Ah, the ‘90s. Famed for some of the greatest (well, at least most memorable) fashion trends in modern history, many of which we would probably rather forget, this era of sartorial silliness defined itself with some of the most over-the-top, unnecessary and straight-up U.G.L.Y (without an alibi) items of clothing that found their way into literally everybody’s closet for a few short years before we all woke up and realised that cargo pants were actually quite naff.
Inexplicably, this era of error (or fashion heaven, depending on where you stand) has experienced inconsistent yet evident waves of a resurgence in recent years. While Tazos, The Macarena, slap-bracelets and Tamagotchis have been relegated to the annals of fad-dom, trends from the quintessential ‘90s wardrobe have crept back into both casual streetwear and high-end catwalk shows, and more than a few are scratching their heads.
But while The Spice Girls were gracing the airwaves and folks were crunking out to The Offspring, one accessory proved to be a must-have for every scenester worth their salt, and, curiously, unlike the Backstreet Boys, it’s never gone out of style.
First released in 1983, G-SHOCK was Casio’s answer to the question: “Can a watch be unbreakable”. But in the early ‘80s, while Casio was dropping their prototypes on hard surfaces, hitting them with hammers and putting them through serious g-force tests to test their mettle, the watch industry as a whole was shifting, and people were ready for something completely different.
By 1989, G-SHOCK was known to all. Then they released their first analogue model, and a new icon was born. Offering up a range of colours, materials, designs, styles and sizes, not to mention their BABY-G range, there was a G-SHOCK for everybody, and wrists everywhere were sporting this hip new look. By the mid-’90s, people were officially obsessed with the idea that a watch could be tough, unique, personal and inexpensive.
Flossing a Rolex became a hangover from the excess of the ‘80s boom; ‘90s kids couldn’t give a toss about the bling-factor, opting for bright colours and a bevy of new functions that other watches didn’t offer.
What’s remarkable, however, is how something as iconic and endemic to this, er, interesting time in fashion didn’t fall out of favour with the trendsetters or the public. As butterfly clips and fanny-packs were pushed to the back of the drawer, and women stopped asking for “The Rachel” when they visited the salon, G-SHOCK held its ground as a brand that people were interested in.
Most of this can be put down to the fact that Casio has worked tirelessly to continue the development of the G-SHOCK range; development which has seen them remain relevant aesthetically, and also ahead of the curve technologically, tying health and fitness functionality into many of their new models, as well as myriad other features which work in conjunction with a smartphone.
This approach towards combining robust build quality with updated aesthetics and a vast array of features has made the G-SHOCK a favourite for a huge range of professions, too, including Emergency Services, First Responders, Extreme Sports Pros, Military and Motorsports.
And the GA-710B-1A2 is the perfect example. Combining the digital features and read-outs on which G-SHOCK has built this legacy with analogue hands for time read-out, the muted tones in the metallic blue, gold or rose gold detailing complement the signature oversized black resin case, which still bears the DNA of a G-SHOCK, without any daggy ‘90s nostalgia.
The GA-710B-1A2 is, in fact, the perfect explainer as to how G-SHOCK has stayed their course, without losing their fan base as times have changed. One look at any G-SHOCK, the GA-710B-1A2 included, and it’s plain to see that Casio have in no way betrayed the design aspects that concreted them as an icon of the ’90s. But it also shows a more grown-up watch: something you can wear that doesn’t scream “I still have an N*SYNC poster on my wall”.
While fashion dies, fads fade and other brands fall by the wayside thanks to the fleeting nature of time and the fickle nature of what’s hot vs what’s not, Casio has managed to stick to its guns, and continued to make high-quality timepieces that don’t follow the curve, but hold their course as iconic style statements in their own right.