By October 14, 2005

Casio G-Shock GW500A-1V Review

I am a gadgetty gadget freak, a gadgetty gadget freak am I.

I was trying to replace my Ironman watch, and couldn’t find the right combination of features. I wanted a watch that didn’t need a battery, received atomic time, and had at least one stopwatch for when I swam. It also had to be water resistant. And it had to look bad ass and not a fragile girly-girl watch.

Lady Jaye capitalized on my desire to find a bad ass geek watch and purchased a Casio G-Shock GW500A-1V for me quite awhile ago. I’m here to tell you why you need to pawn your Tag Heuer for this bad boy.

The now-famous Gibberish bullet list of features and an explanation on why your watch is inferior without them!

  • Atomic time: Casio calls this technology “Waveceptor.” The watch receives radio signals from a National Institute of Standards and Technology atomic clock outside of Boulder, Colorado. My watch is accurate to one second every 30 million years. I know exactly when you’re late for a meeting. No arguing with me about that stupid clock on the wall that runs on AA batteries.
  • Solar powered: “Tough Solar” to Casio, the GW500A never needs batteries and can charge itself completely with just three hours of exposure to indoor light. I try not to spend too much time out in the daystar, but it takes significantly less time to recharge in “actual sunlight,” whatever that is.
  • Backlit LCD display: Indiglo-type illumination via the G button in the center of the watch. Mine’s also configured to illuminate when I tilt the watch to a certain angle.
  • Your standard stopwatch function, with split.
  • A buttnest of time zones. They’re distinguished by three-letter city codes. I use NYC on the east coast and LAX on the west coast. I am not particularly fond of this methodology, but given how many items are on the display I don’t think they had room for anything other than the three-letter codes.
  • Four alarms. The beeping is too quiet, and I have slept through all four before. My Ironman watch was louder, and kept beeping every five minutes a few times before giving up.
  • Water resistant to 200 meters. I wish my lap lanes were even three meters deep 🙁
  • G-Shock’s trademark badass shock resistance and overall rugged construction. I’m a clumsy bastard, and the G-Shock has taken some decent bashing without even scratching the bezel.

The GW500A has a typically busy face. I think it’s a requirement at Casio to cram as much shit as possible onto the face of their watches. The solar receptors line the outer rim of the round face. There are three circular “info rings” at the top of the watch. The info rings, from left to right, provide a virtual analog readout that updates every five minutes; a power status indicator, with low, medium, and high readings; a feature status ring that displays if you’re on Daylight Savings Time or not, if an alarm is set, if you’re “snoozing,” etc. The time is displayed underneath the info rings, as well as an AM/PM indicator, a “beep” indicator, and an icon that shows up when your watch is trying to receive a time update. Beneath that is the date in the US-style month number, day number, and day (9-29 THU, for example).

There are five buttons on the GW500A. The center button activates the already described backlight. There are two other buttons on each side of the watch and are pretty bland and straightforward. All of the buttons are recessed to avoid activation during rough sex or whatever else you do with your watch on.

The stock watchband is made out of rubberized plastic, and is perfect for what I do. I have hairy ape arms and can’t wear bracelet-style metal bands. Cloth bands, while providing a better customized fit, stink like chlorine after a few weeks of swimming.

I have been very impressed with how forgiving the Tough Solar system handles recharging environments. I wasn’t kidding when I said I don’t get outside much, and I’ve never had the watch dip below “medium.” The watch also shuts itself off during periods of inactivity. Normally it goes to sleep when I put it on the nightstand before bedtime, but I’ve also had it fall asleep on my wrist while I’m watching a movie.

The atomic timekeeping is damn nifty. I have noticed, however, that it can take up to a few days for the watch to sync up with the time server. This is due mostly to my cave-dwelling type habits and not a problem with the watch. It always syncs up at some point, so I don’t consider this too strong of a negative.

G-shockingly awesome features:

  • Atomic time and solar powered watch will keep me on-time for meetings in the Complex well after the bombs fall. As long as the atomic transmitters are still working in Colorado, that is.
  • Built like a brick shithouse. I’m looking forward to bashing someone in the face with this thing to see what cracks first, the watch or their cranium.
  • Black and silver with red accents works with your personal style, whether it’s tshirts and jeans or … polos and jeans. Seriously though, it’s not some whack-ass color scheme like some of the hillbilly Seiko Expedition watches.
  • More gadgets than the Inspector, without tying you down to proprietary commercially-offered services. Sure, you can’t get your Microsoft Outlook email on it, but what if you are doomed to use Lotus Notes at your jorb?
  • Four alarms is plenty. If you need any more reminders than that, you need a fucking PDA.

Behind the times:

  • I really miss the countdown timer feature from my Ironman watch. This would be super helpful when I’m running the grill outside or keeping track of how long of a wait we have left at a restaurant. Timer, I pine for thee. Moo.
  • The G-Shock is a geek watch. You won’t be winning any Stuff Style Icon awards for this baby. But since you can bash someone in the face with it, who gives a shit?
  • If you have little tiny wrists like I do, the G-Shock can look like a wall clock on your arm. The GW500A is either smaller than the original G-Shock watches, or the silver and black color scheme makes the watch appear smaller than it actually is. My friend Stilts can rock the original G with no problem, but then again he’s only slightly shorter than Godzilla.
  • The aforementioned atomic update can take awhile if you are inside most of the time.
  • Quiet beeping doesn’t disrupt my dreams of My Little Ponies. Or is that a benefit?

Casio G-Shock GW500A-1V, I give thee:

Four and a half out of five STFU mugs!

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