Hands-On: The Casio G-Shock Master Of G Gravitymaster GPW1000RG-1A

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The G-Shock has led an interesting life. G-Shock started out in 1983 as engineer Kikuo Ibe’s obsessive reaction to the breakage of a cherished mechanical watch, with his initial goal being the creation of a quartz LCD watch with such shock-resistant armor that it could tolerate a 10 meter drop (he famously tested prototypes by surreptitiously throwing them out an upper floor men’s bathroom window into the parking lot behind his lab). 

There may be no more form-follows-function watch in the world than the original G-Shock DW-5000, but the inadvertent, slightly brutalist, face-only-a-mother-could-love charm of it and subsequent G-Shock models meant that G-Shock has become a style and design icon as well – and G-Shock collectors, as we’ve noted before, are as fanatical in their focus as any vintage Patek or Rolex collector ever was. In the last year or so we’ve seen several G-Shocks in the Master Of G lineup that emphasize a combination of traditional Japanese design cues and crafts with the G-Shock’s unmistakeable style, such as the MR-G "Hammer Tone," which is decorated with the hammering technique known as tsuiki. That watch is at the top of the G-Shock price pyramid, but in the same general idiom and at a lower price point are watches like the GPW1000RG-1A Gravitymaster Master of G you see here.

Functionally, this is an identical G-Shock to others in the Gravitymaster line, which are part of the Master of G Professional family. The Gravitymaster watches are specifically designed for tolerance to high G force maneuvers as well as the general jolting around a watch being used by a professional aviator might have to tolerate – not so much the environment in the cockpit of a commercial passenger aircraft, as that of a military or rescue aviator and the like.

There are a plethora of functions but the most significant is that this is a solar GPS watch with automatic correction to the correct time for any time zone. There is also multi-band radio signal atomic timekeeping as a backup should a GPS signal be problematic, and by default, this is on auto-receive, correcting up to six times per day depending on your location. This means the correct time in 27 different reference cities world-wide and in addition, you get all the usual G-Shock bells and whistles, including a chronograph, 24 hour countdown timer, perpetual calendar, and of course the general G-Shock toughness as well. 

An unusual feature relative to earlier G-Shocks, of this module and the actual watches using it, is that some functions are accessed via a screw-down crown rather than the customary four button layout. The hands, for instance, are set to the correct time with the crown and there’s no LCD subdial, as has been the case in earlier G-Shock watches with an analog hand-set.

There are a number of specific design features intended to make the watch more resistant to the effects of shock and magnetism – for example in a quartz multifunction analog watch, it’s possible for the hands to be knocked out of alignment. You can manually re-align the hands but in G-Shocks using this module, the watch will also periodically automatically check for correct alignment and perform a realignment operation, if necessary. The seconds hand is made of carbon fiber, to reduce inertia and minimize the chances of it being knocked out of place by a strong shock. The strap is held to the watch head with four 2.3mm allen screws and the strap itself is reinforce with a central strip of carbon fiber – once you get this guy on your wrist it’s probably not going anywhere unless your wrist (and hopefully you) go along for the ride.

As relatively ubiquitous as this sort of sophisticated quartz timekeeping tech has become, it still has wow factor, and that coupled with the genuine overbuilt toughness of the G-Shock watches means you get something with real emotional impact just on its technical merits. However, this particular model sports some additional aesthetic enhancement in the form of rose gold ion plating, in a formulation Casio says is designed to resist scratches. 

Casio’s been pretty savvy so far about combining aesthetic touches that reference more traditional aspects of Japanese design and culture, with the boxy armor of the G-Shock. So far this has come with a considerable price premium – the tsuiki-patterned, hand-hammered decorative bracelet links and bezel drive the price of the Hammer Tone up to $6,200 – but this "aged gold" version of the Gravitymaster is actually priced roughly on par with other Casio top-of-the-line G-Shocks, at an even $1,000 (the Master of G Frogman we looked at not long ago was $1,050 at launch, just for comparison).

At that price, though, you get, in the Master of G lineup in general, some of the toughest G-Shocks every made as well as the solar GPS tech. The "aged rose gold" looks great against the dark external armoring and though it’s purely cosmetic, amping up the aesthetics of G-Shocks is something Casio’s been doing for many years now and there’s no doubt it’s been commercially successful. The ultra-tough tech is a great base, as it turns out, on which to build a street-smart style statement, and it’s to Casio’s credit that they keep building out both simultaneously – continuing to make some of the most technically advanced, but also eye-catching, multifunction quartz watches out there today.

Check out Master of G online, right here. The Casio G-Shock Master Of G Gravitymaster GPW1000RG-1A: movement, module 5410; solar GPS with backup multi-band atomic radio timekeeping in US, UK, Germany, Japan, China; automatic hand position correction; alarm, chronograph, 24 hour countdown timer, indication of latitude, world time in 40 time zones. LED illuminator light, luminous hands and markers. Dimensions, 66.0 x 56.0 x 18.8mm; weight, 126g.

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