This is ‘Time Spent With,’ a brand new series where our Editor-in-Chief, Scarlett Baker, trials the universe of timepieces, from the unique perspective of a self-confessed watch rookie. This week, discover the story behind the iconic Casio Baby-G watch that has been turning heads since the ’90s.
In 1994, (g-)shock waves rippled into the world with its arrival. Born 3 years later, I, an infant in the world, was living blissfully unaware of the cultural phenomenon dominating the decade with the watch that everyone wanted to have: the Casio Baby-G.
In the watch world, the question often thrown around in common parlance is the inquisition: what was your first watch? Mine? A Swatch FlikFlak. Whilst I reflect on my beloved blue FlikFlak watch with a textured blue strap and diamonte ballerinas with heaping nostalgia and a humble smile, the raging bitterness – that I still need to get over – of my sister’s bubblegum pink Baby-G watch remains engraved in my memories. It was, by all accounts, as haute as haute horology could get for me.
Fast forward two decades and at 24, I am now a proud owner of my own pink Baby-G. So as a self-confessed total watch rookie, it felt right to kickstart our new series Time Spent With, where I embark on the escapades of my daily life, accompanied by a time-telling friend on my wrist with none other than the watch that mercilessly followed me throughout my childhood.
When it comes to cultural capital, the Baby-G takes the bait. Up there amongst the hallmark ‘90s icons, from TLC to the Spice Girls, the Baby-G littered the international maelstrom of conversation, and in 1998, Bloomberg BusinessWeek recorded over $19 million G-Shock watches being sold. Why did it cut through the noise of the watch world and rouse so much attention?
First and foremost, the Baby-G debuted as a women’s watch. But at the time when women’s watches were unproductively centred around small, dainty faces, diamond bezels and thin straps, the Baby-G was disruptive from the offset. With a shock-resistant structure, the Baby-G offered something clunky, robust and bold, with no trace of minimalism.Redefining the preconditioned notion of feminine appeal, the Baby-G tackled the gendered barriers of the watch world head on.
What struck me most about my short time with this watch was that, surprisingly, much to every watchmaker’s delight, my iPhone took a back seat and I found myself looking for the time on my wrist, rather than my hands. This was partly down to the fact that every time I did this, there was the option to press a button that conjures a Tamagotchi style animation on the screen, featuring a cat, a dog, a dolphin and I think – and there are whole reddit threads I discovered discerning the exact animals – a killer whale. It was a feature on a watch face I never knew I needed but endlessly enjoyed when procrastinating.
Reaffirming that my bias towards the Baby-G was mutually agreed upon by others, and on an international scale, I caught up with watch collector Hannah Raulston from Cincinnati, Ohio. Despite usually collecting analogue watches, “the durability and efficiency of a digital watch is much more practical while I’m in the field. The Baby-G offered a stylish way to fill that need,” shares Raulston. “As a 90s kid – and it pains me to realize that the ‘90s are now considered vintage – but this watch is the perfect mix of timeless and throwback. There are tons of fun features on this watch, and my favorite feature is definitely the tiny pets that appear when the light button is pressed. It’s like having a wearable tamagotchi without all the responsibility!” That said, the Tamagotchi, much like Nintendogs, offered some invaluable life lessons on the art of survival.
But the Baby-G is much more, I soon discovered, than an heirloom of the past. Arm candy might have been historically about the bag, but the Baby-G is rivalling its role. “I wore baby G as a kid before using it as a fashion staple, major throwback! I think it’s the perfect match because it’s not only a brand we all love from familiarity but 90s fashion has made a high comeback through platforms like TikTok,” shares influencer Brooke Styles. Amassing 1.4 followers on TikTok, Styles’ vibrant feed sees her sporting the watch in her videos, with comical dubbed voice overs. “The trend started by showing off different outfits but I thought I would spruce it up by showing the different outfits I pair with my Baby G. Even though it’s cute, it’s extremely efficient.”
The juxtaposition between the watches functionality and aesthetic is what sets the Baby-G apart as an eternal high-flyer. If we’re going to use outdated gendered classifications here and look at the world of women’s watches, the Baby-G is the very antidote to a history that preconditioned women’s watches so separately from menswear.It is a statement both in its appearance and in its intent, so much so, it graced the runway back in 2015, in partnership with Sibling, a now discontinued knitwear brand – saw models dressed in Sibling-branded Baby-G’s in an exclusive run of 200 pieces.
And credit where credit is due, the equilibrium between style and substance exists in perfect harmony when it comes to the Baby-G’s manifold multitasking functions. Should you wish to know the time in Adelaide or Rio, it’s a button press away. Should you need to set a timer for your cooking, it’s a button press away. Should you need a stopwatch, an alarm clock, or a barometer, they’re all yours. A slight note on the alarm mode however. If, like me, the thrill of the chase to get this watch superseded your wish to read the instructions, I am now accompanied every evening by an alarm at 12.02am that I, despite reading online forums, for the life of me just cannot work out how to turn off. And should you wish to replicate the toll of the church bells on the hour, your Baby-G can match that too.
All in all, my time spent with Baby-G was a marriage of childhood dreams and a nice breather from relying on my phone too much, with the added plus of having a group of pets to accompany me wherever I go. I mentioned previously that as a former alien to this industry, just shy of six months ago, everyone asked me “what will you buy for your first watch?” Somewhat disillusioned, I hoped I would reply “the Cartier Crash.” But humbly, my answer is this: the Casio Baby-G, the most unregrettable £49.99 I have probably ever spent.