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Authored by Jeff C

G-Shock GW-5600 - Are G-Shocks about to finally realize their potential?

For years, I have steered clear of G-Shocks. My tune is changing.

What has always appealed to me about Japanese design (cars, watches, motorcycles) is that they're so good at making form follow function. Of course, there is a completely frivolous and playful, youth-culture driven element in Japanese design as well (think neon lights under cars and Japanese animation).

It's in this part of Japanese design that (for me) the G-Shocks have always lived. Not the first generation - they were perfect: simple, tough, functional - exactly what we all love about Seiko's basic divers, and what I love about Honda motorcycles. But I failed to see the point in the later model G-Shocks; big, but with small displays (if it's big, give it big numbers), little dials that fill in as seconds tick by (don't see the point), and funky colours (cool, but also - ahem - function-less).

I also owned one G-Shock that failed on its first trip to 5 feet underwater in a swimming pool. Pretty lame.

Because of this, I was always a Timex guy when my trusty Seiko 7T32 chrono was in the shop. They were more functional (programmable timers? awesome!), as durable (esp. the 200m shock resist models), and cheaper than G-Shocks. Less "cool"? You bet. But so what?

I wore a 200m Timex Ironman for 18 months on a motorcycle trip to South America and back in 2005, and the thing is STILL TICKING, after taking a licking. I've never even changed the battery.

I sold a couple watches in the spring and, becoming smitten with the raw INDEPENDENCE of the Seiko PD radio/solar (never set it, never change the battery), I picked up a G-Shock GW-5600. It's simple, tough, got no extraneous blinking lights... excellent.

I love the Casio, & wear it almost all the time that I'm at home. It fits my wrist perfectly and is so light that I never notice it.

So... the watch sets itself and charges itself, and doesn't do anything "for show". How great is that? But for the large part, the G-Shock line still left me cold. Love the idea of the Frogman, but WHY? You can buy some pretty great analog 200m divers for $700. Even the old Tuna is cheaper than a Frogman. Does the Froggie have a depth sensor? Nope - but the sub-$250 Aqualand does. So what's the point in a $700 plastic diver?

Now, the other part of this story is that I love the Marine Master Trans-Ocean, as profiled here:

Spending part of last summer on the coast of Maine, as a couple of tropical storms rolled past, I was craving a watch that had an integrated barometer. This watch is still a grail for me, but they're also >$1,000 and a little scarce.

The Riseman was cool & practical, but I still can't bring myself to buy a digital unless it's radio-solar, so I gave it a miss.

Yesterday, however, I was in the local watch shop and my watch guy offerred me a SMOKING deal on a new radio-solar Riseman. It was so smoking a deal that I immediately forgot about the idea that Santa usually brings the presents at this time of the year, and I bought it.

I'm not going to review it, but have a look here:

It's an excellent watch and has NO FRIVOLOUS FEATURES AT ALL! So un-G-Shock! (I love the baromoeter function, as I'm a bit of a weather hound, and am stoked to use the altimeter snowboarding at Whistler next week.)

But here's the thing... it seems that technology is about to catch up to design. If Casio can replace the blinking lights and silly features (little surfer guy in the display, anyone?) in the G-Shock range with REAL, functional features like baromoeters, multi-band radio and solar power, what kind of awesome world might we live in, very soon?

I'm pretty excited, to tell you the truth, that the G-Shock range is finally starting to deliver on it's promise (at least, for me...).
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