Father Of G-Shock Kikuo Ibe On Underground Fight Clubs And Never Giving Up

We find out what makes him tick and more importantly, his secret to success

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Photo: Courtesy

G-SHOCK celebrated their 35th anniversary this year with their “Game Changer” campaign in Singapore, featuring homegrown talents Dharni Ng (beatboxer), Jahan Loh (artist), Christopher James van Huizen (professional athlete) and Valerie Wang (fashion creative). One thing they all have in common—overcoming the odds and making a name for themselves. Singapore’s “Sticker Lady” and G-SHOCK collaborator Sam Lo was also at the event, where she demonstrated her artistic abilities on a canvas with spray paint in a live painting session.

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The biggest game changer at the event, however, was Kikuo Ibe, the creator of G-SHOCK. At a press conference prior to the event, he shared how damaging a watch gifted to him by his father (as a result of dropping it) inspired him to create a durable and shock-resistant timepiece. Despite countless prototypes and design innovations, he was unable to figure out how the inner structures could be prevented from breaking…until an epiphany struck him whilst sitting in a park one day, where he saw a kid dribbling a ball. It gave him the idea of suspending the inner mechanisms to diffuse the shock and voila! The first G-SHOCK was born.

Akin to many inventors before him (think: Thomas Addison), Ibe didn’t let his failures deter him from achieving his goal of creating a shock-resistant watch. Instead, he persevered. It’s been more than 30 years since his invention and the creation of the first G-SHOCK DW-5000C, and the watchmaking brand isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. In fact, they’ve recently unveiled a brand new material for their watches—carbon, which is five times stronger than steel and twice as stiff.

Related article: Visual Artist Sam Lo Talks To BAZAAR About Her G-SHOCK Collaboration

We caught up with Ibe at the event to find out what makes him tick, and more importantly, his secret to success. Read on to find out what he had to say.

What does the concept of time mean to you?

I believe that time is something that is given equally to everyone, and depending on how it is used, it can be used for good or bad. I often used it badly and regretted it afterwards.

In the face of today’s digital age, what do you think will make for a successful analog watch?

What I think an analog watch has that digital watches doesn’t, is the sense of physical space and luxury. If one can express these two special traits well, then he can make a successful analog
watch.

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Photo: Courtesy

What is it about the analog world that appeals to you more than its digital counterpart?

I like how when I look at an analog watch, I can enjoy the moment and feel a sense of relief as the watch shows the passing of time.

What do you think appeals to your consumers the most about G-SHOCK?

I think what appeals to them is how each watch can be different for each consumer, but at the same time, it can be useful for all of them.

Related article: Here’s Our Edit Of The Best Singapore Artist Collaborations This Year

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Excluding the pieces you own, what is your favorite G-SHOCK watch, and why?

My favourite is the first ever model, the DW5000. It’s now a laboratory exhibit, and till now it is still the model I love the most.

Could you give us an insight on your innovation process of keeping G-SHOCK contemporary, even after over 35 years?

We always focus on the youth for our G-SHOCK innovation process. I think how we make G-SHOCK contemporary is in the way we balance all the challenges brought forth by the many different teams involved in the process, such as the designs to go with, the materials to be used, and the styles to choose.

Related article: 9 Singlit Authors You Should Support And Put On Your Reading List

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What does G-SHOCK’s Underground Fight Club symbolise to you?

It symbolises how G-SHOCK is always pushing the envelope for its discerning youth consumers, to whom I am greatly thankful. I’ve also received a lot of power and inspiration from these youths.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming artists in pursuit of success?

There will always be difficulties ahead of them, but if they don’t give up, they will have a chance of success. My advice to them is to do their best and never give up.

Lastly, what do you think the future holds for watchmaking?

I think that there will be a polarisation between tradition and evolution, and between value-based pricing and premium pricing. We always strive to create something that is authentic.

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