If you think big, plastic, and inexpensive when you think Casio G-Shock, I’m about to change your perception of Casio forever. MR-G is the name of Casio’s premium G-Shock line, and Casio spared neither feature nor expense designing and manufacturing these watches.
One of the reasons you probably haven’t heard of the MRG line of G-Shocks is that they aren’t sold in the US. And the reason they aren’t sold in the US is simple: at a price point of between $1,500 and $3,000, nobody in their right mind would buy one. Except, it would seem, me.
The MRG-7600D is the "cheapest" of the three MRGs that Casio currently sells, but it’s my favorite. The MRG-8100B — the Holy Grail of Casio G-Shocks — is an undeniably sharp watch, but in my opinion, it’s also less practical. The big difference between the two models is the use of analog displays versus digital. The higher-end 8100 has no digital readouts at all, opting instead for three subdials and a date wheel. The 7600D, on the other hand, has two subdials and two "negative" (light on black) LCDs. Although I do agree that the purely analog 8100B looks classier, I find accessing the (extensive) functionality of the 7600D far easier and more practical.
I like to group the features of the 7600D into two categories. Let’s call them premium features (features that set the MRG line apart from all other Casios, and most other watches in the world), and standard features (features that can be found in most G-Shocks of reasonable caliber).
- Virtually scratch-proof sapphire crystal with anti-glare coating. Synthetic sapphire in a Casio? That’s one of the signatures of the MRG line.
- Titanium case and solid titanium bracelet. Casio doesn’t make a lot of titanium watches, primarily because titanium scratches fairly easily (and is therefore inconsistent with Casio’s image of ruggedness and durability). However, see below…
- Highly scratch-resistant DLC (Diamond-like Carbon) coating. Stainless steel has a tendency to scratch somewhat easily, and titanium takes even less force to leave a mark, but the DLC coating on MRGs hardens titanium to the point of being virtually scratch proof.
- Locking clasp. The MRG line of G-Shocks has my favorite locking mechanism of any watch bracelet I’ve seen. It’s a simple and subtle switch build into the clasp that disables the push-button release mechanism and keeps the watch very securely fastened.
- Six-band "atomic" radio reception (Japan, US, China, UK, Germany) for automatic time calibration.
- Solar powered with multiple power-saving modes.
- Automatic hand correction. The module in the 7600D automatically checks hourly to see if the hour and minute hands need to be realigned, and if so, aligns them accordingly. It’s possible for analog hands to get out of alignment if a watch is exposed to strong magnetism or sustains an extremely hard shock. (I’ve never seen this happen to a G-Shock, but I have seen it happen to plenty of other watches.)
- LED backlight with optional tilt-activation. When it’s dark, hold the watch up and tilt your wrist toward you at about a forty degree angle to activate the LED one-handed. Both hands and hour indices are also coated with very bright luminescent paint.
- Dual time (as distinct from world time — see below). Dual time allows you to specify a second time zone in addition to your home location which you can optionally display on the lower LCD.
- World time. Unlike dual time, world time is its own separate mode which supports 48 cities (29 different time zones), and shows the date as well as the time. You can also hold down the upper left and right buttons simultaneously while in world time mode to swap your world time city with your home city. This is an excellent feature for people who frequently travel between two time zones (as I do).
- Stopwatch with a resolution of 1/100th of a second and a single split time.
- Countdown timer. The timer can be set for intervals between one and 60 minutes.
- Five daily alarms, one of which is a snooze alarm (it repeats at five minute intervals until you change modes — extremely annoying, IMHO, but I suppose that’s the point).
- Fully automatic calendar.
- Water resistant to 200 meters, or about 650 feet.
- Dimensions: 45mm wide (left to right); 50mm in length (top to bottom); 14.6mm tall (case thickness).
In case this hasn’t occurred to you yet, the problem with paying anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 for a Casio G-Shock is that nobody outside of Japan is going to know that you dropped that kind of coin. In other words, a watch is only an effective status symbol when it is easily recognizable as such. Rocking an MRG outside of Asia will almost certainly never get you mistaken for a baller. It will not get you a second glance, admiring comment, or the opening you need to start a witty conversation with the girl next to you at the bar. However, if you’re a die hard G-Shock fan — and if only one of the toughest and most sophisticated watches in the world will satiate your horological lusts — then go ahead and import yourself a Casio G-Shock MRG and don’t ever look back. (I also highly recommend not telling your wife how much you spent on it.)
By Christian Cantrell