What’s in a name? More specifically, what’s in a nickname? Why do some stand the test of time while others fall by the wayside? I think a good nickname is short, ideally less than three syllables, easy to remember, and embodies the essence of the object or person it describes. Often it can be as simple as someone’s first or last name, if we’re talking sports and I say Tiger, you know who I’m talking about straight away. No need to use a full name or lengthy description.
In the watch world we love a nickname whether it’s the Rolex Hulk or Batman or the Seiko Arnie there are a lot of watches where you say the nickname and everyone knows what you’re talking about. You know a nickname is good when everyone uses it, including people for whom watches are more of a passing interest. I think that a nickname achieves true transcendence when a brand starts using it in their website search terms, even if they don’t formally recognise the name (I’m looking at you Rolex). Sometimes a nickname doesn’t get traction and become widely popular. Take the Turf (Tudor Smurf) for example, it’s short and punchy but relies on a level of knowledge that the white gold Rolex Submariner with the blue dial and bezel is commonly called the Smurf and that Tudor is the sister company of Rolex. A nickname built on a nickname and a company connection is maybe a bit of a stretch for most people. It’s still early days for the Tudor Black Bay 58 Blue nickname, time will tell what nickname sticks.
A year ago Casio G-Shock released the GA-2100. A more compact G-Shock featuring their carbon core guard technology. Rikki did a write up on the watch soon after the release which you can find here. There are a lot of die hard a G-Shock fans and collectors out there who no doubt appreciate the fact that the design draws inspiration from the original 1983 DW-5000C model. Personally, I’ve always found G-Shocks to be a bit big and ugly, I could see the appeal in a tool kind of sense but couldn’t imagine wearing one day to day. This slowly began to change as images of the GA-2100 started to appear on Instagram. The watch bore a striking resemblance to a Gerald Genta watch collector favourite, the Audemars Piquet Royal Oak. Almost straight away people were comparing the designs and case shapes. The nickname suggestions began and then Steven Davila in the Scottish Watches Facebook group came up with the Casioak. It was perfect – short, to the point and expertly encapsulated the look and comparison with the Royal Oak.
The name spread like wildfire and soon owners, and want to be owners, were using it to describe the watch. I suspect that the nickname and the comparison it skilfully makes has helped to boost sales and for many people, myself included, this is their first G-Shock. It has very quickly become a desirable watch among collectors due to its affordability, practicality and more understated looks. @pbandwatches is an owner of both a Royal Oak and a Casioak, it is easy to see how they can sit side by side in someone’s collection. There’s a common aesthetic but each is desirable in its own right.
The Casioak range has expanded to include more colour variations. They don’t tend to sell out as quickly as the black models but they are still very popular. It has also become a favourite with modders. The rainbow Casioak by Chris Alexander @thedialartist and the alibaba steel case kit that Jody of Just One More Watch fitted to his Casioak are prime examples.
The influence doesn’t stop there, you know a nickname is truly established when the big players like Hodinkee and YouTubers like TGV start using it. It is reaching the point where you can drop the name into conversation with any watch fan and they will know what you’re talking about.
The Casioak truly is a special watch. It strikes the balance between form and function, and in doing so has a broad appeal. It can be a daily beater for a watch collector but equally it is smart enough in its own right to be deserving of wrist time even if it is not being tested to the extreme. I am an Electrical Engineer and the Casioak has been my go to watch for working in HV substations over the last couple of months. I know that it will stand up to the conditions and work well when I need it to. It hasn’t just been worn for work though, I have worn it when I don’t want to think about what I’m wearing, it’s unobtrusive and does the job. I think this is where the Casioak has really excelled. It looks good, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Royal Oak, it has a great range of functions and it won’t break the bank. It is a real leveller. It doesn’t matter if you collect G-Shocks, tool watches or high end pieces, there is bound to be something about the Casioak that appeals to you. The fact that it has a cool nickname has certainly helped it to be one of the most popular and in demand watches of the last 12 months. A quick Instagram poll proved that it’s more popular than the Hodinkee X Swatch Sistem51 Summer Edition!
Full time engineer and part time watch writer, Chris’s passion for watches started from a young age with his first Casio, ordered from the Argos catalogue. His interest in how things worked soon led him to mechanical watches, resulting in him wearing a 17 jewel Citizen watch throughout his teens when most of his friends were wearing digital watches. His fascination with watches waned during his time at university, but never fully went away. As a significant birthday approached Chris decided to get a proper Swiss watch, the one watch that he would have for the rest of his life. Little did he know that this would reignite his passion for watches, a passion that has expanded to include photography and writing.