As any surfer knows, time just flies by when you’re out enjoying the water. Unfortunately, it can fly by so fast that you forget your two hour parking pass was up two hours ago. Try as we might to embrace the reckless abandon of surfing, the reality is that most of us need to know the time in the lineup. And what better choice in timepieces than a proven watch that also lets you contribute to the Surfrider Foundation
Check out the solar-powered Casio G-Shock 25th Anniversary Surfrider Edition
. The G-Shock line of watches is renowned for being able to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ ... or in this technologically advanced case, blinkin’. Commemorating 25 years of stellar work done by the Surfrider Foundation, they and Casio
teamed up to bring this limited edition G-Shock. Aside from scoring aces for both form and function, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the watch will go to support the Surfrider Foundation.
Several months ago, I was out on the hunt for the perfect surf watch. What I found was that they either looked way too “Swatchy” covered in gag-me-with-a-spoon-80’s neon pastels or crammed with features that were way too techy crowding the display with everything from moon phases to gravitational pressure ... in 42 languages. Dude, I just want to know the time. This watch is perfectly effective in this sense.Special Edition Goodness
The Surfrider G-Shock is unassuming at a passing glance but clearly shows off its robust construction upon closer examination.
Although the watch itself is not inundated with useless gizmos, it does have a number of practical features made evident by an instruction manual that’s about as thick as a copy of Boethius.
The face of the watch is cleverly bordered with solar cells that constantly collect energy from both natural and man-made light sources. For the time I’ve had the chance to use this watch, the energy meter has never dipped below “high” – and that’s after obsessively tinkering with the trippy illumination feature.
The dark ocean blue color of this G-Shock is a subtle nod to the Surfrider cause and the Foundation’s logo appears on the band, the clasp, as well as engraved in the case backing.
As far as logo placement goes, the illumination feature is pretty slick. Lighting up the G-Shock displays the Surfrider logo on the face of the watch. Without the illumination, you wouldn’t even know the logo was there. It’s like magic, I tell you.
As if that wasn’t trippy enough, when you hold the watch up to check the time in a dark environment, it can be set so the illumination goes on automatically ... now that’s some serious Casio voodoo.Field Test
I had the chance to surf with the Surfrider G-Shock over the weekend and this trooper of a watch worked flawlessly. Well ... by “flawlessly” I mean it didn’t break or leak water and it told me the right time. But as surfers, what else do we need it to do? Trim bonsai trees?
The large face makes for reading the time very effortless ... which means you won’t be squinting at it while a rogue set wave crashes on your head. If for whatever reason you need to switch through the various modes, the buttons are intuitively laid out and also offer some resistance so buttons are not pressed by accident.
There is a block dividing the buttons which clearly was the result of good field testing as the block allows you to use opposing fingers as leverage to push buttons on the other side of the watch face. With only four buttons, navigation and adjustments are far easier than on other watches.
The band itself is sturdy but has a slightly soft texture that feels more comfortable against the skin. The double clasp ensures that it would take a lot of effort for the band to become undone accidentally.Props
There’s a lot to be admired of the Surfrider G-Shock. First and foremost is that you would be supporting an organization that fights for a cause we all consider extremely important. And let’s not forget that this is a limited edition watch. The last time Surfrider and Casio teamed up on a watch was in 1995 (model DW-002D-2
); more than a decade ago. And that one wasn’t even solar powered ... puh shaw!
Notwithstanding, this particular G-Shock has even more to offer.
- No Stinkin’ Batteries – The solar cells seem to be very effective at collecting energy from the sun as well as that cheap Ikea lamp. There is a meter on the face that warns you of where the energy storage stands. But even as you deplete energy, the watch will cleverly shut down certain features. There is also a power saving mode that further conserves energy.
- 20BAR – No idea what that stands for but you can sound awfully diver-esque boasting about your 20BAR watch. Essentially, this is as water resistant as G-Shocks go. Although I might not recommend diving through the Marianas trenches with this watch, I think you can be rest assured it will keep its structural integrity at Old Man’s.
- Relevant Features – Aside from telling time, you get the standard features found in most other digital watches including an alarm, stopwatch, and countdown timer. The Surfrider G-Shock also stores time zones for upwards of 50 locations so you can quickly tell the time when your hopping from Teahupo'o to Bali ... uh huh.
- Illumination Coolness – Did I mention that the watch magically knows when it’s dark and illuminates with the Surfrider logo when you hold the watch up to see the time?? It’ll be a while before I get over this one.
- Cock Diesel – These things can no doubt take a beating both from what I’ve seen and what I’ve read in other reviews. I have not personally taken a sledgehammer to the G-Shock in this review but rest assured that the every day bumps here and there will not deter this timepiece from doing its job.
Not everything is perfect and as compelling as the Surfrider G-Shock is, even with the magically appearing logo, it does have some drawbacks. These may be rather subjective and bias to my own personal leanings but nonetheless worth mentioning.
- Bulky – The G-Shock is not a compact watch. As such, this is the kind of watch you may need to wear outside of your wetsuit not just to keep the solar cells powering but because there is just a lot of bulk. Be prepared to be the timekeeper in the lineup. If they haven’t already, they should consider a “medium” and women’s version of this watch.
- No Tide Info – A surf watch with no tide info?? What manner of blasphemy is this?? Granted, it’s not like I would actually look at my watch and go, “Oh crap guys, tide’s changing, better go in!” Still, there’s a sense of Sean Collins-ness we all like to pretend we have when we’re out in the lineup critiquing the surf between sets and how it all relates to the current tidal levels ... completely inaccurately of course.
- Pricey – At a $130 suggested retail price, the Surfrider G-Shock is not a cheap watch. There are comparable surf watches on the market that are more than adequate for the job for half the price. Nay, quarter the price. Case in point, my trusty Casio F91-W retails for less than $20 bucks and has never failed me once. Granted, it’s been labeled by U.S. intelligence officials as the watch of choice for bomb-making terrorists. I guess you just can’t have it all.
The Casio G-Shock 25th Anniversary Surfrider Edition (model G5500SRF-1) hit the stores this past July retailing for $130 duckets. Although the sneakier, more interwebs savvy among you may find it
for a dash cheaper. The rest of you can check out your local shops or Macys
which will be the largest retailer carrying the watch.The Word
I’m stoked on this watch. I would prefer a slightly smaller, slimmer profile version of this G-Shock. And although it’s not entirely critical, tide info would be useful to have particularly in a surf watch. But for what this watch has to offer, these are small gripes which are likely more a reflection of my own personal biases.
Ultimately, if you’re in the market for a good surf watch, stop looking. The Surfrider G-Shock does everything you need all while supporting a cause we all value. Even if you don’t need a watch but have the extra duckets, you should consider getting this watch as a collector’s item. After all, it’s not every day that Surfrider turns 25.DISCLOSURE: THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE WAS PROVIDED THIS PRODUCT FOR FREE FOR PURPOSES OF TESTING.