For watch lovers, the most important feature of this limited-edition Casio watch isn’t the particular design or base model used. Rather, it is the particular manufacturing technique used to create the snakeskin-style motif on the case and bracelet that is worth a great deal of attention. I say this because it is easy to neglect this technical feature and its implications while discovering this very eye-catching timepiece. The watch itself is the Casio G-Shock MT-G Wildlife Promising MTGB1000WLP1, and it exists as a limited-edition (Casio has not disclosed a specific number) released at the end of 2020.
The base watch is one that I have a lot of experience with. It is the Casio G-Shock MT-G MTGB1000 watch, and you can see a full review of it on aBlogtoWatch here. Originally released in 2019, Casio recently added a new member to the MT-G collection with the MT-GB2000 (that I will likely review later in 2021). It has a different design than the MT-GB1000 — that I’ve always found to be very comfortable and enjoyable to wear. Casio has other fun with the MTGB1000, such as giving it an iridescent rainbow look (the “Lunar Rainbow), as well as this black with red accent model that uses a carbon fiber bezel.
The MT-G family is the second-highest G-Shock in terms of price and prestige. At the top are the Casio MR-G watches, which tend to cost between $5,000 and $8,000 in price. Those can be a bit much for a lot of collectors, so for me, the G-Shock MT-G is a great intersection of materials, features, and price. The MT-G collection is also what really sold me on the value of having an all-metal G-Shock on a bracelet with a purely analog dial. I’m from the generation of people who like their G-Shock watches with digital data screens and bright-colored lightweight cases. As an adult, I had to grow to appreciate the appeal of a more mature G-Shock like this one. Once I had, I found that my appetite for high-end G-Shocks is just as deep as my interest in their most accessible fare.
What makes a technology watch like this one easy to live with is its Bluetooth connection to your smartphone. The G-Shock app is more than decent and a welcome companion to these watches. In addition to making sure your watch is set to the right time, no matter where you are, the app allows you to control and adjust things on the watch, such as the alarm and timer. That means you can enjoy useful tools on your wrist while doing all the otherwise fiddly stuff on your phone much more quickly. That said, these watches are designed to exist entirely independent of a smartphone, if the wearer wishes.
On the wrist, the watch is large, at 51.7mm-wide, but designed to fit well even on smaller wrists. Materials like sapphire crystal are used over the dial, which puts the MT-G up there with more prestigious timepiece products. The watch is also as durable as any G-Shock, with 200 meters of water resistance and a shock-resistant case that feels very tough and sturdy. It is also worth mentioning that the MTGB1000 contains a “Tough Solar” movement that is powered by the light and which also has an antenna to receive signals from any local atomic clocks (another way to keep the time entirely accurate). For more on the MTGB1000, read my full review of this G-Shock watch above.
The G-Shock MTGB1000WLP1 was made in collaboration with an African wildlife charity known as Wildlife Promising. The watch case and bracelet design are inspired by an animal they seek to protect: the African Rock Python. The dark gray to light-brown tones of the distinctive python skin pattern are wonderfully recreated using a laser cutting technique on the watch’s metal surfaces.
Let me back up here a moment and explain why this is a big deal. What prevents a lot of fashion choices in wristwatches is the fact that the application of certain patterns of paints can just wear off. Watches experience a high degree of wear and tear, thus anything decorative about them should likewise be designed to put up with that wear and tear. Watch case and bracelet materials, colors, and styles are all limited by these very practical considerations. An entire book could easily be written about experiments by the watch industry to introduce new materials and techniques to products.
Casio has done more than its fair share of materials science in the watch industry space. Lately, a lot of effort has been on making the brand’s durable and affordable watches all the more stylish. While not everyone will personally like the look of python skin on a watch, the sheer success of the effect cannot be denied. Any traditional means to achieve this look on a metal surface would have involved some type of painting or plating over the metal. These applications are inherently fragile and can wear off with ease. No wearer wants that.
In this instance, Casio doesn’t paint the steel metal, it cuts it. The python design is physically etched into the metal. Casio covertly introduced this metal decoration technique in a different version of the MTGB1000 with a camouflage pattern etched into the metal. aBlogtoWatch went hands-on with a G-Shock GMW-B5000 Camouflage here so you can see how it looks. The artistic opportunities inherent in this laser etching technique are staggering. Notice, for instance, how the metal pieces can be etched with a very specific image, not just a generic pattern. That means all of the separate etched metal pieces can form one cohesive look and that entire characters or even scenes could be etch-printed by laser into a watch case and bracelet — or even a dial, for that matter.
If you look very closely at the metal, the precision of the laser is very impressive. That means this is a high-DPI (dots per inch) printing technique that allows for an incredible level of detail. It is a bit unclear how it works with colors, but from a monochromatic perspective, there is a clear contrast between the light and dark colors on the metal surfaces.
Color comes into play on the MT-GB1000 dial, which uses rose gold and maroon red (favorite colors you see used a lot in high-end Casio products). The MT-GB1000 watch family, overall, is an excellent product, and it’s nice to see that in addition to more “conservative” models, it has been popular enough to serve as a palette for these more artistic pieces. The African Rock Python design of this particular limited-edition model is inherently polarizing, taste-wise, but it is nevertheless very cool. Anyone can appreciate the incredible creative opportunity this laser etching technique has, and I hope to see Casio play with it even more in the months to come. Price for the Casio G-Shock MTGB1000WLP1 watch is $1,300 USD. Learn more at the Casio G-Shock website here.