Nicknames are not just for Rolexes. A catchy moniker is a clear indication of fans’ approval and having one can seal the success of a new design for a watchmaker. So when Casio announced a new 2020 addition to its Full Metal 5000 series of watches, the striking laser-etched “grid tunnel” pattern prompted fans to immediately dub it “the Tron” in reference to the groundbreaking proto-CGI sci-fi movie of 1982. It’s not called the Tron by Casio, it’s called the GMWB5000CS-1. Which isn’t very sexy. I’ll stick to Tron.
The square design echoes the look of the very first G-Shock DW-5000C that emerged in 1983, but is realized for the Tron in DLC blackened stainless steel. That first G-Shock used a complex case construction in steel and rubber that acted as a shock absorber to protect the inner workings and being indestructible remains at the heart of G-Shock’s output. It found an enthusiastic fan base for its space-age looks and rugged functionality. It was the base for more than 35 years of ever bolder, even chunkier design that played with materials and often mixed digital and analog in the same watch. At times—for me—there was faintest whiff of shark-jumping about it.
But I am a fan of G-Shock. The only digital in my smallish collection is a DW5900 from the mid '90s (that one had two nicknames: “Three Eye” for its triple read-outs and “Walter” for John Goodman’s character in The Big Lebowski, who wore one in the movie). While G-Shocks can be had for way less than the $800 ticket on the Tron, I like that it’s an all-steel version. I like too the recent focus on watches inspired by those less visually complicated but groundbreaking early models that gives them the exact same nostalgic fix you get from watching Tron.
I could go down the rabbit hole of functions on this watch, and discuss the 1/100th-second stopwatch, five daily alarms, world times for 39 cities plus UTC and the ability to pick up atomic time from six stations round the globe. But the best feature is that you can synch it with a G-shock app, meaning you can set the time on it using your phone without having to mess with complicated sequences of button-pressing. It also has a find-my-phone function and the ability to pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude, which is extremely handy if you are lost. Say...somewhere on the Grid?
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