G-SHOCK Functions: 3 Most Useful/Useless

G-SHOCK functions - what's it all about Alfie?

All G-SHOCKs come with a standard set of functions. Some are incredibly useful, some perfectly useless. Here’s my guide to three G-SHOCK functions average buyers will use and appreciate, and three G-SHOCK functions no one really needs . . .

Useful G-SHOCK Functions

Casio GA-2100 G-SHOCK functions - analogue time


It’s a piecing glimpse into the obvious: most people buy G-SHOCKs to tell the time. To be able to do so despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (e.g., dust, water and shock). Some G-SHOCKs sync the time with your phone, some with satellites, some are fully independent. All are incredibly accurate.

While Casio made its bones displaying the time digitally, the success of pieces like the GA-2100 has opened the floodgates to new analogue displays. At the same time, Casio continues to improve G-SHOCK toughness (e.g., the MT-G series’ carbon fiber-reinforced resin case with Dual Core Guard structure).

Countdown Timer (TA)

G-SHOCK functions - countdown timer

Now that OK Google, Alexa and Siri hang out in the kitchen, setting a timer couldn’t be easier. “Hey Alexa! Time eleven minutes” is boiled egg bushido. “Hey Siri! Set an alarm for 15 minutes” is pasta perfection.

But why pester those spies for a time-remaining update when a quick glance at your G-SHOCK will do? Besides, there are times when you don’t want to invite Big Tech in your life (e.g., a countdown to ecstasy).

Setting the G-SHOCK’s countdown timer can be a challenge, but there’s fun to be had. If you have two G-SHOCKS, use the countdown function on the second watch to give yourself two minutes to figure out how to set the countdown timer on the first watch.

G-SHOCK Functions – World Time (WT)

G-SHOCK functions - world time

If you travel to other time zones (a pre-COVID thing), the utility of the G-SHOCK’s World Time function is self-evident.

If you don’t, remember: it’s not polite to call/text/DM a business contact at 2am because you didn’t factor the time difference. And who knows the time in Malaysia (save Malaysians)?

If you’re truly worldwide, you can activate WT on your watch, find the appropriate city code for the time zone in question (KUL) and avoid unnecessarily awkward international communication.

Or you could say “Hey Google/Alexa/Siri, what’s the time in Kuala Lumpur?” But then you run the risk of getting information about koala bears. G-SHOCK FTW.

Top 3 Useless G-SHOCK functions:


All G-SHOCKs have a programmable alarm. Some have five. Unfortunately, the beep is only slightly louder than an art fart, and the electronic heads-up lasts just 10 seconds. In fact, the word “alarm” is alarmingly misleading.

The G-SHOCK alarms can be useful to remind you of a daily task: taking your meds, feeding the cat, recharging your solar G-SHOCKs, etc. But again, that’s provided you’re in a soundproof booth (remember: HAL can read your lips).

Could G-SHOCK add vibration to increase the alarm’s utility? It could. They could also just make it louder.

G-SHOCK Functions – Auto-light (A.EL)

In case you’re wondering, “A.EL” stands for “battery killer.” When toggled on, a Casio so equipped automatically turns on the light on when you raise and turn your wrist to view the watch in the dark. It’s kinda cool, but . . .

The G-SHOCKs accelerometer activates the light if you so much as twitch your hand. You’ll see the watch lighting up repeatedly in your peripheral vision, and nearby ships might think you’re signaling distress in Morse Code.

Hourly Chime (SIG)

The G-SHOCK hourly chime puts the Road Runner on your wrist. Beep-beep, it’s 4 o’clock. Beep-beep, it’s 5 o’clock.

Who needs a time reminder on the hour, every hour, day and night? Promethius at watchuseek.com gave the best answer I could find: “The radio station I listen to has news on-the-hour, so if the chime goes off five seconds before the news, I know I need to adjust it. I admit, I’m pedantic.”

Wait. Who’s the say his G-SHOCK isn’t more accurate than the radio station? What of the people around you at work and home forced to tolerate the infernal hourly beeping? Trust me. They hate you for it.


What Did We Learn?

All G-SHOCKs have at least three useful functions. Many go well beyond that. The Royal Air Force GRB200RAF-8A has a compass, altitude/barometer, thermometer, flight mission log, location indicator and auto altitude calibrator. Of course, the watch’s utility is a bit dubious on a tennis court.

Bottom line: G-SHOCKs are inherently useful, and what you don’t use can’t hurt you.


  1. I may be that guy, but I love the hourly chime (not technically on a G-SHOCK, but same function). It’s a godsend for the absent-minded that lose track of time.

    WTF does R.EL really stand for? I get nothing from Googling. Responsive electroluminescence?

    1. You’re that guy! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      It’s actually “A.EL,” which stand for “automatic electroluminescent (light).” And, corrected in the article copy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I love the chronograph function, but damn, if I wasn’t working at home, I’d be wearing a smart watch during the day. Watches, even G-Shocks, are more about the bling than the time.

    1. Watches, even G-Shocks, are more about the bling than the time.

      Hmmm… interesting perspective. I’m a guy who is NOT about the “bling.” And, I really DO use them to tell me the time. Honestly, I wouldn’t not wear a watch otherwise. Yes, esthetics are a factor in my choosing a watch. Funny, though… I don’t think of “bling” AT ALL when I look at my G-Shocks. I see them as supreme examples of “form follows function.”

      As for “smart watches,” I cannot even remotely conceive of a reason for me to wear one. Absolutely no interest in them at all.

      Certainly, my Rolex Platinum-Steel Yachtmaster could justifiably elicit thoughts of “bling.” But, a G_Shock??

      1. I can’t justify much more than $250 at most for a watch, even when I’ve got a lot of disposable income, although I do regret not going over my limit ten years ago when $300 would have got me Seiko Monster. There was a time when cash was tight, and I was delighted to discover that some of the “special” G-Shocks that Casio makes could scratch the itch for (as my wife calls it) “boy bling” or watches, the only socially acceptable jewelry for men that isn’t a wedding or class ring.

        1. the only socially acceptable jewelry for men that isnโ€™t a wedding or class ring.

          I dunno… everywhere I look on watch forums, these guys are wearing (very girly, IMO) beaded bracelets next to their watches. It’s a most peculiar (to me) trend. Though, I think it’s mostly outside the USA.

  3. Fun article. A few thoughts:

    – The timer is indeed useful, though I wish the 3159 module in the GW-5000 would show the current time along with the countdown. Modules in lesser G-Shocks do this. Those two data points on the same screen make for a mean combo when cooking.

    – In these WFH days, I’ve enabled the hourly chime on my A168. It helps to mark the passage of time, plus it provides joy to my coworkers when on endless Zoom calls. Or maybe it’s annoyance disguised as joy.

    – The GW-5000 module plays a different beep when you land on the main screen after paging through the rest. Which is cool.

    – Good choice in using a GW-5000 for this article. It’s still my favorite Square.

    1. โ€“ In these WFH days, Iโ€™ve enabled the hourly chime on my A168. It helps to mark the passage of time, plus it provides joy to my coworkers when on endless Zoom calls. Or maybe itโ€™s annoyance disguised as joy.

      What is “WFH?” I think of our current era as “WTF days.” ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s nice that you spread the G-Shock “joy” with your coworkers! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      โ€“ The GW-5000 module plays a different beep when you land on the main screen after paging through the rest. Which is cool.

      Pretty much all my G-Shocks do that. I like it, too. I know, without looking, that I’ve toggled through to the home (time) screen and can stop hitting the button.

      โ€“ Good choice in using a GW-5000 for this article. Itโ€™s still my favorite Square.

      Ha! I did that on purpose. I looked at my collection and thought, “which one of these would likely elicit a knowing smile from the G-Shockerati?” The average non-Shocker would look at it and just see a “standard digital Casio.” But, the insiders will smile and say, “Niiiiiiiiiiiice.” ๐Ÿ˜€

    2. It took me a bit to decipher the presumed acronym for Work From Home from context.

      The hourly chime is the perfect passive signal, for yourself or others, that it’s time to wrap it up and move on to other things. No need for scheduling alarms needing squelching. Beep beep, oh look at the time!

      1. HA! Sorry – yes WFH means “working from home”. It’s a common acronym in the tech industry (and probably others I would imagine). I’ve been in this WFH mode since early March, and the hourly chime on my A168 is a constant companion during these strange, dark days. I guess I could enable it on my other Casios, but that might be a bit much. One hourly beep is enough for now.

    1. Yep. Neat feature. I would imagine the vibration alarm is heavy on the battery (the GD350 is not solar). But, it’s a cool idea and would be more effective as a reminder type alarm (especially in a noisy environment). Though, I don’t know if it would wake you up.

      1. I slept through it once, so it is definitely better for daytime reminders than as an alarm clock. Very discreet.

  4. I dont like your site. Your expression is cynical, cheeky and primitive. You’re a bunch of fools.

    1. Since I was a Navy man, I prefer “Ship of Fools.” ๐Ÿ˜›

      But, hey… that’s the beauty of the interwebz… something for everyone. There is a multitude of blogs who are paid to say what they say and paid to NOT say what they don’t say. Nobody is paying us.

  5. I agree for the most part. I do like the hourly chime. It just keeps me more in the game as far as scheduling. Every time it beeps I look at it. So it gives me another excuse to look at it.

    I also use the alarms. Theyโ€™re plenty loud for me, but I could see how they donโ€™t work for others.

    I find the ABC functions useless, but I love them and buy ABC watches just to have them. lol

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. All valid points! Any excuse to look at your watch… all good!

      I find the barometer useful as it pertains to seeing the barometric pressure trend. Up means good weather. Down means inclement weather. It works!

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