Pilot watches are becoming ever so popular with more and more manufacturers jumping on board. In the world of aviation, one brand that I hadn’t considered was G-Shock, as I had always thought of them as being a heavy military style watch. When I was contacted by a dozen or so readers asking to review a G-Shock pilot watch, I will admit I was a bit taken back and I decided I had to check it out. I was shocked (no pun intended) to see a beautifully appealing watch with pilot-friendly features.
G-Shock (Gravitational Shock) is a brand of watches manufactured by Casio since 1983. Over the years they have evolved into a watch primarily designed for outdoor activities and have developed a cult-like following with their feature packed shock and water resistant watches. When I started to research the pilot range (gravity master), I was pleasantly surprised with how many features they managed to pack into a watch whilst keeping it gentle on the eyes. For me, watches are a personal statement as much as they are an item of convenience or necessity. Not only do they have to suit your purpose or need, they have to look good as well. Casio were nice enough to send me the Gravity Master GA-1000 to try out, and with this watch (which I am reviewing today), I feel G-Shock have hit the nail on the head.
The Road Test
On opening the box, all of my pre-conceived ideas of G-Shock instantly went out the window. The G-Shock GA-1000 is not chunky or heavy, it’s nicely crafted and is actually quite light. When I first put the watch on my wrist and tightened the clasp, I was surprised by the feeling of grandeur that washed over me. It definitely has ‘chunky’ bits to it, but somehow they don’t stand out or even feel chunky. The mineral glass is set into the bevelled chronograph protecting it and making the edges feel seamless. G-Shock have got the style right by balancing out all aspects of the watch face. The bulkiest part of the watch is the compass feature, but again on trend with the rest of the watch, even the bulk seems streamlined, being perfectly offset by a similar piece on the opposite side. I will get into the individual features shortly, but first I must again mention the symmetry of this timepiece. When you have a good look at the watch, there is so much going on but just gazing at it, it appears almost simple. Everything is available at a quick glance, which, in its simplest form, without taking into account all of its great features, already makes this a great companion in the cockpit. Above the mineral glass is a raised section with the classic G-Shock Protection wording, a description for the use of each of the five buttons and a bevelled compass. The face boasts large white numerals on a black background, three LCD displays including a small animated timer and a mode selector in the shape of a plane.
I won’t delve into features that are standard across the G-Shock range, such as; a 1/100 second stopwatch, a countdown timer, 5 alarms, and full auto calendar. The features that I would like to talk about are those that make this watch stand out to the modern aviator.
Let’s start with the compass. For me, this is probably the coolest feature I’ve ever seen on a watch. I’d suggest it’s not something that you would use every day, but having it available to you right there on your wrist certainly makes it a great feature. The compass button is located at the 9 o’clock position and has a rubbery raised feel to it. On pressing the button, the mode turns to comp and the second hand spins to locate magnetic north. This feature allows for 20 seconds of continual direction readings during which time the second hand remains locked on north regardless of your movement. The literal direction is shown in the upper right display and the direction angle value in the lower centre display. Initially you may think this is a superfluous feature, however for me, it has really come in handy.
Another really handy feature is the black light illumination. Now this is just awesome! Most watches have a light of some description. Some light up the hands, others are back lit, however most don’t do it like G-Shock. G-Shock’s light illuminates the entire face including numbers and hands in a really subtle way. How is this possible? I have no idea, but it works. The light is brilliant and allows for really easy reading in a dark cockpit but doesn’t blind you in the meantime. A simple idea with excellent execution.
Whilst I’m not an international airline pilot constantly crossing into different time zones, having the world time feature is great. This will serve both pilots requiring time zone information as well as those scrambling to work out UTC (coordinated Universal Time). The Gravity Master has 31 time zones covering 48 cities and UTC which is far and beyond that provided by most other watch manufacturers.
One feature that seems like a good idea, though I won’t boast about, is the temperature. It’s not something that a pilot would ever use and to be honest, in testing, it wasn’t very accurate. It’s a simple press of the button type operation and doesn’t detract from the watch at all. If, like me, you find this feature a little unnecessary, it’s quite easy to just forget about it.
That is my one and only criticism however, because the rest of the watch continues to impress. Combine strikingly beautiful craftsmanship with actually useful features like a compass, brilliant back light and world time and you have one amazing addition to both your personal collection and your flight bag.
For a watch that costs the same as or is cheaper than most pilot-focused watches on the market, this timepiece packs a whole lot of punch. Not only would I be pleased to have this in the cockpit with me, I would without hesitation wear this with pride as my daily companion. Do yourself a favour and check out this little beauty. I give it 4.5 stars.
To leave your own GA-1000 Review, please comment below.
Have you used this Watch? Rate it!
1. Beautiful Design 2. Excellent digital compass 3. Brilliant backlight 4. Large, easy to read display
1. Temperature function not accurate 2. Mode selection can be hard to see 3. Light doesn't illuminate LCD's 4. No alarm volume control