Kikuo Ibe may not have a watch brand named after himself but he has to be one of the most well-known and respected influencers of the watch industry. We have covered an extremely wide range of Casio Watches John Lewis G-Shock watches here on aBlogtoWatch, and yet, in line with Japanese watchmaking culture, it is exceedingly rare that we are given proper insight or interesting droplets of information.
That, however, is exactly what has happened with this recently released official video titled “The Story Behind G-Shock.” In it, Ibe-san explains why and how the G-Shock came to be and how he and his team could overcome the innumerable challenges that it meant to develop the world’s first “watch so durable it wouldn’t break even when dropped” in the early ’80s – that was Mr. Ibe’s mission statement after he dropped and broke a watch he received as a gift from his father.
Oh, and also a neat thing about the program is that it updates itself when time zones change across the world (in addition to DST), so the watch itself reflects the present state of global time zones.Thus, the efficient way for the watch to find the true time is to acquire the online time by means of a smartphone’s internet connection and Bluetooth. If that fails, then the watch utilizes its own radio signal receiver and takes messages from any accessible atomic clock signals. This is effective but it will require being at a location where the signs can be received. This means not only being in the ideal areas of the Earth, but also not being interior of a structure in which radio signals would frequently be shielded. This is a robust and interesting system with the goal of just making sure that no matter where you are in the world your time is accurate.How well does this work? I have never actually known how well the automatic updates work but the watch constantly does seem to be on time. When I manually update the time that it works very well and is surprisingly quick. I did notice however — and this is common with pretty much all non-smart Bluetooth watches, that occasionally it can be difficult to connect and remain connected to your paired device. This isn’t actually Casio’s fault so much as it’s an problem with Bluetooth and lots of other applications they can’t control. To make a long story short, if you’re traveling, you may need to devote a fast second manually updating time (just one button press is usually all that’s needed) and you also get the updated time straight away in a rather satisfying manner.
After two years of painstaking trial and error, and at a time when he was nearly ready to give up, he came upon a child playing with a ball – and that, as he puts it, resulted in a dramatic shift towards the solution. Fast-forward to today, and innovation couldn’t be further from stopping at Casio, as Ariel found out during his in-depth Casio manufacture visit here.
As G-Shocks continue to merge durability and toughness with the latest technology, and as they become tougher and more focused on meeting the requirements of yet more specific use scenarios (firefighters, rescue workers, fighter pilots, different types of divers, and more), Ibe’s advice to people – and, he adds, to himself – is to “never give up and overcome any hardships to reach their goals.”
On a personal note, my favorite bit of this candid interview was how he humbly avoided reflecting how the historical significance of G-Shock will play out and rather looked forward, imagining being in space with a friendly alien with both of them wearing G-Shocks. G-Shocks may not yet be going to space but they probably would fair well there too.
A rare and more concrete thing to learn was Ibe’s appreciation of how Japanese culture incorporates the notion of how there is strength hidden in being elegant. While that in itself makes total sense when said out loud, to project that onto a watch – and especially a G-Shock – is much more unusual. While G-Shocks push to continue to succeed with a young demographic has resulted in some decidedly bold and colorful pieces, you can still easily find some genuinely elegant G-Shocks out there.
Ibe points out that “the duality of toughness and elegance has inspired the design of G-Shock” – and with that we have arrived at an important point: this Sunday we’ll run Ariel’s feature article where he tells us what it was like to hang out in Tokyo with G-Shock and Casio lead designer, Mr. Ryusuke Moriai, and to learn how various historical and modern elements of Japanese culture continue to define G-Shock design. Look forward to that on Sunday but, until then read up on G-Shock watches here if this little video has put you in the mood. gshock.com