How a Humble G-Shock Helped Me Unclutter My Watch Collection

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A lot of people are trying to trim down their watch collections these days. And while I didn’t have crypto winnings to blow on timepieces in the first place, I started to realize that my own collection had grown a little too large for my liking. Not because I don’t love what I buy, but because I’m like a big, dumb child when I see something I like. I should say: that doesn’t mean I’ve got a couple of Cartier Tanks just lying around. I don’t find Rolexes hidden in my couch cushions. It’s more that if I’m at a flea market or tag sale and see anything that screams “1980s cocaine lord,” I’ll probably take it. A friend’s dad once showed me the watch he was wearing when he defected from the U.S.S.R. in the 1970s, which kicked off an obsession with picking up any Soviet-era watches I might see whether they work or not. But my biggest love of all—and the one piece I can’t seem to Marie Kondo myself out of—is the first “cool” watch I ever got when I was a kid: the simple, utilitarian Casio G-Shock.

A year ago I counted and found that I’d amassed over 50 watches, which put me in a funny, in-between sort of place: that number is modest compared to some timepiece lovers, but insane to people who don’t own a single watch and will tell you if they need the time they can look at their iPhone. I tend to have an easier time weeding out records, books, shoes, vintage t-shirts and other assorted things I collect. But for some reason, I just kept acquiring more watches that, in a lot of cases, I never wore. I realized I needed to cut down. The point was always to get timepieces I loved, not start a mini-watch museum in my small apartment.

So I decided the best thing to do was start giving away watches. Nothing too crazy; I wasn’t just handing out Oysters to acquaintances. Instead, I was junking an ‘80s Swatch that was maybe a little too colorful for my wrist that I got at a garage sale. I thought an old Rado from the 1970s that I picked up for $50 bucks (and now seems to be reselling for around $400) would be a nice gift for a friend who just had his first kid. I didn’t give away my entire collection. In fact, I’d say I offloaded a dozen, at best. 

But the pieces I never gave a second thought to keeping were my three G-Shocks: The bulky, all-black analog-digital Mudmaster I wear when I do anything remotely outdoorsy; the orange collab Casio did with NASA; and my trusty “weekend watch,” the DW5600E-1V I bought for 75 bucks forever ago.

There is something about the G-Shock. It isn’t the original digital watch (that distinction belongs to the Hamilton Pulsar, which turns 50 this year). When you go on Reddit, the nearly 37,000 members that belong to the G-Shock community are paltry compared to the 704,000 Apple Watch obsessives. But the G-Shock has a way of transcending brand loyalty. Plenty of luxury watch people still respect the Casio. In the book A Man & His Watch, the artist Tom Sachs, who created his own take on the G-Shock “a la Hermés double-tour watches,” quotes the Patek Philippe slogan about how you never actually own that specific sort of watch, “You merely take care of it for the next generation.” Sachs doesn’t doubt the very expensive watch will have some sort of meaning to whoever it is handed off to, “but I like the idea of something that costs $40 that you own, versus something that costs $4,000 that owns you.”