I love watches. For me they represent a fantastic tool, a way to express yourself while also gaining a sense of liberty and detachment from the all encompassing embrace of technology in the 21st century. I have had the great fortune of being able to see, and also wear, a wide range of watches and I have a place for all of them in my heart in some way, even the ugly ones. That is also why I have no problem saying that I would probably enjoy wearing a Breguet dress watch in the same way as a rainbow Daytona. That love becomes a lot less blind when it comes down to which watches I love enough to spend my own cash on. That is why I am so excited to present one of my own watches today, and explain why I think it was worth not only every penny I spent but also the months of waiting and countless headaches that were required for me to call it my own.
Enough foreplay, the watch I am talking about is the Casio G-Shock reference number GW-S5600-1JF. If you have been following our blogs, you may recall that I had already tried ordering one of these watches back in January. Unfortunately, that lead to a big mess involving stupid import regulations into the EU and the German custom office being everything you would expect from a German custom office. I will spare you, and myself, going over the details of that story again.
The good news is that the seller I bought it from was very fair through the whole process, and after several months he gave me a full refund and I thought that would be the end of that story. Just like after a fresh breakup, I thought I was over it, and threw myself head first into the next best watch I could find. I had bought myself a titanium pro-trek which was meant to fill that hole in my very small collection, of being a rugged daily beater when I go out to wipe granny asses (not as a hobby, that is actually my job). I went on with my life, but like an ex-girlfriend, the watch kept popping up in my mind. In the middle of the night I suddenly found myself looking at that same damned model again, telling myself that this time I won’t let myself get hurt.
With the announcement that all healthcare workers in Germany would get a tax-free bonus payment in acknowledgement of what they had to endure during the Corona virus outbreak, I figured I might as well spend it on a watch. So, having learned my lesson, I started searching the web again. This time I would not import the watch from Japan (which is significantly cheaper), but instead figured out that if I could find a watch that had already been imported into the EU then the law would not be applicable.
I found a dealer in Greece, and 4 days after I placed my order a package was waiting for me. I rushed home after work, and with great care opened the box, hoping that this watch would be able to live up to my expectations after literally months of lusting after it. As soon as I could place my own hand on that watch and wrap it around my wrist, I knew this was a fantastic timepiece, feeling like I was hovering on a cloud in the same way you do after having a perfect nap. I held that object of desire finally in my own two hands; the GW-S5600-1JF. And let me tell you, what a sight it was. This was unlike any G-Shock I had ever seen before and was something special that transcended being just a Casio.
This watch is ever so slightly thinner and smaller in size than a basic square G-Shock, and while photos don’t really do it justice, the difference is striking when you see it in the flesh (or resin covered carbon fiber in this case). The watch feels focused in the same way an ultra-thin watch does, with no excess fluff, anywhere in the design to distract from the purpose of this timepiece. This is also reflected in the use of carbon fiber. Originally it was also planned to be used on the bezel, but after Casio figured out that there was no functional aspect to this they decided to scrap that idea.
Function wise, this watch is equipped with everything you could realistically need. Besides the usual chronograph, alarm function, or world timer, it also has some of the higher-end features like a battery indicator for the solar charger, and the multi-band 6 technology which grabs the signal every night so that you never have to set it. For the purpose of this review I tried all the functions, which I usually would not, and was impressed with most of them except for the alarm, which was too quiet to actually wake me up in the morning.
The actual functions of this watch are secondary though. This watch really is about the materials used that help make this the most wearable timepiece I have ever worn. First, there is the obvious use of Carbon fibre. It is used in a very visible manner in the bracelet with a clear resin layer on top. These kinds of straps are more common on the more expensive G-Shocks produced, but a novelty for the square models. The inspiration came from the experience that the most common death sentence to these watches was the bracelet eventually breaking. For most customers an occurrence like that would equate scrapping the watch as only a tiny fraction of wearers would actually buy a replacement strap.The carbon fibre beyond just looking pretty was utilized here to add strength to the common weak spots in the design, making it basically indestructible.
Integrating Carbon Fibre into a bracelet however proved a significantly more difficult task than initially anticipated for Casio. After struggling for a while by themselves, they decided to work in collaboration with Mizuno, a company that specializes in making sports equipment out of carbon fibre. The difficulty of this task also explains the rather un-Japanese decision to highlight the carbon fibre usage with bold lettering on the strap. This is in stark contrast to all other carbon fibre bracelet watches they produced where the material is only visible through a matte finish on the inside, so that it is not visible when worn.
The other material that elevates this watch is the very liberal use of titanium. It is most obvious on the backplate, where it adds rigidity without being as heavy as steel. Additionally, titanium does not trigger allergies, and further stores heat differently where it actually is more comfortable to put the watch on as it does not need to “warm up” as some steel watches do. What I found out later was that Casio made the decision to go the extra mile and additionally construct the buttons, screws, and buckle out of titanium. The weight saved here is absolutely minimal, but I love this as it is a testament to the dedication Casio had to really go all out. They could have just used steel, which hardly anyone would notice and would have been significantly cheaper, but they didn’t, and I love this watch so much more for it.
That decision to use titanium for even the small metal parts in my eyes captures what makes this watch so special. The G-Shock was already a very tough collection, and certainly one of the most popular in the world. There was no real need for this watch, it is excessive in nature and still offers the most watch per dollar spent in the entire market in my eyes. So many details go into the experience of wearing this watch. The fact that the dark see-through resin case changes colour in the light varying from black, to gray, to even a dark green in the right conditions. There are so many small clever benefits to this watch, like the smaller case making the full size buttons easier to press, or the high contrast achieved through the crystal being closer to the display.
All of these things are amazing, and each on their own make solid contributions to what makes this watch so incredible. The biggest compliment I can give this watch though is the following. This is a watch that has been on my wrist basically uninterrupted in the last month since I bought it. While working, sleeping, or showering, this watch made me forget that I even wear it. This watch has achieved what few can, it became an extension of myself.