Most people’s interest in Casio watches — especially its incredibly successful G-Shock sub-brand — began at an early age. That was certainly the case for me. I grew up with incredibly durable, incredibly useful, incredibly well-engineered well-priced watches long before I became interested in timepieces as a category. The funny thing was that, as a youth, I had no idea that Casio timepieces, for what they were good at, totally blew away most of its competition. Now more than 30 years, later my interest in timepieces has grown immensely, and yet my enthusiasm for Casio has not subsided.
Not too long ago, I traveled to Japan and visited the brand’s headquarters where the finest Casio watches are produced. I’m more of a Casio fan than ever, but there is still so much to learn about the brand and many questions to ask about the future of Casio as a cultural icon and tool. In today’s rapidly changing wristwatch market landscape, Casio and its fellow high-quality Japanese watchmakers is one important place I look to for signs of what is to come in the future. To that end, Casio has kindly provided aBlogtoWatch with some of Mr. Yuichi Masuda’s time to answer interview questions. Mr. Masuda has been with Casio since 1978 and is currently a Senior Executive Managing Officer at the Timepiece Unit Product Development Headquarters. The translation of that lofty title is that Mr. Masuda is highly responsible for top-level product and technology development at Casio in Japan.
Ariel Adams (AA): Casio is one of the few remaining wristwatch companies that still makes modern tools relied upon by professionals and active people around the world. What types of conversations and cultural elements at the brand allow that to happen?
Yuichi Masuda (YM): In order to withstand the day-to-day wristwatch use of professionals, we have heard the real voices of people who work in harsh environments, and we’ve reflected those needs in our products. For example, when developing a diving G-SHOCK (the FROGMAN), the CASIO R&D team proceeded to get certified-diver licenses to learn more about the needs of divers. By developing products with such strong commitment and devotion, G-SHOCK has experienced the actual harsh conditions and situations it develops products for. We believe that putting this kind of effort into understanding those environments and the needs of our users makes G-SHOCK toughness reliable.
AA: Casio also happens to produce some of the most hip-looking (as well as functional) contemporary watches, especially at Casio’s primary price points. How does a company like Casio incorporate an artistic, designer side in tandem with being operated by a lot of very technically focused engineers?
YM: Casio is a manufacturer that has evolved the functions of our watches by using electronic technology. We have also evolved our watches in the pursuit of functional beauty, and I believe our products have achieved synergy between functionality and beautiful designs. At Casio, we believe technology and design, as well as functional and emotional value, are very important for watches. Engineers and designers are always looking for ways to match the two elements by working closely with each other.
In addition to our in-house design team, we at Casio often release special limited-edition collaboration watches with artists and fashion designers, such as Tadashi Murkami, Masion Martin Margiela, Pigalle, and Robert Geller, including a very long list of others.
AA: What are some of the newer things Casio has recently released, be they materials, technology, or designs that are really hitting their stride with consumers? How are they similar to or different from Casio’s bread-and-butter products?
YM: We announced carbon G-SHOCK as a third material to resin and metal for our timepieces quite recently. Carbon has excellent rigidity and is lightweight. We developed a novel impact-resistant structure using this carbon that you’ll be able to find in a growing number of Casio watches.
Challenging ourselves so that we evolve is what G-SHOCK has been doing for 35 years. In that sense, I think it was inevitable that we applied our G-SHOCK DNA to watchmaking in order to pursue the challenge of how to use carbon materials in a way that is appropriate for Casio. What difference has our work with carbon made for our products? Thanks to carbon materials, G-SHOCK watches have a greatly enhanced “shock-resistant structure,” which is really the core identity of G-SHOCK as a brand. We can authentically say that how Casio has applied carbon materials translates into a significant evolution for the core technology of G-SHOCK, something I am very proud of.
At Casio, we have also released smartwatches within our PRO TREK brand. They have a link function that connects to smartphones via Bluetooth and provides users with new technologies. As a result, you can easily use multiple functions more conveniently. Casio continues to study and develop how Bluetooth and smartwatch features can enhance the core brand character of Casio watches.