D’Marge travelled to Baselworld 2015 as a guest of G-Shock Australia.
A trip to Baselworld is a dream for any serious watch enthusiast. For one week in March, the annual fair draws more than 150,000 industry bigwigs, collectors, and fans to Switzerland, all eager to share or see the next big things in watchmaking. Here the centuries-old feat of micro-engineering known as the wristwatch reigns supreme, with barely a thought given to how a California company named after a fruit hopes to disrupt the industry.
A visit to Baselworld gets upgraded from dream to fantasy when you’re invited as a guest of G-Shock Australia and treated to a private tour of the range by Takeshi Oyama. We were fortunate to live out that fantasy this year and get an insiders look at what the future holds for G-Shock.
Casio unveiled several new additions to its line of high-performance timepieces at the event, but it’s the G-Shocks that are making the biggest waves. There was a time when the G-Shock was not an obvious contender in the luxury watch sphere. That time is decisively ending. With the introduction of the MRG-G1000B-1A and MRG-G1000D-1A, G-Shock has officially arrived in advanced, sophisticated, and unquestionably high-end territory.
That’s not to say that the idea is new. The MR-G collection, Casio’s first attempt at a luxury G-Shock, is well over a decade old in Japan. As the watch market increasingly favours high-end timepieces over more affordable options, G-Shock is evolving with the times and making its premium pieces available outside of its home country. It’s a welcome change for anyone who grew up loving the G-Shock but felt they’d outgrown the watch. Plastic may not match your power suit, but these new metal models most definitely will. It’s no easy feat to distill everything there is to love about the MR-G1000s down to a few short paragraphs, but we’ll do our best.
To begin with, there’s the metal construction. The watch is made from titanium that has undergone a fortification process to make it 4-5x harder than normal titanium. On top of that, it has a DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) coating that not only gives it a handsome dark finish, but also boosts the already-outstanding durability and scratch resistance you expect from a G-Shock. Despite all that toughness, the watch clocks in at a lightweight 153g.
It’s clear that plenty of attention went into the design process. The satin finishing on the case and bracelet, and Sallaz mirror finished accents, reflect light beautifully and add to the watch’s high-end appearance. The indices are very 3 dimensional and slope downwards into a deeply recessed dial, again adding to the luxurious look.
At the same time, the MR-G1000 retains the blocky, rugged aesthetic of the classic G-Shock. Nothing is sacrificed in either direction. Its appeal to an affluent market is obvious, but it doesn’t lose touch with its G-Shock soul. Sapphire crystal, Alpha Gel (a Casio proprietary material for shock and vibration resistance), and a special crown guard structure mean the MR-G models can stand up to almost any abuse and come out with nary a scrape. It’s the horological equivalent of beauty and brains.
Unsurprisingly, an impressive amount of time and attention goes into the creation of the MR-G models. Everything, inside and out, is made in Japan at the company’s factory. While other brands need to partner in order to move into the tech space, Casio can handle everything on its own. Only certain craftsman are allowed to work on this line and all must meet strict experience requirements. Twenty people are involved in making a single piece, each one an expert in a specific part of the process. It’s so time consuming that only 20 pieces are made per day for the G-Shock premium range.
Speaking of brains, let’s talk about what this thing is packing on the inside. The watch is driven by solar power generation that gives the MR-G the extra boost it needs to keep its complicated functions running. The power reserve is 7 months when running or 18 months when in power saving mode, which it enters automatically when in the dark for an extended period of time. Indoor light powers the watch as well as natural outdoor light, so you never have to worry about your watch stopping during a long night at the office.
What that added dose of power goes to is the MR-G’s GPS capabilities. With the push of a single button, the watch determines your location and adjusts timezones accordingly. Imagine stepping off a plane and having your watch immediately update to display your current location’s info. It’s a complex function achieved in the simplest, most user-friendly mode imaginable. If satellite connections can’t be found, the MR-G uses Multi-Band 6 radio control to connect to the world’s 6 towers for atomic timekeeping, if in range. This hybrid system ensures accurate timekeeping virtually anywhere your travels take you.
Further making the MR-G an ideal travel watch is the automatic daylight saving recognition feature. The watch will automatically adjust to the whims of daylight savings unless the feature is manually turned off. However, the watch also knows to turn it off if you’re in a region that doesn’t observe daylight savings, so there’s really no need to use the manual shut off.
G-Shock watches are known as durable, reliable timepieces that have practicality on lock, but that doesn’t mean they can’t surprise you with a fresh direction. The new MR-G models prove they can marry function and style as well as any brand in history – and maybe even better.
G-Shock see themselves as occupying a unique space in the industry. One one hand, they’re a watchmaker. On the other, they’re a technology company. Some brands would attempt to divide their attention and produce sub par work in both directions, but that’s not the case here. G-Shock has expertly crafted a smartwatch that looks like a chronograph – luxury on the outside, top tech on the inside. It comes with a high price point, but it’s hard to argue with it when you know that the best possible resources have gone into making these watches, both inside and out.
The MRG-G1000B-1A features a dark grey gunmetal finish and an RRP of $3,499, while the MRG-G1000D-1A is stainless steel with an RRP of $2,999. The special Baselworld edition we photographed is limited to 100 pieces only and is already sold out, so if you had any doubts about the success of a high-end G-Shock watch, ditch them now. These bad boys are here to stay.