G-SHOCK GMW-B5000TCM-1JR: Review

G-SHOCK GMW-B5000TCM-1JR and friend

Welcome back to Room For Squares. I’m your host, Jack Baruth. Today we’re going to discuss a watch – the G-SHOCK GMW-B5000TCM-1JR – that’s proven more than a little controversial in the profoundly uncool world of G-SHOCK collectors . . .

The limited-edition GMW-B5000TCM-1JR is basically the same watch as the Full Metal GMW-B5000 series, examples of which retail for between $400 and $550. The TCM-1 is a little bit more… well, it’s a lot more. $1,600 MSRP, with no discounts available anywhere and some examples already fetching above retail on eBay.

You can get most of the TCM’s functionality in a $100 plastic square G-SHOCK, and you can get all of the functionality in a standard Full Metal Square. Why pay three times as much? And why was I so eager to be one of the first suckers owners to take delivery?

G-SHOCK GMW-B5000TCM-1JR close up

Part of the answer is in those tiny yellow upper-case letters on the top right corner of the watch face: TITANIUM. With the arrival of two titanium square models, Casio now makes three fundamentally different versions of its top-end digital G-Shock:

  • The Japan-only GW-5000, which is the only square on the market to utilize the original 1983 construction of a “screwback” stainless steel inner case and a resin outer case;
  • The Full Metal GWB-5000, which has the same stainless steel inner case as the GW-5000 screwback but pairs it with a newly-engineered stainless steel outer case;
  • The GMW-B5000TCM-1JR and GMW-B5000TB-1JR, which use titanium for both inner and outer case, as well as the band. The “TB” is a series-production model in flat black, while the “TCM” receives special handling and a camouflage-pattern coating of DLC (diamond-like-carbon). It also uses collar retention in the band rather than springbars.

I own three Full Metal models already and have been very happy with them. They’re not perfect, however. They’re awfully heavy — on the wrist they feel very similar to my bronze-cased Tudor Black Bay 43mm. And their finishes are extraordinarily fragile; you can expect that the gold-ion plating will show scratches from the first time you wear it, particularly on the band.

G-SHOCK GMW-B5000TCM-1JR camo

For those reasons, I don’t wear them on a mountain bike or while driving a proper go-kart. I suspected that the titanium model would be a much better bet for heavy-duty usage, and I was right: last month I spent two full days downhill MTBing while wearing the G-SHOCK GMW-B5000TCM-1JR and had no pain or soreness afterwards. It wears like a plastic G-SHOCK.

The only real question on my mind was whether to get the “classy” regular edition or the “hill trash” camo version. In the end I chose the camo TCM because:

  • It appears mostly impervious to wear;
  • In the long run, it will be worth more, assuming that these squares follow the market precedent set by other limited-edition Casios;
  • It’s just more fun.

So far, all of my expectations have been exceeded. It keeps perfect time, of course. It’s shockproof, of course. It wears easily, of course. In other words, it has all the virtues of a traditional G-SHOCK at just sixteen times the price. In the right light, the stippled-camo pattern is fascinating to examine, particularly since Casio continued their recent Full Metal tradition of rendering the case in glossy finish and the band in matte.

G-SHOCK GMW-B5000TCM-1JR on its side

I’m less charmed by the lack of springbars, but once you have the band sized you won’t have to think about it again since the clasp has four adjustment ranges. I cannot confirm that the Casio NATO adapters work with Full Metal squares, but the G-SHOCK GMW-B5000TCM-1JR’s dimensions are similar enough for me to suspect that they would. This is probably the world’s easiest-wearing metal band, however. Compared to my IWC Ingenieur Titanium, which also has a titanium band, the Casio is more flexible, more adjustable, and more forgivingly chamfered.

Titanium G-SHOCK FTW

Don’t expect to impress anyone with the G-SHOCK GMW-B5000TCM-1JR. If you need to show off and your bankroll doesn’t contain more than sixteen Benjamins, get a pre-owned Omega Speedmaster Reduced or a Seventies-era Rolex Date on an aftermarket band. Don’t buy a titanium G thinking that anyone will ever notice or comment on it. You’ve heard of “stealth wealth”? A $1600 digital watch that looks like a GI Joe toy is stealth-middle-class. If you can’t stand the heat, let someone else buy that heat-resistant square instead of you!

Those of you who are willing to take the plunge will be rewarded. This is a lifetime watch and will require nothing but battery changes for decades to come. They say that you never really own a Patek, that you’re just handing off a thousand-dollar semi-annual service bill to the next generation. But if you want your kids to have a timepiece that doesn’t come with an obligation, try a GMW-B5000TCM-1JR.

G-Shock GMW-B5000TCM-1JR
Price: $1600

SPECIFICATIONS:

Model Year: 2019
Item Shape: Rectangle
Display Type: Digital
Case diameter: 43.2 millimeters
Case Thickness: 13 millimeters
Special features: World time, Timer, Stop watch
Item weight: 3.88 Ounces
Movement: Quartz
Water resistant depth: 200 Meters

RATINGS (our of five stars):

Design * * * * *
Arguably the most interesting square G-SHOCK in a very long time. Stippled camo will not be to everyone’s taste but it is executed impeccably.

Legibility * * * *
When will Casio learn that most people don’t want a negative display on the high-end squares?

Comfort * * * * *
Absolutely without equal among metal-band digital watches.

Overall * * * *
$1600 is obscene money for a digital watch – but if you think of this as the LCD equivalent of a Milgauss or DarkSideOfTheMoon then it makes more sense. And you do, in fact, get what you pay for.

[Click here for all Room for Squares posts by Jack Baruth]

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