Few brands can match the rugged credentials of Casio’s G-SHOCK line. And sprinkled among its everyday and fitness-themed timepieces, a few outdoorsy icons keep floating back to the surface. Perhaps the most iconic of these is G-SHOCK’s beloved “Frogman.” And now, on the 30th anniversary of the original, Casio unleashes an upgrade for the ages.
The new G-SHOCK Frogman GW-8230NT ($620) is massive, with 84 g of titanium and bio-based resin packing solar charging, a tide graph, moon data, and a dive timer, in addition to Casio’s usual suite of goodies. Per the company’s website, its shape revisits the design of a previous revision, “the DW-8200NT that debuted in 2000, using state-of-the-art technologies.”
Yet, frogs are slippery creatures. I’ve been trying to get my hands on a Frogman for years now, so when Casio agreed to send a loaner of the new GW-8230NT over for testing, I practically croaked with happiness.
In short: The Frogman GW-8230NT is an excellent watch that lives up to its swampy pedigree. The outstanding arrangement of its dial allows you to read the time, tide, and moon phase at a glance, along with the day and date. The titanium underpinnings and biomass case make for a comfortable ride, and the asymmetrical design is a beauty. But with a cost of just over $600 and a footprint the size of an actual frog, buyers will need to consider whether their lifestyle matches the GW-8230NT’s use case.
G-SHOCK ‘Frogman’ GW-8230NT Dive Watch
- Case size 52 × 50.3 × 18 mm
- Case materials Biomass resin, titanium
- Crystal material Mineral glass
- Weight 84 g
- Water resistance ISO 200 M
- Movement Casio/G-SHOCK Tough Solar
- Band material Biomass resin (150 to 220 mm compatible)
- Unique asymmetrical design
- Over-the-top capability
- Solar power
- Tide and dive functions
- Hefty price tag
- Massively sloped lugs
- High-rise case
G-SHOCK ‘Frogman’ GW-8230NT Review
For all its anniversary billing, the GW-8230NT’s marketing copy makes it clear that this Frogman stands on its own: “More than just a revival … The bezel and band are made with bio-based resins produced using renewable organic resources, helping to reduce the ecological footprint of this watch. Tough Solar charging is included as well, for converting sunlight into energy.”
I could go on for pages about the GW-8230NT’s features, but let’s hit some of the highlights. As you’d expect, Casio’s signature alarms, countdown timer, stopwatch, and world-time functions are all present. But the real lure here is the Frogman’s full manifest of aquatic-based tools.
The tide graph and moon phase data are easy to use and wonderfully accessible, with their own always-visible window at the one-o’clock position.
As far as the watch’s hardware, the bio-resin case is good for 200 m of water resistance, and the two-pronged metal buckle adds a measure of security. And can I just say I adore the Frogman’s unbalanced appearance? The protective shrouds around the left-hand pushers and right-side screw housings are a neat visual touch, making this feel more like an actual, purpose-driven tool as opposed to a luxury item.
Yet, there are several small touches that help this tadpole stand out from the pack. Take the subtle texturing on the skin side of the band, for instance, and the scuba frog emblem that appears on the case back.
And don’t worry, you can still see that cute little guy while wearing the watch. Press the LED backlight button, and there he is, swimming behind the dial.
All of this would be meaningless if the GW-8230NT lacked capability. So, in order to test its seafaring capabilities, I did a few things you’re definitely not supposed to do with a watch.
First, I filled a plastic container with water, dropped in the Frogman, and let it sit in the freezer for eight hours. This helps test the watch’s watertight seals, low-temp potential, and pressure resistance as the ice forms around it.
Afterward, I thawed the solid mass in scalding tap water to measure its resistance to thermal shock. The Frogman survived this process without so much as a hiccup, though it did lose a few seconds in timekeeping. This is to be expected when temperatures drop below freezing.
Next up was a trip to the swimming pool. I don’t scuba dive (yet), but I was able to successfully test the watch’s dive-time feature while front-crawling through my laps. I followed this with a few dives down to the deep end of the pool. While I hovered above the nine-foot floor, I repeatedly cycled through the Frogman’s functions, starting and stopping timers and working the light.
Normally, this is a bad idea. When you press buttons underwater, the chance of water making its way into the mechanism increases significantly. In this case, the little scuba frog stared back at me as if to say, “What else have you got?”
Alright, smarty pants, how about a trip through the washing machine to help rinse off that chlorine? Yet try as it might, my Kenmore was no match for this Casio. The watch emerged clean and functioning perfectly.
A Few Warts
My only real complaints with the GW-8230NT are as follows — cost and size. Anniversary piece or not, I still feel that $620 is a hefty price tag. When I first heard about this version of the Frogman, Casio targeted a significantly lower MSRP, and I thought, “Wow, what a killer deal!”
And who knows, perhaps once they reach the shores of Amazon and other online retailers, the price will dip back toward sanity.
Another thing to consider — there are many legitimate dive computers out there that cost less than the G-SHOCK Frogman. Would you want to wear these on your wrist most days? Probably not, as they’re more or less purpose-built for the water.
But most of these will give you additional features such as depth and temperature readings, while the watch shown here is limited to a dive timer and simple tide graph.
That said, it’s not as though you’re being cheated out of functions, materials, or size. In fact, I’d go so far as to rename the GW-8230NT as the Bullfrogman. Seriously, look at the pronounced slope of its molded lugs, which add nearly a half inch to each side of the watch.
So, the Frogman isn’t for the slight of wrist. But I also get that that’s part of its function and charm, and the titanium and resin case manages to keep the weight down despite its massive footprint.
As a high-viz hybrid of overland and underwater timepiece, this G-SHOCK largely succeeds.
Conclusion: G-SHOCK ‘Frogman’ GW-8230NT
At some level, I’m aware that complaining about cost here is silly. The GW-8230NT is by no means the most expensive watch in the G-SHOCK family, and its roster of features is strong.
Then there’s the distinctive silhouette, the eco-friendly factors, and a display that’s as beautiful as it is functional. Seriously, of all the watches I’ve worn, the GW-8230NT’s interface may be the best and most comprehensive.
So, is this new Frogman worth its price tag? In the end, that’s a question for individual consumers. There’s a cult following around this nameplate, and it’s not exactly hard to see why.
If you’re in the market for a watch that will serve as both a dive timer, tide and moon monitor, and attractive, offbeat everyday beater, then it’s hard to imagine a better option than the GW-8230NT. And with the implementation of the Tough Solar system, this is a watch that you can more or less purchase, strap on, and forget.
There’s a lot to love here and a strong sense of craftsmanship at play. So if you find yourself lusting after its feature set and beautiful red coloration, here are three words in honor of its namesake — take the leap.