Unveiled: A $6,200 G-Shock. No, really.

First off, this is what it looks like.

Secondly, $6,200 is in US Dollars. If you have SGD 8,400 to spare, this could be yours.

Before I talk about the Casio G-Shock MR-G Limited Edition ‘Hammer Tone’ (that’s quite a mouthful), let me dwell into what G-Shock means to me.

When we were small and Christmas trees were tall

If you were born in the 80s, you would recall the craze young boys and girls had over the G-Shock, and its more feminine cousin, Baby-G. You probably drooled over yourself after having been shown one sitting nicely on the wrist of a boastful classmate. Disregarding the myriad reasons you  concocted and tried to stuff down your parents’ throat, you did end up being the proud owner of one, or one too many. As time went by, you outgrew your G-Shock and shifted to ‘adult  watches’, and if queried about where it was now, you’ll probably have to think very hard and would still be unable to find the object of your desire from years gone by. 

Oh, the good old days.

Our beloved G-Shocks and Baby-Gs tell the time, which was all important then since the accessibility to mobile phones didn’t come till slightly later.

Also, they (lo and behold) glow! The illuminate button was abused at every opportunity possible. Time telling – secondary. Getting to see that glow and the faint circle of light radiating from its LED screen in a dark cinema, knowing other kids were watching so you get to smile smugly in the dark – everything.

It was more than a watch. Owning one inducted you into the kingdom of cool. There were just so many colours and designs. For some, the collecting process turned into a hobby and there are some very serious (and fully grown) G-Shock collectors around today.

Forgetting the childhood pride and the sentimentality we each hold for our own piece, at its core as a product, the G-Shock was a phenomenally good watch.

The ultimate tool watch

If you were dropped onto a deserted island, given a map, food and water, after which you were asked to select a watch, I doubt anyone would pick a Patek Philippe.

The G-Shock is the embodiment of the ultimate tool watch. You can wear it to the metaphorical hell and back, and somehow if you perished along the way and sunk to the bottom of an unmarked lake, the G-Shock will likely stay alive long enough to float away on its own once your body has decomposed and your wrist has melted down to the bone.

In its short but illustrious 3 decade history, the G-Shock has turned into a true beast:

Shock resistance – Shake it, drop it, fling it – nigh indestructible

Water resistance – Up to 200 metres. Most of us have not been beyond 10.

Dust and mud resistance – Crawling through sand or just a fetish of rolling around in mud? Wear a G-Shock, they won’t slip through the cracks

Solar powered – Runs forever. Literally.

Altimeter/Barometer – Not sure if you’ll make the jump? G-Shock calculates your odds.

Gravitational force resistance – Know it’s way too high but would still like to make the jump anyway yet concerned if you would damage your watch even if you died? No worries, up to 15 Gs.

GPS positioning – No more time adjustment for jet-setters.

Small wonder why professionals in demanding conditions often wear one – firefighters, soldiers, paramedics, law enforcement personnel, divers and deep sea drillers. 

Don’t worry (for my watch)

For all the amazing capabilities the G-Shock provides, it is easily obtainable for a few hundred bucks.

A few days ago, Casio made an announcement and shocked (no pun intended) the world.

Here comes the 6 grand G-Shock

Here’s the picture again. Take a good look at it.

The Casio G-Shock MR-G Limited Edition ‘Hammer Tone’ contains all the awesome attributes listed above. And then some. Let’s break down the story behind, which I always find to be much more interesting that just talking about the watch on its own.

The visuals are immediately striking. An offspring conceived by marrying the technological excellence the brand is known for with the endlessly rich and mythical culture of Japan.

The ‘snake skin texture’ bezel and center bracelet links are the result of tsuiki – a 200 year old technique of painstakingly beating up metal with a hammer to create patterns. Hence, the term ‘Hammer Tone’. 

Traditionally, tsuiki was used to beautify commonplace items like a kettle or tableware. Craftsmen would sit, hunched over, on a stump-like stool (agari ban) hitting the desired pattern onto the object over a toriguchi, a tool that serves as a support for said object allowing the craftsman to shift it ever so slightly around its fulcrum with each strike.

Up to 200 hammers and hundreds of toriguchis (seen in the background) can be found in a tsuiki workshop. Each uniquely shaped hammer creates a distinct pattern that no other can create.
A modern vase bearing tsuiki workmanship. A seemingly simple object like  this could take up to 7 days to produce.

Tsuiki was also used in the crafting of traditional Japanese weapons and armour. It can be found on katana blades  as a surface finish and on the tsuba (sword guard).

An antique tsuba with eroded tsuiki work

The case and bracelet are coated with DLC (diamond like coating) titanium while the tsuiki bezel/center bracelet links have an oborogin finish, which can be loosely translated as ‘hazy moon’.

The inspiration from the past follows through onto the 4 screws and 3 crowns accented by akagane (copper combined with a small mixture of gold), a prized metal among Japanese metalworkers for centuries.

Would it sell?

Even if the Casio G-Shock MR-G Limited Edition ‘Hammer Tone appeals to you and you have the dough sitting around, do note that this is a limited edition and only 300 pieces would be sold worldwide starting from this July.

As a package, there is something very appealing about a combination of highly advanced features only made possible in this current age presented on a canvas adorned with centuries-old craftsmanship. The stark historical and aesthetic contrasts presented by blending the new and old comes across as very well balanced. 

Whilst this watch is no doubt targeted at die hard G-Shock fans, the outrageous pricing blows all models they’ve produced previously right out of the water; reasonable pricing could well be the main reason why they turned collectors in the first place. In any case, kudos to Casio for bringing about this exciting spark. I don’t foresee purists getting turned off by the pricing alone as the Hammer Tone still does stay true to its utilitarian roots albeit in a very different skin.

That said, I would be extremely interested to find out who the buyers are if Casio chooses to make that public.

Standing at 54.7 mm, this is not a timid watch to be confined within shirt sleeves, after all, it’s still very much a G-Shock. The workings behind its conception certainly means some great conversations can be had if you happen to come across a curious Swiss watch guy unacquainted with Casio. If you’ve been on the hunt for a true blue luxury tool watch with the capability to outperform the typical Swiss ‘tool’ watches, you’d hardly do wrong with picking this one up.

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