HE “never, never, never” gave up.
This was the key to success of Japanese Kikuo Ibe, the inventor of one of the world’s toughest and most iconic watches, the G-Shock.
The father of the watch brand humbly shared his story with Filipinos when he personally led the “Shock the World Manila” tour at the Hyve Bar in Bonifacio Global City. The Manila leg was part of the G-Shock’s worldwide 30th anniversary tour that began in 2013.
Local G-Shock aficionados trooped to the much-awaited event where they were rewarded by a meet-and-greet and autograph-signing with Ibe, as well as an all-night party featuring local musicians Up Dharma Down, Urbandub, Motherbass and DJ Aryan.
Wearing a Barong Tagalog as he waived a miniature Filipino flag, Ibe came across as a charming man who seemed oblivious of his stature and accomplishments. He captured the crowd gathered at a pre-festivity event, delivering his speech in both English and Filipino.
“Mahal ko po ang mga Pilipino,” the Japanese gentleman declared, adding how happy he was to be finally in the Philippines. On the other hand, Ibe also expressed sadness over the tragedy that Super Typhoon Yolanda left in the country in November 2013.
Following his opening remarks, Ibe narrated the interesting beginnings of G-Shock against a backdrop of an anime (Japanese animation) presentation of the story. Apparently, everything had begun when a precious watch his father gifted him with accidentally fell on the floor.
As he examined the shattered watch, which meant so much to him, Ibe promised no one would have to experience heartbreak again. Thus was born the concept of a watch that “would not be broken”—and more than that, one that would be “10-meter shock proof, 10-bar water resist and with 10 years use life.”
This all happened during the early 1980s when Ibe was already Casio’s head of watch design, so that he wasted no time in trying different technologies.
He also frequented the men’s bathroom where he would drop his “trials” from the window to see if it can withstand the three-storey fall. After over 200 failed attempts, Ibe finally found the thing that would create his watch—gravity.
Incorporating a “floating watch engine” inside five layers of protection (using metal, rubber and casing), Ibe finally made the first watch that survived his “bathroom” test. Thanks to gravity, shocked was absorbed.
Combining the “G” in gravity, and the “shock” in shock-proof, G-Shock was born in 1983. The first model, DW5000C was launched in the market following the “Triple 10” concept. Note that during this period, there was tough competition in slim and lightweight timepieces so that G-Shock also began a revolution.
“Hinding, hinding, hindi po ako sumuko. Ito po ang aking prinsipyo [I never, never, never gave up. This is my philosophy],” Ibe said. “And G-Shock also never gave up. Its toughness was proven and it was sold throughout the world.”
With that, the inventor took off his own G-Shock and forcefully slammed it onto a hardwood surface. Of course, the watch still worked—the same one he used in demos in many other key cities of the where “Shock The World” tour went.
Thirty years since its conception, the G-Shock has solidified its place in the watch industry as a fashion and function piece in one.
In an interview with reporters, Ibe explained how his big and bulky digital watch was able to achieve its reputation. “In terms of the evolution of G-Shock as a watch, it has always been 50-50. Fifty percent goes to fashion and trends, always keeping up with the latest styles, and the other 50 percent keeps up with technology when it comes to developing products,” he shared.
A big factor in G-Shock’s fashionable appeal lies in its collaborations with famous names and brands including the likes of rapper Eminem, footwear Supra, French fashion house Maison Martin Margiela, and even the US Air Force.
Asked if G-Shock would consider collaborating with Filipinos, Ibe welcomed the idea with enthusiasm.
For now, fans may enjoy the limited edition Shock the World Manila piece exclusive to the Philippines. It comes in G-Shock’s signature look with a white exterior, and red, blue and yellow accents to reflect the colors of the Philippine flag. In commemoration of the 30th anniversary, there are 30 red stars on the upper portion of the strap, and on the opposite side three stars and a sun for the country.
As for the brand’s future innovations, Ibe assured that G-Shock will always be at the forefront of watch technology. “As technology evolves, G-Shock will keep evolving with technology and keep implementing new stuff that the technological industry comes up with into the watches,” he promised.
The most advanced G-Shock to date is the line of Bluetooth watches that uses low energy wireless technology, enabling two-way operability between a paired smartphone and the timepiece.