When we think of Casio watches, their G-Shock watches loom large. Since storming onto the world stage in 1983, the Casio G-Shock has occupied a special spot with shock-resistant timepieces that are ready for action. It was the Casio G-Shock that put digital watches on multitudes of outdoor adventurers. It was made for adrenaline junkies and all shades of action-ready sorts. Surfers were right there along for much of the ride.
Casio G-Shock, Meet Hershel
What do you get when you cross a battle-tested watch with a backpacking legend? That’s not a joke, that’s how we got one of the more unique rough-and-ready watches on the market today: The G-Shock X Herschel G-Lide. It seems an at-first unlikely match-up, and perhaps it’s an oddity that it came together so beautifully. Herschel Supply has long been a favorite of surfers who love their water-resistant backpacks. G-Shock watches are famously fitted for military use and have gone into actual combat quite a bit. In retrospect, the melding of surf style and military might now seem like it was always inevitable.
Futuristic with a Retro Vibe
At first glance, you might think the Casio G-Shock X Herschel G-Lide was made for a Star Wars soldier. Not the glossy accent you might find gracing the wrists of Stormtroopers on an Imperial Star Destroyer, but something built for resistance fighters on the vast desert sands of Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine. And yet the new limited-edition watch also looks retro, like those wonderfully basic digital displays that middle school geeks discovered in the 80s. In a further nod to that decade, the new G-Lide has got a removable metal protector over the screen that watch nerds went crazy for in the 1980s.
Soldiers Meet Surfers
You don’t have to be an action-ready soldier to love the looks of this watch. Take note of (and likely love) its military-inspired style. Both its matte resin case and its sturdy band come in the iconic “Army Green” hue that’s known the world over to signify soldiering. According to Casio, all of the metal finishes are up to “Mil-Spec.” That’s armed forces jargon which means something has been approved by a U.S. government inspector to meet the rigorous criteria demanded by its military.
Even the watch’s small grace notes are odes to military style. The mineral crystals over the faces of Casio G-Shocks are normally transparent. Keen-eyed observers will undoubtedly note that this Casio G-Shock has a slight yellow tinge over its digital readout. That’s the meticulous work of Herschel’s designers. The designers insisted that the covering mimic the yellow-toned crystals that go over military-issue flashlights. The border of the watch’s face is done in a light brown “buff” color that serves as an homage to the manila folders that have housed many an army field report. In a cheeky continuation of the military theme, the watch comes in similar buff packaging with a feel and fonts that echoes GI rations.
But the tech is tailored to surfers, with a tide-chart indicator to gauge waves on the face, as well as a moonphase function. Built for both wave-riding and storming the beaches in battle, this tough timepiece is both water and shock-resistant. It is, after all, a G-Shock!
“You Can Surf Later”
The message is engraved on the back. A small but intriguing cultural footnote that arose from the Vietnam War. Most U.S. soldiers during that conflict carried the ubiquitous metal Zippo lighter. It was sold on bases for $1.80 and almost always taken on missions. They were nicknamed “Zippo Raids” after the lighters that went along. And wherever there was a military PX selling Zippos, there were locals setting up sidewalk kiosks to personalize the lighters with hand-engraved messages.
As we know, the war ended. Most of the Zippos were left behind and sold on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City in the post-war years. But in 2006, a collection of these vintage Zippos was sold at auction. One engraved phrase in particular got some media attention. Nobody knows his name, but one young man was likely a surfer who carried the hope that one day he’ll be back riding waves when the fighting is over, so, “You can surf later.”
Casio’s Heritage on Display
The last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam in March of 1973. The troops came back to a country where digital watches were poised to propagate. The Casiotron was Casio’s first digital watch. It made its debut in November of 1974 and the watch world has never been the same. It was the first mass-produced timepiece to feature a digital display with a date function. Its groundbreaking LCD display meant the time and date were always visible. As opposed to competing digital watches that required a push-button to display the data. Looking at the Casiotron alongside the recent Casio G-Shock X Herschel and you’ll note the displays are strikingly similar. It’s no accident that this current model is paying homage to Casio’s first big digital breakthrough.
Casio G-Shock and Hershel Conclusion
You might be a surfer, a soldier, a digital nomad or a home-loving creature of comfort. You may love the watch for its tough tech or its vintage style. But you probably will love this singular Casio G-Shock that embraces history and heritage while combining disparate cultures. So, yes, “you can surf later,” now’s the time to check out the Casio G-Shock X Herschel G-Lide.