The MR-G has actively taken in traditional Japanese elements, such as forging techniques used for Japanese armor and copperware, and traditional colors favored by Samurai warriors in the Warring States period. The MR-G, known for its high quality, has been given a story to tell and its value has been further enhanced in recent years.
One of the chosen motifs for the MR-G is the Japanese sword. Casio started with the MRG-G1000RT (2015), which expresses the unique “Nie” (boiling) pattern that appears on the blade of a Japanese sword, followed in 2019 by the MRG-G2000RJ "JuryokuMaru", whose bezel is colored with purple gold, a traditional color. Following these models, also in 2019, was the MRG-G2000GA, created in collaboration with Gassan, one of Japan's leading sword smiths.
The MRG-G2000GA is well received for its appearance of tranquility and strength, with a crescent-shaped cut on the cobalion bezel that recalls the tip of a sword, and a deep violet AIP treatment on the titanium case that expresses the deep purple color. For G-SHOCK's upcoming 40th anniversary, the collaboration with Gassan has been revisited again with the release of the MRG-B2000GA, the second model in the series.
The most distinctive feature of the collaboration is the design of the band. The band made of titanium is likened to the “Nakago” of a sword (the part of a sword covered by the hilt), and a “Yasurime” finish is applied to the band's middle sinew. The “Yasurime” is a pattern of stripes on the stem that prevents the blade from falling off the handle, and in the MRG-B2000GA, following the previous model, Sadanobu Gassan, the sixth generation of the Gassan family of swordsmiths, engraved these rasp marks by hand, one by one. And, added the Kanji letters, “鍛” from the Gassan family motto “鍛刀一筋 (Tantoichizui),” as well as “錬” from “百錬精鐵 (Hyakuren Seitetsu)” are engraved on the rasp.
Sadanobu Gassan engraves the rasp marks and Kanjis by hand.
“Yasurime” engraved one line at a time. Gassan also engraves the Kanji in the same way to do it on Swords.
Another highlight of the MRG-B2000GA is the “Ayasugi Hada” on the top bezel, a pattern that symbolizes the Gassan sword. The previous MRG-G2000GA model, which beautifully expressed the unique atmosphere of Japanese swords, attracted watch enthusiasts not only in Japan but also overseas. When the project for the second model came up, Mr. Gassan wanted to further sublimate the design, which led to the adoption of the “Ayasugi Hada” pattern.
“My father, who is my mentor, is still working, and the traditional techniques passed down from my ancestors are precious. So as long as I am working with the name Gassan on my shoulders, I myself am making daily efforts to keep the reputation clean. This is my belief. When Casio asked me to express the character of Gassan further, I made several proposals, but what I realized was Gassan's most distinctive feature, the “Ayasugi Hada '' pattern. The pattern is so distinctive that those who love Japanese swords will recognize it as Gassan, and this time it is not just a design, but Casio was developed from the material itself. The “Ayasugi Hada” of Gassan is a pattern created in the process of forging materials to make swords, and I was very impressed by the fact that the bezel of this MR-G is made in a similar way.”
In order to express the unique “Ayasugi Hada”, the MRG-B2000GA introduces a new metal laminated molding technology. First, 64 titanium powder is laser-irradiated with the pattern to solidify only the patterned portion, which is then stacked to form a cylindrical member. The rest of the pattern is left hollow, but by adding pure titanium powder and applying pressure, the 64Ti and pure titanium are bonded together. After the bezel is cut into the shape of the bezel, special treatment recrystallizes only the pure titanium, revealing the border between the titanium and the 64Ti, and the “Ayasugi Hada” pattern becomes visible. Although this is state-of-the-art technology, the pattern has a uniqueness, and each piece has a slightly different appearance, as if it were created entirely by hand.
“The "Ayasugi Hada" equals Gassan, so I feel that this model has more of a Gassan feel than the previous model. However, at the beginning, Casio was not sure if we could reproduce it, so we proposed various ideas, such as forging tama-hagane, a material used in Japanese swords, to decorate the case and dial, and applying sword engraving to the bezel, which were considered. In fact, there were many twists and turns as we tried to determine how close G-SHOCK's standards and decorations could come to the texture of the Gassan sword, and we were able to proceed with the most difficult idea.”
The MRG-B2000GA also has a blue-gray AIP on the bezel and band for a fresh nuance. According to Shingo Ishizaka of Casio, who planned this model, "Even before we decided on the “Ayasugi Hada” pattern, we wanted to use blue-gray AIP next". The reasoning being that among Japanese swords, which are classified according to the color of their swords, those with bluish tints are positioned as the best, and he thought that the blue-gray AIP color tone would fit the image of the MR-G, the pinnacle of the G-SHOCK lineup.
“The part where the texture of the blade of a sword appears is called Jihada, and at a glance, the “Ayasugi Hada” looks as if the same pattern continues regularly from the base to the tip of the blade. When you get close to it, you can see the differences in this wave pattern, and the bezel of the MRG-B2000GA is expressed in a similar way. From a distance, the bezel appears black, but if you look closely, you can clearly see the slightly irregular pattern of “Ayasugi Hada”. Also, if you compare the watch to a sword, the main body is like the blade and the belt is like the haft. This time, I engraved the Kanji for “鍛” and “錬” one by one on the frame of the belt, which has been sanded one by one. By engraving the words that are repeated in Gassan, I feel that I was able to create a model that is filled with the feelings I put into the sword.”
Gassan's workshop is located facing the Yamanobe no Michi, a road mentioned in the Manyoshu (The Anthology of Myriad Leaves). This road is said to be the oldest road in Japan.
G-SHOCK will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2023 and the MR-G, the peak of G-SHOCK, will continue to take on various challenges to build up the iconic image of its own. On the other hand in 2022, models that evolved from ORIGIN, such as the MRG-B5000, were also introduced. The MR-G line may expand further in the future, and we can expect it to evolve as the greatest of its line.
“In the past, swords were a kind of status symbol for Samurai. The swords owned by warlord Nobunaga and Ieyasu now remain as important cultural assets, and if we translate them into the modern age, watches are a close equivalent as an object of male hobby. If I have the opportunity to work with G-SHOCK again, I think it is important for me to study further and improve my skills, and become a person who can further promote the appeal of Japanese swords themselves”.