Apple watch

Forget the Apple Watch Ultra? Why a G-Shock might be the outdoor watch to buy

Just when you thought digital watches were a thing of the past, comes the resurgence of the G-Shock. When you think of the best running watchesyou usually think of a Garmin, a Coros, or even the new Apple Watch Ultra. However, while you can choose an analog or digital watch for style points, some people shy away from smartwatches and choose to opt for a sports watch with fewer smart features.

G-Shock’s parent company, Casio, is having a good year right now, with an earnings report saying sales are up 116% from last year. Casio’s digital watches have never been so popular – and it seems many people aren’t choosing to opt for a smartwatch as their daily companion.

And I can see why. I love smartwatches and almost always have one on my wrist (after all, testing them is a big part of my job); but sometimes I felt the creeping presence of constant connectivity in my life. You may find that your watch’s sleep tracking features are making you increasingly anxious about our nightly schedule, or you may feel like your smartwatch is constantly watching you, monitoring your exercise habits and broadcasts the information to your friends on Strava.

You might spend a lot of your day staring at screens and dislike receiving emails, WhatsApp messages, and other notifications on your wrist. Analog and digital watches provide an escape from all that, but some still contain tools to help you collect information about your workouts.

Run after joining Strava

(Image credit: Matt Evans)

The G-Shock G-SQUAD range offers Bluetooth connectivity and displays your distance, speed and cadence on the digital watch face. G-LIDE models, on the other hand, provide surfers with information on the tides and sunshine hours of beaches around the world. That’s enough to be useful, giving you the sport-specific information you want, without taxing you with constant connectivity.

Hybrid smartwatch makers Withings are taking a similar approach with its Withings Scanwatch Horizon. It doesn’t share much design ecology with G-Shock, which opts for a rugged approach more in line with the best garmin watches than with sleek analog watches, but it offers a small, unobtrusive display built into an analog dial. However, it’s just as expensive as a regular smartwatch, while G-Shocks (unless it’s a limited edition) are often quite reasonably priced.

The freedom that comes with not being constantly connected can sometimes be liberating (at least for this highly connected tech writer). Although the G-SQUAD’s limited information means it can never replace something like the Garmin Enduro 2 when training for a big event, it can be nice to feel more “in the moment” when I am in maintenance. Carefree Saturday morning I run along a local river, feel able to stop and stretch when I hit a mole, working through the issues of a week of sitting at my desk. I wouldn’t do this if I thought people on my Strava were watching my time.

With many beginnings Black Friday Deals Already up for grabs before Black Friday itself, it’s a good time to shop around for a new watch of any variety, and for fitness gear in general. And with some G-SQUAD watches under $120 or £90, you can get a cheaper and sleeker device than most smartwatches on the market. They’ll last you nearly a decade, still give you sport-specific information, and offer you a brief respite from a lifetime of constant connection. It looks like a win-win for us.