Watch Review : GBX-100 G-Lide

I know that G-Shocks are very popular in the watch community and that there are people with large collections of them, but I never understood the appeal. To me they generally look like big brutal bits of kit and I couldn’t imagine using the functions when I carry a phone, which arguably is more capable when it comes to alarms and timing. My opinion changed when I got my first G-Shock, the aptly nicknamed Casioak. Not only did it look good and feel good on the wrist, I also found that I was using the functions like the alarm if I was working night shifts and sleeping at strange times, and the countdown timer for cooking when I wasn’t within earshot of the oven. The only thing I think it lacks is some kind of step/fitness tracking. If it had that (and maybe solar charging) it would be perfect.

Having dipped my toe into the G-Shock waters the obsession with finding the perfect one has begun. One of the good and bad things about G-Shock is that they seem to release new models, updated models and limited editions every few weeks. It’s good because they are constantly evolving the range of watches they offer, but it’s sometimes hard to keep up and compare the spec of different watches. It also leads to a temptation to buy things that I wouldn’t actually use.

2020 saw the launch of the G-Shock Sport Move Models. There’s the G-Shock which is a more basic fitness tracker that counts your steps and uses your phone’s GPS, and then there’s the GBD-H1000 collection that has built in GPS, a heart rate monitor and a bunch of other features. You can find Rikki’s in depth review of the GBD-H1000 here. If I’m honest, aesthetically neither of them appeal to me, they look like the love child of a life ring and a spaceship. I want the functionality but in a more low-key package, and this is where the GBX-100 G-Lide really piqued my interest.

The G-Lide is intended as a watch for surfers. Through its connection with your phone it can display high and low tide data as well as sunrise and sunset information at 3,300 locations around the world. I can also see this information being useful for sailors, swimmers and dog walkers. In reality it has probably been 15 years since I last went surfing and a couple of years since I last stepped foot on a boat. They are both activities that really appeal to me but I live in the middle of the U.K. a good two hour drive away from any coastline. I can see the functionality being useful on holidays and day trips, but day-to-day I’m unlikely to use it. The thing that really appealed to me was that this watch essentially has the same fitness functionality as the GBD-100, but in a much more understated package. It is only £10 more than the GBD-100 (£139 vs £149) but with the addition of the tide and moon data you are actually getting a lot more for your money. The G-Lide was released a few months ago but I didn’t immediately rush out and buy one, I waited until there were a few reviews out there before taking the plunge.

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I’ve been wearing the watch for a while now and my feelings about it are a little mixed if I’m honest. I like the style of it, for a casual watch the fit and look are great. I also like the concept behind it and the functionality, but I have a few niggles about how it works in reality.

Pairing the G-Lide with my phone and setting it up using the G-Shock MOVE app was straightforward. I entered all of my data in terms of height, weight etc. I picked my units of measurement (mostly metric), turned off the sound and turned on the vibration. I also picked a training programme from the short list available. To be fair I’m already doing a training programme at the moment and none of the options really tied in with it, so I just picked an option to see what it would do. It was at this point that I realised that the training programmes are very running heavy. I don’t generally do running, I do a lot of dog walking and a whole array of other exercises, but running really isn’t my thing.

On the first day I was very impressed with how it recorded my steps, it seems a lot more accurate than my phone. I also worked out how to start, stop and record training sessions. It would be nice if it automatically recognised when you were training, but it wasn’t the end of the world having to manually start and stop the recording during training. There have been a couple of occasions when I have either forgotten to start it at the beginning of a walk or forgot to stop it between a morning dog walk and my morning workout. Both of these led to some anomalies with the cadence and pace that were recorded but they didn’t affect the overall stats. In terms of the overall stats the main daily items that are recorded are steps and calories. I don’t know what the targets are based on, I would assume height, weight, gender and age but they seem a little low to me and I haven’t yet worked out how to adjust them. There probably is a way, but it isn’t intuitive. I often walk my dog between 3 and 6 miles a day, so 8000 steps isn’t really a target, it is just something I do. Adjusting it to say 10000-12000 steps would feel like more of a target. I have only been wearing the watch for a week so it would be interesting to see if the software has the intelligence to change the targets based on previous performance.

In terms of recording workouts (when I remember to press the button) the G-Lide has been really good for walks, I like the way it plots the walk on a map when paired via Bluetooth to my phone and using the GPS. I have also found that it has been good for HITT and Tabata style workouts, especially the more cardio heavy ones. It is less good at recording the effort involved in weights sessions and when I wore it for 30mins of yoga and stretching I apparently burned 0 calories, which certainly didn’t reflect the level of effort involved. I guess this is the problem when the app is set up in a very running heavy way, if it was possible to tell it the kind of activity you are doing then it might more accurately reflect the effort involved. When I think about surfing and the lifestyle, I suspect people will be into diverse activities like yoga and weight training to help with their strength, flexibility and balance, so a better way of tracking these activities would be appreciated.

One aspect of the app and watch that’s quite good (but not perfect) is that you can set up timed intervals. Again, I think this is tailored to running, but it is possible to set up a 20 min HITT programme comprising of cycles of 45s of activity followed by 15s of rest. This is one of those features that if it was expanded so that you could add a number of different cycles with different rest periods it would be a genuinely useful workout tool. So after a week of use my overall impression of it as a workout tool is that it’s okay, but a bit limited. I think an update to the app and a little more functionality and variety in its ability to plan and record exercise would make a world of difference.

My real frustration with the watch over the last week has been it’s smart watch light capability. Basically it mirrors the notifications you receive on your Bluetooth tethered phone. As far as I can tell it is an “all or nothing” kind of scenario. It might be possible to change this somewhere in the settings, but again it is not intuitive. In terms of my phone notifications, the way I have it set up is that some things like cctv notifications just appear on the screen, but for other things, like WhatsApp notifications, my phone vibrates. I base my notifications on what I want to see day to day. I also have my phone set up so there are times when my notifications are turned off so that they don’t disturb me when I’m doing activities such as sleeping. The notifications on the G-Lide do not seem to follow any of the rules I have set up and they do not seem to have any downtime. This is a real problem and distraction, I am in some very active WhatsApp groups (including the Scottish Watches writers group) and some days receive hundreds of messages. It is also frustrating that it doesn’t seem to respect my “do not disturb” setting on my phone. Normally I like to wear a watch while I sleep so I can check the time in the night without illuminating the room with my phone. That’s not possible with a watch that’s vibrating all night as people around the world continue a WhatsApp chat about the latest watch gossip. I guess a workaround would be for me to turn off the Bluetooth at night on my phone and turn it back on in the morning, but I don’t think that I should have to adopt that kind of solution. It should be simple to pick my notifications and the times when I want to receive them using the app.

A knock on effect of the notifications is that syncing the fitness data from the watch with my phone seems to be a little haphazard. I don’t really understand why, I suspect it is a way that priorities are set in the app. I receive all of my phone notifications on the G-Lide yet when I go into the MOVE app it appears that the watch isn’t connected, the fitness tracking data isn’t up to date and I can’t change any settings. I have to turn Bluetooth off and on and clear all notifications to force it to connect and update. Again it’s just not as straightforward as it should be.

 

I think the majority of the flaws centre around the app. I see the G-Lide as more than a watch, it is a tool for surfing, sailing and sports. The problem is that beyond the tide and moon data it appears to be predominantly configured for running. I think that an updated app which covers a wider range of activities and gives the option to prioritise training data over notification would move this from simply okay to outstanding. The app isn’t a patch on the one that my wife has for her Fitbit.

Reading back through this review I think it could come across as quite negative, but that is not my intention at all. Like I said earlier in this review, I really like the style of the watch, it’s comfortable on the wrist and I like the concept behind it. The execution of the watch itself is good and given that it’s a G-Shock you know that it’s tough enough to handle anything you throw at it. It certainly isn’t a manual wound chronograph with 50m water resistance, most famous for lunar exploits, masquerading as a sailing watch. I think that the watch in isolation fulfils its intended purpose.  It’s just a shame that it’s let down by the limitations of the MOVE app. It could be so much better and that’s down to the software which isn’t fully capitalising on the hardware built into the watch.

Reflecting on my week of wearing the G-Lide I have learned a lot about what I do and don’t like about a fitness tracker and a smart(ish) watch. I think going forward I will still use it when walking and working out. I will probably also take it on holidays and make use of the tide and moon data for walking the dog on the beach or getting out on the water. I think it’s capabilities aren’t quite good enough for me to want to wear it all the time. That might change in the future if the app is improved, but for now I will keep rotating through my other watches and just wear it when I want to use its additional functions.

I appreciate I haven’t given a run down of the spec of the watch. You can find all of the vital statistics on the G-Shock website and the review on A Blog To Watch explains some of the technology like the MIP LCD screen. So I would recommend checking those out for more information.