Ever since the GMW-B5000 was released in 2018, inheriting the iconic design of the Origin, the full-metal G-Shock series has steadily added to its lineup, bringing a robust and stylish stainless steel exterior to the classic design by making skillful use of Casio’s CMF (color, material, finish) design concept. Since 2020, the lineup has been augmented by the addition of the AWM-500, based on the first-generation analogue/digital hybrid model that launched in 1989. The latest addition to the full-metal G-Shock lineup is the GM-B2100. The release is more than simply a conversion of the GA-2100, one of the hits of recent years, into a full-metal version. The craftsmanship and attention to detail in evidence in the new model contain evidence of how the design and functionality of the series continue to evolve, as well as hints for what the future may hold.
Photographs by Yu Mitamura
Text by Yuzo Takeishi
|Released in 2019, the GA-2100 (right) proved a worldwide hit, with its octagonal bezel giving it a distinctive appearance and usability. The original iteration is now joined by the GM-B2100 (left), which brings a full-metal overhaul to the appearance of the watch as well as featuring further evolutions to design details and functions.
The Globally Popular GA-2100 Model gets a Surprisingly Quick Full-Metal Update
The new full metal G-Shock GM-B2100 is based on the GA-2100 model that was introduced in 2019. At the time, Casio was developing watches targeted at a younger age group, and this drove the creation of the new GA-2100 series, with its distinctive octagonal bezel.
|(Left) GM-B2100D-1A , (Center) GM-B2100BD-1A, (right) GM-B2100GD-5A
The third installment in the full metal series, incorporating a stainless steel cladding on the basis of the GA-2100 model with octagonal bezel that appeared in 2019. The silver and black models use a single black tone for the dial, maintaining the cool and stylish image of the 2100 series. Tough Solar gives around 18 months on a full charge (power save mode). Stainless steel case (49.8 x 44.4 mm).
While inheriting the basic DNA of the first-generation DW-5000C G-Shock, this latest addition to the series features a minimalist, more contemporary appearance, as well as a smaller and thinner case. At the design stage, the GA-2100 apparently divided opinion within Casio, so established was the iconic image of the G-Shock as a brand characterized by its rugged, sturdy design. On release, however, the revamped design proved an immediate success not only in Japan but in markets around the world. The GA-2100 was initially aimed at younger consumers. It more than met expectations, succeeding not only in attracting a new audience for the series as intended but also proving popular with long-time G-Shock enthusiasts.
|Nao Inomoto, who worked on the product planning. “The GA-2100 model was successful in attracting new customers, as well as proving popular with long-term G-Shock enthusiasts. We decided to build on the impact of the model by developing metal-covered and full-metal versions of the design. The 2100 is a new series, but we hope that it will become a next-generation masterpiece for the company.”
All the previous full-metal G-Shock watches that have been developed so far are legacy models. Released in 2018, the GMW-B5000 was based on the very first G-Shock model, while its successor the AWM-500, released in 2020, was built on the first analogue/digital hybrid G-Shock model. The idea of a relative newcomer like the GA-2100 joining the full metal lineup so soon seems incongruous at first. Nao Inomoto, one of the team in charge of planning the project, explains the thinking behind the decision as follows.
|Takao Matsuda, who worked on the design. “The GM-B2100 is the fourth iteration in the 2100 series. But our idea is to come up with a new design each time we release a new watch. Every release in the series has a different team of designers working on it, all bringing their own ideas to the project. This means that even with the same motifs, the approach is a little different every time.”
“The GA-2100 was a model that inherited the philosophy of the first-generation G-Shock. It was a watch that attracted new consumers to the series while also finding favor with existing enthusiasts. These circumstances meant that we decided to develop metal-covered and enhanced functionality versions at an early stage, as well as a full-metal version as part of the development of the portfolio. Our hope is to develop the 2100 series into a next-generation masterpiece.”
Attention to Detail and Craftsmanship
The GM-B2100 marks the latest addition to the full-metal series. Its exterior design is practically the same as the design of the previous three models. Resin versions of the G-Shock are produced by injection molding, in which resin is injected into a metal mold. In the full metal series, however, the watches are made by pressing and forging stainless steel plates. The complex shape of the G-Shock watches means they cannot be produced in a single press, and the full metal series uses more than 10 pressing stages. Other processes, including annealing and polishing, are carried out between each pressing. These are repeated more than 10 times before the application of the final polishing process, so that the manufacture of the watch exterior takes a considerable amount of time.
|The GM-B2100 is produced by a similar process to previous installments in the full metal series. The top bezel in particular requires more than 10 pressings to produce the stainless steel plates. The inclusion of other processes including annealing and polishing between each pressing makes it possible to achieve such a lustrous sheen despite the complex shape of the watch.
The stainless steel exteriors of the full-metal G-Shock watches tend to draw most of the attention, but in fact the true value of the GM-B2100 can be seen in the elaborate attention to detail and fine craftsmanship on the dial. The GM-B2100 is the fourth model in the 2100 series, following the basic GA-2100 resin model, the metal-covered GM-2100, and the GA-B2100, which incorporated Smartphone Link and Tough Solar (solar-powered). As iterations of the same series, all four models feature a similar design in their dials, but in fact no single part is the same in any two models.
|The biggest feature of the full-metal series is the watches’ lustrous exterior, which combines hairline and polished finishes. Details such as the indentations in the four corners of the case and the dimple patterning on the bracelet cannot be brought to an adequate sheen in a single polishing at the end of the manufacturing process, and multiple polishes are required.
One place where the attention to detail is easy to see are the prominently raised indices, produced with a fine-ground finish. The semi-circular ring used in the inset icon dial at nine o’clock is also made from a separate part that is attached to the dial using laser melding, ensuring that it will remain firmly fixed in place even if the watch is subject to shocks or impact. The indicator on the inset dial is thicker and more prominent than in previous models, while the G-Shock logo at 12 o’clock uses metallic raised lettering, and a fine-ground finish is applied to the area around the digital display at four o’ clock, adding accents and producing an impression of strength and robustness. Takao Matsuda, who worked on the design, discusses some of the details of the craftsmanship used in the dial.
|The indices on the face are prominently raised to differentiate the watch as a higher-end model within the 2100 series, with a fine-ground finish on the upper surface. Also noteworthy is the metallic raised lettering used in the G-Shock logo at 12 o’ clock, which helps give the new release a sense of added value. One of the three color variations, the GM-B2100GD-5A, has a rose gold ion-plated finish, and the indices are plated with gold using vapor deposition after the fine-ground finish.
“The GM-B2100 occupies a special position at the top of the range within the 2100 series. I think if you look carefully at the details of the design, you’ll get a real sense of the different value this watch offers compared with other models. The previous model, the AWM-500, while also an analogue/digital hybrid, used a single solar module dial. The new model uses two dials, and the idea behind that was to enhance the sense of three-dimensional presence within the simple face. Probably the fact that we have produced a full-metal version of the 2100 series will draw the most attention, but in fact I think the details of the craftsmanship on the dial are where the GM-B2100 really stands out.”
|(Left) The indicator hand on the inset dial is a more prominent presence in the design than on the conventional resin model, with hairline finishing on the upper surface. A separate part is used for the semi-circular icon dial for the first time in the 2100 series. The dial is attached to the watch face using laser melding. This process is done at Yamagata Casio, using the same techniques used in high-end models such as the MR-G series.
(Right) The lower part of the digital display at four o’clock is given the same fine-ground finish as the indices, for a sophisticated feel. Yamagata Casio’s microfabrication technology was used in this process.
New Model Incorporates the Shock Resistance Structure Carefully Designed for the Full-Metal Series
When the idea of a full-metal version of the G-Shock was first raised seven years ago, Casio immediately knew that the biggest challenge would be to come up with a design that would guarantee the shock resistance expected of a G-Shock watch. In the end, Casio had to redesign the entire internal structure of the watch from scratch. Although stainless steel is more resilient to shock than the resin materials used in most G-Shock watches, its higher specific gravity means that the watch sustains a considerable shock if it is dropped.
After considerable trial and error, the company finally arrived at a fundamentally different shock resistance structure from that used in conventional resin models. Absorbent cushioning made of fine resin is set between the center case, which protects the module, and the stainless steel top bezel. This acts as a damper and protects the watch even from strong shocks if the watch is dropped. This design successfully protects the module that is the heart of the watch.
|The shock resistance structure in the full metal series: the black components made from fine resin are placed on top of the center case (the cylindrical black part) that protects the module that is the heart of the watch, before the stainless steel top bezel is stacked on top of this. The fine resin parts act as cushioning, protecting the module from external pressure and shock.
Another improvement in the full metal version of the watch involved the attachment between the case and bracelet. In resin G-Shock watches, the case and bracelet are connected by two prongs, but the full-metal model uses a new three-pronged lug structure. With the two-pronged structure, there was a risk that the connecting pipe joining the case and the bracelet might buckle under the impact of a shock if the watch were dropped. Increasing the number of prongs disperses shocks to the connecting pipes and button shafts.
|The full-metal models of the G-Shock feature an altered lug design that incorporates three prongs joining the case to the bracelet. This disperses shocks to the connecting pipes if the watch is dropped, and was specially created for the full-metal model in order to reduce the risk of buckling and distortion to the connecting pipes and button shafts.
The GM-B2100 incorporates the same shock resistance structure. While using the same screw-lock case back that is shared by all the full-metal G-Shock watches, by paring away flab from the center case and the inner edge of the top bezel and shrinking the clearance between the top surface of the bezel and the glass face, the design successfully gives the latest model the distinctively slim appearance and dimensions of the 2100 series. In fact, the new watch has the thinnest dimensions yet seen in the full-metal series, at just 12.8mm, just 1mm thicker than the GA-2100—eloquent testimony to the remarkable dedication shown by the design team in balancing the competing aims of shock resistance and streamlined dimensions.
Connectivity With a Focus on Practicality and Function
Of course, the GM-B2100 not only combines excellent shock resistance with a robust appearance. It also comes with the complete range of practical functions typical of G-Shock watches. Perhaps most noteworthy are the Mobile Link/Application Link functions. By connecting to a smartphone via Bluetooth, these allow the watch to correct itself automatically according to precise data obtained from the smartphone. The watch is also compatible with World Time settings for nearly 300 cities, making it possible to check the time immediately in a pre-set city on the watch.
|(Left) Like previous iterations in the full metal series, the GM-B2100 comes equipped with Mobile Link functionality, and Bluetooth connectivity. Setting of accurate time and World Time settings can be done easily via the dedicated Casio Watches app.
(Right) The watch incorporates back-lighting using high luminance double LEDs for excellent readability even in the dark.
The watch can also provide reminders of appointments made with the dedicated CASIO WATCHES smartphone app, and also comes with a handy “phone search” function. As mentioned above, the GM-B2100 features Tough Solar power. In terms of power, the watch is a truly reliable partner: On a full charge the watch can be used for approximately seven months, even with low exposure to sunlight, and for up to 18 months in power-save mode.
|The GM-B2100 has a sturdier and more robust feel than ever before in its new full metal incarnation. The transformation from the resin model GA-2100 also gives it a more polished appearance, making it wearable with a jacket as well as more casual styles.
The GM-B2100 is not simply a full metal version of a previous hit model. This latest addition to the series serves to expand the full-metal G-Shock lineup as well as adding a new variation to the 2100 series at the same time. This is possible thanks to the G-Shock’s continuing evolution over the years since it was first released. Casio has continued to evolve the functions of the watch as well as regularly updating designs to ensure that the series has maintained its contemporary feel since the release of the first watch in 1983. The GM-B2100 is the most advanced model in the G-Shock lineup so far—one that whets the appetite for further evolutions and developments to come. It lives up to its designers’ aspirations that the series will develop into a “next-generation masterpiece.”
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