The word Mud has a long record in the annals of G-SHOCK history. First, there was Mudman, used as a nickname by collectors for the DW-5500 (officially called the G-SHOCK II), which was released in 1985 and was the first G-SHOCK to feature a mud-resistant construction. 10 years later, in 1995, they introduced the DW-8400, the first watch officially called the Mudman. The main thing making these watches mud-resistant was a lack of places for dirt or debris to enter and mess things up, such as the push-buttons, which are all covered and sealed, unlike the buttons of a traditional G-SHOCK. Many iterations would follow, but it would take 20 more years of playing in the mud before Casio could finally claim to have mastered it. The first Mudmaster was released in 2015 as the GWG-1000 under the Master of G sub-line and featured a continuation of the Mudman’s rugged qualities, this time with higher-end materials and an analog-digital display. A few more iterations of the Mudmaster would follow, with various configurations of sensors, complications and sizes. All this mud leads us to the watch we are discussing today, the new G-SHOCK Mudmaster GWG-B1000.
Introducing the newest watch in the vaunted Master of G line, the GWGB1000; the flagship Mudmaster. Historically the Mudman and more recently the Mudmaster has been associated with Rally racing, and this new model claims to be inspired by “the adventurous spirit exemplified by driving across the wilderness in an “overlanding” style, the design incorporates the solid, rugged look of off-road vehicles and survival gear.” While I would have loved to test out this watch at the Dakar or on an epic trip across the Australian outback, schedules, budgets and driving prowess don’t currently allow for either. We will have to settle for some hiking and light bouldering in upstate New York’s outdoorsy paradise, Ithaca. Home of the Ivy League institution Cornell University, Ithaca is also home to vast forests, deep ravines, gorges and waterfalls. Our visit happened to be during a period of heavy rains, so a watch called the Mudmaster fit the bill perfectly.
In the same way that dive watches have largely been replaced by fancy high-tech computers, the days of navigating backwoods terrain with just a compass and some heavy boots are largely behind us. Even casual weekend hikers nowadays are equipped with technology featuring everything from compasses to trail maps to emergency beacons. The Mudmaster bridges that gap a bit, featuring high-tech things like a digital compass, thermometer, altimeter and barometer you might find on a smartwatch, but cutting you free from having to plug it in every night to keep it juiced up and undergoing the nearly constant software updates that most devices seem to require these days.
These Mudmasters employ a newly developed multiguard bezel structure that combines components made with different materials: forged stainless steel with a DLC coating for the bezel ring, stainless steel upper and lower bezel guards and front button guard with DLC coating, and carbon fibre-reinforced resin for the left and right side button guards. It also features Tough Solar, keeping it fully functional as long as you take it outside once in a while, Multi-Band 6 radio-controlled timekeeping, and Smartphone Link connectivity via the CASIO Watches app. All this combined with the more standard G-SHOCK features, including stopwatch, timer, alarms, world time, and 200m of water resistance, and you have yourself a true go-anywhere, do-anything timepiece. Just make sure to read that manual.
Strapping it on, its wrist presence is immediate and downright intimidating. While smaller than some previous iterations of Mudmaster, at 58.7 × 52.1 × 16.2 mm this is still a pretty chunky watch. I imagine a lot of that space goes into housing all the radios and sensors that are jammed in there. “Chunky” in this case, though, certainly doesn’t mean uncomfortable. The soft bio-based resin strap and lightweight materials make for a very comfortable watch. I won’t go as far as to say it disappears into the wrist or you forget you’re wearing it, but it is quite comfortable for a large, toolish watch.
The Great Outdoors
Then it was time to take the new Mudmaster for a test drive. We headed out into the rainy woods in search of adventure and mud. After a few hours and a number of miles walking well-kept trails, it was time to take things a little bit off-road. I scrambled across a shallow creek with the help of some slippery stones and nervous energy and pressed the button to switch into altimeter mode. Traversing upward over a medium-sized pile of boulders and through a steep wooded area until reaching a precipice on one of those famous gorges, the easy-to-read display adjusted in real-time and informed me that I have ascended a whopping 200 feet since last check. I’m not exactly Reinhold Messner, but one has to start somewhere.
If I knew how to use a barometer I’m sure it would have been going wild on this day that fluctuated between rain showers and sunshine with songbirds, but I will leave that test to someone more meteorologically inclined. The temperature sensor comes in handy and feels more reliable and useful than what you might find on a smartwatch, as it takes the temperature directly at your location, as opposed to reporting what the temp is at the nearest weather tower. The compass feature works by showing you a digital heading on the LCD screen, and transforming the second hand into an active compass needle. It’s as simple to read as the tiny metal one you remember from Boy Scout or Girl Scout orienteering class. Thankfully there was no urgent need for a compass on this day, but I played with it multiple times ‘cause it sure is fun. I also compared it to an external compass and can verify it works perfectly as advertised.
When attached to a smartphone via Bluetooth you gain access to some more advanced features due to the addition of the phone’s GPS radio. These features include Location Indicator, which points the inset dial indicator hand in the direction of a location recorded on the map within the app, and Mission Log, which records activity history. Some of the other features come in handy when out in the field, as well. Like sunrise and sunset times, and alarms to remind you when to turn back to beat that aforementioned sunset back to camp. And a stopwatch to time the brewing of that sweet cup of coffee once you finally do. All in all, this watch packs a veritable Swiss Army knife number of features into a tidy package and is an excellent adventure companion.
As the day was winding down there was one final feature to test, that of the famous mud resistance. The persistent rain made it easy, if not unavoidable to get some mud on the dial and the strap, and I may or may not have added a little bit more to make it a valid experiment. The only running water available was a weak water fountain at the trailhead, and with just that trickle, all the mud washed right away, leaving the Mudmaster as clean and glistening as the day it was born. Test passed.
These Master of G watches sit in a category all their own. Mixing higher-end materials with all the high-tech whiz-bang one could want in a wrist-based object. The new G-SHOCK Mudmaster watches look sleek and cool but are also rugged enough to throw off a building if that’s the kind of thing you’re into. As a dainty-wristed fellow, I personally hope these keep getting a bit smaller, but who knows, maybe that would take away from their charm. Either way, after my extensive and highly scientific rounds of testing, it is officially hereby confirmed that this beast is truly, the master of the mud. It is now available from the brand’s website and retailers at USD 800. More details at gshock.casio.com.