G-Shock redesigned the rugged, outdoor-focused digital “Mudman” collection for 2023, and we field-tested it at the scenic North Cheyenne Cañon Park in Colorado Springs.
Within the canyon walls of the park are a number of trails, waterfalls, and streams, most with relatively steep inclines, offering a variety of challenging yet relatively quick day hikes (that I highly recommend if you’re ever nearby) to choose from — making it an ideal natural backdrop to try out the new Mudman GW9500-1.
Water from Buffalo Canyon Creek passes over St. Mary’s Falls (pictured above), then flows down Silver Cascade Falls, which features a spout (pictured below) — due to an upturn in the rock face that can shoot the water up to 10 feet during high flow times — and on to Helen Hunts Falls, before merging with North Cheyenne Creek downstream.
Entering North Cheyenne Cañon Park, and driving up the steep, narrow, and twisty curves of North Cheyenne Canyon Road to get to Helen Hunt Falls, you enter another world, where the towering trees and canyon walls instantly create a serene feeling, complemented by the calming sounds of nature — such as the sound made by the constant flow of crystal-clear water running from St. Mary’s Creek down to North Cheyenne Creek — creating the perfect soundtrack for this idyllic outdoor escape.
Free of cell phone coverage, blocked by canyon walls and mountains in all directions, the Bluetooth-independent Mudman is perhaps the perfect modern yet old-school tool to aid on your journey, with its large, easy-to-read screen and signature oversized buttons that can be used even with gloves on — you have instant access to a compass, altimeter, and barometer. The digital-only screen of the “Mudman” differs from the analog-digital screen of “Mudmasters,” though, the functions are essentially the same.
In the US market, three G-Shock’s Mudmans have been introduced, the hero model, the GW9500-1 – which has a classic black with red highlights and a traditional positive LCD display (pictured), the GW9500-3 – green with yellow highlights and a negative display, and the GW9500-1A4 – black and red with a negative display. The all-new GW9500 line features a redesigned case that’s slimmer than previous generations at just 14.8 mm thick. At 52.7 mm in diameter according to Casio (though we measured it at 52 mm across), and with a lug-to-lug is 56.7 mm, the 2023 Mudman is still a large watch yet it’s been carefully proportioned resulting in a smaller footprint that ergonomically fits my 7″ wrist without causing any annoyance or wrist pain. Further helping with wearability is the watch’s total weight of just 81 grams.
The exterior of the Mudman case and bezel are made of bio-based resins (derived from renewable organic resources), as well as stainless steel for the case screws, the two buttons on the left, and the housing of the three direct access sensor buttons on the right. The large, easy-to-operate front button (which activated the LED light) and three direct sensor buttons (altimeter, barometer, compass) on the side are shaped to drain mud and water and are protected by cylinder-shaped stainless steel components. Additionally, the button shafts are equipped with gasket fittings to keep mud and dust out, as well, so you’re ready to take on the toughest of terrains.
A flat mineral crystal, set below the plane of the bezel (armored), protects the new premium, dual-layer all-digital LCD dial. Though not high resolution as the MIP dial seen on the new Casio Move DWH5600 line, like the Pro Trek display we previously tested the dial performs well in all lighting conditions, from ultra-bright to complete darkness (the latter requires you to push the LED illumination button at 6 o’clock on the case to illuminate the white LED).
Casio’s Carbon Core Guard interior structure is made of carbon fiber-infused resin and both protect the quartz movement module against shocks and other potential damage. Secured by four screws, a stainless steel plate, that’s been engraved with the Mudman emblem, protects the caseback. From the backside, you can see the marbling pattern of the carbon-based resin inside. In addition to the mud-resistant gaskets that protect mud from entering the case, the watch is also depth rated to 200 meters, though this is not the same rating used for a completely water-tight dive watch, especially considering there are openings from the sensors.
While there’s no Bluetooth time sync — because this is not a connected watch — the Mudman’s quartz movement (module 3553) does have military-grade atomic time sync for similar levels of accuracy when compared to Bluetooth-calibrated quartz movements. And thanks to the tough solar design, the battery is automatically charged by both natural and artificial light entering the dial.
For this field report, I primarily used the Mudman to stay aware of the time (both on the main display and on the auxiliary time display when it sensors based modes, my current altitude (altimeter), and what direction I was going (compass), however, the entire list of sensor-based functionality is listed below.
Measures and displays direction as one of 16 points
Measuring range: 0 to 359° Measuring unit: 1° 60 seconds continuous measurement
Graphic direction pointer
Magnetic declination correction Bearing memory
Altimeter Measuring range: -700 to 10,000 m (-2,300 to 32,800 ft.)
Measuring unit: 1 m (5 ft.)
Manual memory measurements (up to 30 records, each including altitude, date, time)
Auto log data (High/low altitudes, auto cumulative ascent and descent)
Trek log data (up to 14 records of high/low altitudes, auto cumulative ascent and descent of particular treks)
Others: Relative altitude readings (-3,000 to 3,000 m),
Selectable measurement interval: 5 seconds or 2 minutes
*1 second for first 3 minutes only
*Changeover between meters (m) and feet (ft)
Display range: 260 to 1,100 hPa (7.65 to 32.45 inHg)
Display unit: 1 hPa (0.05 inHg) Atmospheric pressure tendency graph (Past 42 hours of readings)
Atmospheric pressure differential graphic
Barometric pressure tendency information alarm (beep and arrow indicate significant changes in pressure)
*Changeover between hPa and inHg
Display range: -10 to 60℃ (14 to 140℉) Display unit: 0.1℃ (0.2℉)
*Changeover between Celsius (℃) and Fahrenheit (℉)
Beyond the sensor-based functions, all the typical G-Shock features are also present, including a world timer, 5 daily alarms, hourly time signal, button operation tone (on/off), 1/10th of a second stopwatch with elapsed and split times, battery level indicator, countdown timer (measures down to 1-second and with up to 24-hour timer), sunrise/sunset display, full auto-calendar (to the year 2099), 12/24 format, and regular timekeeping (hours, minutes, seconds, pm, month, date, day).
There’s also a Power Saving feature that automatically turns off the display when the watch is left in the dark. The LED illuminator can be set to 1.5 or 3 seconds. The rechargeable battery operating time is approximately 6 months (operation period with normal use without exposure to light after full charge) or 26 months on rechargeable battery (operation period when stored in total darkness with the power save function on after full charge).
While not as crisp as a MIP (Memory in Pixel) display, I found the dual-layer (duplex) display, with a secondary blue color readout for functions such as the compass, to be readable in all conditions. The mud-resistant buttons were easy to access, and though I was not using gloves on a sunny 90+ degrees day, I’m confident that like with past designs, the buttons can be activated easily, even with gloves on. That said, I do wish the temperature function had its own direct button. I’m torn between the classic “positive” black-on-white LCD display versus the newer “negative” displays that feature white-on-black readouts (the other two Mudman variations have the negative displays), because I tend to find the darker displays do not get washed out as easily in bright sunlight. Again, though, I had no problem in any lighting conditions, including complete darkness (with the LED light assisting), reading the time, compass, altimeter, and so forth.
The bio-based resin band is well-designed with a ladder-type design with large slotted holes that allow for better airflow. The downside is that because it’s been designed for ruggedness and durability, it’s not as pliable as I prefer, which is the trade-off you get on some G-Shocks that are made for extreme conditions. The upside is that this type of strap tends to last longer.
Even though the “Mudmaster” (with an analog-digital) display with its elevated materials and price point is a nice median between analog and digital, within the two mud-resistant collections, I tend to prefer the all-digital “Mudman” which is premium yet at a retail price of $380, offers a significant saving compared to the upscale $800 Mudmaster. Moreover, I prefer the Mudman aesthetic, including its large, clutter-free, easy-to-read display.
Learn more at G-Shock.
G-Shock Mudman GW9500-1
Total Weight: 81.3 grams (81 grams stated)
Case Material: Bio-based resin, stainless steel, carbon resin
Case Diameter: 52 mm (52.7 mm stated)
Case Thickness: 14.8 mm
Lug-to-lug: 56.7 mm
Crown Diameter: No crown
Glass: Mineral crystal
Movement: quartz module 3553
Depth Rating: 200 meters
Strap: Perforated Bio-based resin