The Casio G-Shock has historically been a watch that I haven’t been able to connect with. No matter the model, I could never find my zone. Every G-Shock was polarizing on opposite ends of the spectrum to me. They seemed to be something designed for an operator training course or designed to match a retro pair of Jordan 4s that I’m not interested in. Then something changed.
In late August of 2019 G-Shock quietly released the GA-2100 series with a blacked-out (and all red) analog/ digital watch with an octagonally shaped bezel. The nickname (and catchy hashtag) “#casioak” quickly caught on. The enthusiast space accepted the CasiOak as a $100 poor mans’ AP Royal Oak homage and the stage was set.
Fueled by the hashtag, the GA-2100-1A1 quickly snowballed in social media popularity. By the time that hype-train rolled to a stop, they were all sold out. CasiOaks could only be had for 2.5x retail MSRP or more on the secondary market. Sound familiar? It should. This situation was the Casio equivalent to the Timex Q.
I managed to get my hands on a CasiOak the second time around with a JDM reference GA-2100SU-A1JF (about $150 on Amazon*). Yet another soft launch that I discovered on a random Japanese press release. Would this G-Shock live up to the #caisoak hype?
Casio marketed the GA-2100 series as a slim and tough watch. The case is 11.8mm high and the lug to lug is 48mm making this one of the most wearable contemporary G-Shocks out there. Don’t panic over the 45mm case diameter. The CasiOak wears neatly on my 6.75” wrist. It’s even slim enough to fit under my glove snowboarding. That’s a big win for me.
By far the most distinguishing feature for the CasiOak is the octagon-shaped bezel. It’s done in a soft way that’s not too angular or awkward. The GA-2100SU-A1JF is my favorite variation with a screen-printed camouflage pattern on top of the bezel.
I’m a sucker for tasteful camo patterns. Wearing the GA-2100SU-A1JF made me feel like I was wearing a Royal Oak Offshore. Even lounging in sweatpants I was crushing it so hard. (Or at least I thought that I was.) The satisfaction to price ratio was off the chart with the CasiOak on-wrist.
The hands are poorly lumed and the hour markers are not treated. Instead, you get a LED light to illuminate the dial from an angle. The light is positioned near the tiny digital screen.
I found the digital functions such as world time, stopwatch, and timer useless. The screen is so small that it’s impossible to read while running. It’s so small that Casio used a trick by tapping the “C & B” buttons to temporarily rotate the hands out of the way. I loved watching the hand automatically rotate.
A few of my coworkers thought that the CasiOak was a “cheap Wal-Mart watch”. I think that it was because of the strap. The tang buckle is about as cheap as they come. Still, it wasn’t uncomfortable at all. The strap was what I expected in this price range.
I’ve never taken a slam that damaged a watch case more than some superficial scuffs. The G-Shock carbon core was never a concern for me. Its spring bar failure that ultimately leads to loss is what you need to worry about. A fanned rubber strap takes the torque load off the actual spring bar in the event of going full scorpion down an icy landing in the terrain park.
The spring bars are quick-release but are configured in proprietary set up. Don’t plan on a strap swap. Would you want to anyway? Not me. I’ll keep it OG.
Is the G-Shock GA-2100 really that good? It sure is. I’ve had multiple people tell me that it was the “best $100 watch” that they’ve ever had. I agree. I’m not saying that you should be paying 2.5x over retail for a G-Shock (or any other watch).
But that’s not my call. It’s up to the market. What I can tell you that since the G-Shock “Camo CasiOak” GA-2100SU-A1JF was released they have been going up in price on eBay and stock has been rapidly decreasing. Casio could have charged double for the best colorways of the GA-2100 series and they would still be sold out. Check Amazon for current pricing* around these Casioaks.
Greg is a long-time watch lover based in upstate New York. Greg is a supply chain professional by day and private watch consultant by night. Greg brings his own style to the TBWS website as a contributor by blending bits of humor into technical assessments. You can follow his cycling and snowboarding adventures on Instagram as he pursues the perfect 3-watch collection.