G-SHOCK DW5600 NASA21 Review

Space nerds rejoice! Casio’s G-SHOCK division has issued a 40th anniversary special edition DW5600 NASA21 commemorating the first Space Shuttle launch. It first went on sale on the G-SHOCK website at precisely T-minus zero, 40 years after the launch of STS-1 (April 12, 1981 at 7:00am) . . .

Oddly, Casio’s promotional video makes the NASA21 lift-off resemble an Apollo rocket more than a Space Shuttle launch. Bah! It’s still cool.

3… 2… 1… Invest?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote Casio NASA21 – The Hype Machine Cometh. The same space travel fanatics and G-Shockerati who jumped on (or tried and failed to acquire) last year’s highly-coveted NASA20 limited edition were chomping at the horological bit to get their hands on this year’s $140 G-SHOCK NASA21.

Consider that, only a year later, NASA20 models in new condition are currently listed on eBay for $1,000 and up, Many have actually sold for ~$600 in the last few months.

The pre-order launch of the NASA21 went over like a failed Atlas rocket test. The system crashed and then sold out in less than an hour, frustrating many prospective buyers. Within that same hour, scalpers were flipping them on eBay for quadruple the retail price. Salt in the wound to the true fans.

With multiple attempts and some luck, I managed to snag a confirmed order in the first release.

Weeks later, it went on sale again. And, then sold out again in short order. Then it went on sale a third time. And sold out again. Last I checked, it’s still “sold out.”

If interested, you might keep checking the website to see if it goes on sale yet again. I noticed the prices on eBay for the NASA21 dropped to half of where they were after the first sales launch, or about $100 over retail. For now.

Burning out his fuse, up here alone.

The packaging will delight space nerds. The outer box includes an old-school computer screen graphic listing the various specs and stats related to STS-1. Perfect for breakfast time reading while eating your Froot Loops, drinking the leftover pink milk, and a glass of astronaut-approved Tang.

The G-SHOCK NASA21 can is adorned with an infographic resembling the Earth with a Space Shuttle orbiting the circumference along with a bit of mission trivia.

The G-SHOCK DW5600 NASA21 comes in a playful black and white color scheme that mirrors the traditional NASA spacecraft from Apollo through the Shuttle fleet. Make no mistake, this is not a “mature” looking watch for the boardroom. But it’s definitely astronaut-cool and will appeal to the Sheldon Cooper in many of us.

Laid out flat, the paint job resembles American rockets of the past five decades.

Here in Florida, white belts and shoes are de rigueur for a certain age set a couple of decades ahead of me. Accordingly, I’m averse to any white fashion accessory. Last year’s NASA20 was all-white. I find the contrasting black bezel and strap graphics of the NASA21 to be fashionably redeeming, making it “less white.” The executives at Coca-Cola corporate would surely approve.

It’s hip to be square.

The NASA21 is lightweight and as comfortable as any other G-SHOCK square. The NASA rocket themed strap is typically G-SHOCK stiff, yet unobtrusive. The resin strap flares from the lugs creating a little gap, which may be more pronounced on smaller or round-shaped wrists.

I expect the white resin strap will likely discolor over time with use. I’ve considered swapping it for a softer all-black GW-5000 strap, preserving the original strap. But then I wouldn’t get the whole NASA-themed experience every time I wear it.

Despite my time in the U.S. Navy, I’m accustomed to 12-hour time format. However, it seems fitting to use the 24-hour format for a NASA watch.

Nothing new under the moon.

The buttons and corresponding functions of the NASA21 are typical for a G-SHOCK DW5600. Is the recessed “adjust” (top left) button hard to press and activate (like all other 5600s)?  Roger that Houston.

The positive LCD display is crisp and easy to read. One feature of the NASA21, popular in the DW5600 line (Module #3229): the coincidental display of the current time in the stopwatch and countdown modes (see above).

Like many G-SHOCK collabs and themed watches, the backlight incorporates a special image or logo. In this case, you’ll see a red silhouette of the Space Shuttle, flanked by the dates corresponding to the 40-year anniversary. The caseback is similarly engraved.

Other than the colorway, the NASA21 is a basic G-SHOCK DW5600, which goes for about $43 on Amazon (no commission from link). So, is the NASA21 livery worth the $100 premium? You be the space nerdy judge. As one who grew up during Space Race, I’m digging it.

Model: G-SHOCK DW5600 NASA21

Price paid: $140


Case: Black resin

Crystal: Mineral glass.

Strap / Bracelet: White resin with black graphics.

Display: Digital – positive LCD.

Functions: Time (hours, minutes, seconds with 12 / 24 hour modes), Day / Date, Alarm (with flash alert option), Stopwatch, Countdown Timer.

Dimensions / weight: 42.8(w) x 48.9(l) x 13.4(h)-mm / 53 grams (1.9 oz).

Movement:  Module #3229.

Accuracy: +/- 15 seconds per month.

Water resistance: 200 meters.

Battery life: 2 years.

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Design * * * *

It’s another G-SHOCK “square.” What else can I say? This one looks like a rocket. Either you dig it, or you don’t.

Legibility * * * *

An all digital (thankfully positive LCD) display that’s easy to read, if you have good vision. The Space Shuttle and dates graphic built into the electro-luminescent backlight reduces night-time legibility a bit.

Comfort * * * *

Typical G-SHOCK. Lightweight. Comfortable enough for every day use.

Overall * * * * *

In the end, it’s a theme watch. If you’re a space travel fanatic, get your astro-geek on with a watch that’s fun to own and wear.

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