REVIEW ADDENDUM: CASIO and the Apple Watch
We just finished a big glossy watch review, and how can we talk about watches and not get into this issue, right? So...
Because CASIO is smart, the Apple Watch scares them a bit.
And if they’re being honest, all mainstream watchmakers are afraid. Doesn’t matter if you’re comparing at the $300-ish low end, the mid-range up to several thousand dollars, or all the way to luxury timepieces that run well into 5 figures, there’s a version of the Apple Watch that costs about as much or considerably less and does a kajillion things none of the others can.
CASIO’s nearly bulletproof, $1,000 G-SHOCK GPW-1000 packs a few really cool time calibration features and doesn’t need to be paired with anything but your fleshy arm, but in day-to-day use, it really only does what almost any $50 watch can do (in truth, it does considerably less than our Editor’s replica of a 30-year-old CASIO Data Bank). Compare that to the 42mm Apple Watch with the stainless bracelet: it’s also $1,000, but for that cash the consumer gets something relatively elegant that packs more processing power and features than the entire G-SHOCK line combined several times over. For even moderately techy buyers, the choice is pretty simple. In this case, that’s totally okay because the burly GPW-1000 series isn’t for the average, moderately techy buyer - the real problem is that almost every other CASIO watch is.
To their slight advantage, with over 40 years experience making techy middle-class watches, CASIO also knows what scares Apple...but still.
There's the lack of market experience, the coming avalanche of tech support needs, dealing with inevitable water, vibration, and shock damage claims, and recouping a massive investment in a completely untested product line, just to mention a few potential pitfalls. On this ground where Apple has great risk, CASIO has a substantial footprint and wisdom to draw from, but that'll only go so far. Sure, Apple’s new to the watch game, but we all know that the iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, the iPhone wasn't the first smartphone, and the iPad wasn't the first tablet. Apple has a way with cannonballing into other kids’ pools and straight-up taking over.
The likes of Breitling and Gucci and Rolex can probably just shrug and keep rolling for a good while longer, but CASIO is a tech firm that sells a lot of geeky fun timepieces, and the Apple Watch directly challenges...well, almost all of them.
Pre-Apple Watch release, the larger smartwatch sector remains rather limp, but unless it completely flops, CASIO won’t be able to lean on legacy for very long; they must respond (to Android Wear, as well - perhaps by joining that team). We know just a little bit about how CASIO rolls, and we feel confident that 1. given their extant range of innovative, app-enabled, techy feature watches, they're almost assuredly working on a smartwatch, because 2. they aren’t foolish enough to believe that a $1,000 analog G-SHOCK, or $400 digital this or $2,000 shiny that, can hope to compete long-term with a successful Apple Watch.
But like we said, CASIO's smart, so we can't wait to see what will compete.