Immersed in the world of extreme sports — from skating to snowboarding to biking and surfing — G-Shock is not just a piece of gear but part of the culture.
Amongst these sports, surfing is one of the most demanding on a watch. From powerful waves to corrosive salt-water to sand and rocks — any wristwatch designed for surfing must be incredibly durable and resistant to harsh wet environments.
Casio, who has surf team — that underscores the importance of the sport to the brand — offered their first watches made for surfers in 1996, which were also the first G-Shock watches to have a countdown timer (or “heat timer”) to countdown the time before the next heat during surfing competitions.
Later features such as a tide graph — which shows the times of the high and low tide for a specific beach, as well as a measurement of those tides in feet — were added. These tide indications allow surfers to determine the best conditions for each break based on the height of the waves at any given time of the day.
Additionally, original G-Lide watches had highly durable bands so as not to lose the watch while performing in extreme conditions. The straps also had drainage slits to drain the water much more quickly than a standard water-resistant strap was capable of doing.
In the nearly 25 years since the original G-Lide came out, many details have remained the same although the 2020 G-Lide watches have also evolved significantly. Originally announced earlier this year — the G-Lide GBX100 is the latest and most advanced G-Shock surfing watch to date.
Presented in a resin and stainless steel case with a similar square shape to the original DW5000C from 1983 the design features a new stainless steel bezel, which both adds to the durability of the watch and gives it a new premium aesthetic while still keeping the cost and weight down.
Casio’s official measurements are 46 mm in diameter by 50.9 mm x 14.7 mm and a total weight of 66 grams total (we weighed it at 65.2 grams). It’s worth noting that the only component that measures 14.7 mm thick is the top of the frame around the center button, which is almost unnoticeable. So for all intents and purposes, from the top of the bezel to the caseback, this is a 14 mm thick watch. The strap measures approximately 22 mm at the case/lugs and 19 mm at the buckle.
Overall, the dimensions are very similar to the more expensive metal G-Shock 5000 Series, and that’s a good thing as the G-Lide wears really well, with no digging or discomfort. Plus because it’s super light, the weight provides a further ergonomic benefit. The downside is that a resin case may not last as long or take as much abuse as an all-metal watch but the new stainless steel bezel does mitigate that somewhat and Casio’s resin is designed to be long-lasting.
While not as premium a finish as seen on the higher-end 5000 Series watches, the vertically brushed finish and machine-beveled edges on the steel bezel are a nice touch.
Not surprisingly the display is protected by a mineral crystal, which means, unlike a sapphire it can be scratched, however considering the price point of this watch — a sapphire crystal would not be feasible. Plus, in order to scratch the crystal, the object has to be smaller than the opening of the bezel because the (armored) crystal is mounted about 1 mm below that level.
There are two knurled resin buttons on each side plus a knurled center button and while these work well and have a good grip, these are areas that might also benefit from metal. Similarly, the double-pronged pin is metal, for durability, but the buckle itself is made of color-matched resin, which looks great but is not as durable as steel.
Compared to other G-Shocks we’ve tested, this strap feels extremely supple and makes wearing it, especially when combined with the conservative case size, incredibly comfortable.
And like the original model, the strap has drainage slits which help keep the watch cool on dry on your wrist. The long end of the strap (at 6 o’clock) has slits to allow the draining of water and sweat for improved comfort. Naturally, considering this watch is a G-Shock made for surfers, the shock resistance is high as is the water resistance — which is rated to 200 meters like a professional dive watch.
Being that this is an all-digital watch face what you normally would call a “dial” is actually best referred to as the “display” since it’s a digital screen. This is not a touch screen but all of the functions of the watch are displayed on this screen and controlled by the 5 buttons surrounding the bezel.
One of the best new features of the 2020 G-Lide watches is the high-definition MIP (Memory In Pixel) LCD which improves display readability, especially in super bright conditions. The display is white and black and is razor-sharp, however, it’s worth noting that in dim-lit conditions the screen can be difficult to see. In a situation where the screen is not easy to see, you can simply press the center button and the LED backlight (Super Illuminator) will light the screen for either 1.5 or 3 seconds, depending on what setting you have it on). This helps in a pinch and does not drain the battery compared to if the light lasted longer, although it would be nice if it could stay lit longer.
With that said, I’ll take this type of digital display over any past iterations.
One issue I found is that the screen saver, designed to save power, would occasionally come on and block the display when I was trying to use the watch. It should only come on when the watch is inactive and hopefully, this is something that can be optimized down the road via software updates, but this is a minor gripe and by no means a deal-breaker.
Bluetooth Mobile Link Movement
Driving all functions is a Japanese-made quartz movement, module 3482. There’s no recharging, instead, the watch uses a low-energy movement and can last a suggested time of 2 years on a single CR2032 battery. Tough solar power that uses sunlight to recharge the battery would have been nice (and most of the higher-end G-Shock watches have it nowadays), although considering the price this is not a terrible trade-off as this type of battery is common and costs roughly $2, plus the four screws on the caseback are relatively simple to remove so you can actually change this yourself pretty easily.
While there’s no solar charging, at least you still get the mobile link timekeeping feature which sets the watch time automatically. Even if the mobile link does not connect for some reason, the watch will maintain an accuracy rate of ±15 seconds per month.
Additionally, with the G-Lide, connected to the G-Shock’s Move App, you can also send tide settings to the watch via the app, as well as have the ability to store training data on the phone. There are also one-way notifications via the mobile link which let you know about recent social media engagements, emails, and texts. However, unlike with full-fledged smartwatches, you cannot do anything more than receive basic notifications, meaning you cannot read the actual texts on the watch, for instance.
Using the Watch
A variety of display modes can be activated, although while the MODE and DISPLAY buttons on the left side of the case-control much of this functionality, somewhat counterintuitively, to activate the surfer functions you need to first press the LAP button, then you can access the impressive tide graph, moon data, high and low tide times, and sunrise/sunset times screens.
Even though this watch was not used at the beach, I found the sunrise/sunset function is incredibly useful on a daily basis because it allowed me to determine what time I needed to leave, for a run or bike ride, so as to arrive back before dark.
I also found the old-school style stopwatch, which is activated by pressing the MODE button, and that has a split lap timer function, to be incredibly useful for running and biking as well. Instead of setting my phone to track my miles and route, I just would just bring the watch with me and turn on the stopwatch so I could gauge how long I was active, and see what time it is. This felt great because it allowed me to stay on track, but also to disconnect.
For whatever reason, the stopwatch does not track tenths of a second or hundredths of a second, but again, I was timing my activities for training, not a competition and so there’s no value to having the additional fraction of second precision. Knowing the time of the run or activity, down to the second, is more than enough.
As mentioned above, this watch does receive notifications but it’s not intended to take the place of a full-fledged smartwatch such as Casio’s new Move watch, or an Apple Watch, for instance.
Even with only, basic notification coming from the phone the watch does send info to the Move App, whether iOS or Android, such as surf and training data, and you can even set goals within the App. And you can set surfing spots and other features and send them to the watch via the Move app. So the watch does communicate in a two-way nature, just not as far as phone notifications which are one-way only.
Carrying the watch and no phone, I received no notifications, but as I mentioned above, the simple nature of carrying a stopwatch and no phone, was advantageous to me because I could disconnect.
Thankfully, much of the watch’s functionality is not buried in deep screens and is instead a few buttons presses away which to me is a success because nobody wants to dig into the 36-page manual unless they absolutely have to.
With the G-Lide and Move app, you can monitor your training using the built-in accelerometer including tracking (elapsed time, distance, pace, lap time, lap distance, lap pace, average pace, speed, average speed, calories burned). This function does require some setting up.
There’s also a lifelog that tracks daily step count (although like with an iPhone you have to have the watch or phone with you to get the count, so it will only be accurate to the level that you have your phone or watch with you at all times).
As with all G-Shocks, there are a bevy of functions (many already mentioned above) including a flight mode, world time for 38 time zones (cities) including daylight saving time on/off, auto summer (DST) switching, chiming or vibrating alerts, 4 daily alarms with snooze, countdown timer with up to five time settings (accurate to one second), stopwatch (accurate to one second) elapsed or split times, sunrise/sunset time display, tide graph (tide level for specific date and time) based on one of the 3,300 selectable locations (set via the Move app), moon data (moon age of the specific date, moon phase), power-saving mode (display goes blank to save power 3-hours per day), full auto-calendar (to 2099), 12/24-hour format, button operation tone on/off, and regular timekeeping (hour, minute, second, am/pm, month, date, day).
Casio’s G-Shock G-Lide GBX100 collection is incredibly feature-rich yet the price is not much more than the most basic G-Shock. The new GBX100 timepieces retail for $160 and come in three variations currently: black (GBX100-1), black and white (GBX100-7), and teal/aquamarine (GBX100-2).
The simplicity of the physical design makes for a lightweight and comfortable timepiece. Further, the watch sets itself and offers a number of actually useful features that are easy to access. I love the blend of modern tech, and the new steel bezel elevates the watch’s aesthetic and durability — without adding much cost or weight. The G-Lide really makes an argument for resin watches with some steel, at a time when Casio is pushing the much more expensive all-metal variants.
The teal is a great color for what it is. This is not the watch you buy to wear with a suit. If you’re someone just starting out, an existing Casio owner looking for some extra features without a big price tag, a mechanical watch owner who wants something to wear on the wrist (and track your workouts) when wearing a high-priced mechanical does not make sense, or if you want some smart functions without the smartwatch — this is worth considering.
Tough solar and a more intuitive way of operating some of the advanced functionality would be nice upgrades to future versions of the G-Lide GBX100 line. And while I personally like the teal — and have been told by Casio it’s the best seller — it might seem out of fashion in a year.
Ultimately, Casio has delivered a good blend of modern technology without sacrificing the utility of the original G-Lide watches, and with a price that is highly accessible.
Learn more at G-Shock.