The Neon Blast from the Past
When Gerald Genta, on that night in 1971 spent among smoke, coffee, and colored pencils, was designing the watch concept that would change watchmaking history, he never thought he would do it in such a radical way.
The Royal Oak, the watch that emerged from that creative brainstorming, launched many things, including the fashion for watches with large porthole-shaped bezels – in his case octagonal – which by a strange twist of fate crossed paths with the genius of another creator, Kikuo Ibe, the inventor of the most indestructible watch in watchmaking history, the G-Shock.
The Confluence of Opposites
Genta’s goal was to democratize luxury, bringing watchmaking to serve a social function during the Flower Power era. Ibe needed to wash away the shame of dropping the watch his father had given him, and his mission became to create an indestructible timepiece. And indeed, he succeeded so well that the design he started in 1983 with the first G-Shock became the model on which the famous Casio F91-W, arguably the world’s most popular watch, was designed in 1989.
Since those years, technology has made great strides. For example, the quartz mechanism that vibrated inside the first G-Shocks has been changed and adapted over time, and over the years has gone from the original fully digital to an ana-digi system, more suited to specific uses such as law enforcement – and becoming looking less like a tool and more like a watch.
The CasiOak, a timepiece that everyone likes
By a strange celestial conjunction of the watchmaking world, so curiously traditionalist, the CasiOak – a term invented by fans to describe this timepiece – has touched the hearts of many, if only for its list price that makes it one of the most affordable in the G-Shock line, and for the subtle irony that distinguishes it: a watch so inexpensive, it plays (as Genta often did) at pretending to be what it is not.
In a way, the CasiOak is a bit of the Swatch of 2020: irreverent and iconoclastic, but always with the subtle lightness of someone who does it without taking himself seriously. And at the same time, it offers respectable technical performance. But, above all, without making too many formal distinctions – and that’s where its appeal comes from, so “horizontal” that it really speaks to everyone, both those who own an authentic Royal Oak and those who would never want one.
The G-Shock GA2100 VB-1A Virtual, a blast from the past
Faced with this new evolution of the GA2100, you could think of anything but a return to the past. And yet, for those who experienced the Eighties first-hand, the neon blue, pink, and violet lettering on the black matte surfaces of this timepiece is reminiscent of the first film to evoke virtual reality, Tron, aired in 1983, just like the G-Shock was. Today, forty years later, it sounds yet as another reference to the past by the Japanese product designers who continue to develop the G-Shock, each time drawing new reasons for enticing the interest of its fans.
If we examine the current lineup of the GA2100, we cannot but notice the sheer variety of the designs. They range from green camo to stylish total black, passing through bright red and fancy translucent resin with a black core: it sure looks like that the Casio guys are gently nudging us to buy one, and then another, and then another. After all, they are so affordable! Are we the only ones to feel a strong Swatch vibe here? After all, the first Swatch collection was presented in… oh wait… that’s 1983 again. Am I the only one who feels watched now?
Why Do We Like It?
Apart from our tongue-in-cheek global 1983 design conspiracy theories, let’s dive straight into specs. If we compare a GA2100 with its forefather, the DW-5000C, this watch is pretty slick. Casio has managed to stuff all the original features (and then some) of the DW-5000C into a much neater and slimmer encasement of only 11.8 mm – which is almost dress-watch-level performance. As a result, this timepiece can easily slip under the cuff of your favorite shirt without a sweat.
The secret of this result is a thorough reworking of the protective layers, based on the use of a carbon-reinforced plate technology called Carbon Core, which works with the resin case to impart strength and protection to the electronic heart of the watch.
So, why buy it? Because the G-Shock VB-1A Virtual is light, pleasing to the eye, indestructible, and inexpensive – so much that you can afford to buy a few to match your outfit. Because its shape fits your wrist like a glove without being bulky or excessive – and even if you bump it somewhere, you’ll never have to apologize.
And most importantly, because it makes you smile, and remember that besides the function of marking time accurately, a watch can be so much more without having to flaunt it.
Casio G-Shock GA2100 VB-1A Virtual Blue:
- Carbon Core carbon fiber reinforced resin case 45 mm, height 11.8 mm
- Stainless steel case back screwed to the case
- Mineral glass
- Water-resistant 200 meters
- Multifunctional analog-digital movement
- Double high brightness LED light to illuminate the dial
- Easy-removal bracelet
- World Time, 31 timezones; 1/100-second stopwatch with three measurement modes; countdown timer; 5 daily alarms; perpetual calendar (until 2100); two timekeeping modes, analog and digital
- Accuracy +/- 15 seconds/month
- Battery life, three years