40th Anniversary Special Edition Casio G-Shock Insight

40th Anniversary Special Edition Casio G-Shock Insight

9 min read
Richard Brown





Richard Brown





Could the new 40th anniversary special edition Casio G shocks be the most anticipated but disappointing watch releases since Omega dropped on us the gold Apollo 11 50th anniversary Speedmaster? Quite possibly... 

The Speculation Factor

I've been a huge G-Shock enthusiast for over 30 years. There's never been a time when my watch collection hasn't had one, so as you can imagine, I was really excited when we heard that Casio was producing special editions to mark the 40th anniversary of the brand. 

There was considerable speculation as to what Casio would come up with, and there was an element of fear that they would do something catastrophic like the gold Speedy. Of course, we trusted that Casio would blow us away with something unique and far removed from the standard black G. Perhaps something in metallic gunmetal rubber or rescue orange, with a bold dial and new electro lume. This was, after all, the best marketing opportunity Casio had seen in 40 years. 

Casio G-Shock 40th EditionCasio G-Shock DW-E5657RE Special Edition - Credit WatchGecko

However, when preview images of the new anniversary collection were released, there was, at best, a muted reaction in the WatchGecko office; no, “oh my goodness, they’re stunning,” more “hmmm, is that it”? Nevertheless, there was still excitement to get hands-on because, at the end of the day, we all love a new G-Shock. 

A bit of history

Let’s rewind 40 years and reacquaint ourselves with the origins of this amazing brand. In order to study the history of G shock, we have to go back to 1981 when Casio engineer Kikou Ibe accidentally dropped and damaged a pocket watch that his father had given him. 

Casio G ShockCasio G-Shock DW-E5657RE Special Edition - Credit WatchGecko

Ibe was rightly upset about the accident, but it spurred him on to create a watch that he could drop and it would survive. He came up with the now famous concept of “triple 10,” which meant that the final watch would have a 10-year battery life, be resistant to 10 bar, and crucially, could survive a drop from a height of 10 meters. In order to achieve this, he pulled together a team of Casio engineers known as Team Tough. 

200 prototypes later, and Ibe 's team had continually failed the drop test. Whilst looking back at the significant research undertaken, he realized that when a rubber ball has dropped, the core does not suffer the same shock effects as the outside, and that gave him the idea to create a shock-resistant interior rather than an exterior on the new watch. 

The theory worked, and in April 1983, we saw the very first G shock - the now iconic DW5000C. The construction of this new watch was absolutely ground-breaking as there were 10 layers in total protecting the quartz module. There was a rubber bumper made from urethane, an inner steel case, hardened mineral glass, and, most important, a new floating protective module which housed the quartz movement. The firm rubber strap was also integrated into the case and provided a huge amount of additional shock absorption.

Casio G-Shock 40th AnniversaryCasio G-Shock GA-2140RE-1AER Special Edition - Credit WatchGecko

40th Birthday

Fast forward back to 2023, and G shock has become one of the largest watch brands in the world with iconic models such as the Rangeman, Gravity Master, Gulf Man (my go-to), and the indestructible Mudman, which is now issued to the UK Army under the catchy title GG-B100-1A3ER. Today’s G-Shocks feature Bluetooth, GPS navigation, thermometers, altimeters, depth sensors and digital compasses. The range is vast, with almost too many models to mention, but each and every one of them is still capable of surviving Ibe’s tough triple 10 test; indeed, most now exceed it with 200m water resistance. 

Pulling the trigger

It is now launch day, and we are poised over a computer with credit card in hand. The clock is ticking down to when we can place our order, so what choices did we actually have? 

Casio released four special models, all stated as unique designs to reflect the anniversary. The four models have commonality by being matte black in color with black dials or black digital surrounds against standard LCD or hands. As you read this description, you're probably thinking this sounds a bit like a standard issue G shock… and you would be right.  

Casio G-Shock Casio G-Shock GA-114RE1A-ER Analogue - Credit WatchGecko

Four new Special Edition models

In more detail, the specific watches on offer we're two digital and two analog. First, we had the DWE-5657RE-1ER. This model is the closest to the original DW5000C and represents the classic square digital watch that is synonymous with the G-Shock brand. Next, we have the GA-114RE1A- ER. This model is more representative of the classic analog Shocks, which have become increasingly popular with small digital sub-dials and prominent analog hands. 

Third in line is the DW-6640RE-1ER. This is an old digital design based on the 1990s DW-6600-1VZ, which is a model that most of us (of a certain age) have likely owned. It is recognisable by triangular LCD countdown icons and a very large electro-lume button below the digital screen. Lastly, we have the “CasiOak” (click to read our detailed review). As anybody who follows watches will know, the original of this watch, the GA-2100, broke the Internet and was one of the most written-about watches in the last 5 years. Primarily because it has an octagonal bezel that closely resembles an altogether more expensive and highly recognizable watch, the AP Royal Oak. The new 40th model is called the GA-2140RE-1AER and, like the original, is hybrid analog/digital. 

Casio G-Shock 40th Special Edition with different case coverCasio G-Shock 40th Special Edition with different case cover - Credit WatchGecko

Despite being initially skeptical about all four models, we selected two. The DWE-5657-RE, as we felt most closely represented the origins of G-Shock and, unsurprisingly, the CasiOak because it was one of the most famous G-Shocks of all time.  

The 40th-anniversary watches arrived the next day in branded eco-friendly cardboard boxes printed with a slick 40 logo as opposed to the metal tin, which we normally associate with the purchase of a G.   


The first unboxing was the DWE. Initial handling of the watch leaves you with a strong impression of the color black. The watch case and strap are a dull matte black finish, and we have a standard LCD screen, as opposed to an inverted LCD, which could have worked better. The watch has absolutely no text around it other than the word Casio printed at the bottom of the screen. 

There is no question this design delivers a minimalist striking watch; however it oddly reminded me of old-school solar digital watches where the entire surround of the LCD was a solar panel. 

Casio G-Shock DWECasio G-Shock 40th Special Edition - Credit WatchGecko

It is not until you extract the watch from its cardboard container that the first significant changes from the original model are revealed. The strap is covered in very small text imprinted into the rubber. This is a list of significant dates in G-Shock history with a date and the model number listed together; for example, 2000 and the release of the GW-100. The length of both sides of the strap displays a full chronology of every major development in the G-Shock portfolio, which is a clever idea, although I cannot help but wonder how many times you would actually read this.

The push button controls are polished, and this finish is matched on the buckle; however we also have a unique oversize floating keeper in bright gold metal with four engraved stars and the words “Since 1983”. I have no doubt when Casio came up with the keeper concept, they thought it was innovative, and I am sure there are people who will love it, but to me, it's very incongruous with the matte black of the watch.

The steel back plate contains all the text that you would expect to find, plus additionally, the button function text that is normally seen on the front screen. At its center is the new 40th G-Shock logo. The final change which differentiates this watch from the original is the LED light which, when activated, glows white and shows a red 40th-anniversary logo under the LCD number segments.

Casio G-Shock DWECasio G-Shock 40th Special Edition - Credit WatchGecko

As an additional accessory, there is also a rubber bezel cap which replaces the original cap. When fitted, this gives the watch a much more classic G appearance with all the wording on it you would associate with a standard watch. It's a nice touch, it will really protect your screen, and there is a special tool enclosed to remove it safely. 

Next up was the GA 2140, which also comes in the 40th anniversary cardboard box. Inside is a preformed cardboard watch protector, so once again, the packaging is environmentally friendly.

When we opened this watch, we actually had the original CasiOak close to hand because we wanted to do an immediate comparison. As you can see, the two watches have almost identical dials other than the fact that the 40th anniversary has light grey rather than dark grey lettering.

Comparison of Original and 40th Special EditionCasio G-Shock Comparison Original CasiOak and 40th Special Edition - but which is which? Credit WatchGecko

I think the dial on the 40th anniversary watch works better than the original, which was a bit too monotone for its own good, but the fact that the dials are almost identical is very disappointing, bordering on a wasted opportunity.

Once again, this strap differentiates the models, and everything we discovered on the DWE is replicated on the GA. In the rubber is printed all of Casio’s finest G moments, and we have the same divisive gold keeper. The case back is standard steel with the words Carbon Core Guard to remind you of the unique durability of this model. As the GA only has a small sub digital dial when you activate the light, there is no change from the original model.

Casio G-Shock Gold BuckleCasio G-Shock Gold Buckle - Credit WatchGecko

Both watches have quick-release straps, which are interesting because it would suggest that Casio is going to offer alternative bespoke straps which you can fit into the watches for a different look. It is worth noting that the original DW5600 does not have quick-release spring bars; therefore, the 40th anniversary is an upgrade. The original GA does have a quick release, so there is no change there. 

So where does this mixed bag leave us? 

In complete honesty - underwhelmed. And this is not me being negative for the sake of a controversial headline. I want to caveat everything I have written by stating that I am a huge fan of G-Shocks. I have three in my watch collection, all of which have served me incredibly well in tough environments. Nearly all my friends own G-Shocks, and these sit proudly alongside Rolexes and Omegas.

Casio G-Shock 40th EditionCasio G-Shock DWE Special Edition - Credit WatchGecko

Does the final result lived up to the hype? 

As functional equipment, these watches are, of course, perfectly good G-Shocks and would make fantastic additions to any collection but does the microscopic stamping of text on the strap or the garish gold keeper make them worthy of a 40th-anniversary special edition? As always, we'd love to know what you think, so please drop us your comments or thoughts, especially if you've managed to get hands-on with one of these watches (some of which are now sold out). 

I started this review with a somewhat facetious comment about the universally disliked gold Speedmaster which had no obvious connection to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. It felt like Omega had this watch in a design warehouse for years and was simply looking for an opportunity to release it. It failed to capture the magnificence and human adventure of Apollo and left space watch enthusiasts feeling empty and confused. 

I'm not sure the 40th anniversary Casio G shocks are quite as bad as the Omega because they are very wearable watches, but I can summarise by saying this launch was a missed golden opportunity to have unveiled a completely new watch or a series that were so fundamentally different they would all be instant must-buys.

Myself and George Redgrave have had a very frank discussion on the 40th edition over on our podcast, click here to listen.

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Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.

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