An Introduction To The Casio G-Shock Square Premium Series
It’s safe to say that we all know Casio’s G-Shock Square. The watch that — almost forty years ago — more or less won the battle against the laws of nature. Designed to withstand a drop from a height of 10 meters, withstand 10 bar of water pressure, and offer a battery life of 10 years. Those three goals amounted to a hitherto unseen level of resistance in a time when watches were still fragile instruments.
The G-Shock watches, which most of us know, are plastic products. That’s how Mr. Kikuo Ibe designed them in the early eighties and how they came onto the market. We’ve covered these regularly; if you’re relatively new to them, a good article to start with would be Casio G-Shock Square, for starters.
G-Shock Square Premium Series
Ever since the eighties, however, G-shocks have been in constant development. 10 bar quickly became 20. New colors, new designs, and even models with physical hands saw the light. And there were new materials to explore. Besides plastic — or resin as Casio like to call it — there have been all-metal models in the past, but not in the iconic original Square design. In 1996, the MRG-110 came close, but it was only in 2018 that the first all-metal original G-Shock Square was presented during the Baselworld fair. The GMW-B5000D-1.
Development didn’t only involve colors and materials; technical innovations followed one after another as well. These included light functions to enhance the dial’s visibility, Tough Solar power enabling the use of multiple functions, time radio wave reception for accurate timekeeping, and Bluetooth communications for versatile multi-function control.
… upping the module game
With the new all-steel G-Shock Square, Casio upped its game on the module again. The first steps to Bluetooth connectivity with a Smartphone were made a few years earlier, but with the GMW-B5000D-1, a different, more solid — and I think a more definitive path — was chosen.
Does Premium series mean Premium prices?
Besides being plastic, G-Shocks Squares are known to be cheap as well. Our aforementioned article showed you that owning an iconic part of horological history doesn’t have to set you back more than $60. But it also illustrated that G-Shock Squares are now using enhanced materials (like carbon) and modules with enhanced functionality could cost up to $230.
… that’s double the price
The full steel G-Shock Square GMW-B5000D-1 has a list price of $550. So yes, that’s double the price of any other regular G-Shock Square. But on the other hand, that extra $300 offers you a full metal watch and bracelet, plus the new Bluetooth connected 3459 module. Meanwhile — in some regions — cheaper, regular plastic G-Shock Squares – like the GW-B5600-2 — have been introduced with the new Bluetooth module.
Variations to the bare stainless steel Square GMW-B5000D-1
Indeed, the Premium series of G-Shock watches does mean higher prices. Of course, I’d say. And the mentioned $550 is not all. Quickly after introducing the full stainless steel GMW-B5000D-1, Casio released some variations. Technically more or less equal, but with a very different appearance. Ion-plating is the keyword here. When treating a bare stainless steel watch with an ion-plating, almost any color can be obtained.
Firstly, in April 2018, a gold-colored version debuted. Initially with a positive display as a 35th-anniversary model (GMW-B5000TFG-9), and then later in October 2018, as seen here above and still available today, with a negative display (GMW-B5000GD-9 — $600).
But, of course, an all-black full-metal version was always on the horizon. It was introduced in 2018 at the same time. Taken from this all-black version — the GMW-B5000GD-1 ($600) — we saw some interesting variations as limited editions. I want to mention the Distressed or Vintage (GMW-B5000V-1) and the Tron (GMW-B5000CS-1).
Like with jeans, the Distressed — introduced in June 2019 — looks like if it has been worn a lot and has been worn out. Nothing is less true; the vintage look has been carefully applied to the black ion plating. In combination with its negative display. The result? A very attractive appearance.
This attractive appearance inevitably came with a price (around $1,000). Nowadays, the GMW-B5000V-1 is very hard to come by at official G-Shock retailers. Your best chances are on Chrono24 and eBay.
The second limited edition, based on the full metal black ionized premium Square, was released in May 2020. It was quickly nicknamed Tron, but the official designation is GMW-B5000CS-1, and it came with a list price of $800. But let’s start with a link to a Casio promotional video to get the right vibe.
However attractive the Distressed may be, the Tron is equally special but in a very different way. On every single part of the watch — case, dial, case back, bracelet, clasp, etc. — a matrix-like engraving has been made in the black ion-plating. At first, one might think it’s a print, but it actually is a laser-engraved pattern. The strange part is that all the pattern lines seem to be running parallel, from what-ever angle one looks. Meanwhile, the Tron is sold out in most regions, although it’s not uncommon to still find one at an official G-Shock webshop or retailer.
What’s next in Premium G-Shock Squares?
I expect many more colors and limited editions in the brand’s stainless steel, ion-plated model line-up. Just before publishing this article, Casio presented two new models, the GMW-B5000RD-4 and the GMW-B5000GD-4.
The red and rose-gold ion plating show that virtually every color is possible, and I can imagine that colors like green and brown will duly follow in the future. A Square with a blue metal case was introduced in April 2019 already. However, that model isn’t fitted with a metal bracelet but comes on a rubber strap (only).
Although a bit unfounded, a rubber strap — even on a steel-cased G-Shock like the above GMW-B5000G-2 ($500) — feels slightly less Premium to me than a full-metal version.
Premium G-Shock Square, next level
Now that I’ve explained the stainless steel Premium models a bit, I’m excited to jump to the next level. Although the all-steel models are a great improvement to the standard resin G-Shocks, there’s more — Titanium, of course!
It was half-way through 2019 that Casio introduced its first titanium G-Shock Square, ever. The GMW-B5000TB-1. Because of more than one reason, I think that many looked away from it at first. There was this extraordinary price of $1,550, and then — from stock press-pictures — many struggled to see much difference from stainless steel, or even plastic, models.
… DLC coating and sapphire crystal
Only upon closer investigation are those technical differences revealed. The titanium’s black coating wasn’t applied using the ion-plating process. Rather, it is a DLC — Diamond-Like Carbon — coating. DLC is applied by a physical vapor deposition process that bonds to the titanium’s surface at a molecular level. Second, the titanium models sport sapphire crystal instead of mineral glass for the stainless steel models.
The real difference, though, has to be felt. Titanium gives an unequaled wearing experience, plus only in real life the titanium Square unmistakably shows its high-quality finish. Only then one can notice the high-gloss polished bezel and polished edges on the bracelet links. The golden print, pushers, and screws might look a bit posh in stock pictures; when wearing the watch, they are less present and give this vintage touch. I want to be honest; it took me over a year to appreciate it enough to buy one. But ever since, it’s my go-to G-Shock Square.
Titanium Limited Editions
I need to touch the whole point of G-Shock Square Limited Editions first. At Casio, the designation of a Premium Square being a Limited Edition doesn’t make much clear. It’s difficult to determine if a watch is a Limited Edition or not and, if it is, what that means. Numbers are hardly communicated, and Limited Edition watches are never individually numbered. Sometimes an LE means that a certain model is only available through specific sales channels or in a certain region. Sometimes, a model is only produced for a certain time, and sometimes a model comes to the market as a LE but remains available for years. Different official G-Shock websites treat models differently. All in all, it’s very opaque.
It seems that all titanium G-Shock Squares are marked as Limited Editions. The GMW-B5000TB-1, as described above, was a Limited Edition. Either limited in time or limited in numbers, I don’t know, but they’re hardly available anymore. The second titanium Square introduced was the GMW-B5000TCM-1. A G-Shock Square with an interesting and special greyish camouflage design.
Again, the camouflage pattern isn’t painted onto the watch but laser engraved. Here using three different sizes of dots, by which three different colors appear. The larger the lasered dot, the less DLC coating remains visible, and the lighter the remaining color on the watch.
Meanwhile, the grey-ish GMW-B5000TCM-1 has been replaced by the GMW-B5000TCF-2, its blue-ish brother. The same laser technology makes the latter’s camo pattern; only the watch’s base color is blue instead of black. In fact, the camo pattern is exactly equal, as can be seen in the picture below.
With the Premium models described in this article, Casio pushed their G-Shock Square towards a whole new audience. The brand has elevated the product to a different level. Material-wise, technically, and in the way that they’re finished. Once upon a time, these humble plastic products, which were often seen as big boys’ toys, have entered the world of serious horology. Materials like stainless steel, titanium, and sapphire crystal are one thing, but laser engraving and high gloss polished finishing as well, are of interest to watch aficionados of a different kind.
I want to thank Mr. George Cramer for lending me a few of his Premium G-Shocks for photography purposes and Casio Benelux for granting access to two more models. More information on G-Shock is available through various official websites around the globe. Don’t forget to bookmark ShockBase as your one-stop G-Shock database. And last, you’ll find me on Instagram @gerardnijenbrinks.