One thing about G-Shocks that everybody knows? They’re tough. They’re also known to be absurdly numerous, various, colorful, bulbous, and brash. But if you can tune out all the noise and appreciate the brand’s core concept, there’s a watchmaking philosophy of creating an eminently practical, legible, comfortable, accurate, robust and fun watch, one that just happens to result in an iconic design: the original 1983 G-Shock “square.”
G-Shock often strays from this ideal formula these days, what with fashion-oriented and crazily overbuilt watches, but the square has endured. It’s been improved upon over the decades with features like solar charging and radio-syncing, too — and the current model, the GWM5610-1, carries the torch.
The G-Shock catalog and, even the iconic square 5000 or 5600 series, is an endless and ever evolving range of variations. This review is meant to highlight what G-Shock is all about and what it does best, but also to differentiate this particular model and what makes it a winner. The GWM5610-1 was specifically chosen for its classic design, which offers a not overbearing wrist presence and a touch of retro-futuristic nostalgia, but also for its positive display and Tough Solar.
Before the GWM5610-1, I lived with a G5600E for many years, and the new one is nearly identical to that previous watch. Past (and future) models might have a different model number — but whatever the name, color or minor tech upgrades, look for the same features you see here. I’m going to tell you why.
Of course, this is true of any G-Shock, but watches like the GWM5610-1 show the simplicity of the G-Shock concept. Some of the newest G-Shocks might have fancy features like an inner case structure called Carbon Core Guard for even more durability, but watches without it like the GWM5610-1 are more than sufficiently tough: its quartz and digital nature means no moving parts to break, and the shock absorption provided by the resin case has proven its worth.
Witness a similar model being strapped to a BMX bike tire and bunny hopped upon, or our own Gear Patrol editor getting creative in finding a way to destroy a DW5600 — the same model that got a Guinness World Record for surviving a 24.97-metric-ton truck driving over it. Like all G-Shocks, it’s 200m water-resistant, equivalent to many bonafide dive watches. You can truly wear this watch anywhere without worry.
Whether in the capacity of collecting or testing, I’ve worn all manner of watches in my time. But almost none, even the most expensive and impressively built horological masterpieces, is as comfortable on the wrist as a plain-old, plastic G-Shock. It’s even more comfortable than G-Shock’s own high-end titanium GMWB5000TVA.
Zen LoveThe case material here is central to the watch’s key features of durability and comfort. We’re talking a featherweight 51.7g on the wrist, and its dimensions are restrained compared to many other watches from the brand. The ergonomics are exceptional, and although plastic might have “cheap” associations, it sure doesn’t feel cheap. If its diameter of 46.7mm sounds big, remember that it’s wider than it is long. G-Shock’s comfort and ergonomics are a bigger part of its success than is generally acknowledged.
Admittedly, there’s some nostalgia to the classic G-Shock design, and I’m not immune to it. It’s a very cool-looking retro-futuristic design to me — but design isn’t only about looks. Usability, durability, wearability, legibility and ergonomics should all be part of good watch design — and when you have all those, you usually have a visually compelling watch, too.
The distinctive strap design? It’s a big part of the watch’s durability, acting as a shock absorber. The raised bezel protects the screen’s mineral crystal from scratches. The the buttons are set into the case for protection, resulting in interesting shapes. The solar cells are visible around the screen and have a purplish tint.
All these are pragmatic features that also, in my opinion, add up to a cool, interesting and purposeful look. Its shape that’s wider than it is long is also highly unique in the whole watch industry — and is part of what makes it so damn comfortable and wearable. (See above.)