By far the most exciting G-Shock in recent memory is the new Rangeman GPR-B1000, or what we've come to simply call the Rangeman Navi. This is a revolutionary, as opposed to evolutionary, step for G-Shocks. It's not precisely a smartwatch, lacking many of the features you'd find in an Apple Watch for instance, but also lacking many of the disadvantages of a smartwatch, like a total reliance on a wall socket. This G-Shock is something different, somewhere in between the digital G-Shocks you're familiar with and the Casio Pro Trek smartwatch.
Before we continue, I want to point out that this is strictly a preview, not a review. Casio was kind enough to let me spend some time with their amazing new watch, but it is only a prototype with many features disabled. Furthermore, the accompanying iOS and Android apps don't support this watch yet. Consequently, there will be some changes between this prototype and the production version, and there is quite a lot of the watch I can't explore yet. Expect a full review when the watch comes out in April.
As you probably surmised, the GPR-B1000 is a G-Shock with a GPS navigation feature, but like most higher-end G-Shocks, it's loaded with virtually ever function imaginable. Still, it's clear that the reason you'd pick this one over its alternatives is that it somehow manages to handle useful navigation features with a simple monochrome display and solar power.
I started collecting G-Shocks around 1990, and perhaps due to my old-school connection with them, I've always preferred them in their digital form. It's true that ana-digital models date back to the AW-500, but back then, I think most of us just thought of G-Shocks as pretty much synonymous with digital. For me, therefore, this is ideal, and I believe that an analog addition would just get in the way of this display.
As a consequence, this has a sort of old-school cool that is hard to replicate. It's almost as if G-Shock went back to 1996, asked me what I thought a watch would be like in 2018, and then made that watch. I couldn't have dreamed of color-screen high-resolution smartwatches, but this is almost certainly what I imagined the future to be.
I think a quick rundown of features will have to suffice for now, because in addition to navigation, to talk about every feature this has would take all day. This, of course, is the mode select, and it's so extensive it takes two pages. Fortunately, scrolling through functions is very simple thanks to the rotating crown.
Here we see the Rangeman acquiring a location via GPS.
Now we're looking at GPS bearing. Unfortunately, the route display wasn't available on the prototype model, but I was able to use GPS nonetheless via this setting. Here I've set a point somewhere on the trail and this feature always points directly back to it. Although not as cool as the route feature, this could conceivably be the most useful of all of its special features. I could see using this just on a day to day basis. I found myself defaulting to this screen while outdoors.
This will be the beginning of a route when the production model is released. In the prototype, only one point could be created on the route map, so this would only constitute a route if you intended to walk in a very small circle, but this, of course, won't be a problem in the production version. A nice touch is that you can actually split-screen the route map with the time as your home screen if you want.
Here's the ever-useful sunrise/sunset feature, complete with some nice, easy to understand graphics.
It is, of course, equipped with an LED backlight. It can be adjusted for duration and it has an auto-on feature for turning your wrist.
Here we see the dual navigation and time home screen I mentioned earlier, which I suspect most users will default to. More importantly, however, we get our first real glance at another sign that the Rangeman Navi is a weird hybrid between a conventional G-Shock and a smartwatch, namely its wireless charging system.
I want to note here that the red and black cable is my own. The production version will ship with a cable, but it probably won't be this one. Still, I think it looks great and you can, of course, pick one up yourself.
The GPR-B1000 is a dual-charging watch, which means it can be charged either via the included cradle, not unlike the Apple Watch, or, and this is absolutely critical for this model, solar power via the extremely large panel on the dial.
Here's the charger, no doubt beaten up a bit from travel. This is a bit unlike the Apple Watch charger, insofar as it will mechanically affix to the back of the watch in a stable way. I think this is likely to make it easy to travel with--you won't need a separate case or bag for the charger, you can just snap this on as a single unit without fear of losing it. You can also move the watch around while it's charging, which might be convenient, particularly when coupled with a portable battery. I actually view this, coupled with the GPS navigation of course, to be the killer feature of GPR-B1000, or to be more specific, the fact that you don't actually need it.
This is supplemental to the solar charging--you can use this to speed up the process, or in the field, you could bring an external battery and top off your watch every night. To be clear, you cannot constantly utilize the GPS feature on this watch without draining the battery. The non-GPS functions cannot be eliminated by overuse of the GPS feature, so you'll never have to worry about having a non-functional watch, but you will want to use the GPS feature only as needed, unless, of course, you have one of these cradles to return to at the end of every day, a luxury many adventurers won't have.
A luxury virtually all adventures will have, however, is access to the sun. Using that, the watch can be entirely recharged, although even in direct sunlight, you won't be able to run the GPS perpetually. But, given a little patience, you will be able to regain GPS functionality, and ultimately get home. To me, this is the reason to buy the GPR-B1000 over competitors if you really want a watch to help you navigate. I have friends that hike and camp for weeks at a time and a conventional smartwatch would be very difficult to live with in those situations, not to mention that they aren't nearly as physically resilient as the Rangeman.
That toughness is very impressive, if unsurprising given its pedigree. This thing can go down 200 meters, it's dust and dirt proof, it's got low-temperature resistance, and, of course, it has shock resistance sufficient to rival any watch in the world.
That toughness, as well as, I suspect, the GPS antenna, does come at a cost, and I don't mean the price. This is an absolute behemoth of a watch coming in at roughly 58mm across. That will be a feature to the largest among us, but for most, this will probably not become your new office companion. But then, it isn't supposed to be that to begin with. It's a no-compromise tool watch, in the strictest definition of the term.
It doesn't want to be in your office anyway. It views your office as unworthy.
That doesn't stop at thickness, either. At about 20mm, this won't fit under, well, just about anything that you own. I imagine that was to create sufficient space for the batteries, so it's a very functional compromise. At any rate, we do get a good look at its pushers and crown here. The crown rotates in either direction, quite easily, and lets you scroll through functions. The sheer capability of the watch can be intimidating at first, but once you know where to go, it's actually one of the easier G-Shocks to use.
Switching to the other side, we see the triple sensor. Like a few other G-Shocks, this allows it to track altitude, barometric pressure, temperature and direction. It can even collect and store that data and present it in a nice graph for you. Using a point memory function, the watch will be able to collect this data and attach it to a specific location for future reference.
Here are a few views of the triple sensor in action.
The back of this watch, when not clad with its charger, is a rather nice ceramic piece. While this will easily resist scratches, I think this has more to do with avoiding metal to prevent interference with the wireless charger. This also gives you a nice view of the carbon fiber in the strap.
Here's another view of the strap, which is, like most G-Shocks, very comfortable.
So that's our little preview of the new GPR-B1000, specifically the "1B" model, with green and yellow accents instead of the red found in the GPR-B1000-1. I love this watch--it's a G-Shock fan's dream come true in many ways, but it's also more than that. It's a very practical instrument that I genuinely foresee being used in the field by people who are going to beat the hell out of it. It's not the "desk diver" equivalent of a tool watch, it's just a tool watch. I think there's a certain charm to its unapologetic nature.
The Rangeman GPS Navi is one of the most interesting and unique offerings in the watch world today. It has a very specific purpose, but the Rangeman is prepared for virtually anything you might want to throw at it, not just tasks that require navigation. This is the most significant G-Shock in years, and, if you're a G-Shock fan, the only reason I can imagine not to get one is the size. It's a huge watch, even by G-Shock's standards. Still, it's not as if there are thinner equivalents available to compare it with.
Too big? I'll let you decide, just keep in mind that I don't believe this is big for fashion's sake--I think it had to be this size to fit the large antenna, battery and solar panel into this watch. Both versions are priced quite reasonably at $800, not even particularly expensive by contemporary G-Shock standards. You can pre-order the red GPR-B1000-1 here and the green GPR-B1000-1B here.