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This G-Shock watch has been popular for years—and now I understand why

Casio's DW5600E-1V digital watch is a durable techy classic.

arm with G-Shock DW5600E-1V on it, hand holding G-Shock DW5600E-1V Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

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Decades ago, when I was a wee middle schooler, I owned one watch: a Casio G-Shock. I used to play around with it a lot. Its plastic band reminded me of those limited-edition Burger King Rugrats watches, and I loved pressing its metallic buttons to hear it beep. The backlight gave me the same vibes as those weird bendy light bulbs you could buy to attach to a Gameboy Color. Because of these memories, I’ve always associated G-Shock with a level of fashion nostalgia—something highly recognizable but tinged in novelty.

Yet here we are, 21 years later, and that watch is still en vogue. The Casio G-Shock DW5600E-1V, which the company refers to as the “quintessential” G-Shock, has been a bestseller since its market debut in 1996. The water-resistant watch is based on the original G-Shock that was introduced in the ‘80s and has kept the same features and aesthetic since day one: a square face, an alarm, backlight, timer, stopwatch, shock absorption, and an annual calendar.

Curious how the DW5600E has made it this far without fading into obscurity, I grabbed the $70 watch for myself. I had to find out: Why on earth is this watch still so popular?

What I like about the Casio G-Shock DW5600E-1V

G-Shock DW5600E on wrist, underside of DW5600E
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

The G-Shock DW5600E is a minimal tech-friendly timepiece.

I really like how the DW5600E looks—slim and minimal. Most of today’s digital watches look bulky and aggressive—usually to showcase that they can survive a ding or two at the gym—but the G-Shock’s slenderness feels refreshing and modest. Chalk that up to its retro style, which embraces technology that might’ve been featured in a movie like Alien. As someone who gets angsty at the amount of times he looks at a screen in one day, this is a relief. Its tools throw back to a time when digital watches didn’t come with Bluetooth capabilities or the ability to remind you of yet another notification to check. I love how looking at this watch feels like a display, and not a screen.

I had fun toying with the watch’s alarm clock, timer, stopwatch, and backlight. The beep-beep-beep-beep alarm tone of a G-Shock waking me up in the morning was, again, refreshing compared to my usually loud smartphone alarm. The screen’s backlight, which I found useful even during the day, has a radiant blue glow to it that feels gentle on the eyes. Cycling through and setting the watch’s time and date is easy enough, despite the fact that there’s a lot of G-Shock-specific instructions to learn.

I didn’t want to take the watch off. I even wore it in the shower, and it resisted water as intended. I think the nostalgia bug bit me hard here—I fell in love with this watch just like I did when I was a kid.

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It feels like an affordable beater that’s built to last. Over the course of a week, I casually tested its shock-absorption capabilities while taking breaks at work. I can attest that after tossing the watch up and watching it slam down onto the ground, knocking it against my coffee table and desk, and slapping it with the dull part of a screwdriver, the DW5600E-1V is a truly durable piece of hardware.

I also wore the watch while working out and found it super comfortable. The silicone band fit my wrist well and barely slid around during bouts of kettlebell swings. The watch didn’t feel gross or moist when I got sweaty during my workout. I even used the stopwatch function for timing my rests, which felt like a novelty given how simplistic it is.

What I don’t like about the Casio DW5600E digital watch

G-Shock DW5600E behind car wheel, DW5600E destroyed after being ran over by car
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

The DW5600E is built tough, but not indestructible.

It goes without saying, but "shock-absorbing" doesn’t mean "invincible." Inspired by Casio’s original G-Shock commercial, in which a professional hockey goalie catches a puck in his mitt while holding the watch, I thought about more extreme ways to test its durability. This led me down a wormhole of YouTube videos where various G-Shock fans drove their cars over a DW5600E and were in awe over its seemingly pristine condition.

Excited to do the same—and forgetting the usual "don't try this at home" disclaimer—I ran over the DW5600E with my Kia Soul. The watch broke. This was a bummer because I just didn’t expect it to. I don’t know if that’s truly a strike against the Casio, but obviously, this watch isn’t indestructible.

Gratuitous damage aside, the only issue I had with the then-living G-Shock was with its recessed button. To adjust the time and reset the stopwatch or timer, you must press down and hold the watch’s top left button, which in G-Shock terms, is known as button “A”. From there, you can cycle through numbers with the “B” (top right) and “C” (bottom left) buttons.

The A button is recessed while the others protrude. This is so you don’t accidentally adjust your watch while in movement. The thing is, I found this button hard to intentionally push and scraped my nail against it whenever I needed to hold it down. It was somewhat frustrating to use while exercising and counting down 50-second breaks, as I couldn't do it in an instant and had to fumble to reset my timer.

I’ll also say: The G-Shock DW5600E-1V used to be cheaper. Less than three years ago, it retailed at around $40. Today, it's $69.95. As much fun as I had with the watch, I don’t believe it's worth a penny over $55—and that’s pushing it. For a barebones digital watch that can’t perform more than a handful of functions, I think about $70 is way too high.

Is the Casio G-Shock DW5600E-1V worth it?

hand holding G-Shock DW5600E, back case of G-Shock DW5600E
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

Function and performance with the G-Shock DW5600E are top-notch.

Yes, but I wouldn’t pay full price. If you’re looking for a watch that can take a beating and is versatile enough to wear daily, buy yourself a G-Shock DW5600E-1V when it's on sale. Its style, modesty, durability, and nostalgic feel makes it a watch worth owning—even in a market full of smartwatches.

Being that it’s such a popular item, it’s fairly easy to find one on sale at less than $55 from retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Kohl’s, and even eBay. If you can swing that price, I recommend grabbing this simple timepiece for some nostalgic flair.

Get the Casio G-Shock DW5600E-1V from Amazon for $52.62

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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