The 'CasiOak' has taken the internet by storm recently. But why is this G-Shock so popular?
Despite global troubles, the last 12 months was a good one for the watch community as there were plenty of new models to look at even if launches were online affairs rather than mass gatherings. There were lots of high-end watches for us to aspire to - take for example the latest release Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver range starting at a not insubstantial £20,000.
However, at the opposite end of the scale, there was a sub-£100 release which caught all of us off guard and became one of the unexpected stand-out hits of last year. The Casio G-Shock GA-2100 Octagon Series and its derivatives – colloquially known as the CasiOaks. This watch represents a total re-imagining of the G-Shock brand taking it into fundamentally different, and controversial, design areas. Already the series has become so popular that certain variants have sold out.
The Casio G-Shock GA 2100 'CasiOak'
If you are not familiar with the CasiOak series pause and look it up now as before we examine the technical details, we must address the elephant in the room. The new Casio bears more than a passing resemblance to an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. The latter being a high-end piece of horological craftsmanship which, since its launch in 1973, is considered to be one of the finest original waterproof diving watches; or to use AP’s marvellous vintage term “fluid-tight”. A unique and defining design, the most striking element of the watch was, and still is, its octagonal bezel which is based on the outer hatch of an old-style diving helmet.
The Casio GA-2100 series has the same 8-sided bezel design, and it is no surprise that significant parallels have been drawn between the external appearance of the two watches. But let us be clear, this is where that comparison ends. Indeed, Casio distance themselves from the link and would have us believe that no such parallel design was intended and the octagonal bezel on the new watch is nothing more than an inherited homage to their classic original DW-5000C; which to many defines the G-Shock. Compare the new and vintage Casio models and you can clearly see the family trait, nevertheless the moniker of “CasiOak” has stuck and the GA-2100 will forever be known as such.
The nickname derives from Scottish Watches and Steven Davila.
WatchGecko had two of the new Casios on test. The 45mm GA-2100-1A1ER “Stealth” model has been designed to present a full blackout dial picture and the slightly smaller 43mm GMA-S2100-1AER which is also predominantly black but with polished rose gold indices and hands.
If you are a seasoned G-Shock wearer then these watches will surprise you. They are noticeably slim and light-generating the immediate question of whether they can maintain the shock-resistant characteristics synonymous with the brand. The 45mm GA is 11.8mm high and the smaller GMA is a mere 11.2mm high. The watches weigh 51g and 41g, respectively. In practical terms, this means that you really do not know you have them on.
The lack of weight and mass can be attributed to the use of Casio’s propriety Carbon Core Guard which surrounds the movement and claims to offer full protection. The watches have been designed to allow the carbon composite shell to be visible and this really adds to the ultra-modern look. The dials share a common design and are uncomplicated with the lower right quarter given over to a digital timekeeping unit and the area around the nine-hour showing the day via a pointer. The analogue hands on both models are large and lume coated.
If you have owned a G-Shock or Casio AQ Tough Solar analogue/digital watch then the new 5611 Module hand operation will be intuitive and familiar. Select the traditional ADJ setting on the digital screen, adjust the time to the chosen value and the hands automatically match the inverted LCD display.
Both models have the expected Casio digital functions such as stopwatch, world time (dual-zone), countdown, multiple alarms and an automatic calendar which is pre-programmed so far into the future that you will never need to make a manual adjustment.
As the digital unit is offset in the lower right quadrant Casio have devised a very clever way of viewing it if the hands are covering the screen. A specific button operation moves the hands away to the 10:55hrs position allowing you to manipulate the digital screen with complete clarity. Once your chosen task is complete, say setting an alarm, you can then instantly return the hands to the correct time with the touch of a button. Under normal operations, Casio claims the battery will have a 3-year life.
The whole dial is protected by a mineral crystal which has no obvious AR coating and probably will scratch in time but it’s to be expected at this price point. On the other hand, the watch has 200m of water resistance, which makes it ideal for swimming.
Final thoughts on the CasiOak
So, all in all, these new watches are a solid evolution of the G-Shock line, being smaller and lighter to be more user friendly and fashionable.
However, as a genuine G-Shock enthusiast and purist, I find the poor legibility of the Blackout “Stealth” model rather annoying. It feels as though that dial is aimed at the military “fashion” market and has no practical value. It is almost illegible and flies in the face of everything that a genuine tool watch is designed to do.
Besides that, the CasiOaks offer a refreshing new take on the G-Shock identity. They offer a host of useful functions and have the exceptional resilience that I love G-Shocks for. And, even though my heart lies with the original square G-Shocks, I fully appreciate that G-Shocks have become a fashion object as much as a tool watch. And, with that in mind, I think the CasiOaks strike a good balance between those two types of watch.