Growing older and older, wristwatches are one of the items that slowly gain in charm and appeal to the male instincts. There ought to be one watch for each man to find, a once-in-a-lifetime piece. But, perhaps because the prices for watches are generally higher compared to other fashion items, the more time you spend in finding the perfect item, the harder it is to actually decide on the watch that is really the one for you. That is why, if you plan on finding your perfect watch, it might be good to learn about some good evaluation criteria from the masters. This time we asked one of the artists at the root of punk and old skate culture, Mr. Hirotton. Please share with us your personal ultimate item you wish to retain as an archive item and tell us why.
--- Do you remember the first wristwatch you ever wore?
“That’s the yellow G-SHOCK GW 6900A I bought when I was nineteen. It was a present from my uncle originally, but I managed to destroy it once, so I ended up buying another myself and continued using it. I’ve probably been using the same model for over ten years, both items combined.”
Let us start here by introducing the information about the brand model known as GW 6900A. The brand G-shock was born with the concept of ‘a sturdy watch that won’t break even when dropped’, originating from Casio Calculators in 1983. This is a well-known model representing the brand with a special film known as the ‘third face’.
--- Mr. Hirotton, you are known as an artist whose backbone is based in the punk and skateboard culture. Because I personally had the image of these people not really bound by strict time limits, I had a hard time imagining you wearing a wristwatch, to be completely honest. Why did you start wearing wristwatches?
“My generation already started using cellphones when we were in high school, so I probably wasn’t using the wristwatch as a way to tell the time that much in the first place. You could say it was more of an accessory of a kind. There was also a period in my teenage years I would be wearing other thing around my arms, like tack belts or those fluorescent-coloured wristbands. Probably these things from your childhood remain in you somehow even when you become an adult. No matter how old I become, I’ll probably keep wearing something on my wrists that catches the eye.”
--- Now that you mention it, I do have the image of you always wearing a yellow G-SHOCK wristwatch. But it’s quite amazing that you’ve continued to use the same model for over ten years. Is there any special reason this model has earned your love that much?
“While skateboarding, the sturdiness of G-SHOCK watches is really quite useful. Also, when I actually bought the item, I was nineteen and going to art school, so I would also be welding items and painting every day. So I chose this item because I could wear it without having to worry about it too much. The colour yellow is basically because I just like yellow. Back then, I think this was the only brand to have watches with such vibrant colours. By the way, this is one thing I thought after receiving your request to interview me, but I think my love for the G-SHOCK brand is also partly due to the cellphone I was using back then, a model called G’zOne C409CA.”
--- That’s a phone sold by au in the 2000’s also made by Casio, right?
“Yes. It was designed by the same person who did the G-SHOCK. It was bulky and tough, an impactful design that appealed to the manly instincts. I don’t remember that well, but the G’zOne’s commercials were also really fresh; they featured skateboarder Shingo Iwasaki, who would be skating as the rain started to fall, and then he drops his phone. Basically, I think they wanted to show that this phone could still be used even after being drenched in the rain.”
--- I remember that! Now that’s a long time ago.
“Also, the G’zOne came set up with the music of a Japanese punk band as the basic setting for the ringtone. At the time, that was a big statement to people like me”
--- It definitely sounds like a model that fans of skateboarding and music culture would love to own for themselves.
“By the way, I was also influenced a lot by a skateboarder from Osaka called Chopper, who used to be supported by G-SHOCK back then. I was really impressed back then as a child by their stance, the fact that they as a big company still decided to hook up with people involved in street culture. These days you also have brands like NIXON, but back then I think G-SHOCK was the only wristwatch maker doing things like that.”
--- I see. So could you show us this G-SHOCK 6900A?
“Actually, I lost it somewhere a few years ago.”
--- Excuse me?
“But I’m sure that someday it will turn up somewhere. I’ve dropped it several times before, or simply forgotten it somewhere, but it always turns up in the end. For example, I’ve spent some time living in London before, and so this one time I went on a holiday to Spain. Spain is actually really famous as a skateboard Mecca, there’s many amazing spots there. This time I went to the sea close to one of these skate parks. I figured my G-SHOCK might be weak against sea water compared to normal water, so I left it on the beach before entering the water, and ended up going back to the hotel without it. I realized after quite I while I’d forgotten it and hurried back to get it; luckily enough, it was just there on the beach where I left it. I lose sight of it at home often as well, but it always turns up at some time or another. So I’m sure I’ll manage to find it again someday.”
--- I see. By the way, the watch you’re currently wearing is also by G-SHOCK, right?
“Yes! This is the G-SHOCK DW 5600-E model. I actually have a really interesting story as well as to why I can never get rid of this one. When G-SHOCK turned 35 in 2018, I was asked to do some work on the catalogue that was made for this year. This model is actually based on the artwork I made at that time.”
Once again, let us introduce the details we have on this model, the G-SHOCK DW-5600E-`1. The DW-5600C is the first model made by G-SHOCK and therefor is still popular among many. The DW-5600E-1 depicted here is an accurate rendition of the original model with its square case, updated to modern standards.
--- Now that’s amazing!
“I’ve been using G-SHOCK ever since my teenage years, so I was glad to even get to work with them. That’s why I have special feelings for this item in a different way than for the yellow model; it’s very dear to me. When you get to work with a brand you’ve loved since your teenage years, there’s a lot of feeling behind that act in itself. It’s almost like I was finally able to say to myself ‘you were right all along’. I’ve been using this model and one other model at about the same pace.”
--- What kind of model is this item?
“This is a model designed by Toshikazu Nosaka, who is active as an artist in the skateboard culture field, with motives based on the Seven Gods of Fortune. He’s one of the people to have established his own style based on skateboard culture in Japan and someone I really respect as a person who draws in the same field. I would love to one day also be able to do a collaboration like this.”
Finally, let us introduce the details on this model, the G-SHOCK G-7900SLG-4JR. This series was made for G-SHOCK’s 35th anniversary, with drawings by skateboarder and artist Toshikazu Nosaka based on the Seven Gods of Fortune. The item Mr. Hirotton showed us was the Ebisu Model, based on the G-7900 series.
--- Finally, could you tell us what wristwatches mean to you as an item?
“This is a really personal thing, but as a general rule, wristwatches may be something that are usually used very carefully and kept clean; G-SHOCK is actually, for better or for worse, not part of that image. Just like denim jeans, the fact that they’re slightly dirty gives them an extra edge. That’s what makes them most charming to me. Also, I still like the same items from my teenage years even after passing thirty. So obviously that means I’ve kept on using G-SHOCK watches all this time. In that sense, I never actually stopped to think about it. But when I do, I find there is actually a good reason for all of it. The design is important as well, but I also like to understand the reasoning behind the brand and how it designs. I’d love to keep on wearing items like this with meaning (to myself) behind them.”
A painter who expresses himself using drawings of very intricate lines, carrying messages originating from the culture that influenced him. He has gained fame among many in and outside Japan for providing artwork for many popular brands and skateboard companies like HEROIN SKATEBOARDS. He has also spent some time as part of the colony of the legendary punk band, CRASS, while visiting London in his early twenties.
Photo_ Takaki Iwata
Text_ Hisanori Kato