This unique AI-designed G-SHOCK sells for US$400,050 in New York, a world record price for a Casio watch

A Casio G-SHOCK wristwatch recently sold at Phillips New York for more than US$400,000, setting a new auction record for the renowned Japanese brand timepiece. 

While G-SHOCK watches come as no stranger to many, the record-setting piece is not a typical one, but a one-of-a-kind model co-created by human engineers and artificial intelligence (AI), crafted from 18-karat yellow gold and yet shock-resistant. 

This special one-of-one limited-edition timepiece was created to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the iconic G-SHOCK, and all proceeds from the sale will go to The Nature Conservancy (TNC). 

The special G-SHOCK took centre stage at Phillips' Watch Auction in New York this December 

Lot 79 | Casio Ref. G-SHOCK G-D001 | A unique yellow gold, shock-resistant, solar-powered multifunction wristwatch with analog display and radio-controlled precision timekeeping (Auction record for a Casio wristwatch)
Manufactured in 2023
Diameter: 45.1 mm
Estimate: US$70,000 - 140,000
Sold: US$400,050

At a time when watches were considered precisely crafted instruments of exquisite delicacy, a Japanese engineer named Kikuo Ibe had an "avant-garde" idea while looking at a broken watch he had happened to drop at work one day.

From there, Ibe, later known as "the father of G-SHOCK", submitted a proposal containing only one single line of text at a Casio company meeting – "A durable watch that would not break even if dropped."

While the concept of toughness – in a watch – was too unconventional then, his proposal was approved, and "Project Team Tough" was formed with just three team members, beginning the development of a new kind of watch, durable and shock-resistant.   
It was 1983 when the very first G-SHOCK, the DW-5000C, made its debut. Ever since, G-SHOCK, remaining affordable to the public, has continued its unceasing evolution, in pursuit of greater toughness in every respect, from structure and materials to functions. 

Kikuo Ibe, the Casio engineer who is known as "the father of G-SHOCK"

Solid 18k gold G-SHOCK 'Pure Gold' G-D5000-9JR was launched in 2018 and retailed for US$69,500

In recent years, G-SHOCK has grown from its strictly utilitarian roots with an emphasis on developing its more premium segment. These watches build on the tough-as-nails G-SHOCK platform with the use of higher quality materials, finishing techniques that often evoke traditional Japanese craftsmanship, as well as the brand's full suite of top-notch technical specifications.

The high-water mark of this segment came in 2018, when G-SHOCK introduced the “Dream Project,” a small run of 35 solid-gold G-SHOCK watches that carried a suggested retail price of approximately US$70,000, which is on par with luxury brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe. 

This year, for G-SHOCK's 40th anniversary, Casio has decided to push the limit even further. Adhering to the theme "Break the Boundary", the "Dream Project #2" involved mostly youngsters on the project team, with a team of veterans providing backup. The fresh, new perspectives and techniques they employed culminated in the development of this very special timepiece: the G-D001.

In an unprecedented approach, generative design leveraging AI technologies was applied in the watch's exterior design process, and the result was an original, organic full-metal shock-resistant structure without the use of resin buffering or anything similar. 

Generative design leveraging AI technologies was applied in the watch's exterior design process

The unique piece is delivered inside an artistic display box in the shape of a tower

Based on a design framework created by human designers, data accumulated over 40 years of G-SHOCK development was fed into the AI system to generate a 3D model optimized for factors including structural strength, material characteristics, and processing methods to be used. Repeated manual revisions were then made to the AI suggestion to produce external components.

The unusual precision-moulded construction of the bezel and strap was crafted using a lost-wax casting process most often found in the world of jewellery. The components – all crafted from 18k yellow gold with zero resin buffering – were then hand-polished to achieve a gorgeous lustre.

Incorporating bumper components in organic forms, the face of the timepiece features a see-through, dial-less design that lets the internal mechanism show through plainly. Designed specifically for this one model alone, the movement employs a metal main plate, silicone cogwheels, and ruby bearings to enable hand rotation with greater precision. 

The solar cell, featuring a power-generating layer made with a gallium compound, utilizes a system that applies solar cell technology typically employed in satellites.

Estimated between US$70,000 and 140,000, this one-of-a-kind G-SHOCK eventually sold for more than US$400,000, setting an auction record for a Casio watch. 100% of proceeds from its sale will benefit The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive. 

This AI-designed G-SHOCK was sold at Phillips' The New York Watch Auction: NINE on 9 to 10 December, which realized US$26 million, selling every 155 lots on offer.

The sale marks the third consecutive year of white-glove auctions for Phillips' Watches Department in New York, along with the highest annual total for it at US$52.3 million. According to the house, there were well over 1,500 bidders participating in the sale, representing nearly 70 countries.

The most expensive lot went to an exceptionally preserved vintage Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 in pink gold, which sold for a final price with fees of US$1.8 million. Following that were a vintage Rolex "Paul Newman Lemon" Daytona Ref. 6264 that fetched US$965,200; and the likely unique Patek Philippe Ref. 5204P-021 perpetual calendar with split-seconds chronograph, selling for US$838,200. 

Below are the other highlights from the auction:

Lot 89 | Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 | A well-preserved pink gold perpetual chronograph wristwatch with tachymeter scale and moon phase
Manufactured in 1950
Diameter: 35 mm
Estimate: US$1,200,000 - 2,400,000
Sold: US$1,814,500

Lot 30 | Rolex Ref. 6264; inside caseback stamped 6241 | A yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with "Paul Newman Lemon" dial and bracelet
Manufactured circa 1970
Diameter: 37 mm
Estimate: US$600,000 - 1,200,000
Sold: US$965,200 

Lot 143 | Patek Philippe Ref. 5204P-21 | A possibly unique platinum perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph wristwatch with Breguet numerals, red hands, moon phase, leap year, day and night indications with Certificate of Origin, additional solid case back and presentation box
Manufactured circa 2018
Diameter: 40 mm
Estimate: US$150,000 - 300,000
Sold: US$838,200

Lot 111 | F.P. Journe | Numbered 43/00R, an early “pre-souscription” chronometer wristwatch with double escapement, power reserve indicator, early "shiny" dial, shallow engravings, guarantee, and presentation box
Manufactured in 2000
Diameter: 38 mm
Estimate: US$500,000 - 1,000,000
Sold: US$800,100

Lot 78 | Patek Philippe Ref. 3700/1 | A well-preserved white gold wristwatch with date and bracelet
Manufactured in 1978
Diameter: 42 mm
Estimate: US$400,000 - 800,000
Sold: US$762,000

Lot 99 | Rolex Ref. 6241; inside caseback additionally stamped 6241 | A stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with white "Paul Newman" dial, retailed by Tiffany & Co.
Manufactured circa 1968
Diameter: 37 mm
Estimate: US$300,000 - 600,000
Sold: US$673,100

Lot 145 | Patek Philippe Ref. 3974J | A yellow gold minute repeating perpetual calendar wristwatch with moon phase, leap year and 24-hour indications, and additional doré dial
Manufactured in 1991
Diameter: 36 mm
Estimate: US$250,000 - 500,000
Sold: US$635,000

Lot 55 | Patek Philippe Ref. 1463 | A pink gold chronograph wristwatch with two-tone pink dial and tachymeter scale, retailed by Serpico y Laino
Manufactured in 1948
Diameter: 35 mm
Estimate: US$200,000 - 400,000
Sold: US$565,150

Auction Details:

Auction House: Phillips New York
Sale: The New York Watch Auction: NINE
Date: 9 - 10 December 2023
Number of Lots: 155
Sold: 155
Sale Rate: 100%
Sale Total: US$25,952,374