G‑Shock Creator Kikuo Ibe told Bloomberg about the vision of the market. The engineer is surrounded by dozens of watches, including a 1982 prototype. “Fully working,” proudly proclaims the 64-year-old Japanese man, who will give 50 on the strength, “People appreciate durability, and G‑shocks are synonymous with it.”
The story began in 1981, when Ibe smashed a watch given to him by his father. Disappointed is not the right word… As a Casio engineer, Ibe took on the task of designing a shock-resistant watch movement that could withstand a fall on a hard surface while maintaining functionality. This is how the first G‑Shocks appeared with a hollow body filled with alpha gel, a substance that dampens shock and vibration impulses.
35 years after Casio’s technological revolution, other companies are trying to betroth IT technology to watches, as science fiction writers used to write about. Apple, Samsung, Sony are pouring billions of dollars into the development of wearable electronics in the hope that smartwatches will open up new markets and tie users to their own ecosystems.
And how will G‑Shock stay in the game?
Certainly without the release of smart watches. “Smartwatch battery is a headache. Plus a small screen. I’m not sure that this market will grow in the future,” says Ibe. Casio will not compete with Apple and Samsung. Instead, the company will focus on releasing models with a bluetooth module, without operating system support. The simpler, the more reliable.
Casio has built a cult of durability around itself. Firefighters, military, paramedics choose reliable watches, not the smart stuffing of Android Wear representatives. Shock owners collect G‑shocks — and the business plan of the manufacturer is based on this. To maintain interest in their products, Casio releases new models, experiments with colors. Apple, on the other hand, is limited only by the material of the case and interchangeable straps: it is too expensive to develop Watch in a different form factor, the user must be out of his mind in order to purchase a couple of items in the “collection”. And “shocks” are bought willingly.
In September, the world will see the new AW, and Casio will show six new Golfmasters — marine-themed G‑shocks with tide charts, moon phase indicator, barometer and compass, altimeter and thermometer. And this watch will be shockproof and waterproof. Not like some…
Celebrities are not shy about wearing G‑shocks. George Clooney, Rihanna, Eminem and others regularly get into the frame.
Kikuo Ibe wants to create the perfect durable watch that can withstand any kind of stress. The hardest thing to deal with is the high temperature at which the electronics fail. At the end of the conversation, the Japanese mentions space tourism: “When a simple person flies into Earth orbit, I want G‑Shocks on his hand. I have a dream to create a clock for space.“ [bloomberg]
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