An Interview with Kikuo Ibe – The Founding Father Of Casio G-Shock

It started out as a typical story of lost and found, a tale of need and creation. However, since the legend began back in 1983, the story had panned out into something much greater than that. The story of G-Shock had become a global phenomenon, a new perception on time piece, and most importantly, an almost…
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It started out as a typical story of lost and found, a tale of need and creation. However, since the legend began back in 1983, the story had panned out into something much greater than that. The story of G-Shock had become a global phenomenon, a new perception on time piece, and most importantly, an almost…

It started out as a typical story of lost and found, a tale of need and creation. However, since the legend began back in 1983, the story had panned out into something much greater than that. The story of G-Shock had become a global phenomenon, a new perception on time piece, and most importantly, an almost indestructible watch that will save many from the heartbreaks of losses—at least of watches.

Kikuo Ibe, the founding father of G-Shock and Casio’s Research and Development Chief Engineer behind this 25 years old operation to make tough watches that can survive a 10M fall, came up with the million-dollar idea when he dropped and broke his cherished watch. So in 1981, Ibe put together Project Team Tough and started researching and designing the perpetual timepiece. After numerous fruitless trips running to and fro the bathroom, chugging prototypes out of windows for a 10M fall tests because Ibe couldn’t use Casio’s testing labs for an unofficial project, Ibe found the answer in a rubber ball. 

A simple rubber ball became the inspiration for G-Shock’s shock-absorbing material, and Project Team Tough developed a triple-ten requirement that is the basis for G-Shock’s first prototype—ability to withstand a ten-meter drop, water resistance of up to ten bars, and ten years of battery life. This was also when G-Shock was coined, with “G” standing for gravity.

It has been a long 25 years since Ibe and his team first created DW-5000, the first model of G-Shock, and the watch is still standing tough. Today, Ibe is no longer throwing watches out of bathrooms, but he is a part of a new tour and movement in this year’s G-Shock “Shock The World Tour 2009”. So far, the concoction of sports, music, art and fashion into a world tour of events and parties celebrating urban culture, youth lifestyle and most importantly—G-Shock, had hit three countries. With nine more countries to go, the tour not

only features trend-setting parties with special guest performances and DJs, there are also product launches of fresh and exclusive product launches and artist collaborations. Some of the participating artists and creative types we had seen work on limited Asia Editions of G-Shock for the tour include nabiis from Taiwan, :phunk from Singapore and SUBCREW from Hong Kong.

With a globe-trotting mission as scaled as “Shock The World Tour 2009”, only the evolved G-Shock with shock-resistance and high water-resistance designs with enough functions to time and document all athletic quests and activities, will be able to stand tall and tough through space, time, weather and terrains.

To get in on the 25 years of breaking falls and purveying functionality and durability, we were lucky to get in a few words with Ibe about G-Shock in the beginning, past, present, future, and also on the prized prototype of DW-5000 which he still keeps with him today.

Interview with Kikuo Ibe

Casio’s Research and Development Chief Engineer – “Father of G-Shock”

G-Shock has grown tremendously through the past two decades. Can you tell us a little about how the concept of G-Shock came about?

It was when I dropped and broke my favourite watch, I’ve came up with the idea of “a watch that would not damage easily when dropped” and that was the beginning.

How did you become involved with Casio?

I had heard that it was a young and energetic company so I put in my application.

What was the development process for G-Shock like?

Concept development -> Design development -> Design/Evaluation -> Production

At the same time: Technological development to enable the realization of the concept

Can you tell us a little more about the Floating Module Configuration?

The Floating Module Configuration is a hollow structure which absorbs the shock in different levels and this hollow structure makes it hard to pass through the shock to the main module components.

The G-Shock model we are most familiar with today is still the G-Shock’s very first DW-5000.In terms of look and design, how did the design team arrive at the DW-5000’s design when thin watches were the popular models back then?

The G Shock is primarily a structural design. In other words the shock resistant structure more or less determines the exterior form. Under this circumstance the designers have communicated toughness through the rugged exterior form.

G-Shock has become a very important item in the urban culture and is the canvas of many creative collaborations. Did you anticipate G-Shock becoming a significant part of the youth and urban culture? Who was your target audience when you first created G-Shock?

We really had no idea. We were able to gain popularity by the dramatic shift in fashion trends of the young people. At the beginning our target market was workman who worked in tough environments.

What do you think it’s about G-Shock that made it so overwhelmingly popular today within the urban culture?

As the core technology is shock resistance, there fore we were not just dismissed as a fashion watch. Popularity grew largely due to the media such as magazines which started to take notice of the watches.

The timepiece industry provides a very interesting cultural landscape at the moment as many people are starting to be more aware of the value of luxury timepiece. Where do you see G-Shock position itself in the current industry?

The position of G-Shock in the industry is in its basic attributes which are shock resistant, active, fresh, and progression. G-Shock is a watch that can be used actively and is the polar opposite to the luxuary watches which needs lots of care.

G-shock is a part of such an energetic movement now, as we can all see by the success of the current “Shock The World” Tour. What are your thoughts on this? Where do you anticipate G-Shock going in the future?

The world tour was only possible with the support of all the fans and people involved. I am looking forward to meeting with you all during the tour and at the same time I am thankful to be part of the tour. As for the future, we plan to use the shock resistant technology as a foundation and implement the latest technologies on top of it.

Which G-Shock model is your favorite?

The first model which is DW5000

What’s your favorite or most frequently used function on G-Shock?

Of course my favourite function is its shock resistant characteristics that can with stand rough handling. The functions I use the most are light, alarm and stop watch.

Rumor has it that you still own one of the eight first prototypes of the DW-5000. Is it true?

Yes, I have kept one safely.

If you could add one more function to G-Shock, what would you add?

As it is a tough watch, it would be interesting to have a function that can tell how much shock was applied to the watch.

Casio G-Shock – “Shock The World” Tour 2009 – Asia Edition:

24HERBS | www.alivenotdead.com/24herbs/details.htm

24HERBS (“Ya Sei Mei” in Cantonese) is a six-member hardcore-rap group from Hong Kong. Mr. Drunk (aka Conroy Chan, an actor and ALIVE artist) flows with his unique perspective on life. DJ Dor Yuk (aka Eddie Chung, an established producer) blends the music together. Brian Siswojo (of Know1ege clothing brand and 8FIVE2 shop) adds a mad sense of humor mixed with unforgettable lines. Ghost Style (an underground artist/producer) brings his English raps and stylish beats to the fore. And MCs Kit and Phat (members of the legendary group, LMF) keep it real with straight-up hardcore Canto-raps, direct from the street.

Casio G-Shock – “Shock The World” Tour 2009 – Asia Edition:

:phunk | www.phunkstudio.com

Alvin Tab (b.1974), Melvin Chee (b.1974), Jackson Tan (b.1974) and William Chan (b.1973) are four Singaporean artists/designers of Chinese descent. They met at the Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts, and came together in 1994 to form :phunk studio (now :phunk), a creative collective based in Singapore

Casio G-Shock – “Shock The World” Tour 2009 – Asia Edition:

nabiis | www.nabiis.net

“Nabis” refers to the “ancient prophets,” who were a group of young post-Impressionist, avant-garde Parisian artists of the 1890s. They believed that the Impressionist paintings at the time were too superficial and mundane, and they rejected Realism. Rather, they sought to find the roots of art, creativity and originality, which they felt should be about life and passion.

nabiis, revered as Taiwan’s one and only fixed-gear collective, was founded by Ken, Hawk, Chek, Fhaione, and Klamm. nabiis reflects how the five currently feel about art. They hope to promote and spread the Nabis belief in all they do.


Casio G-Shock – “Shock The World” Tour 2009 – Hong Kong Event Recap