4 minutes estimated reading time
Four years ago I wrote about the Casio G-Shock GWF-D1000 Frogman, this post is about a much more humble member of the same family the Casio G-Shock GW6900. The GW6900 is an update of the classic Casio DW6900 shape. This gives it a button on the front below the watch face to turn the back light on, very similar to the later 9400 Rangeman series.
This makes it easier to light up than the original 5600 series G-Shocks and many of the other models including my beloved Frogman models.
The GW6900 is much more humble. It has no name like other models. It’s cheap and ubiquitous in nature, being the ‘everyman’ of G-shock models. It has looks that while discreet feel like it was an artefact from a 1980s anime cartoon series with giant mecha, with its soft roundness and form follows function urethane armoured protection.
What changed to make the DW6900 series into the GW6900? Out goes the need to change the battery every few years. Instead you get solar charging and the use of radio signals set the watch with atomic clock accuracy.
Glow in the dark
Electroluminescent technology can trace its way back to work that GE was doing in the US during the early 1960s. GE was making electroluminescent dash instruments for Dodge Charger cars from the 1960 model year. Below is an example via Wikipedia taken by Jonathan Gibbs in a 1966 Charger.
With the GW6900, you still get the turquoise electroluminescent illumination that Timex first made famous with their Indiglo watches in the early 1990s. The reality was that electroluminescent thin film materials were becoming a thing and Sharp in Japan and Planar in the US were rolling out the display technology during the 1980s. But the glow still takes me back to early 1990s dark warehouses with sporadic bursts of these watch screens.
The case is unchanged as is the strap. A pleasing resin material that quickly adapts to the wearer over a few weeks and becomes smoother to the touch. It feels quite ‘dainty’ on the wrist compared to an Apple Watch or a modern sports watch, yet it’s been robust enough for use by law enforcement and the military, until smartwatches gradually took over. Now the G6900 and its ilk have been gradually replaced by the Garmin Tactix and Apple Watch Ultra models.
The main section of the display allows you to have have two time zones displayed and is generally glanceable. The night light works well, but the display can ‘wash out’ a little. Upgrading the light to an LED would provide a greater degree of contrast to make the watch more legible when reading with the backlight.
As for the three ring displays at the top of the watch display. The first gives you an idea of battery charge. The second gives you an indication if functions like an alarm or hourly chime is turned on and the third one visualises ten second segments for no apparent reason.
A simple watch
The GW6900 is a simple watch. It won’t make you more sexually attractive or boost your apparent status. It won’t keep you up with the latest online happenings. But it will keep on running even in the most arduous of circumstances and will tell you the time in the middle of the night due to it’s easy to find light button.
I am happy with a simple watch.
Watch ownership as a rite of passage
When I was a child, having your own watch was a right of passage similar to getting your first smartphone today. Knowing the time gave you more control over your life, pulling my phone out of my pocket to look at the time doesn’t scratch ‘knowing the time’ itch in quite the same way. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I can find smartwatches intrusive at times with their constant reminders and need to be charged.
But at the same time I want to know I have the time with just a twist of the wrist away.
After owning your first watch at school, the idea of getting an ‘adult watch’ was the next big thing: buying a quality watch for life.
COVID seemed to bring people back to owning a serious watch. Serious watches became more of a mainstream thing, although a good watch is now viewed as an investment opportunity, and luxury watch flipping a side hustle. Alongside these developments, watch robberies seem to have taken off, so a humbler watch seems to be a prudent measure when I am out and about in London.
The Casio GW6900 is the grey man of watches, tough enough for life, but tame enough to go unnoticed. It doesn’t hurt that it costs less than 100 pounds.