John Mayer x HODINKEE x G-SHOCK in all its glory

Thank heavens HoDinkee’s countdown timer only teased us for five days before the debut of the John Mayer x HODINKEE x G-SHOCK collaboration. The announcement was deliberately stark and devoid of details, cloaked in mystery. I have almost no interest in any single aspect of the ménage, but their manufactured suspense infected me . . .

I dutifully went online a bit before the 11am EST reveal. HoDinkee posted a short POV video of Mr. Mayer shouting into a sampling keyboard while wearing a G-SHOCK on his wrist. This was puzzling; it didn’t seem to give any clue whatsoever as what to expect.

The clock struck eleven, the new bell of the ball was shown and I honestly felt PUNK’D. The Casio seen in the video WAS the collaboration. It was so standard and run-of-the mill looking that I assumed it was a bone stock department store item.

John Mayer x HODINKEE x G-SHOCK together!

The watch enthusiast diaspora let out a collective yawn. It was in no way exciting. Not since Dean Kamen revealed that the “revolutionary” IT or Ginger was a scooter without a seat had a “reveal” been so underwhelming and anticlimactic.

Admittedly, G-SHOCK’s have dazzling variety and Casio is far from shy about crazy colors. In the last few weeks, TTAW has seen transparent glitter camo and faux marble flavors of the G-SHOCK reviewed. The bar is set pretty high for dazzling anyone when they do rainbow colorations. Mr. Mayer et al. didn’t even get out of bed.

John Mayer x HODINKEE x G-SHOCK diagram

In case one is jury pool material, in case you missed the incredible story and details, here’s all you need to know about the John Mayer x HODINKEE x G-SHOCK DW6900JM20-8:

    • It’s a 6900 reference in dark gray with teal and yellow accent colors lifted from a Casiotone SK-5 sampling keyboard that Mayer used in his youth.
    • Limited edition, but no mention of quantities. Not numbered.
    • MSRP is $180 with a bonus year of warranty, totaling two years.

So gray is the new black. The function lettering is yellow, the G-SHOCK name and one dial outline is teal. That’s it. I guess that’s the problem of styling a Casio after a Casio. It produces a Mandela effect where you could swear it had already been done. I have to take their word it wasn’t.

HoDinkee John Mayer G-SHOCK watch

HoDinkee’s ad copy – I mean announcement – says a bit more.

You may recognize the 6900 as one of the most iconic Casio G-SHOCKS currently in production…

“One of the most” means “not the most.” All I know about G-SHOCK’s is from reading here, but isn’t the square, like a 5600 or something, what most people will picture when asked to identify a G-SHOCK? Look, another qualifier, “currently in production.” I get it. Hot selling models don’t need gimmicks. Lagging ones do.

The first instinct was to make the center “G” illumination button yellow, since the yellow pads on the keyboard are the standout design element, but it wouldn’t have lasted long on the wrist before you got tired of it.

Yes, if you are aping something with yellow buttons, making the button yellow would make sense, even if it may look like a Green Bay Packers football helmet.

I might be too skeptical, but since when do people out for sales care if you tire of it after the sale? Besides, this is for the Hodinkee customer base. They aren’t owners of a one watch collection; they won’t be wearing it daily. These are people with acquisition disorders that crave novelty and variety.

eBay Ho

The collab sold out despite being unambitious and mundane. And wouldn’t you know it? The John Mayer x HODINKEE x G-SHOCK is already listed on Ebay for $400 to $500.

One suspects that this unspectacular effort arose out of arrogance. Assuming the credulous clientele will buy literally anything (see: HoDinkee travel clock), why put much effort into it? It’s money in the bank regardless. Phone it in.

G-SHOCK JM on wrist

It would have been fun to have “Pulse Code Modulation” on the strap, but that doesn’t make any sense on a watch…

And the most striking thing, I think, is that there isn’t any printing anywhere on the strap. My feeling is that by not having any graphics there, the watch is more serious, and therefore could be worn in situations that you might not think would call for a 6900 G-Shock.

So we shied away from the fun and went with serious? What’s so striking about the lack of printing on the strap when the bone stock unit has none either?

So far there seems to be a lot of “not a bug, it’s a feature” jiving on why this thing spared every expense. If people want an innocuous, inconspicuous watch, they’ll buy the regular one and not the supposedly special collaboration.

Boxed HoDinkee X JM G-SHOCK

My favorite element, and one that was really surprising when I saw the watch with my own eyes, is the color of the gray used on the case and strap. You have to see it in person, but it has this texture to it that I’ve never seen on a G-Shock.

Ooh, gray is so exciting! In what world? Isn’t it almost synonymous with drabness? It’s light black, it’s not even a color. Again, we’re not really pushing boundaries or doing the unexpected here. Ask me if there have been gray G-SHOCK’s in the past and I’d bet there were several.

John Mayer x HODINKEE x G-SHOCK stand up

I’m not even a fan of the color black, but I’ll readily admit that gray polymers tend to look faded, diluted, subprime. The lack of saturation is not classy, it looks like someone was stingy with the carbon black. By texture I assume he means that lighter color makes the standard matte finish more visible.

There’s no way Casio was making new molds or reprogramming 3D printers for this. A new texture wasn’t specified, as he even admits it was a surprise. I’m tempted to wipe some Clorox on the case and band of one of my black Casio’s to see if it turns gray, not that I actually want the result.

What was your design process?

JM: I work pretty lo-fi. I started in Photoshop, just using the eyedropper tool and grabbing the colors from a photo of the keyboard. Casio sent me a line drawing, which I always love working with. It’s like an adult coloring book of the highest order. And from there, I started laying out the colors. After I got a good feel for the layout, I Pantone-matched the plastic on my SK-5 and dialed the rest in from there.

This is refreshingly honest. The man isn’t pretending that any great genius or effort was required. The admission is that he copied colors and futzed around with a digital coloring book. I’ve played with online custom configurators too. However, doing so has sometimes resulted in me spending money, never making any.

A celebrity musician grabbed three colors off his old keyboard that was made by the same corporation that makes the watch, and dropped them in to utterly forgettable results. This is lazy for a 2-way collaboration, but an embarrassment for a 3-way.

Here’s a five minute video of Mayer unboxing his own creation. I made it two minutes and he did nothing but play with the keyboard. I can’t blame a musician for caring more about music than watches. But besides having some discretionary income to invest and being a part owner, why is he involved in this collaboration at all?

He seems like a nice enough guy but, to my knowledge, he croons for women and it is no secret that watch enthusiast crowd is a total sausage party. It defies logic that this presumed star power made this work.


  1. My subjective truth: The 5600/”square” is the G-Shock to get. Everything else in the G-Shock line lacks its iconic, and brilliant design. And the beautiful thing is that 5600/”square” watches are readily available. It’s like if the 911 was the cheapest, most readily available Porsche, or the Royal Oak was the cheapest, most readily available AP. Co-branding a non-5600/”square” with HoDinkee and especially John Mayer just makes it worse.

    The objective truth: For $180 this lacks Tough Solar, atomic clock syncing, and Bluetooth, all three of which can be had in less expensive G-Shock models.

    • Agreed and I applaud Casio for not playing games with their most popular items.
      I wanted to go off on price, but first there is the fact that any limited release, even one as mild as this, will incur some costs additional to a continual run being stamped out by the thousand. Second, I don’t think the pricing is out of line with their other limited edition or collaborative stuff. I may be wrong.

    • Yes, but one had to read between the lines of the Hodinkee spin because they are silver tongued bullshitters. They said #3 in Japan, which begs the question… why are we focusing on the numbers for the domestic market for a small nation?

      My argument would be that if Mayer really was trying to capture the keyboard with a watch, wouldn’t the blocky 5600 do that much better?

  2. Casio has sold collaboration G-Shocks for years, typically based on an older model (like this DW6900). The difference this time is the target market (which means you noticed it!), the markup (retail for a non-collab DW6900 is $80), and that it sold out so quickly–

    • It just dawned on me that, from a production standpoint, of course you don’t stop the line cranking out the big moneymaker for some short run tweaking. You do that with the slow seller because there is excess capacity to do so.

      That the Hodinkee fanboys and the flippers bought every last of however many there were is not so surprising, but I’m shocked to see the people acting like this is something hot, desirable, lustworthy. Mayer himself seems to downplay it as a safe, practical, unassuming choice.

  3. I’m a fan of neither John Mayer nor Hodinkee. I’m a classic and progressive rock kinda guy, but I’ve heard OF John Mayer. I wouldn’t be able to name a single song. I had never heard of Hodinkee until I crossed paths with RF here on TTAW. Sounds like a pet name for your hoo-ha. Any-hoo….

    I had heard some of the hype for this watch “collab” on some Facebook groups and the WUS forum. Nothing but a big yawn from me. I’m not one to fawn over celebrity endorsements of any kind. Well… maybe if Neil Peart (RIP) had collab’ed a G-Shock I’d be all over it. The reality is I don’t care about “collabs,” as I don’t know who any of the other parties are (and don’t care).

    In any case, I was simply not even remotely interested. Neither name means anything to me. And, I have a far superior GW-6900 (acquired for $98), which has solar charging and Multi-Band 6 (atomic sync). I wrote about it in my very first article here:

    That all said… if anyone out there is listening, I’m available for collabs. I’m pretty handy with photoshop. Send me a wireframe and I’ll try to keep my coloring inside the lines.

  4. I asked the same woman that I asked the last time that I wasn’t sure if I’d ever heard a John Mayer song, and the reply was a song called “Your Body Is a Wonderland” which is a strum and mumble bit of simping that is certainly not my cup of tea. I mainly know him for the hubbub over his Playboy interviews and the comedy of his racist penis. And as I say too often, his off-the-cuff philosophizing on typewriters in the documentary “California Typewriter” made me think him a brilliant poet, but I never get any such resonance when he talks watches.

    Collaborations are often dicey, but sometimes the result is something eminently desirable even if the brands attached are irrelevant. This one had no such luck at all for me. There may well be a dozen or two people with emotional attachment to that model keyboard, I guess.

    Remove the implied scarcity and “collectability” I’m at a loss as to explain how a couple hundred sold worldwide. I understand the allure of subtle variations, but this is an also-ran somehow elevated by cultish groupthink.

    • It pains me that the only thing most people know of John Mayer is “Your body is a Wonderland”. Do yourself a favor and dig in a little more to a guy Eric Clapton refers to as a Guitar Master.

      Listen to his live album “where the light is” and thank me later. Trust me, I used to HATE John because of the songs my wife listened to of his. He plays so many different styles and genres.

      • Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll give it a try, but I strongly suspect that he has mastered many different types of music for which I don’t care, of which there are many.

  5. While I love a nice 5600, I actually think they should have gone in a more rarefied direction. Mayer is interesting as he has in the past bragged about his love of Vintage (!) G-Shock. I seem to recall reading a thing about him bidding on vintage Frogman G-Shocks but I am unaware of him ever actually showing them off. I don’t get why this wasn’t a Master of G watch instead of of the world;’s most boring colorway of an incredibly standard model. I’m surprised the good people at Casio didn’t say “couldn’t we try a little harder?”

    • It’s a DW-6900, not a 5600. 🙂 But, basically they just changed the color scheme of a very basic watch available on Amazon for $48. They didn’t even go for the GW-6900, which at least has MB6 and Tough Solar.

        • I’m agnostic on which model they chose, but they claim the 6900 is iconic when most people asked to think of a G-SHOCK picture a square. They were honest in their choice of weasel words, but why even bring up an aspect in which their model is an also-ran?

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