I'm not in the minority of watch hobbyists in saying that I really like the "Casioak." Regular readers of the blog will have noticed that I've now covered a number of different models and sizes in a variety of colorways. I even gave one away to one of our readers last year!
One of my initial takeaways from the first green Casioak that I reviewed, was that I loved the look and the dimensions, but I wished that G-Shock would bring it upmarket. Well, the brand hasn't released the solar atomic version that I wished for (yet), but it has released a number of metal versions that bring the line up a notch in quality and price. In order to see how they stack up, I purchased two of the new metal models to wear and compare to the resin models. I even managed to get them at a discount (more on that later)!
In an effort to reduce my collection, I gave away or sold most of the full-size models that I had amassed. The navy blue GA2110ET-2A was the one that managed to stick around, so I purchased the blue metal GM2100N-2A as the most direct comparison.
My wife also still had her mid-size black GMAS2100-1A and cream-colored GMAS2100-4A. She had seen the rose gold-colored metal GMS2100PG-1A and told me how much that she liked it, so I ordered one of those for her as well.
GM2100N-2A and GA2110ET-2A
Comparing the full-size models first, there are a lot of similarities. Both use the same 5611 module, which means that they use the exact same display, and have the same functionality. The metal version is a hair narrower, but it is not distinguishable on the wrist. Both are the same thickness. The biggest difference in wearability is that the metal version is 21g heavier. It didn't affect the comfort in everyday wear, as it is still a fairly light watch. I could imagine that it would be less desirable if you were to wear it while playing sports or riding a bike though.
The metal Casioak is still advertised as being shock-resistant, but it doesn't utilize Casio's carbon core guard. Both use a mineral crystal, but the resin model has a noticeably taller lip on its bezel, which would likely better protect it from damage. The resin itself should also be less likely to show dings and scratches compared to the color-coated metal of the GMS. On the flip side, the metal won't become discolored or dirty over time like the resin models will (especially the lighter-colored ones).
Where the metal model does excel is in the looks department. The case has a nice mixture of finishes that I hadn't noticed in the press photos. On the website, it is described as having a "dark gray IP bezel." While it does look less blue in person than in the press photos, this appears to be a typo.
The upper surface of the bezel features an attractive brushing, as do the sides of the case. Even the visible screws securing the case are updated, with a black coating, and a hex head rather than Philips.
The dial is also more attractive. Casio describes it as being "treated with vapor deposition finish for a meticulously detailed metallic look." If it's not made of metal, it's a convincing facsimile. The vertical brushed pattern shifts in appearance in different types of light and adds visual interest.
Gunmetal hour indices and day display add a subtle contrast. These surfaces have groove patterns that are almost impossible to see with the naked eye, but that reflects light better, improving legibility slightly.
The strap on the metal version also has a more premium feel. Rather than the more functional look of the resin model, it has a subtle square pattern molded in, and fewer grooves. Unfortunately, the buckle is not color-matched as it is on the resin model, but it is metal rather than plastic. Also, owners of multiple Casioaks might find it interesting that the quick-release straps are compatible between the metal and resin models.
This color variant of the metal Casioak has a more monotone look than its resin cousin. The whole watch looks much darker in person than in the press photos. It has a more dramatic color shift than the resin version, looking navy blue in the sun, but coming off closer to gunmetal in low light. The result looks very clean and stylish, but the legibility suffers compared to the resin model with light gray hands. If this is a concern to you, just consider this when choosing a color, as legibility varies a lot across the Casioak models.
GMS2100PG-1A and GMAS2100-4A
Moving to the mid-size models, the differences are more significant. While the full-size models have slightly different dimensions, Casio kept the same feel between both watches. With the mid-size Casioaks, the look and feel of the metal models are noticeably smaller than their resin cousins.
One of the side-effects of this shrinking appears on the dial. While the resin mid-size models use the same module as the full-size versions, you might notice that the metal mid-size has lost its day display hand. This function has now moved to the digital display. In standard timekeeping mode, wearers can choose to display the day, month and date, or digital time in this window (full-size models with the day hand can choose to display only the latter two).
Text on the bezel to indicate the button function has also moved to the back of the watch. The branding on the bezel is becomes laser-etched rather than recessed.
The other changes found on the metal mid-size are similar to the full-size. It uses similar brushing on the case and the dial has a metallic appearance, albeit with a matte rather than brushed finish. In this case the color comes from ion plating and indices are polished.
As it is the dressiest of all of the Casioak models, the rose gold version has a smooth and subtle black strap. Unlike the blue version, its metal buckle is color-matched to the case. I haven't had a chance to confirm if these straps are interchangeable, since the cases are different sizes. I will update this article once I do.
Casio has been releasing a steady stream of new colors of the Casioak series. The obvious advice is to choose the model that speaks to you the most. If supreme legibility is of importance to you, I'd also recommend paying attention to the hands. Some of the variants are supremely legible such as the non-US market GA2100-1AER which is black with white hands. Others can be quite difficult to read in low light, such as the all-metal blue model reviewed here, the fully blacked-out US market GA-2100-1A1ER, or the all-red GA-2100-4AER. This will drive some people crazy, while others won't care at all.
But what if you're hung up deciding between the metal or a resin model? Each version has its advantages. The resin models are lighter weight, and should hold up to abuse better. The metal models, on the other hand, are more versatile. The polished surfaces and metallic dials make give them a more sophisticated and mature look. They would not look out of place in some business-casual situations, yet could still pull off gym duty, or playing sports after work. They also won't become dirty or discolored.
The other consideration is the price. Casio tends to charge a big premium for its metal models that does not always seem commensurate to the value it adds. At MSRP, the steel models are double the price of their resin counterparts. If you're on a tight budget, I have a tough time recommending them from a value perspective. At the same price, you can buy two colors of the resin models, and have more fun options.
On the flip side, compared to other $200 watches, these do have a lot of style and wrist-presence. It's also one of the newest and hottest G-Shock models. I wore mine to a local match meet last night, and it attracted as much attention as watches that were one or even two orders of magnitude more expensive.
Finally, it boils down to how you'll use the watch, and what your budget is.
Which one should I keep?
In an effort to control the size of my watch collection, I'll likely end up selling one or the other of my blue models. I have a Mudman as my beater watch, and I have a number of other metal watches, so both Casioak models float somewhere in between.
Which one should I keep? I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments.
Where to buy Them?
In the intro, I alluded to a source to buy these watches at a discount. I have no affiliation with this company, but I've bought five Casioaks via three separate transactions from a site in Spain called Relojes de Moda. The watches are genuine, and they arrive quickly via DHL. They often have even the harder to find, and non-US market models in stock. When something is out of stock, there is an option to sign up for notifications via email when the model you're looking for is available. They seem to restock frequently. Let me know in the comments if you buy from them, and what your experience is.