I’ve been enjoying a new Casio GW-5000 for about a month now. As a devoted Casio fan and a longtime previous wearer of the GW-M5600 as my regular “beater,” I had been admiring the GW-5000 from afar for quite a long time. I decided it was time to pull the trigger and acquire the definitive G-Shock.
Many, many threads have been posted already analyzing this watch to death. “Is it worth the money?” is the predominant theme. This thread will not attempt to answer that question for anyone else. For many, its current $400 retail price can seem like a lot to pay for a G-Shock that outwardly looks so similar to other models that cost a fraction of that. But, in the grand scheme of watch collecting, this is not an expensive watch. If its rarity, uniqueness, aesthetics, and all-in pleasure of ownership are strong, then it is actually a small price to pay.
Arrival of the parcel is always fun. I love JDM products. The cool little packages within packages, all the funky stickers & tags, a “tourist” warranty card that’s serialized to the watch. The Japanese language manual that’s folded to miniscule proportions and wrapped in an implausibly small and tight pouch. (I’m not gonna try and take it out). A 39,900 yen price tag. All fun stuff. (By the way, what’s with that strange Japanese wrapping substance that’s kind of half paper, half plastic, half weird waxy substrate? What actually is that stuff?)
First impression of the watch out of the box – it feels hefty! The facts bear out the “seat of the pants” observation. Per my postal scale, the GW-M5600 weighs 1.7 ounces, while the GW-5000 weighs 2.6 ounces – over 50% more. The DLC case is beautifully done and that dark black-chrome finish is deep, glossy, and mesmerizing. On the M5600, because everything’s plastic & kind of blended together, it isn’t so apparent that you have a separate case and protective bezel. But handling the 5000, you can’t miss that fact. Cool. I took off the M5600 and strapped on the 5000. One of the endearing things of the M5600 is that it’s light as a feather and you barely know you have anything at all on. Its comfort is supreme. The 5000 does have a barely perceptible amount of “watch flop” that the M5600 lacks. Is not uncomfortable, and not objectionable, and don’t get me wrong, it’s not anything like my WVA320 in heft or bulk, but it’s detectable. And in a good way – its weight adds some gravitas, commensurate with its position as the “Alpha” G.
The build quality is noticeably better on the 5000. Hard to put a finger on it. While the M5600 really has no noticeable flaws, the 5000 still somehow feels superior, & borderline luxurious. That could partially be for psychological reasons . . . the Veblen Effect in action? But not totally. For one, there’s the supple, seductive silky soft strap. Its deep, matte, velvety blackness makes the M5600’s strap seem more plasticky and common by comparison. Maybe it’s the feel of DLC metal touching your wrist, or at least the knowledge that it’s there. The heft of the watch probably factors in. Its “Made In Japan” pedigree. The subtle, simpler, cleaner, classier dial markings and monochromatic color scheme looks more mature. (did you realize the dial surround of the M5600 has printing in 5 different colors?). The LCD display on the 5000 is just a hair more vivid / clear / contrasty, and is “grayer” in color tone, versus the M5600 which has more of a tan hue. Not all of these items are physical differences or are fully perceptible; so, is it just me, and the Veblen Effect again? Whatever. To someone hyper-vigilant like me, I notice all of these differences -- including the real, the perceived, and the emotional, and they add up to a distinctively different feel on the wrist. The knowledge that I am wearing the “best” G-Shock I’m sure influences this feel. Whatever the reasons (fair or unfair), and the psychology behind them (or not), early returns are in -- and the verdict is that this is a watch that is absolutely satisfying on the wrist. Enjoyable. Perhaps surprisingly so. A secret pleasure to privately savor that the world will never notice. Capeesh?
A few other random tidbits, in no particular order:
• Interesting that the 5000 uses a “dot” to separate the month and day on the date, and the M5600 uses a dash. I prefer the dash – maybe just because it’s what I’m visually used to.
• LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that the 5000 has separate “UTC” and “LON” timezones in world time mode! Versus only having “LON” on the M5600, and everyone knows London goes on DST in the summer. This feature alone just delights me, and gives the GW-5000 big bonus points.
• The 5000 doesn’t display the current time in any other modes; the M5600 does in countdown timer mode only.
• To those who worry that the 5000 will wear larger than the M5600: the size of the 5000 is just fine. The delta between the two is truly immaterial. The difference in ride height is barely noticeable. Either one slides unencumbered under a dress shirt cuff.
• When it’s on your wrist, if you look straight on at the side of the watch, you can see a layer of DLC steel peeking out below the bezel. Fun.
• The shape is slightly different. The 5000 is just a hair more “square” versus the M5600 being a shade more “rectangular.”
• The buttons are a little more sheltered on the 5000 versus the M5600. I find them harder to press.
• Another fun little idiosyncrasy I noted. I enjoy the hourly chime feature on a watch. All my other Casio’s (even thinking back to my W-200 Marlin from, say, 1980?) go “beep beep” on the top of the hour. The GW-5000 goes “beepbeep.” Quicker, with barely any gap between the two tones. When the GW-M5600 and my WVA320 chime in perfect unison, this one outpaces them by a half step. I suppose that’s appropriate.
• I like the bolder “CASIO” branding that’s top and center on the dial surround on the 5000. On the M5600, the “CASIO” is small and gets lost with all the other text.
• On my M5600’s, I have cut the strap to precisely fit my wrist and eliminate the long tail sticking out past the keeper. It was hard to bring myself to cut the 5000’s luscious rubbery strap, but I did. I took a deep breath, and with a brand new single sided razor blade cut about an inch off the GW-5000 strap. It is perfectly tailored for my wrist now, with no flappy “tail”. Believe me, I measured about five times and drew a little template on an index card just to be safe before cutting....
• I purchased a replacement strap and bezel from PacParts. The Casio part numbers are as follows: Bezel 10323532; Soft strap 10323536. Supposedly the bezel is interchangeable with the DW-5600E, but the part numbers are different and the “real” GW-5000 parts are made in Japan out of superior materials. The buckle on the strap is stamped "Japan". It feels good to have some extras on hand.
• This watch is a definite keeper. I love it.
All this said, the comparison also reflects very well on the GWM5600 – and what a bargain it is. It is 85 percent of the watch of the 5000, for 25 percent of the price. Thanks to our falling dollar, a new GW5000 currently sells for well over $400 on the Bay, and just under $400 from Seiya.
Hope you enjoyed this review. Cheers.
A couple closing glamour shots, courtesy of Tanaka: