Beyond the 5000 and 5600 lines, of all relatively affordable G-Shocks it is the Mudmaster collection that speaks to me the most. This led me to review the Casio G-Shock GG-1000-1A5 Mudmaster, curious to find out if it could justify its considerable price premium over this reviewed 5600 that I love and wear often.
Our Zach has reviewed the bigger brother of this piece, the GWG-1000-1A3, which, for a bit over twice the price of this $320 GG-1000 range, offered a slew of functionality in a bigger size that I figured I could live without – including an altimeter, barometer, “Smart Access,” and the considerably larger and heavier case.
Zach has given a solid run-down on where the Mudmaster fits into the somewhat confusing hierarchy of Master Professional and Twin-Sensor ranges of purpose-built G-Shock watches, so I’ll just briefly focus on what makes the Mudmaster stand out in general and quickly get to the nitty-gritty of the Twin Sensor GG-1000-1A5.
ABOUT THE MUDMASTER COLLECTION
The professionals who rock a Mudmaster are some of the best brand ambassadors I can think of – certainly many will find them more relatable and convincing than millionaire golfers and actresses. I remember how I was surprised to learn that G-Shocks named after a given field of use were specifically designed for relevant scenarios – admittedly, perhaps my cynical side got the best of me before.
The video above was done with a USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) team and it gives one a good idea about the circumstances the Mudmaster was designed to work well under. There’s plenty of tough impacts as these guys climb through ruined buildings, tunnels, and river banks – further worsened by powerful vibrations through extended and repeated periods when using power tools, as well as, you guessed it, a generous amount of abrasive and intruding mud and high velocity water.
To be fair, a very well-built, ordinary quartz watch and especially a lower-end G-Shock could withstand a lot of these elements. But, it would be only a matter of time before the cumulative effects of such a wide range of hardships would destroy either the seals, the movement, or any of the functionalities.
As much as I respect the GWG – the most expensive variant that Zach reviewed – I find it a bit too large and too complicated to believe it to be actually useful in the field. It’s more of a high-tech gadget version of the useful GG-1000-1A5 that we are looking at today, than a real alternative. This neatly leads us to…
THE CASIO G-SHOCK GG-1000-1A5 MUDMASTER EXTERIOR
You don’t have to be looking at – or even wearing – the Casio G-Shock GG-1000-1A5 Mudmaster to get a solid impression of its truly purpose-built design. Beyond its rather powerful proportions, I presume it is the five buttons that will stand out upon first interaction with the watch: the wide, easy to find and press-checkered surface pushers feel confidence-inspiring in that you immediately are confident that they won’t break if you use them under water, when they are muddy, or if they endure a few hard knocks.
The bulky bezel has a surprisingly soft, rubbery feel to it – it’s a tough old sod of a material, so don’t get fooled into thinking it will peel or dent easily. Strange as it may sound, to my eyes the exterior has a somewhat organic look to it, for its colors, touch, and looks. It’s like an unusually tough bug that lives in the undergrowth and does unthinkably nasty stuff to its peers or survives massive rocks falling on it. You and I may end up with a different analogy, but what I think we’ll agree on is that this watch has a personality to it.
The integration of the strap, the tactile feel of the thing, the kind of natural evolution-inspired protective bulges on the bezel and around the “crown,” the almost laughable thickness, the sturdy looks and touch, as well as the relative lightness of the thing do all add up for a long list of likable aesthetic elements.
With all this in mind, looking at the Casio G-Shock GG-1000-1A5 Mudmaster makes me think it will work brilliantly either as an actual tool for those rescue workers and others doing comparably tough physical work out in the wild… Or as a fun-looking, quirky cool watch that is, well, fun to work. I don’t see it however as something that will have your non-watch-savvy, non-rescue worker friends and gals impressed by it in the least. It’s just too big and brash for that – those fun elements will likely be only appreciated by watch and/or gadget enthusiasts. If you want to look cool and stay within Casio territory, I suggest you just get yourself a colorful 5600 series or some other quirky Casio.
As I said, the thickness is beyond what anyone in their right mind would simply want to call “considerable.” Its 17.3 millimeters is somewhere beyond the implications of that word, a situation worsened by the protrusions on the bezel that have a tendency of getting caught on sleeves and other places. They are rugged alright, but make the GG-1000 even more unlikely to slide under or out from under a sleeve. When looking for stuff in bags or in cubby holes in your car or wherever, the watch will likely get caught on one of those edges. Needless to say, the watch takes it without a morsel of a grumble – it is just annoying.
If you know you are – or expect to be – fine with tolerating thick watches, the GG-1000 will reward you with excellent wearability in all other aspects. The integration of the straps combined with intelligently designed lugs and a flat caseback means the watch will sit nice and flat on your wrist and won’t wobble about. The double-pin buckle I presume helps, though, truth be told, I would suggest picking up a second loop for the strap if you have narrow wrists like I do and end up with a long overhang of the other end of the strap. The GG-1000-1A5 measures a whopping 56.2 by 55.3 by 17.3 millimeters, and yet is more comfortable to wear than many of the expensive Swiss watches that come with tragically stiff straps and poorly designed lugs. In other words, when you’re not wearing any sleeves and are not rooting through your bags or other confined spaces, the Casio G-Shock GG-1000-1A5 Mudmaster feels super light and comfortable on the wrist. Few watches sit this settled and flat on the wrist, which is the exact of opposite of what you’d expect from a watch like this.
Imust admit, I liked the khaki strap. There, I said it. I liked it so much that it temporarily blinded and rid me of my good judgement, as I decided to go for this -1A5 model, the one of the three that comes with this cool strap that I know will hide me in perfect camouflage during the desert missions I so frequently attend. However, of the three GG-1000 Mudmasters only this sucker comes with a negative display – meaning the two LCD displays feature white text over a black background.
Now, this situation was manageable on the reviewed 5600 that I linked to above, because there the entire display lit up in green, allowing for splendid (and darn cool) low-light legibility, while out in the sun it was legible on its own. Here, on the GG-1000-1A5, the two displays are deep below the pane of the hands for obvious reasons, which means that in a room that isn’t lit up like a battlefield, they are already impossible to read. The bulky case and the fact that they are so deep in the dial means there’s almost always something casting a shadow on them and the off-white numbers and letters are often just impossible to make out at a glance – and are a struggle to read even up close.
Although not being able to read something up close will make you feel very old very fast, it is at this point that you should brush this mild insult off yourself and use the wisdom of the elderly by harnessing the power of technology – no less. With “The Super Illuminator!” – your wisdom leads you to realize assistance is but a press of a button away! So, you press the top right button and it responds with a mushy feel, not the clicky feedback you might have been expecting. But, you’ll soon realize that deep mushiness comes from the quality seals Casio engineered into the pushers to make the Mudmaster the master of… the mud.
So yeah, the illuminator, that is a single piece of a bright LED set into the flange ring at 6 o’clock, lights up. It bathes the lower half of the dial in a sea of crisp white light and the upper half in long shadows. The result is that yes, you can make out where the three main hands are, but have even less visibility of the dark screens that now reside under powerful rays of LED light. The main hands as well as the indices have luminescent material on them. The lume can get pretty bright but doesn’t last as long as we have seen on other watches – hardly a deal breaker as the LED will help you out here.
In summary, I should have gone for the one on the black strap and just buy the khaki straps separately. Learn from my mistake, y’all!
Thanks to its Casio 5476 module, the GG-1000 range of Mudmasters offers an unusual mix of functionality. A digital compass, thermometer, 31-time zone world time, 1/100 second stopwatch, countdown timer, 5 daily alarms, full auto (i.e. perpetual) calendar, beep on passing hours, Super Illuminator… And you’d think you are all set. However, and I know I keep coming back to my beloved GWX5600, here’s the point: that $150 5600 offers Multi Band 6 atomic time accuracy and Tough Solar recharge, meaning it won’t ever need new batteries.
Now, for something as purpose-designed and as relatively expensive as the Mudmaster, I wish both, or at least one of these features would have found their ways into it. To be fair, the GG-1000 is accurate to within +/- 15 seconds per month – and we know Japanese brands like to add a worst-case scenario range, unlike the Swiss who are often, ehm, aspirational in this regard. However, in this imaginary scenario when multiple professional workers need to coordinate their efforts out in the wild, I’d imagine a to-the-second coordination of their watches would be ideal. The GG-1000 also comes with an EOL (end of life) indicator for the battery, so it won’t leave you without your trusted timekeeper when you need it most.
The thermometer and compass features are fun to use even in one’s everyday life. The thermometer has a display range of -10 to 60°C (14 to 140°F) in 0.1°C (0.2°F) increments. Ironically, there is absolutely nothing on the watch to imply or remind you that it has a thermometer, nor anything to tell you how to use it. The function selector dial at 4:30 doesn’t say TEMP anywhere on it – so the way it works is (and you learn this from the manual and only the manual… and, well, this article) that you must be in timekeeping mode and press the SEARCH button. Then, magically, the thermometer’s reading appears on the upper screen.
To its credit, the compass is much easier to use, thanks to the massive COMP button where the crown would normally be. It even has a neat red outline to it. Press it, and the center seconds hand rushes across the dial to point towards North. I believe it is accurate to within 15°, varying based on certain circumstances (it will be less accurate in closed quarters and so on).
All in all, the Casio G-Shock GG-1000-1A5 Mudmaster is a fun watch that has its own weird quirks, cool features, and unique limitations. It is extremely well built, a joy to wear and feel thanks to its relatively high quality of extremely durable materials – if that’s your thing… and if it isn’t, then why are you reading this? The thickness won’t be an issue when you are wearing this watch as is intended – out and about, reveling in your active lifestyle and stuff – and in fairness that’s as much of a part of the character of this watch as is its beautifully over-engineered pushers and its khaki strap. The negative display on this one model is a hairbrained idea and yeah, I do miss Multi Band 6 and Tough Solar.
Look at it this way. If you can put up with its unique quirks, the GG-1000 Mudmaster will return the favor by putting up with you and all the stuff you’ll put it through. And that, in summary, makes this a very likable watch in my mind. Price for the Casio G-Shock GG-1000-1A5 Mudmaster is $350. g-shock.com
>Model: G-Shock GG-1000-1A5 Mudmaster
>Size: 56.2 x 55.3 x 17.3 mm
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: The outdoorsy type who enjoys getting lost in the forest for a couple of days. I guess.
>Best characteristic of watch: A very likable, fun-to-own watch. Thermometer and compass might come in handy for some.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Legibility, lack of Multi Band 6 and Tough Solar.