HANDS ON : Casio’s limited edition Royal Air Force G-Shock


At the announcement of a collaboration between Casio and the British Royal Air Force to create a limited edition G-SHOCK Gravity Defier (GW-A1000RAF-1AER), I pondered aloud that even with a limited edition of 2,000 and a price of GBP500, it would probably sell out.

Well it has ended up selling like the proverbial hotcakes around the world, and I have found at least one authorised retailer selling it at a premium. Within a mere matter of months after its availability it was already difficult if not impossible to find. If you can find one now, grab it.

So, why has this watch been so popular? Well obviously I can’t speak for all, but it does appear that two of the reasons that it has appealed to some previously non-G-Shock owning watch enthusiasts have been because firstly, it’s quite a discreet looking G-Shock and secondly, that the collaboration between the RAF and a immensely popular line loved by many watch people for being a simple rugged and affordable tool watch was one that made sense. Plus, of course, there’s the whole ‘affordable milwatch’ aspect as well.

This solar powered G-Shock has more features than most owners will use in their lifetime, including a world timer, flight record mode, countdown timer, flyback stopwatch (1/20 of a second up to 120 minutes), thermometer, flight record mode, perpetual calendar, instant Zulu time, and it has multi-band (6) atomic timekeeping for accurate time and date syncing.

It features Casio’s ‘Triple G Resist’ structure, which is described as a case design that is constructed to withstand the shock of three forces – shock, centrifugal force, and vibration, and also has their ‘Smart Access’ system. What is ‘Smart Access’? It’s a proprietary Casio system for analogue movements that combines multiple motors with an electronic crown structure that can operate the various functions. It also allows a lot of data to be read on the analogue display and responds to pilots’ requirements for both multi-functionality and operability.

The crown has a quick-lock with a 60 degree rotation that helps to eliminate accidental operation of any functions – you press down and turn the crown to align the ‘unlock’ marker at which point the spring loaded crown pops out, but it has to be pulled out before it can be used. You select the mode you desire to set the timer, alarm or time zone. It’s also worth nothing that ‘Smart Access’ means that the watch’s hands operate independently, which means that when you are correcting the time via the atomic signals, for example, it will automatically re-orientate via the quickest route and you may see the hour and minute hands moving simultaneously in opposite directions.

One of the ‘military signifiers’ of the RAF model is the Zulu (UTC) time button, marked with a red symbol. To display Zulu time you first push the ‘mode’ button to get the watch into world time mode and then you press the ‘Zulu’ button for 3 seconds to activate the Zulu display. The second time zone is viewed only upon activation of the ‘mode’ button.

The watch isn’t exactly what you’d call small, but it does not sit as largely on the wrist as the measurements would indicate, and its lightness makes it easy to wear, as does the very soft and comfortable strap. The stainless steel and resin case is 51.7mm in diameter and a depth of 16.4mm. Water resistance is 200m.

The funky carbon fibre resin keeper features the RAF wings logo, which you may need to be careful about in terms of damage by rubbing it against hard surfaces. It’salso  worth noting that there are regular non RAF versions of the Gravity Defier without the commemorative box and carbon fibre keeper with logo.

The GW-A1000RAF is, especially for a G-Shock, a discreet looking watch in an attractive dark matte grey. The dial is three dimensional, with chunky raised indices and accents. The sub-dial markings are clear, and despite the number of functions shown on the dial, it is very legible. This is not a G-Shock that screams its existence on your wrist, it is all about no nonsense functionality. Nonetheless, but it still has a definite presence about it.

If you like analogue watches and G-Shocks, you will probably like this watch. It costs more than the average G-Shock but you are paying a premium for the RAF link and the limited edition status and clearly, people think these are worth paying for.

Categories: Casio, Hands-on, Limited Editions, Military watches, Pilot's watches, Watch Profile, watches

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