If you’re one of those folks who’ve clung to your old-school wristwatch or G-Shock, Casio’s brand new smartwatch might tempt you to take the plunge. The G-Shock story dates back to 1983, a time when most watches were almost as delicate as many of the pricier smartwatches in 2020 with their dazzling displays. It was also a time when a calculator watch (unless you were James Bond or Dick Tracy) was as smart as your wristwatch got. It was a piece of genius advertising in the US that used the G-Shock (DW-5000C) as a hockey puck that demonstrated the toughness of the watch. It worked; the G-Shock became a cult phenomenon by the 1990s. Does the G-Shock smartwatch make a strong pitch for a switch to a smartwatch?

Wrap this on to your wrist and you will feel the extra heft. At about 100 gm, it’s almost two and a half times the weight of an Apple Watch 5. That should come as no surprise. This is a G-Shock and it’s more than ready for the elements. You don’t have to worry about this one slipping from your hand or taking a fall. The design sticks to the G-Shock playbook with an oversized case and a muscular bumper warding off scratches. It’s rugged all the way and finished with premium materials. It’s ready for a run in the rain or for a swim. Battery life is another major win for this device. A solar charging back up option means that you don’t have to worry about battery life. That’s rare in the smartwatch category.

The circular display is quite small for a large watch but this monochromatic display offers great visibility even under harsh sunlight. The blue light button is a throwback to an era – a cool retro touch. Navigation can be overwhelming, especially if you’re an Apple Watch millennial trying to figure the functions of the five physical buttons. I found the companion App (that worked with my iPhone and my Android device) quite cumbersome too. Pairing was a breeze though.

 

 

Casio is betting big on two key selling points – GPS and a bunch of sensors. The watch comes with an Optical heart rate sensor and also includes a thermo sensor. Serious fitness enthusiasts and runners will dig the Vo2MAX measurements that uses heart rate and running speed to calculate the maximum consumable oxygen uptake per kilogram of bodyweight in one minute. The watch does a great job of tracking key fitness indicators but I found the navigation quite tedious each time I wanted drill down data from a workout. The companion App captures quite a lot of statistics while the in-built GPS and route mapping add to its appeal for runners who will benefit from details like heart rate zones.

 

 

It’s tough to compare this with a new age smartwatch from Apple or Samsung. The Casio G-Shock delivers on two fronts – a rugged smartwatch with its retro G-Shock appeal and a serious running companion where it also takes on firmly entrenched players like Garmin. It’s let down somewhat by the user interface on the watch but propped up by its incredible battery life (Casio pegs this at 12 months or 66 hours with the heart rate monitor enabled plus the extra juice from the solar back up) that is almost unparalleled in this segment

The Casio G-Shock G-Squad (GBD H-1000) is priced at Rs 39,995