Introducing the Casio G-SHOCK MRG-B5000BA-1 Ao-zumiBy Jeremiah Chan
Earlier in March this year, Casio launched two premium G-SHOCK models from its MR-G family that had fans falling off their chairs in excitement. If you were merely a casual observer, you probably would have also raised an eyebrow or two because of the cost. The silver model (MRG-B5000D-1) was priced at a whopping SGD4,999 and if you wanted the black one (MRG-B5000B-1), you would have to fork out another grand. But to be honest, the price doesn’t really matter. This was a nostalgia play taken to the extreme, and a massive Kiwami flex by Casio of its technological expertise and craftsmanship.
These were faithful recreations of the first G-SHOCK DW-5000C from 1983, with the silver model and its titanium carbide finishing making it a single solid chunk of gleaming metal while the stealthier black model and its DLC coating was a straight doppelganger of the original. Now there is a third entry to the MRG-B5000 family and Casio is updating the black MRG-B5000B-1 with a uniquely Japanese, artistic inspiration of color called ‘Ao-zumi’ (literally blue-black). Ao-zumi is a beautiful, deep-blue variant of black sumi ink, which is used in traditional Japanese calligraphy and paintings. Traditional sumi ink is made from two base materials — either the soot of burnt lamp oil or pinewood. The soot is combined with animal glue, which acts as a medium of the ink suspension, and perfume for fragrance. In the case of Ao-zumi, it gets its color from a hardened block of blue pigment. It is believed the color possesses a healing and calming effect on the mind.
Where there was once gold-colored highlights on the front in the form of the buttons and end-link screws, these have been replaced with blue ion-plating of a different set of components. The blue treatment has been given to the suspension components with a brushed finish at the corners of the 25-part COBARION + Ti64 (Grade 5 titanium) bezel and a mirror polish on every rivet-like dimple of the DAT55G bracelet. The dial has also received a color update that departs from the original’s. The thin red line that frames the display has been replaced with gold, and the labels that highlight the button functions now rest on a blue bordered background. Since the border is of a lighter color, Casio has given the Ao-zumi a negative LCD display (white digits on a black background); a pairing of contrast that Casio often employs to improve legibility. Even the highly transparent, anti-reflective sapphire crystal has been treated with blue vapor deposition. Thankfully, the iconic brickwork motif has been kept so the new design doesn’t stray too far from home and hearth.
The blue highlights here are muted in the shade but radiate a metallic iridescence, whether they be brushed or polished, when light hits at an angle. In some ways, this quality of the Ao-zumi blue paired with the MRG-B5000 form, is a metaphor for the intention of the original G-SHOCK design — a simple square devoid of the superfluous, yet multi-dimensional in its physical properties and functionality.
Now that we have waxed philosophical about the MRG-B5000BA-1 Ao-zumi, we should probably also ask why Casio would make a premium DW-5000C that nobody asked for, in the first place? The simple answer is, because it can. There is an engineering authenticity that underpins the design revamp of the MRG-B5000 series, and unlike the pure ruggedness of its forebears, the MRG-B2000Bs, the B5000s are refined in their toughness. The latest MRG-B5000BA-1 Ao-zumi can be said to embody the design ethos of the line perfectly, evoking a quiet strength rooted in Japanese Zen Buddhist philosophy.
Who is the MRG-B5000 for then? It might appeal to the collector who is so self-assured that they couldn’t care less if anyone else would be able to tell that they have a couple thousand dollars hanging off their wrist. You’d get one just because you have a clear awareness on what you love and it just so happens that the Ao-zumi is a pretty fine watch on its own merit.
CASIO G-SHOCK MRG-B5000BA-1 Ao-zumi
Movement: Quartz module; about 22 months continuous operation with power saving ON after full charge (Tough Solar power system)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, month, day, date, world time, radio-controlled time adjustment, stopwatch, countdown timer, Smartphone Link via Bluetooth, low battery alert, alarm, full auto calendar, full-auto LED backlight (Super Illuminator)
Case: 49.4 x 43.2 x 12.9mm; titanium and cobarion; water resistant to 200m
Dial: LCD display
Strap: DAT55G titanium bracelet with tight-lock in clasp
Price: SGD 5,999
Availability: G-SHOCK stores at Marina Bay Sands, ION Orchard and VivoCity from July, 13th 2022
Learn more about the MRG-B5000BA-1 Ao-zumi here.