Meet the man who made G-Shock a cultural phenomenon

We spoke to Shigenori Itoh, Casio’s senior executive managing officer the man behind G-Shock’s unstoppable rise over the last two decades.

February 22, 2017

The man behind the G-Shock’s unstoppable rise for the past two decades has major Swiss watchmakers in his sights, but not before Casio releases its second smartwatch. 

Many of Casio’s original watches are considered retro cool today. Does that surprise you?
The Databank [1984] wasn’t really developed as a fashionable product, it was something to be practical and functional rather than stylish, but somehow it was received as fashionable all over the world – Europe, Japan, South America. I don’t think it’s surprising that the G-Shock has become fashionable, because that was our direction with it. Originally its price was $100 but now it goes up to $3,000.

How has the G-Shock been so successful?
For 35 years we have been selling the original G-Shock with the same design. When it was born it didn’t have the lighting system, but then it did and now it has solar technology. The design is the same as the original but the technology is always improving such as GPS, solar power and Bluetooth. We operate super limited edition lineups for the Mr-G [top of the range G-Shock] but I want to create custom made options in the future, especially if this region is keen.

What about Casio’s smartwatch, the WSD-F10?
Our smartwatch is a little bit different from others because the concept is based on being outdoors, that’s why the outdoor man especially liked it. We are planning to change and improve the technology in 2017 for our next smartwatch. It will be much cooler and will have greater technology. The current one is a little bit big; for the next one we will change the size and make it thinner. 

Will Casio ever make another camera watch?
I won’t say it’ll never happen but we need to check the marketability. Twenty years ago we launched the WQV-1 [which had a basic camera]. At that time we also launched an MP3 player watch and the GPS watch – three high technology watches. But we changed our basic strategy and started to focus more on the analogue market with digital, electronics and technology. 

What about a classic mechanical dress watch, is that unthinkable?
I can’t say it’ll never happen in the future – three years or 20 years, I don’t know. We are trying to develop a mechanical analogue watch. But they are easy to break, not like the G-Shock, so we will chase the case technology. For now, we’ll focus on our basic strategy.

Can Casio take the fight to European watchmakers?
In 1980 our competitors were Swatch or Fossil. Today, we are a Japanese maker but we have to chase the European brands, such as Rolex and Omega. I believe only G-Shock and the Mr-G can fight with them. Our direction is to enter the European watch market and go against them – that’s our desire.

And how is Casio performing in the Middle East?
This region used to be a trading area but in 2013 we set up our subsidiary and, with the local partner, Casio has strengthened locally. We can see the potential in the market here, especially the UAE, and we’re expecting huge growth.