Over The Long Haul:
A Casio G-Shock Mudmaster Review (GG-1000-1A5)

by Baird Brown

In this hobby, it’s a rare occasion to see photos or articles about watches that aren’t pristine or new. It’s also very rare to meet someone who likes watches but has kept it to a minimum of 2 or 3 pieces. Almost every photo that rolls across our Instagram contains a watch in pristine condition; works of art meant to be adored by collectors and enthusiasts. Most of the serious collectors wouldn’t dream of taking a watch anywhere but a local Gala, and like the fancy cars they drive, their watches spend most of the time in a watch box or stored away for safe keeping until the day comes that their value is so great that it’s time to move on to someone else. They’re show pieces that see the lid of a box more than the world.

Personally, I like stories about watches that are worn, sometimes for years, and have the wear and tear to prove it. I like stories about watches that have only had one owner. I like stories about watches that are used for their intended purpose. I believe that watches can be so much more than the sum of their parts. I like to believe that they can convey the soul of the wearer and sometimes even carry their story on long after their time.

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I’ve known my friend, Nathan, for the better part of ten years, and for about the last six, he’s been an avid mountain biker, pillar of the biking community in our area, and all-around good dude. We met while working at a Sears Auto Center back in the days when that existed. I was still sporting Invictas back then and thinking I was the Boss Hogg of the local watch community. We bonded over our love of motorsport, our hatred of Sears, existentialism, and, of course, watches. So, many years later when his girlfriend asked me for gift idea (in the form of  a watch) that he could wear while mountain biking, I, like most people, responded with, “G-Shock.” And thus, he acquired the Mudmaster GG-1000-1A5, and like the Yeti Bike (not the company that makes coolers and “tumblers”) he rides, it’s a tool that can take the punishment it’s given and keep giving back. Sometimes in more ways than expected.

A while back we met up and got to talking about the Casio and his mountain biking in general. We sat down over some drinks while I fumbled with the watch that was covered in marks and flecks of dirt and mud. The Casio Mudmaster is a big watch and made to withstand the elements while also protecting the timing module from the repeated shock of a jackhammer. It’s much larger than your run of the mill G-Shocks, measuring at a whopping 56.2mm across, 55.3mm lug-to-lug, and 17.3mm tall; plus it comes with a steeper price tag (MSRP $320 | but under $200 on Amazon*). But it stands up to abuse much better than say, the Seiko SNK805 that made the rounds on the trails the first couple of times before it started gaining hours a day and had to come my way for repair. That watch was subsequently put on desk duty indefinitely.

Like the Yeti SP5C Bike, the Casio is made for extreme conditions and abuse. It takes its name from the Mud Resist system of gaskets in the pipes that keep mud and dust out of the watch. While mundane to some, this feature would be paramount to someone who might be on a trail during or after a rain. If you’re not going over the bars, you’ll be hauling your bike at some point, loading into your Honda Element, or making repairs to it. All these things are typically avoided by people in the watch community while wearing a watch. You’re going to encounter dirt or mud in this sport, and Lord knows you might want to sell a watch down the road which is nearly impossible if it’s beaten all to hell.

Like most G-Shocks, the Mudmaster comes will all the standard features, a stopwatch feature, 5 alarms (with snooze!) and 31 world times. This particular model also comes with two sensors built into it, one for the temperature, and one for a compass, both of which can be used by someone in the wilderness if you lose your way or stray away from a trail that might not be contained in a park. Maybe I’m stretching a bit there. Maybe even the extreme sports guys wouldn’t use these features, but they’re there and fun to use in daily life.

The funny thing about this watch, is that Casio doesn’t advertise the temperature selection on its wheel of functions. In fact, you probably wouldn’t know it even read the temperature if you didn’t read the instructions. We didn’t. I learned about it on the website. The twin sensors do come at a cost. The watch has not one, but two batteries, and neither of them are solar. This isn’t out of character for a G-Shock, but the Tough Solar tech does show up in G-Shocks at this price range. However, it’s left out of a watch that is marketed to spend its life outside and will force you to change them roughly every 2 years.

As I sat at a table with my friend and his watch in hand, I couldn’t help but fixate on the size of the case. The Mudmaster GG-1000-1A5 definitely has a wrist presence and dwarfs almost all of the common G-Shocks that I’ve ever seen. His wrist is smaller than mine, probably by an inch, and it looks big on me. It’s almost silly when you’re sitting around drinking beer, but when the helmet and gloves go on, it looks right at home. I couldn’t find the specs on the crystal, but the bulky bezel does help protect it from the beating of limbs or rocks that might meet its surface. The crystal on this watch had a few marks on it signifying its service to the wearer and it wears them like a badge of honor. The same can be said for the clasp. Its shiny surface looked as though it had been run across a belt sander on more than one occasion.

After a few drinks, Nathan tells me a story that was hard to believe. Once, while having just finished a spirited run at 25 mph downhill, he noticed that the watch was missing. Where it was, only the forest knew, and it was now too dark to look for it. Weeks passed and he wrote it off as a loss. Returning the same trail with his trusty Blue Heeler, Rocky, they stopped midway near some water to let the dog fill up. It’s a muddy and somewhat swampy part of the trail and it hadn’t been made any better by the rain. Nathan sat on a rock while waiting for Rocky to finish up and spotted something nearby. To his delighted surprise, it was the Mudmaster, up to its eyeballs in crud and still ticking away. How it came off, I don’t know, and didn’t ask. For most normal watches this story would have ended with a trip to the watchmaker or even to a retailer for a new purchase. It’s a testament to the build quality of these watches.

For all the toughness of the Mudmaster GG-1000-1A5, it’s not without a weakness. I asked him about nighttime use, and he told me that it’s poor. Contrary to Casio’s website and press information about the watch, the LED backlight isn’t very good. In fact, it’s nothing like Timex’s Indiglo, and very weakly lights the dial. Another factor that plays into its poor legibility is that this particular Mudmaster uses a negative display for the digital readout. The other versions do not. It’s hard to use any of the functions during the day much less the night. The LED light doesn’t illuminate these very well.

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Unfortunately, it’s a little bit of a drag on the function of the watch, even if it looks really cool. I actually prefer a negative display, but it has its drawbacks especially when on a smaller display. The watch does have Neo-Brite luminous hands and markers, so at least the watch will tell time and maybe you can read it if nothing else. Then he tells me he doesn’t ever wear it at night anyway. Then again, who does?

Nearing the end of the conversation I asked him if he still wears the watch to his rides. He gritted his teeth in one of those uncomfortable smiles and says that technology has caught up to his needs. He added a new watch to the collection to sit next to the old Seiko SNK805 and the Casio G-Shock Mudmaster. It’s an Apple watch. One of the new ones with the high-water resistance and all the heart monitors and performance monitors that someone who would ride to try to better themselves would need to pay attention to.

We had a good laugh about it, and he ended up telling me that he still wears the Casio when they maintain trails. Nathan is a board member for the local off-road bicycle association in my part of Tennessee and part of his job is helping to maintain local trails from wear and erosion. They also work with local governments to create new trails. The Apple watch does a lot of things, but slinging rocks and earth isn’t one of them. The Casio is the only choice. For its quirks and flaws, it does one thing better than others. The record (and the case) shows that it took the blows. Furthermore, it will continue to take the blows in the foreseeable future and give many years of good service even if you lose it next to a lake and your dog finds it weeks later.

We finished with a conversation of comparison between the watch community and the local biking community. We talked about how it’s unlike any communities we’ve been a part of, where the passion guides us and brings us to great like minded people who share that passion and can even give us insight into parts of it that we, ourselves, may have not discovered. We talked about how the watch, or the bike, is not only a tool for our passion, but also gives us a sense of pride, brings us together, or even carries the souls of us for many years to come. Defines us. And will someday hold the stories of a time gone by. As many of our readers know, I like watches for particular uses. I like watches that can be worn daily, take the blows, and keep going. Will you pass down that G-Shock? Probably not. But the stories it can tell might be worth more than the products it’s made of. And that’s what I like about this Casio Mudmaster.

This Casio G-Shock Mudmaster (ref. GG-1000-1A5) is available on Amazon for under around $200 (approx 50% off MSRP)*

Baird Brown( Contributor )

Baird is an avid motoring enthusiast and a self taught hobbyist watchmaker from Bristol, TN. He has a love for all things mechanical and has an affinity for the style late 60s and 70s Chronographs and Dive watches. Baird views watches as engineering marvels and tools for everyday life rather than just jewelry. His writing style is inspired by certain “British automotive journalists” and his own experiences growing up and living in a blue-collar society.

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