When Japanese fashion designers exploded onto the international scene during the eighties, they forever altered the status quo with their innovative avant-garde sensibility. Sometimes referred to as fashion’s last big shock, designers like Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto embodied unfamiliar notions of design and how clothes can relate to the human body. Around the same time, Casio similarly disrupted the watch world by introducing the innovative G-SHOCK collection of digital and analog-digital watches.
In honor of the first-ever analog-digital watch, Casio is looking back to the late eighties and reprising the equally groundbreaking G-SHOCK AW-500, now renamed the AW-500E, and a full metal constructed version, the AWM-500D. “The design concept was to keep it “simple and minimal,” explains stylish designer Kazuyo Kawashima in a G-SHOCK promotional video wearing unmistakable Japanese fashion. “Back then, G-SHOCKs were square or octagonal and featured a square liquid crystal display. I think many had a rough and ready feel to them. But at the time, the trend was still very much for watches that were round, slim, and compact. The designers, engineers, developers; we all wanted to create something wholly original to free our minds and explore.”
So, six years after introducing the first G-SHOCK, Kawashima and his team presented the first analog AW-500, enlarging the scope of what a G-SHOCK watch could be. “It being the first analog watch, we pursued the motif of the ‘perfect circle.’ Experimenting with the details of various watch parts to see if circular elements could be integrated. The AW-500 round analog design aims to embody the G-SHOCK identity. And at the same time, gets to the essence of product design, which is to create something that expresses what a watch should look like,” says Kawashima.
The AW-500E upends traditional conventions; the digital timepiece incorporates the more conventional permanent hour and minute hands, composed of gears and other small parts while still keeping the watch light and shock resistant. What has changed significantly is in the instance of the full metallic watch construction. Achieving a shock-resistant watch was difficult due to the metallic material’s inherent weight, made even more challenging because of the watch’s hands. Multiple technical hurdles were cleared by applying knowledge acquired during the full metal construction developed for the GMW-B5000. A slightly smaller size compensated for the metal’s additional weight.
“For the face, we designed an analog look that only G-SHOCK could pull off. The minute hand with its round holes is a particularly unique aspect of the design, the larger round part in the middle attaches to the hand of the watch. It needed to be big to prevent the hand from skipping, but it resulted in a design that looked unbalanced,” says Kawashima.
“We turned this into a virtue by adding three more holes along the hand to create a design that incorporated the perfect circle motif. Another design detail is the long arrow-shaped tail to the minute hand; without it, there would be an empty space in the lower half of the watch face when the minute and hour hands, both point to 12. Extending the tail of the minute hand over the lower half of the face achieved a more balanced look.”
Like all G-SHOCK watches, besides cool innovative design, functionality reigns supreme. The AWM-500 offers hours and minutes, dual time, stopwatch, countdown timer, a daily alarm, EL backlight with afterglow, a fully automatic calendar, and a choice of either a 12 or 24-hour format. The “Tough Solar Power System” provides solar power allowing for about 28 months of continuous operation after a full charge, and battery life has more than doubled, from three years to nearly seven years.
The technology even gets a nod from the design team. “The dial of the AW-500 features the word ‘QUARTZ’, which is not often seen these days, but we reproduced it in the new watch, given that it was a revival of the original,” says Kawashima.
Like most Japanese fashion, the vintage look couldn’t look more timeless or modern. The watch comes as the original 1989 replica, blacked out, red, steel with black, steel, and gold. A winner of multiple design awards over the years, G-SHOCK’s Kawashima calls the AW-500, “a perfect fusion of origin and evolution.” For the many G-SHOCK fans worldwide, we couldn’t agree more and are thrilled to see it making a comeback in 2020.
Analog-digital combination with permanent hands. Radio Frequency: 77.5 kHz (DCF77: Germany); 60 kHz (MSF: UK); 60 kHz (WWVB: USA); 40 kHz (JJY: Fukushima, Japan) / 60 kHz (JJY: Kyushu, Japan); 68.5 kHz (BPC: China); Tough Solar Power System (solar charging system); Continuous Operation: About 28 months after a full charge
55.2×47.7×14.7 mm; Resin (original, black, red); Stainless steel (silver x black, silver, gold). Shock-resistant, water-resistant to 200 meters
Resin (original, black, red); Stainless steel (silver x black, silver, gold)
Launch Date in Singapore
11 Dec 2020
AW-500, S$169; AWM-500D, S$729; AWM-500GD, S$819
Certain models/colors unavailable in some countries.