G-shock has unleashed another heavy hitter, or actually lightweight hitter as it is titanium, though seriously how far behind is a platinum release, so two of our heavy hitters, Gigi and Frederic take sides around this new G-Shock release….
Man is naturally inclined to excel and exceed in all forms of expression. Art, architecture, literature and of course technology. I firmly believe that horology, in it’s broadest sense, is an intersection of art and technology; and boy have watchmakers gone over the top in this field! We now live in a world where a unique piece Patek was auctioned off at the eye-watering and record-breaking price of 31 million Swiss Francs. Sure 99% of the proceeds go to a deserving charity, but as our two Scottish overlords, Rick and Rikki said, this is nothing more than an elaborate way to write off taxes. But, tax breaks aside, who was bonkers enough to pay that price? I hypothesize that the watch was bought by a consortium of Chinese knockoff artists that are bound to reverse engineer it and get a clone out on Aliexpress before the Christmas holidays. How to recoup 31 million Swiss francs? “Own a priceless Ratek Rhilippe for 300 dollars”. They only have to sell 100.000, a doddle.
And then there’s Casio. You know, Casio, the company that started out with pocket calculators in the ’70s and who’s cheapest watch is a plastic trinket you can find in a cereal box? If there’s an exact opposite to Patek it’s Casio. Their most iconic piece is the G-Shock: I was about to pull the trigger on the full steel one, which is quite cool, but then the news of a full titanium version came out so I said to myself: “I’ll wait and get that one, I mean how expensive can it be?”.
As it turns out bloody expensive: to the sound of 1500 UK pounds expensive. Granted the 18 karat solid gold g-shock goes for 70k USD but that’s another story. The price tag on this camouflaged titanium version makes the 31 mil for the Patek Philippe look like a bargain! And that begs the question: who would be mad enough to buy this watch? Actually the word “mad” doesn’t do the buyer justice, batshit swivel-eyed crazy gives a better idea. I know of just one person that would want one, but he’s sort of a friend so I won’t say his name. Obviously like the solid gold version, Casio made this watch just because they can and there will be people with their underpants on their heads, and pencils up their nose, lining up to get one, as soon as it’s released.
Will I be one of them? Of course not. Does that make me angry or sad? Not at all.
Actually I’m very happy good old Casio released this overpriced titanium monster and they will continue to do so long as there are nutters that buy them. It’s always a pleasure and a laugh to see how far over the line watchmakers dare to step. I’m ready for your next G-Shock Casio: a Christmas edition made of frankincense and myrrh with a sticker price of 1 million. Sold out.
….and now Frederic (@ds_overseas)
It might be a surprising move, and to some, as Gigi makes a very valid argument for above, it might be off-putting.
But I’d argue Casio objectively don’t really have much of a choice here. And going this route is not that stupid either. Even if they may have G-Schocked (pardon the cheap pun) some of us with their new price point, at least they recognized their predicament. And that’s not a bad thing.
We live in a world in which smart wearables, led on by the Apple watch, are quickly conquering the sub CHF 1,000 price bracket. The G-Shock sits squarely within that segment, and although it may have useful functionality, it’s not a smartwatch by any stretch of the imagination. In this respect, like a mechanical watch in the quartz crisis, it has a severe obsolescence problem.
On the other hand, it’s charm is not all functionality. Far from it. Over the years, it has become an item of popular culture, if not, to use a very much abused term, a bit of an icon.
Against this backdrop, Casio must be acutely aware that to survive in the long run, focussing on the G-Shock’s recognition in the general public to reframe it as a luxury item may be the only viable avenue to keep it relevant. Like what Biver did with Blancpain in the Quartz crisis, they need to elevate the G-Shock from a ubiquitous utility to a popular status symbol.
So, instead of selling off the plant at liquidation value, they are trying to show the world that there’s CHF 1.5k worth of pride in owning one of these things.
And I can only believe we’ll be seeing more of this. To perdure, future G-Shocks will have to be purchased for how they look, rather than for what they do. And to the ever more status-affine luxury consumer, looking like four figures, if not like a million bucks, is paramount among the requirements.
From this angle, as it has for Adidas’ Yeezy pricing, the outrage from the community may actually prove helpful too. For every one commentator on social media complaining about the four-figure sticker, ten new people will gain awareness that a G-Shock can cost as much. With time, that dynamic may just establish the perception whereas a G-Shock can purvey an image of affluence – just what you’d want if you were trying to reposition the product.
At least, that’s the theory. They have a fair shot and the move is far from dumb. But whether it’ll work, does, of course, remain to be seen.