Monday, September 24, 2018

Trying to Break Stuff - Casio Day 2

The second day of our visit to Casio started out with a bus ride from our hotel in Shinjuko to the Hamura Research and Development Center which is in Hamura-shi, Tokyo-to.  Now for those unfamiliar, allow me to acquaint you with some realities about Tokyo.  It is really, really big.  How big?  Really big.  And it was sort of bringing it all back home for me as we heard military jets overhead, and it suddenly occurred to me that we must be fairly close to Yokota Air Base which is located in Fusa, and just around the corner from where I used to live in Hachioji -

That would be the blurry city name in the top position of the green sign ; )

But I am not going to waste your time traveling down my personal memory lane.  What I am going to do is share what a lot of 10 year old boys (and I suspect girls) enjoy doing - trying to break stuff!

The whole idea of the G-Shock was to make something that could not be broken (more on that tomorrow), but you can't just say something is unbreakable, you have to prove it.  And this wonderful center in the Tokyo hinterlands has created a facility where they can try to imagine every stress, situation, random bad thing that could happen to a watch, and replicate it.

The original G-Shock was born of a lot of different things - anger, loss, frustration, denial, determination, and finally triumph.  But it was a long, slow process.  The photo above is, for me at least, truly symbolic of that painful process.  Spoiler alert, the creator of the G-Shock was wearing a traditional, normal watch that fell off his wrist and was what insurance adjusters would term, a "write off".  Out of that loss, and need to build a better mouse trap, the G-Shock was born.  The single biggest item on the punch list?  Make it unbreakable.  And the notion of a ball bubbled to the surface as the ultimate shock-absorber.  The item above is part of the journey from "watch in a ball" to the G-Shock of today -

Courtesy of Casio

But needless to say, Casio did not get to have the baby without the labor.  Before we got to the "rumpus room", we got a very solid briefing about the foundation of the G-Shock within Casio.

Along with the type of visual displays that would be the envy of many other brands -

Courtesy of Casio
I draw your attention to the display above and the one below.  

Courtesy of Casio

Still think that quartz is simple, or basic, or dumb?

Think again.

Now, on to the (controlled) chaos!

First stop - the dunk booth!

No, that is not a chocolate milkshake in process, it is a custom made machine designed to test the functionality & reliability of the push pieces not only in a wet environment, but also one that has grit, debris, mud...

Courtesy of Casio
Beyond mere mud, there is also water itself in terms of depth, and Casio had just the machinery to gauge that as well -

Courtesy of Casio
Keep in mind that one of the central tenants of the G-Shock is water resistance - typically starting at 200 meters.  Well, the folks in Hamura weren't satisfied with the typical testing devices used by other watch companies.  So they use quite a few devices.

Courtesy of Casio
Safe and dry.

Courtesy of Casio
But if we get back to the birth of the G-Shock, we are reminded that this was triggered by a broken watch.

Courtesy of Casio
So if you can't gum up the pushers with silt, and you can't drown it, maybe you can break it by dropping it, or hitting against something hard?


Courtesy of Casio
not so much!

And then there is that nasty old problem of gravity.  What if you drop your watch from, say your desk or bedside table?

Courtesy of Casio
Or maybe even something a little out of the ordinary, height-wise?

Courtesy of Casio
Welcome to "Thunder Dome".  But in this instance, both watch and tester came out fine, and still ticking.  

What is particularly cool about the R&D center and the testing area is the fact that this is not standard equipment that you order from Borel.  The demands put on the G-Shock represent a level and commitment to testing that is not really found anywhere else in the watch making world.

And should you encounter Electro?

Shamelessly borrowed from the world-wide info-web

Well, the G-Shock team has you covered -

Courtesy of Casio
And I have to laugh a bit every time I see copy, marketing or pr pieces extolling how bad-ass their watches are, primarily based on size and the stature of their celebrity friends of the brand.  After an afternoon spent trying to break stuff, I can honestly say that the G-Shock is the real deal.

We wrap-up tomorrow, stay tuned!

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