When hockey legend Mark Messier got on stage at Madison Square Garden to turn a few G-SHOCK watches into stylish hockey pucks this past November, it was a full circle moment for the brand. Messier’s display at G-SHOCK’s 35th anniversary event served as a live reenactment of one the brand’s earliest US-aired ads wherein a hockey player shot a G-SHOCK watch towards a hockey goal, only to be mitted by the goalie and survive. It was a commercial that initiated a flood of customer calls and goofy accusations of “false advertisements,” as folks couldn’t believe a watch could be so durable—a commercial that would lead to G-SHOCK’s positioning at a nexus of sports, fashion, and culture.
That intersection was most evident last month as ASAP Ferg, Virgil Abloh, T-Pain, Skepta, tattoo artist Jon Boy, and model Carmen Carrera all attended the brand’s birthday bash in New York.
“There were some real fans there who definitely brought the ASAP energy to [the event],” ASAP Lou, who DJ’d during ASAP Mob’s performance at the event, told Complex. ”It’s a heritage brand. G-SHOCK has been around forever… I rocked G-Shock growing up. My favorite one was the Alife collab.”
While Casio’s crown jewel hasn’t been around “forever” per se, it may certainly seem that way, given the brand’s disruptive foray into the market over three decades ago.
“A visionary mind is what made G-SHOCK a reality,” the brand’s Vice President of Timepieces, David Johnson said during the event. “That visionary mind had a dream to develop a watch that could withstand everyday wear, built on the concept of absolute toughness.” The result: a watch, designed by engineer Kikuo Ibe in 1983, with a 10-year battery life, resistant up to 100 meters under water, and could survive a 10 meter fall onto a hard surface. And since that beginning, the accessory has cemented its place in culture.
“They make a watch for every occasion,” pro snowboarder Louie Vito said after being introduced to the MSG stage. “I don’t have to worry about it freezing and breaking, I don’t have to worry about not being able to see it in the sun. To me, G-SHOCK literally has every base covered for every single person. Every trip I go on I have six of them, and that’s not an exaggeration.”
Vito is one of many athletes to turn to the brand over the years. From pro skateboarders like Stevie Williams to surfers like Kanoa Igarashi, the watch has become a go-to for the physically inclined. With the unveiling of one of its newest styles, Rangeman (launching in Spring 2018), the company is expanding that purview, adding a new function “for anyone who explores the world seeking adventure,” according to director of sales Pat Laverty. That addition is a solar-powered GPS navigation system that connects via Bluetooth to a 3D logging map.
Moreover, as the brand has become known for its durability, G-SHOCK has also built a reputation as a fashion item. “In Japan, G-SHOCK is known as a pioneer in the development of collaborations,” Johnson explained to the Garden audience, listing key collaborators from streetwear brands such as Stussy and Bathing Ape to high end lines such as Robert Geller and Maison Martin Margiela.
Kith founder Ronnie Fieg enthusiastically took the stage in New York to expound on that list, announcing a future collaboration of his own.
“We’re going to work together and build an amazing relationship because we stand for the same things,” he said, just before stopping short of sharing any concrete details. In place of those details was the announcement of a collaboration with Paris-based streetwear brand, Pigalle, on the G-SHOCK’s original 5600 model.
Those two new styles, as well as updated models such as the GSTB100, which represents a connected version of the G-STEEL line, will no doubt contribute to G-SHOCK’s ubiquity within the culture; an omnipresence that has seen the company ship 100 million watches in 35 years—a number that writer Adam Craniotes called unprecedented within the industry, astounding both influencers and consumers.
“There were a couple different dope styles they dropped,” Lou said of the new releases. “They had a metal one that I never seen before.” Likely referring to the G-STEEL line, he described the timepiece as “a grown man type of G-SHOCK.”
“I’m still waiting for those,” he finished.
For Lou and G-SHOCK fans alike, the wait can soon end, as the watches on display at MSG are officially available for purchase. If you weren't able to make it to the celebration, check out some of the best shots from the night below.