Casio has announced a limited edition DW-5600 G-Shock that pays homage to NASA's decades of incredible achievements. 

Hodinkee, By 

© Hodinkee | Casio G-Shock DW5600 NASA Limited Edition
The NASA "worm" logo adorns the dial, while "National Aeronautics and Space Administration" is printed on the lower portion of the crisp white band, and Old Glory is printed on the strap keeper. The EL backlight, when illuminated, displays an image of the Moon. There's also an engraving of the Moon on the caseback; this is a watch for the die-hard space nerds. And the execution is stellar. 

It retails for $130 and can be purchased from select retailers as well as online. At the time of writing, it's all systems go, and it has not sold out.

The rise of NASA as a celebrated cultural icon is an interesting one. Of course, landing on the Moon will certainly help make a government organization a household name, but how did the NASA logo end up cool enough to put on a watch? Or better yet, cool enough to become a fixture in modern streetwear?

It almost seems like an obvious pairing, the tech-geek favorite G-Shock and NASA, but a lot had to go right in order for something like this to happen. It started back in 1974, with the Federal Graphics Improvement Program. The US government knew it had a problem with the lack of visual consistency in agency branding. In 1971, Nixon had prompted agencies to reflect on how the arts might be beneficial to forwarding the interests and image of federal agencies. By 1972, the National Endowment for the Arts had developed the Federal Design Improvement Program, and one of the components of this program was the aforementioned Federal Graphics Improvement Program. This resulted in a Request for Proposal to be sent out to leading design studios. 

New York's Danne & Blackburn answered the call with the iconic "worm" logo that is now featured on this recently released G-Shock DW-5600. The efforts of Danne & Blackburn resulted in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Graphics Standards Manual. In the opening note of the manual, administrator Richard H. Truly highlights what the new logo stands for, "I think the new logotype is pleasing to the eye and gives a feeling of unity, technological precision, thrust and orientation toward the future. Unity, technology, pioneering achievement –that's what NASA is all about."

And it's also what the G-Shock is all about. Despite being analog-obsessive, precision and toughness with an eye to the future are what Kikuo Ibe had in mind when he originally developed the G-Shock in 1983. The design was developed to very simple specifications. Ibe's intent was to make a watch that could survive a ten-meter fall, contain a battery that could last ten years, and be water-resistant to ten bar (100 meters). If you've ever read any memoirs from the Apollo era, like Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond, you might notice common themes in the way both Ibe's team and NASA approached design. Of course, it's more appropriate to compare the G-Shock to the Shuttle program. There's even a shuttle-era G-Shock on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. 

Jack interviewed the father of the G-Shock, Kikuo Ibe, and he mentioned that his ambitions included engineering a G-Shock that's EVA-approved. Although the G-Shock is already a favorite among spacefaring personnel, it can't withstand the extreme temperature changes associated with Extra Vehicular Activities, otherwise known as spacewalking. It might be due to the fact that liquid crystal displays would freeze in the extreme cold that the vacuum of space presents. In a way, this NASA limited edition is one step closer to the G-Shock that might eventually be approved for EVA use. 

NASA Regulations for Merchandising Requests specify:

-NASA identifiers, emblems, devices, imagery, etc. can be used as decoration on the product, but should not be used in a manner that suggests “co-branding” of products. 

-No third-party identifiers, logos, or other trademark visuals (including non-logo trademarks) can be shown together with the NASA Materials on products in a manner that suggests NASA jointly created the product or that the producer of the product is sponsored or endorsed by NASA.

This is just a theory, but it would seem that these official guidelines are what gave rise to the clean white display devoid of any typical branding associated with the DW-5600, instead simply wearing the NASA logo above the digital display. It's a real looker. 

Watches have certainly paid homage to NASA before, including a recent popular limited edition from Unimatic, but when it comes to the G-Shock, there's a spiritual and ideological connection that I'm not sure other watches can pull off in the same way. It's a pairing that truly makes sense. In recent times, the private sector has played a larger role pushing the limits of space exploration and take the focus off of NASA (though it should be noted that NASA has allowed the private sector to proliferate. They're the most important client to these budding companies). Even though there is no longer a flagship program or iconic spacecraft in front of the public, NASA has still managed to capture the public's imagination and stay culturally relevant. 

This specific limited edition G-Shock has the potential to be a grail-status LE in the future for G-Shock collectors. Jack looked at the "Project Team Tough" G-Shock from 1983 here. 37 years later, collectors fawn over it. NASA could always change the way it allows third parties to use its branding. But maybe by the time that happens, perhaps 37 years in the future, the iconic worm logo (that NASA recently brought back) will come to represent even more: Humanity on Mars.

This article was originally published by Hodinkee.  
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