STORY

"UNBREAKABLE" WATCH

"I want to make a timepiece that will not break, even if dropped." This proposal, submitted at an internal meeting over 35 years ago, suggested that the development should be a one-man job handled by Kikuo Ibe, the engineer responsible for the external design of watches at the time. It was considered a clear, simple idea that had come up when a watch happened to drop and break during working hours. Watches are delicate precision instruments, and, at that time, it seemed only natural that they should break when falling to the floor. The concept of a tough watch seemed not only unconventional, but even nonsensical. Nevertheless, the proposal was accepted. A project team comprising just three people was formed — and development of the new watch began.

A Tunnel with the case. No Exit

The team’s initial approaches to overturning common sense began from zero. They first assumed it would be best to cover the entire watch with a soft material. A few dropping experiments put that idea to rest without delay. They found that a watch would break no matter how much shock-absorbent rubber was adhering to the case exterior. And the more cushioning material they attached, the more the size increased. The experimental model soon swelled to the size of a large softball.

A 5-step shock-absorbent structure that protected the module, or heart of the watch, with five cushioning materials was eventually devised, solving the size problem. But a new problem concerning the strength of the electronic parts soon arose. When the team members tried to reinforce the parts, they became caught up in a vicious cycle in which strengthening one broken part led to breakage of another.

This unanticipated process of trial and error continued day after day: The developers would drop a prototype with reinforced parts from the window of the 3rd-floor men’s room and watch it break on the ground 10 meters below. They would then analyze the broken parts, strengthen them and try again. The cycle seemed endless.

A “Miracle Moment” Arrives

With development apparently going nowhere, Ibe made a decision in despair. In one final effort, he would set a time limit of one week on his own initiative and spend all his waking hours on research. If that were not enough, he would consider resigning from his job.

After another week without success, the fateful day arrived. Ibe stepped outside the laboratory building to catch a breath of fresh air in a park next door, where he saw a child bouncing a rubber ball.

Suddenly, an inspiration struck him: “If you attached a watch to that ball, it could endure severe shocks.” The idea that sprang to mind in this miracle moment expanded to complete a unique structure in which the module at the heart of the watch floats in the air within a hollow structure inside A Tunnel with the case.

The Ultimate Form As Origin

It was not long before the first G-SHOCK, the model DW-5000C, was launched in 1983. The square design with its symbolic importance was created in pursuit of shock resistance alone, with nothing wasted. The ultimate form for achieving this single function, it has been handed down to the present as an eternal standard. Belief engenders fruit. G-SHOCK’s origin is the story of an unwavering belief that inspired a relentless quest and produced a tough spirit that promises never to fade away.