Casio G-Shock DW9052-1V Review: The Affordable, Go Anywhere, Do Anything Digital Watch

By: Andrew Gatto

When it comes to durable, go anywhere quartz watches that will withstand nearly anything a human could possibly survive, Casio G-Shock has to be the number one choice. There’s a good reason why many police officers, firefighters, EMTs and military personnel trust G-Shock as their everyday watch. It can take an enormous amount of abuse without the fear of damaging the movement or the case. Sure, the urethane rubber exterior may get scuffed or the mineral crystal may get a scratch or two, but any other watch would simply not survive or would be damaged beyond recognition.

Casio rightfully owns a large portion of the “tough watch” market with their many variations of G-Shock watches, which include full analog models to full digital models and everything in between. I have had the pleasure to wear the Casio G-Shock DW9052-1V for awhile, and I must say I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.

Casio first introduced the G-Shock line in 1983 with the goal of creating a tough quartz watch that could survive falls, shock, vibration and water, yet still be affordable for. Kikuo Ibe, a Casio engineer, designed the first production G-Shock that met all of their goals, the DW-5000C. This digital watch could survive a 32 foot fall, 100 meters in water without leaking and severe shock and vibration thanks to its floating module that was protected by foam. Although is been 36 years since the first G-Shock hit the market, today’s models are made with many of the same “tough” design characteristics including hardened mineral crystals, rubber exteriors and stainless steel casebacks.

The Tough Case

G-Shock is by no means known for making small watches and the DW9052-1V follows that trend. It measures a chunky 47mm in diameter, 48mm lug to lug and 15mm thick. This watch isn’t for someone looking for a minimalistic design that will go unnoticed; it sits prominently on any wrist and everyone’s eyes will gravitate towards it. Being 15mm thick, it’s difficult to fit comfortably under long sleeve shirts with buttoned cuffs. I found it nearly impossible to move my cuff over the watch to read the time, which defeats the purpose of wearing a watch.

Granted, most people won’t be wearing this with a dress shirt but if you’re a police officer of EMT, many times they have to wear long sleeve uniforms in the winter. The size of this watch is my main complaint; however that isn’t Casio’s fault. Everyone knows G-Shocks are naturally large in order to hold all of the needed shock absorption and other protective features, so it doesn’t surprise me it’s a big watch.

Like the vast majority of G-Shock watches, the DW9052-1V features a black urethane resin protective “bumper” fitted over the main plastic case. The bumper is the first line of defense from damage from drops and shock because it completely surrounds the top and sides of the watch. It protrudes slightly above the crystal to give the glass protection from impact and it encloses all four buttons from damage and accidental pressing. The bumper is of one piece construction and appears to be secured to the underlying plastic case by four stainless steel screws located near the lugs. The resin material is relatively hard and difficult to manipulate with your fingers, yet it has a smooth, satin feel to the touch. It feels like a high quality material and not your run of the mill hard plastic that is found in everyday products.

Pressed into the top of the bumper are four stainless steel “pins” located at the 1 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 7 o’clock and 11 o’clock positions. These “pins” are strictly for cosmetic purposes, presumably to add a bit of shiny metal to a mostly black watch. Personally, they do nothing for me and detract from the overall muted look of this watch. Making things worse, they can easily be removed using your fingernail which makes me concerned about them accidentally falling out after a hard bump or fall. When removed, the hole is unsightly and will eventually fill up with dirt and grime so the best option is probably to leave them attached.

The DW9052-1V is operated by five rectangular buttons, four are used to change/start/stop modes and one is used for the backlight. The four mode buttons are located at the 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock positions of the watch case. The buttons are made from hard, gray plastic and have raised grips to aid in pressing them if the watch is wet. The protective bumper slightly shrouds the buttons but they can still be easily accessed when you want to. Unlike some other G-Shock models I have tried in the past, the DW9052-1V’s buttons do not require an insane amount of pressure to active them. I don’t know if the hard plastic on the buttons make it easier, but using them are a breeze and gave my big fingers no trouble whatsoever.

The final button is located at the 6 o’clock position on top of the case and is used to activate the electro-luminescent backlight. The button is made from the same hard, gray plastic as the other buttons but this one features a recessed red “G” instead of grips like the others. Again, the protective bumper covers the majority of this button; however the bottom of the button has no protection so you can easily reach it with a finger. Just like the other buttons, this one is just as easy to use and fear of accidental pressing is really no concern.


 
 

There are many different lug designs on the various G-Shock models, but this must be one of the most comfortable designs on wrist. Like most G-Shocks, the DW9052-1V is made with integrated lugs, meaning the strap is custom designed to fit inside the lugs and the typical aftermarket strap will not fit. However, the DW9052-1V differs from the previous G-Shock models I’ve tried on because the strap is not fixed against the lugs and case, which allows the strap to move freely inside the lugs. This smart design element makes the watch incredibly comfortable to wear because the strap has a lot of freedom of movement when it’s on the wrist, just like your typical watch. It allows the strap to more closely “hug” the wrist when it’s on and reduces the gap between the end of the strap and the top of your wrist. Even though the watch is physically large, the combination of the lug design and the strap makes it feel smaller when on the wrist, which I personally enjoy.

To protect the digital display, Casio choose to use mineral crystal due to its lower cost yet great scratch and shatter resistance. Eventually mineral crystals will get scratches and scuffs, but that is to be expected on a watch that can be worn when doing the most extreme work and activities. Some may say sapphire crystal would’ve been even better, but then this watch would’ve been significantly more money for minimal benefit.

On the backside of the DW9052-1V is a flat stainless steel caseback that is secured with four stainless screws. It features a lightly brushed finishing that runs from in the 12 o’clock to the 6 o’clock direction along with a stamped G-Shock logo and model information. The caseback is nicely finished for a watch at this price point, but it’s nothing special.

Unique G-Shock Dial Layout

As mentioned earlier, the DW9052-1V is a digital watch so it features multiple LCD displays on the 30mm diameter dial. The dial shape is mostly circular with a flattened bottom. In proportion to the rest of the watch, the dial size and shape work wonderfully for a tough watch. It is just the right size for great legibility but isn’t oversized to the point of throwing the aesthetics of the entire watch off.

The dial is broken into four LCD displays; top, left, right and bottom; each with its own unique shape and use. The top display is a long, skinny rectangle that shows the day abbreviation and date when in the standard timekeeping mode. The left display is a circle that is broken down into five sections correlating to the five groups of 10 seconds in each minute. The right display is another skinny rectangle that has 10 sections that correlates to 10 seconds. Finally, the bottom display is a larger rectangle that shows the time (hours:minutes and smaller seconds) when in the standard timekeeping mode.

The dial includes some white printing along the outer edge describing the button functions. The left circle dial display is surrounded by black text with “10”-”50” designating its 5 sections.The right dial section has the even numbers “2”-”10” printed in white and a dot for the odd numbers. All of the printing is very nicely done and is easy to read considering its small font and different colors.

2 Other Dial Styles Available

There is no doubt that some may find the dial too busy and distracting when they just want to know the time. I completely agree with them, but there are numerous other G-Shock models that are simpler and faster to read if that’s what you are looking for. People will be drawn to this model for its unique dial configuration and overall aesthetics, not necessarily for a simple design.

The Urethane Strap

The strap is made from the same black urethane resin material as the protective bumper, which means it’s relatively rigid but has the same stain feel to the touch. Being thin, the strap does have some flexibility and curves around the wrist nicely, but I think I’d prefer a softer material. I understand that Casio choose to use this resin material because of its high strength and durable properties, but a softer and more flexible strap material would make it even better on wrist. I have used rubber straps on other watches and they were soft and extremely supple, which leads to a comfortable wearing experience for a larger watch.

At the lugs, the DW9052-1V’s strap measures 24mm and tapers to 20mm at the buckle. Even with a 4mm taper, the strap is still wide but it fits the “tough watch” aesthetic perfectly and looks good in relation to the case. There are 11 adjustment holes to fit a wide range of wrist diameters from about 5 inches to 8.5 inches. A heavy duty stainless steel buckle is included and should handle any abuse thrown at it. There is only one sliding vented keeper, made from the same black resin material as the strap and bumper. The single keeper is sufficient in holding the excess strap securely; I have had no issues with it accidentally sliding and releasing the strap.

On the underside of the strap, Casio has made shallow cutouts to assist in venting and drying to help prevent sweat and water from building up and causing odor. This is a common feature on rubber straps since the material does not naturally breathe and it seems to work fairly well on this watch.

G-Shock Digital Module Features

The DW9052-1V uses the Casio 3232 digital module which features an alarm, countdown timer and stopwatch modes in addition to the standard timekeeping mode. The 3232 module uses a lithium CR2016 battery that is rated to approximately 2 years of life and an accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month. This module also includes some unique features that display the time in different methods, such as a circle and a rectangle.

In the standard timekeeping mode, the time is displayed on the bottom LCD display in hours:minutes and small seconds format. In PM hours, a small “P” is displayed in the top left corner of this display. The top LCD displays the date as well as the day abbreviation. One handy feature of this module is the “auto calendar” that is programmed to the year 2099. You simply set the month, day and year and the watch automatically populates the day of the week abbreviation. It’s one less thing you have to set and it automatically accounts for shorter and longer months so, in theory, you never have to worry about resetting the date (until the battery dies). Time setting is easy and fast, so much so I didn’t even have to read the instruction manual to figure it out.

While in the standard timekeeping mode, the left circular LCD display fills one of its five sections every 10 seconds until its full and the sections go blank when the new minute starts. This essentially mimics the second hand on an analog clock as it travels around every minute. In addition to that, the right LCD display fills one of its 10 sections every second and then on the 11th second it begins to blank out one of the 10 sections. This creates a display that is constantly growing for 10 seconds then shrinking for another 10 seconds. These two displays do not help me in any way to tell the time faster or more accurately, I would have preferred Casio to expand the size of the main time display. I’m not sure why Casio put these on this watch other than to make it different from most of the other digital watches on the market.

The alarm mode features four different options: daily, date, 1-month and monthly alarms. The daily alarm will sound at the time you set, every day until you change it. The date alarm will sound on the specific date and time you set it. The 1-month alarm will sound everyday for a specific time only during the month you set it to. Finally, the monthly alarm will sound every month for the specific time and day you set it for. The alarm has a loud beep that is hard to miss, even outdoors. If you are surrounded by loud noises, the alarm may not be heard so Casio allows you to set the backlight to flash when the alarm is going off. This will reduce battery life but it may help you notice the alarm when you can’t hear it. Along the lines of the alarm, an hourly chime can also be set to chirp at the top of every hour.

The countdown timer can be set anywhere from 1 second to 24 hours. When activated, it counts down to your set time and the alarm will sound. In addition, the left circular LCD display starts full and blanks out a section every 10 seconds as if it’s also counting down. The right display also counts back by quickly filling its 10 sections every second towards the left. Again, I don’t think these two displays help with reading the countdown timer, other than making it easier for the wearer to know its running. One nice feature I do like is the fact the current time is always on the top display while in the countdown mode. You never lose track of the current time while watching your countdown timer running.

The final mode is the stopwatch which allows you to measure elapsed time, split times as well as two finish times. All of the times are measured in 1/100 second units for the first 60 minutes then in 1 second units after that. The maximum stopwatch time is 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds which should be plenty for the vast majority of users. Similar to the countdown timer, the current time is always on the top display.

Finally, the Casio 3232 module features a green electro-luminescent backlight that illuminates the entire LCD. When the backlight button is pressed, the display is lit for about 3 seconds which is plenty of time to read the watch. As mentioned in the instruction booklet, excessive use of the backlight will reduce the battery life

Overall Impressions

Overall, I am impressed with the Casio G-Shock DW9052-1V and its surprisingly comfortable fit. It’s a large watch, but with its nicely designed lugs that allow the strap to move freely, it sits comfortably on the wrist without much gap like some other G-Shock models have. The satin smooth resin material on the case bumper and strap are a welcome treat that I was not expecting. Even though the dial may be a bit busy, it still gets the job done just fine and is easy to read at a quick glance once you get use to it.

The nice thing about the G-Shock line is that if you don’t like this specific model, there are dozens of others out there to choose from. Some are blacked out while others are bright, bold colors that are sure to grab people’s attention. They truly make a watch for almost everyone. I am usually an analog watch guy, but wearing this digital G-Shock made me understand why they are so popular among first responders and military personnel. It’s the perfect watch to put on and forget about, especially if you are doing anything that would certainly harm an automatic watch and especially at an amazing price of about $45.

Casio G-Shock DW9052-1V Specs:

  • Case Diameter: 47mm
  • Case Lug to Lug Size: 48mm
  • Thickness: 15mm
  • Weight: 60g
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Crystal: Mineral
  • Functions: Alarm with 4 modes, Countdown Timer (1 second- 24 hours), Stopwatch (up to 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds), Electro-luminescent Backlight, Hourly Chime


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