For the 40th anniversary of the iconic G-Shock watch, Casio decided to go big in Southeast Asia. Instead of events in individual countries as it has done in the past—in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand—the brand held a single, bombastic happening in Bali. The Shock the World party saw some 600 people from across the region arrive at Desa Potato Head and its famous beach club. Voted in 2023 as one of the world’s best hotels, it is a seaside resort with a contemporary approach, lauded for its vibrancy, artistic vibe and commitment to sustainability. Musical guests included a trio of Indonesian artists represented by the US-based music label 88rising: singer-songwriter NIKI, and rapper-singers Warren Hue and Rich Brian.
Rich Brian was also involved with one of the highlight product releases of the event: a collaborative edition of the G-Shock GA-2100. An octagonal watch with analogue display, he opted for a colourway inspired by a guitar from his childhood. The result is vibrant and eye-catching—a seafoam green base is paired with white dial and salmon pink accents. His signature adorns the caseback, in a deliberately childish scrawl that almost makes the watch seem like a present from his own past.
The event was also an opportunity for the brand to convey its evolving sense of the concept of toughness, exemplified by its recent ‘That’s Tough’ campaign. G-Shock may have been born in the 1980s, but it has grown beyond its action-hero origins and now celebrates values such as opening oneself up to vulnerability and being unafraid of failure. An exemplar is the designer of the G-Shock himself, Kikuo Ibe. As a young engineer, he devised the original watch from 1983; today, he is known as the ‘Father of G-Shock’, and participates in events such as this one. Aside from conducting one of his signature G-Shock field tests—which involves him hurling his own watch, fastball-style, at a solid surface and showing off its unbothered survival—he spoke about the challenges he faced during the G-Shock’s development and the persistence he needed to overcome them. This is also narrated in the charming video Dear Young Me, in which Ibe travels back in time to give encouragement his struggling younger self.
Ibe also presented the ‘Dream Project #2’ G-D001, unveiled late last year as a one-of-one edition timepiece with a solid yellow gold case and bracelet. It has an organic, somewhat alien aesthetic as artificial intelligence was used in its design—an exhibition of G-Shock’s commitment to evolving with the latest technologies. Its complex forms are polished by hand, and its movement was made for this watch alone. It can receive radio timing signals, and has a solar charging system, 20-bar water resistance, and, of course, a shock-resistant structure. It was auctioned by Phillips last December, fetching a price of US$400,050 (RM1,910,000) with proceeds going to the US-based charity The Nature Conservancy.
Tetsuro Ono, senior general manager of overseas marketing at Casio, recounts that G-Shock was a slow starter. “To be honest, G-Shock was not recognised and didn’t sell particularly well,” he says of the launch year of 1983. It was not until 1984 when the brand gained recognition in the United States with an advertisement involving ice hockey players using one of its watches a puck. The reception was initially negative and G-Shock was accused of false advertising, until live tests showed that it really was as durable as claimed. The following years would see the start of its massive worldwide popularity.
“Under our core competence of toughness, our team has developed and improved the functionality and the design over the past 40 years,” Ono says. “We have also started to have collaborations with industries such as fashion, music and art. We have expanded the relationship and G-Shock became about not only watches but also culture.” Starting in the 1990s and aided by a dizzying array of colour and style options, G-Shock has since transcended its tool watch roots and has become a style icon.
Ono notes that the industry has changed over the decades, with the most significant newcomer being smart watches. “But if I look at history, it’s always about originality and uniqueness. Whoever has the concept will keep having fans,” he says. “G-Shock is absolutely different from smartwatches and classic-style watches. We have core fans and new fans who are asking more for the unique and original. And I believe that G-Shock is one of the best brands fitting this.”
More photos of the G-Shock 40 Years Celebration Party In Bali