Some things just go together. Like G-SHOCK and hip-hop.
G-SHOCK was born in 1983, the brainchild of the legendary Kikuo Ibe, who had the crazy idea of making a shock-proof, water-proof, hell, even bullet-proof watch that could take just about anything life might throw at it.
The roots of hip-hop reach further back than those of G-SHOCK, but in the '80s, it came alive. The Beastie Boys, N.W.A., Public Enemy — this was the era where they came to the public consciousness. As it turns out, the only watch that could meet the raw energy of the streets that hip-hop brought to music was G-SHOCK. Artists and rappers quickly took notice, wearing Casio's G-SHOCK in studios, on stages, and the streets where they lived.
Over the years, G-SHOCK has embraced this natural fit between its tough-as-nails watches and the gritty ethos of hip-hop. The brand has collaborated with streetwear brands, rappers, and artists to create limited edition watches that capture this energy.
Sure, rappers might drop bars about other haute horology brands, but none of these brands match the cred that G-SHOCK has developed with hip-hop by immersing itself in the culture over the course of four decades.
Let's take a look at a few of our favorite G-SHOCK collaborations, along with what they mean to both G-SHOCK and to streetwear.
KITH x G-SHOCK 6900
Perhaps the best thing about G-SHOCK's collaborations is that they haven't become stale. So let's take a look at one of its most recent collabs first. In 2021, G-SHOCK joined forces with New York streetwear brand KITH.
The KITH for G-SHOCK GM 6900 takes as its muse G-SHOCK’s iconic 6900 profile, which turned 25 back in 2020. An early KITH x G-SHOCK collab with rose gold accents.
We start with KITH because this is actually the brand’s third collaboration with G-SHOCK. The first efforts leaned heavily into featuring rose gold accents, a luxury take on G-SHOCK’s typical “tool watch” vibe.
The 2021 KITH x G-SHOCK took the 6900 in a different direction, featuring a vibrant rainbow finish on the watch’s case. Rainbow watches are hot right now – ask Travis Scott – and it’s cool to see KITH and G-SHOCK bring their original take on the trend. The 6900 case measures in at a hefty 50mm, so the rainbow finish is guaranteed to make a statement.
Even better, KITH turned 10 in 2021, so the watch served as a nice way to mark the brand’s important anniversary. G-SHOCK’s long-standing relationship and collabs with the shop illustrate its commitment to important players in the streetwear industry. G-SHOCK’s not in it for the clout chasing – it’s been a long-term contributor to the culture and is genuinely interested in how its watches are perceived by those who wear them.
G-SHOCK x BAPE
Of course, any conversation about streetwear needs to include A Bathing Ape, the legendary Tokyo brand founded by Nigo in 1993. It’s only natural BAPE would team up with fellow Japanese brand, G-SHOCK. The two staples of streetwear have released a number of limited editions, but the one that feels the truest to both brands is the Bathing Ape x G-SHOCK GA-110 “BAPE XXV” Camouflage and Gold Watch for BAPE’s 25th Anniversary. Many G-SHOCK x BAPE collabs are limited to Japan, but this special one was worldwide, making it accessible in a way many of those so-called “JDM” (Japanese domestic market) releases are not.
The 25th-anniversary limited edition features BAPE’s signature camouflage pattern, as well as gold accents that feel fitting for an anniversary celebration. The GA-110 features a combo digital-analog display, which also feels a bit elevated as compared to G-SHOCK’s traditional digital display – it’s fitting G-SHOCK and BAPE would use a more traditional analog model to celebrate an historic anniversary.
There’s something that feels so real about two of Japan’s streetwear pioneers coming together to mark 25 years. Game recognize game, as the saying goes. The collab also feels like a bit of a “thank you” from each brand to the other, as they’ve collaborated a number of times over the years and each has been critical to the other’s growth.
G-SHOCK and BAPE came together again in 2021, this time bringing Kid Cudi into the mix for a design assist. Cudi actually worked at a BAPE store before making it big, so having him lend a hand is a fun way to bring a fresh perspective to G-SHOCK.
Not to mention Kid Cudi took to Twitter to tease the release, and seemed to wear an iced-out version at 2021’s Met Gala too.
G-SHOCK x NASA
NASA, you might say to yourself? Yeah, NASA. Popularity for the US government agency responsible for the space program has boomed in recent years, thanks to streetwear brands taking the agency’s staid logo and aesthetics and adapting them into their own work: think everyone from Heron Preston to Balenciaga. But no brand has been more successful than G-SHOCK, whose DW5600NASA20 Limited Edition is about as clean as it gets.
For streetwear fits, nothing pops quite like a white watch. Sure, black blends in, and other colors or patterns might be more subtle or go with more things, but white wristwear is the perfect pop of color at the end of an arm that can make any fit better.
Fittingly, the model uses G-SHOCK’s original DW-5600 case from 1983. If you’re looking for a modest G-SHOCK that still pops, this is it. The NASA branding is there but subtle, featuring NASA’s signature logo on the dial backlight. The limited-edition was released in 2021 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of NASA’s first space shuttle launch (the shuttle was humankind's first reusable spacecraft and the first of 135 missions for the 30-year program).
G-SHOCK x Takashi Murakami "Frogman"
One of streetwear’s greatest ambassadors in art circles, helping the style gain acceptance in the typically exclusionary venues of museums, is Takashi Murakami. The Japanese artist has collaborated with everyone from Louis Vuitton to Supreme, managing to fit a G-SHOCK collaboration in as well.
The limited-edition effort is a bright pink Frogman G-SHOCK, fitting Murakami’s aesthetic of bold, colorful shapes and styles. Also familiar to Murakami disciples: the price. Unlike most other G-SHOCK collabs on this list – which ring in at under $1,000 – this one cost $3,700.
But, the collaboration and price tag illustrate G-SHOCK’s versatility, a brand whose vibe can be shaped and molded by everyone from Grammy-winning rappers to pop art revolutionaries whose works hang in the most important museums in the world.
G-SHOCK x A$AP Ferg
Speaking of rapper collabs... In addition to artists and rappers being seen wearing G-SHOCK all over the place, G-SHOCK has embraced this popularity by actually collaborating with some of these artists. It feels like a true ground-up movement, where hip-hop so embraced G-SHOCK that they turned around and embraced all of the artists who loved the brand back.
In 2018, G-SHOCK released a fitting collaboration with rapper and style god A$AP Ferg. Like the BAPE x G-SHOCK limited edition, this model used the GA-110 as its base. But this limited edition was super accessible, priced at just $150 (it quickly sold out, as you might’ve guessed).
The resin case and band were both transparent, in sharp contrast to the primary color blue, red, and yellow accents on the dial. G-SHOCK also bumped the case size of this limited edition up to 55mm, a bold decision for a collab with a bold rapper.
G-SHOCK's unrelenting hip-hop influence
While rappers like Kid Cudi and Ferg have had the opportunity to collaborate with G-SHOCK and put their own spin on the brand, dozens of others have simply worn and enjoyed Casio’s most durable creation; tastemakers like Pharell and Ye all the way to perennial hitmakers like Snoop Dogg and Eminem. And every new generation of artists seems to take to G-SHOCK in the same way, equally fascinated by its elements of durability and fashion.
During Kanye West’s real “rockstar” phase, when he released the genre-defying Graduation and went on stadium tours with U2, he was particularly partial to G-SHOCK. He could be spotted wearing it on stage and on album covers, seemingly the only watch that could stand up to his fast-moving life.
Similarly, Eminem can be seen wearing any number of G-SHOCKs over the years, a watch that could stand up to the hard-knock life he experienced coming up in Detroit.
Since the beginning, G-SHOCK has been embraced by rappers, pioneers of streetwear, and the generally fashionable. But that’s the thing: it’s not a watch defined by its fashion, but that’s fashionable because of what it represents. Street-rooted, strong, accessible, for the people. Values that, at their core, streetwear and hip-hop are all about too. It only makes sense dozens of fire collaborations would result, and we can’t wait to see what G-SHOCK cooks up next.