Japanese consumer-electronics manufacturer Casio was founded by Kashio Tadao in 1946 as Kashio Seisakujo. The then-struggling Tokyo sub-contractor initially produced microscope parts, but the arrival of one of Kashio’s younger brothers, Toshio, brought a new spark of inventiveness to the start-up. Its most famous early product was born of the scarcity of cigarettes following World War II. This was the yubiwa pipe, which was basically a finger ring with a mouthpiece that allowed smokers to puff away for longer than if they had to hold the burning cigarette between their unprotected fingers.
The yubiwa pipe was a big hit in postwar Japan, and profits from the device funded the company’s foray into calculators in the 1950s and ’60s. But it wasn’t until 1974 that Casio would enter the wristwatch market. Its debut product was a digital chronometer called the CASIOTRON, which displayed hours, minutes, and seconds on an LCD screen. Improvements to the display followed in 1978, and in 1982 Casio even released an analog wristwatch, the AQ-500. But its biggest splash in wristwatches came in 1983, when the G-SHOCK hit the market.
Distributed for its first few years mostly in the United States, where the bigger and bulkier wristwatch was accepted almost immediately, the G-SHOCK bucked the trend toward thin timepieces. In fact, in 1985, Casio released its own super-thin wristwatch, the PELA, which was 3.9mm thick, weighed a mere 12 grams, and was molded in one piece, watchband and all. But today, it’s the sporty G-SHOCK that people remember. For Casio collectors, some of the most sought-after G-SHOCK wristwatches are the Frogman and models designed by Dee and Rickey, who put their Lego-inspired, hip-hop-infused stamp on the phat timepiece.