September 4, 2014
by Ariel Adams
Casio calls it “the ultimate G-Shock,” and in many ways the MRG-G1000 is just that. It is a high-end G-Shock that combines almost everything Casio has developed for the G-Shock watch collection up to 2014, and does so in a premium, high-end way. If Seiko has Grand Seiko, then Casio G-Shock has the MT-G and MR-G collection of high-end G-Shock watches. The 2014 MRG-G1000 is a rather amazing product for those who grew up with G-Shock watches and have “advanced” into more sophisticated timepieces. More so, as of 2014, Casio is finally taking some of its more exotic “go-anywhere, life-proof” watches outside of Japan, and finally making them available around the world. So let’s see if the “Mr. G” Casio G-Shock MRG-G1000 has enough to get even the most skeptical of elite watch lovers excited.
The MR-G collection is well over a decade old and represents the first time that Casio G-Shock strove to be a high-end product. The idea really began with the desire to produce a metal G-Shock watch – something Casio first said it would never do, and then later something they said that they would only do in black-colored steel (they abandoned that as well, eventually giving in to other finishes). Most recently, Casio has released the steel 2014 MT-G collection, and coming in early 2015 is this new MR-G ref. MRG-G1000 watch.
There is an incredible amount to say about the MR-G watch collection and it is difficult to know where to begin, as the G-Shock family has evolved so very much over its 30 year plus lifespan. Casio’s now famed Kikuo Ibe first developed the G-Shock as a watch that would not break. It was supposed to be highly durable and “bullet proof.” Later, more high-end G-Shock watches adopted a sort of triangular logo, and their new focus was on being resistant to severe vibrations, centrifugal force, and shocks. In all, the goal of the G-Shock was to absorb any shock or damage and protect the movement – something that the design reflected back in the 1980s and still into today.
MR-G and MT-G has been available in Japan for a while, but the newest G-Shock MT-G and MR-G models are totally new. The decision for Casio to release these models in other regions of the world is part of a larger trend of Japanese companies such as Seiko and Citizen deciding to make their high-end timepiece offerings available to select customers outside of Japan. Casio might be a little late to the game, but they certainly aren’t too late. Besides, high-end Casio is nothing like high-end Seiko in regard to price or product direction.
Casio claims that bringing its higher-end G-Shock watches to the US is due to a couple of important reasons. First is sheer consumer demand, and that is easy to understand. Second is a desire to appeal to those people who grew up with G-Shock but feel that they have grown out of it. Let’s face it, I have written plenty of times that it isn’t a great idea to wear a G-Shock, or any other plastic watch to a business meeting or with a suit. But what about an all metal, and impressively finished G-Shock watch? Does that change things? Maybe…
That is the question Casio is asking to consumers, and despite your personal tastes, I think that Casio will have plenty of metal G-Shock adopters who would normally not wear, or no longer wear, a G-Shock in much of their lives. The MT-G collection is the first available range and comes in three styles, each in a steel case, with a sapphire crystal, and an all analog dial. I will discuss more about my hands-on experience with these high-end Casio models, but suffice it to say that they are impressive (especially if you grew up with plastic G-Shock watches).
The 2014 G-Shock MT-G watch collection introduced the more high-end metal G-Shocks to the world market. During the same year, Casio introduced the G-Shock GPW1000 Gravitymaster collection that included a sophisticated hybrid GPS and atomic clock radio signal controlled watch. The upcoming 2015 G-Shock MR-G is a MRG-G1000, which is like a combination of both of those ideas put together, only Casio offers a new smaller size for the solar GPS Atomic functions, and produces the MR-G in a DLC-coated titanium case.
The G-Shock GPW1000 is a large and impressive G-Shock that uses an all analog dial and movement that combines so many of its technologies in one movement, it is difficult to fathom how Casio shoved them all into one case. Billed as one of the most sophisticated GPS watches in the world (yes, it can determine your location and adjust the time accordingly), it also features solar (any light really) power generation, and G-Shock’s “Tough Movement,” which applies to their best analog (versus digital dial) quartz movements – along with even more technology.
The Casio MR-G MRG-G1000 watch is about 49.8mm wide (though it wears smaller), which is significantly smaller than the larger GPW1000 watch that is about 55mm wide. It is also about 16.9mm thick, which while large, is a reasonable size for a Casio G-Shock. It wears nicely and comfortably thanks to its light weight and awesome pivoting lugs (though not quite as fancy as the ones on the MT-G though). Lug to lug length of the watch is about 54.7mm and the weight of the MR-G is 153 grams, which isn’t bad at all for the size (and is thanks to the titanium construction).
Casio is often known for offering atomic clock radio signal controlled timepieces that are able to receive a signal from the six atomic clocks around the world to update their time and be as accurate as possible. However, not all places on earth have access to such atomic clock radio signals. The addition of true GPS technology (co-developed with Sony) adds the ability for these movements to locate your position with 0.3 miles and not only update your location and time zone, but also to ensure your watch is accurate to the exact second. According to Casio, the system is as accurate as those GPS systems used in your car or phone. Seiko and Citizen both have Satellite controlled or GPS watch offerings, but arguably, Casio’s new models are the most full-featured to date.
The GPS system works both manually and automatically – and even indicates your relative latitude given a small indicator on the dial. Frankly, all of this would have made more sense on a digital screen, but Casio is intent on ensuring that its most high-end Casio models are analog. Why? Well that is a good question. Digital screens are more precise and flexible when it comes to displaying information and adjusting functions. Nevertheless Casio feels that going with analog dials make more sense from the perspective of overall appeal and marketing demand. As a testament to true Japanese decision-making, they see that the high-end market is overwhelmingly populated by analog watches, so for them it was important to create a feature-rich true G-Shock watch with an analog versus digital dial. It should be noted that the US market especially seems to have been pushing for more and more analog-dialed G-Shock watches.
Over the years, analog G-Shock watches have continually improved. The Smart Access crown was a huge part of that (making it easier to adjust the settings), as was a focus on legibility. The MR-G MRG-G1000 isn’t going to be as fully featured as some digital G-Shock watches, but makes up for it in high-tech visual style. In addition to solar power generation, GPS and atomic clock syncing, and time functions, it also has the date, day of the week, alarm, world time indicator, 24 minute chronograph, second time zone, AM/PM indicator, and new and improved back light. This latter feature is pretty cool and is something you need to experience to appreciate. The back light is a new white LED that is much brighter than those on some previous models. Casio has had issues when it came to darkness illumination for some of its analog G-Shock watches in the past. In addition to luminant on the hands and hour markers, the new LED back light is brighter than ever, and for the first time turns on and off with a gentle “fade on/fade off” action that is neat.
Note that the particular MRG-G1000 watch I am handling is a pre-production version that isn’t nearly as nice as the final versions will be. That means the lume on the hands has been crudely painted on, and there are fit and finish issues that will be perfected for the retail models available in early 2015. Technically speaking Casio can also still tweak the design a bit before the final release. What many G-Shock lovers don’t know is that Casio has a dedicated special manufacturing facility in Japan dedicated to producing is best G-Shock timepieces, and of course the Casio G-Shock MR-G is one of them.
While the G-Shock MT-G watches have steel (polished or coated) cases, the Casio G-Shock MR-G has an all titanium case with not only a special treatment to make it extra-hard, but also DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating. This coating is extremely though and is meant to add an impressive level of scratch-resistance, as well as adds the dark gray gunmetal finish to the overall aesthetic design of the product. The bracelet of course is also titanium, as is the caseback of the watch. Like other Casio G-Shock watches, the Casio G-Shock MR-G is water resistant to 200 meters.