Hands-On Review: The G-SHOCK GMWB5000CS-1 Steel “Tron”

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The first thing you think of when you hear “integrated bracelet stainless steel sports watch” is probably something that will run you somewhere in the five figures with several years of waiting (provided you can even get on the list). That’s not the kind of steel integrated bracelet watch we’re talking about today. Instead, we’re taking a look at something a bit more approachable — one of G-SHOCK’s all-metal limited editions. For the sake of your sanity (and mine), the GMWB5000CS-1 will henceforth be referred to as the “Tron” in this review. The shiny black finish is treated to an all-over laser etched “grid tunnel” that’s reminiscent of the iconic glowing grid from the 1982 cult classic sci-fi adventure film. The watch is entirely metal, from head to bracelet and the result is quite impressive. When I think of G-SHOCK, my trusty resin DW-5300 for $40 comes to mind, not the $800 hunk of steel we’re looking at today.

G-Shock Tron

One look at the Tron’s shape, and you’ll recognize the same lines and proportions as the now-classic square G-SHOCK DW5000C. The Tron takes the iconic square G-SHOCK shape, and beefs it up with all metal construction and a more advanced Bluetooth-enabled module with multi-band atomic timekeeping that’s powered by solar energy. There’s a lot to take in from this all-metal G, so let’s dig in.

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$800

Hands-On Review: The G-SHOCK GMWB5000CS-1 Steel “Tron”

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
3459 module with Bluetooth, Solar, and Atomic Timekeeping
Dial
Reverse digital display
Lume
Lens
Mineral glass
Strap
Stainless steel integrated bracelet
Water Resistance
200m
Dimensions
43.2×49.3mm
Thickness
13mm
Lug Width
mm
Crown
4 control buttons
Warranty
1 year
Price
$800

Case

Instead of your standard shock-proof resin, the Tron is housed in a stainless steel case and held to your wrist with the integrated steel tapering bracelet. There’s some thing about the all metal G-SHOCK that makes it impressive. The heft, the feeling on your wrist, and the stunning looks. At first, the watch doesn’t appear to be steel at all, and that’s thanks to the shiny black ion plated finish. Ion plating is a technologically complex method in which a very thin, durable coating of a chosen material is bonded to the base metal. The result here is a shiny, almost plastic looking surface that will stand up well to scratches and bumps. To take things a step further, G-SHOCK went over the entire watch with a laser engraved grid pattern that give it a very futuristic look. It’s a busy looking watch, there’s no getting around that. The black base metal and silvery engraving definitely catch your eye. 

If you’ve ever worn one of the classic square G-SHOCKs, you’ll know that the 43.2mm case diameter wears a bit smaller than the measurement suggests. As far as G-SHOCKs go, this one is on the smaller end of the spectrum. The case measures in at 13mm thick, which is no more than a common dive watch. Things get a little interesting when looking at the 49.3mm lug-to-lug measurement. Since the lugs of the watch blend right into the bracelet, it’s a tricky measurement to interpret. I tend to go with the saying “a picture tells a thousand words” — just check out the shots of the Tron on my 6.75” wrist. One thing worth noting is that the case to bracelet transition is a bit stiff, in that the flex between the first link and the case itself does not have as much flex as the links further down the bracelet. On my wrist, it wasn’t too much of an issue. Those with smaller wrists may experience a cuff-like sensation, as it doesn’t really hug the wrist too well. The opposite is true for the large-wristed crowd, where they may the contour more comfortable.

Dial

 

The “dial” is more of a screen, so let’s run with that. The display itself is surrounded by a lined grid pattern that matches the one engraved on the case and bracelet. The outermost portion of the screen is black, lined on the inside with a grey square, and finally we end with a reverse LCD screen in the middle. The blacked out screen is legible enough, although I find a standard LCD screen to be a bit easier to read. That being said, the reverse screen fits the all black aesthetic of the watch well. On the default display, you’ll find an abbreviated day (Mo., Tu., We., Th., etc.) followed by the month and date on the top row, and the time in slightly larger text underneath. There are also several indicators on the main screen that state power saving mode, auto light enabled/disabled, a “time signal received” message, Bluetooth connection icon, DST indicator, low power alert, alarm status, hourly time signal, and “snooze” status. It’s a lot of stuff on a little screen, but the elements are spread apart and clearly labeled. There appears to be a pattern on the negative space of the LCD screen, which isn’t really helping at all with the busy factor of the engraving and grid surrounded dial. But to be honest, I think this piece is meant to be more “fun” than “functional”, and it does an excellent job at that.

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Movement

Inside the Tron, there’s a 3459 module that’s capable of a ton of different operations. The standout features are atomic time sync, bluetooth connectivity, and a fade on auto backlight. The bluetooth feature allows you to do a few nifty tricks. First, you can have the watch automatically sync time with your phone via the Bluetooth connection four times a day. You can also use the app to set up reminders and important calendar alerts. Setting these actions up is a little clunky, as you have to bounce back and forth between the watch and the phone. One cool trick the watch can do is locate your phone (as long as you’re within 30ft or so) with a loud tone. Should you decide against using the Bluetooth features, the watch does automatically sync up with the broadcast atomic clock signal as long as you program your home city into the watch when setting it. Of course, the G is capable of the standard features you’d expect from a digital watch. 

With a press of the bottom left button, you can cycle from standard timekeeping mode through to world time mode, alarm mode, stopwatch mode, and timer mode. World time is capable of tracking several time zones, and jet setters will find it convenient. The module can also be programmed with four separate alarms. Using the stopwatch is a pretty straightforward experience. One of my favorite features is the countdown timer alert. As much as I’d love to say that I use this to track some sort of military operation, the time left on my transcontinental flight, or something exciting, the truth is that I use this feature all the time for 46 minutes. Why 46 minutes? Because that’s how long my washing machine down in the basement takes to provide me with clean clothes, and I can never hear when it’s finished. Thrilling, right? All jokes aside, the features are convenient and easy to use.

Strap & Wearability

The Tron comes with an integrated steel bracelet, that’s also treated with the same ion plating and engraved pattern. Upon taking this watch out of the box, it was a bit of a trip to handle an all metal G-SHOCK. The heft is definitely there, but it’s not too heavy and feels great on the wrist. After wearing the watch for a bit, I did not find myself missing the curved, plasticky rubber of my personal DW-5300. The bracelet tapers from the lugs to clasp, resulting in a comfortable fit that remains balanced on your wrist. I really like the unique shape of the links. They’re very futuristic, with a circular indentation at either end. The clasp secures shut with a satisfying click, and is opened up with a pair of push buttons on either side. You’ll find a few micro-adjust holes on there too to dial in your perfect fit. 

On the wrist, the G-SHOCK is fun to wear. The square shape is unusual for a metal watch and the bracelet feels great. I keep going back to the heft of it. While I’m used to the feel of my classic DW-5300, switching to the Tron feels different in a good way. I also like the casual, fun, and futuristic vibe of the watch. While it doesn’t really fit in with my everyday aesthetic, it’s something I’d find myself reaching for frequently on those black hoodie days of Fall and Winter.

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Conclusion

If you’re a G-SHOCK fan or collector, I think it’s worth tracking down an all metal version to add to your collection. They’re impressive to look at, a blast to wear, and the upgraded module is packed with functionality. While I find the grid tunnel engraving and shiny black IP coating to be a bit blingy, it’s a fun look. Operating the advanced features can be a bit clunky when switching between the watch and your phone, but the core functions and atomic timekeeping are welcomed additions. This is one of those watches that I never thought I’d be tempted by, but here we are. I really do enjoy the watch. While I don’t think I’ll be running out to snag one of the Trons, an all metal G-SHOCK might eventually be in my future. There is one last thing worth noting here, and that’s the price — these metal Gs don’t come cheap. This edition boasts a hefty $800 price tag, but that’s not even the most expensive metal G. The titanium version is more than double that at $1700. I’m sure they had to integrate some new manufacturing techniques when making the watch, but that doesn’t change the fact that $800 is a big ask for a digital watch. It’s worth noting that these metal watches are limited editions that sell out rather fast. I suppose the market has spoken, and the demand is there. If you can get past the price tag, I’m sure you’d enjoy the watch too. This is one that I’d recommend checking out in the metal, and you might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.
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