Move over, CasiOak, G-Shock has its next hype pieceD.C. Hannay
Ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you I’m an unapologetic Casio enjoyer. And I’m far from alone. Before I was anything resembling an actual watch collector (and before I had anything more than pocket change to spend), I appreciated the design, durability, functionality, and value of the wholly democratic brand. And now that I have a few more “prestigious” names in the watch box, I still remain a huge fan. There’s an entire subculture of watch collecting centered on Casio, and at an even more granular level, G-Shock. To me, Casio will never not be cool, and even collectors at the highest levels will give the nod to the beloved maker of all things cheap and beepy.
One of the biggest introductions from the brand in recent memory has to be the G-Shock GA-2100 series, the so-called “CasiOak”, in tribute to its resemblance to AP’s iconic Royal Oak. Given the off-the-chart level of hype that’s surrounded this eight-sided blockbuster, it’s little wonder that Casio has spun off dozens of colour, size, material, and limited-edition variations in its wake. They’re almost universally rad, and the release schedule shows no signs of slowing down. But there’s a new contender in the race for the next G-Shock sensation.
Say hello to the CasiOak “Concept”. No, it doesn’t have a tourbillon, but it does bear more than a passing resemblance to a specific strain of baller badassery. Released somewhat quietly in 2022, The $150 G-Shock GA-B001 series is a doppelganger for the ultra-hyped six-figure Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept pieces.
Yes, the same line of over-the-top APs that birthed the unobtanium Royal Oak Concept Black Panther (an edition of 250, worn by the glitterati of sports and entertainment), and the more recent Spiderman versions that followed. And just as the CasiOak brought a touch of that Royal Oak stardust to the masses, so could this under-the-radar G. It’s not unheard of for an insider Casio release to suddenly become a sales juggernaut.
Much like the bezel of the CasiOak resembles the RO, the profile of the GAB001 carries some very familiar styling cues. Check out the faceted case contours of the G, and you’ll see a startling resemblance to the RO Concept, without aping the AP note-for-note. Rather, as with most things G-Shock, form follows function, and the GA-B001 is built using a rather unorthodox case construction. The case is actually composed of two pieces that attach at either side at 9 and 3, with an integrated strap as part of the design. The watch retains the Carbon Core build of its predecessor, and similar to the CasiOak, weight is held to a scant 51 grams.
The dial on the GA-B001 is similar to the CasiOak’s, with an ana-digi layout, albeit a bit busier, and with a more futuristic vibe. Of note, the semi-skeleton handset is reminiscent of the RO Concept’s. You’ll get the long list of typical G functions, including time, day, date, alarm, stopwatch/timer, and multiple time zones, but there’s the addition of Bluetooth connectivity, something that the original CasiOak lacked, but was updated with recently.
But for most, the big attraction will be that avant-garde case design. Much like the Royal Oak Concept, it takes the basic form of the original and explodes the case angles outward, with a look like no other G. Currently, the colourways on offer include black, red, see-through turquoise, a smoked grey with bright red accents, the futuristic white Sci-Fi World model, and the new black and yellow Caution Yellow version.
They’re all quite striking in the resin, but I feel that Casio would do well to go back to the CasiOak’s roots by offering the model in fully monochromatic versions, starting with black, with no infilled case lettering. Let the contours of that striking case be the star of the show. It’s what attracted me to the original CasiOak, and seduced me into subsequently picking up both the black and red versions.
As to what the future holds, only Casio knows, but I’m willing to bet that more colours are on the horizon, and perhaps even a foray into different case materials. I could easily see them adding a steel-cased version, and perhaps one with gold-coloured plating. It’s probably too much to ask for a full carbon fibre case, but a guy can dream, right? And if Casio really wanted to raise the bar, they could go full Royal Oak Concept and offer a limited version in sandblasted titanium. C’mon Casio, it’s time to break the watch internet again, don’t you think?