other information. Some models also feature digital displays for data such as day/date and timers. Some earlier models have a smaller form factor but the later models are quite large and bold looking. A few special editions have been created, like an RAF collaboration. The top of the line model comes with an anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal. All models feature a stop watch. Some models come equipped with countdown timer, usually limited to 1 or 2 hours. The "GW" series includes the Waveceptor feature while the "GA" does not, yet the "GA" offers additional functionality like compass and thermometer.
Military, Police, Fire
These are certain models that were recognized to have a rather strong embracing by members of military, police, and fire fighting organizations around the world. Despite some fashion concepts suggesting a military theme, the real practicality comes down to the watch. Most G-Shock watches did not start out with CASIO seeking for them to be identified with such use, which speaks strongly about the inherent quality and reliability CASIO puts into their watches. The more prominent ones that have been frequently acknowledged as being worn extensively by military, police, and fire fighting personnel are: DW-003, DW-6600, DW-6900, and DW-9000. The Mudman series is also known to be favored by the military (e.g. DW-8400 and G-9000).
With the fairly recent trend of watch size growth, it was only natural for CASIO to capitalize on it along with the crowd, but in their own way. CASIO has made the largest sized production LCD digital watches ever (thus far). The GX-56/GWX-56 "King", GD-100/150, and GA-100/150 made their respective appearances in 2010, followed by the GA-110 in 2011, GWX-8900 and GAC-100 in 2012 and GD-X6900 in 2013. The GD-350 released in 2013 brought back the vibration feature that had been lost with the retiring of the G-7510. Of course, there are other watches considered large in the CASIO line-up like the later model Frogman and Mudman, as well as the new Rangeman.
There have been so many collaboration models, it's too unwieldy to list them all here. We're talking hundreds! Some have been immensely popular while some had a brief understated release that eventually disappeared into the G-Shock archives. Some were made with very trendy designers/artists, clothing labels, and companies, while some were made with obscure Japan market only brands or celebrities that you've never even heard of. Sometimes a Japan market brand becomes so popular it creeps into international culture. One of the early more notable collaborations was the BAPE
(which stands for a "Bathing Ape" [clothing label]), which predominantly used the 6900 series (also appeared on 5600, 5500, and possibly more). They made reference to the "Planet of the Apes" franchise by citing an ape edict from the movies "Ape Shall Never Kill Ape" and is imprinted on the band.
Collaborations entail changes from a stock watch in several or all of the following ways: unique resin bezel and/or strap color, special imprinting on bezel and/or band, design/wording/logo on the dial, a background image shown by using the backlight, and engraving on the back plate. On analog models, any of the hands or other bits that are physically distinctive could be colored differently (GA-110 is a prime example).
CASIO has collaborated with clothing brands, lifestyle brands, artists, musicians, actors, celebrities, TV shows, movies, product brands, stores, magazines, sporting events, environmental organizations, and even military organizations. To give you an idea, here are just a few: Stussy, The Hundreds, Eric Clapton, Eminem, Dee & Ricky, British Royal Air Force, Star Wars, Spiderman, Batman, Eric Haze, Ayako, DGK (skate brand), DQM (Dave's Quality Meats), KRINK, Nigel Sylvester, Ke$ha, Undefeated (clothing), Lego (toy), TOMI-E, In4mation (clothing), Hawaii Triple Crown of Surfing, FIFA World Cup (sports), etc...
There is an avid collector of G-Shocks who is located somewhere in Japan (at least his website is there), and his collection is displayed on-line. You can see many collaboration examples. Just visit G-Mania
and select a "zone" like company collaboration, sports & culture, fashion & shop, character & movie, artist & musician, etc. And there's also G-Peopleland
, a great G-Shock website created by Sjors.
Can't forget about the other possible G-Shock owners--women and kids. Of course, some smaller G-Shocks are well suited for wear by virtually anyone, like the 5600 series. But CASIO recognized that people might crave other watch designs in a smaller form factor, so they created the "Baby-G" line. In many cases, the Baby-G was simply a slightly scaled down casing of an existing watch, but in most cases an entirely different watch was made. The Baby-G even made it into the Master of G line, with the Baby-G Frogman. There are many frilly colored models available in pink and pastel colors to suit a more feminine appeal. However, despite the name CASIO came out with rather masculine looking models as well. There are many men who own a Baby-G and don't hesitate to wear it. The included photo is but a small sampling of some Baby-G styles.
In 1993, CASIO released a 10th anniversary limited edition of the DW-5000C
, designated the DW-1983
. This set in motion a policy of CASIO releasing anniversary models periodically. There was no 15th anniversary, but following this has been a 20th, 25th, and 30th. By the 30th, CASIO has been producing a number of different commemorative anniversary models based on original designs but with upgraded cosmetics. The 30th anniversary line-up brought not only the DW-5030C
[DW-5000C] but also the GW-5530
[GW-5600], GF-8230 [GF-8200], and DW-6930
[DW-6900], as well as an exclusive limited edition GW-T5030C
(only 200 pieces worldwide).
Casio G-Shock DW-5000SP 20th Anniversary re-release of original DW-5000C
[Photo credit: Jason @ Watch-A-Day
30th Anniversary Editions
The first and early model G-Shocks from the 1980's
"Vintage" is a subjective word here, but basically any model that is discontinued for about 10 years or more begins to fall into this category. The G-Shock archive is enormous. CASIO experimented with many different casing designs and combinations of resin and metal materials. Many models were produced for a short time and were then discontinued. You can spend countless hours sifting through all of the models CASIO has made and marvel at all of the variations. But the best way to get acquainted with them is to read reviews on the forums, to find which ones have been more popular. Of course, the original DW-5000C and DW-5600C are two of the most iconic vintage G-Shocks around, with the DW-5600 model line the longest running to date. There are also some significantly rare versions that are highly collectible today (like the DW-5500C and WW-5100C Wide Temp). There is also the distinction of older models that come equipped with all stainless steel cases with screwbacks that are now only found in special editions, GIEZ, MR-G and Frogman lines, like the GL-110
GIEZ, MT-G, MR-G:
These are upscale analog and ana-digi models incorporating more refined materials than those in basic G-Shocks. GIEZ is an acronym for "G-Ess" as in essence of G-Shock. These are ana-digi or all analog watches with stainless steel screwback case (only a few earlier models were all digital). The MT-G, "metal twisted", intertwines a mixture of metal and resin parts in an all analog or ana-digi watch format with hardened resin case (somewhat like a non-stainless steel case GIEZ). And the MR-G is the epitome of G-Shock quality, the "top of the line" with finest materials such as titanium and sapphire crystal. Early MR-G watches were all digital, then ana-digi, but CASIO later abandoned this in favor for all analog.
A sampling of some of the outrageous color combination designs found in the GA-110 model line
These are models that deviate rather significantly from the well known conservative designs that G-Shocks are known for. While still incorporating shock absorption and water resistant properties, they are geared more for flair and fashion than for utility and ruggedness. Some entire lines were made for fashion/style, while other existing lines gained a few sub-models for this (like the 6900, having mirrored dials and wild/wacky colors never to be seen in field use). There have also been some rather eye-popping aftermarket "bling" bezels and bands (jewel encrusted) made for various models to re-dress them as a "fashion" statement.
- 6900xx -- While known as the military and police G-Shock, dozens upon dozens of fashion collaboration models have been created in this line.
- 5600xx -- This model line is the second most popular for G-Shock design/fashion collaborations. Non-solar seems to be the most prevalent, due to the lack of a solar panel from interfering with the intended look.
- G-7800 -- A fashion inspired G-Shock with hard corner squared design and prominent all metal top bezel surrounding the crystal (unlike most models having all resin surrounds).
- G-8100 -- A funky kind of "circle in square" cased G-Shock with architecture inspired buttons and casing treatments.
- G-Cool -- A number of street-style inspired models, including a few collaborations where one included Pininfarina.
- GA-1xx -- Analog/digital bold design that lead to an eye-popping range of loud colors and combinations (see photo above).
- Theme -- A certain design aesthetic carried over several select models, like "Men in Mat Black", "Men in Smoky Gray", "Men In Military Colors", " "Black Gold", "Garish Blue", "Garish Black", "Initial Blue", etc.
For about a decade starting with the mid to late 1980's, CASIO experimented with introducing new sensor functions and rather complex combinations of timing functions. By the late 1990's into the 2000's, CASIO began to take some major chances with radical designs. Many had brief production periods while some lingered on for a few years before being retired. As of late, CASIO seems to have taken a more conservative approach with model designs, relying upon a proven selling model and simply changing up its cosmetic appearance. Given how so many parts can be made with different colors and textures, the opportunities for variation is huge. Things like band, outer bezel, inner bezel, dial face, buttons, buckles, LCD polarizing neg/pos, LCD background, screws, and any other modular cosmetic adornment.
Here are just a few examples of some lesser known unusual models CASIO has made over the last two decades:
So that should give you a fairly good beginning with learning the range of G-Shock models. Have fun exploring.