I test tech wearables for a living — this 1980s-style smartwatch is my favorite product of 2023

G-Shock smartwatch on wrist with out of focus foliage in background.
(Image credit: Future)

Forget fancy fitness metrics and AI-assisted niceties. The smartwatch features that matter most in 2023 are style and comfort. Hear me out: With so many similar devices on the market promising nearly identical activity and sleep-tracking functions, design is one of the few factors that really sets many of these tech wearables apart.

For example, if you type “fitness tracker” in an Amazon search, you’ll get page after page of similar-looking trackers. Most follow one of two designs: fitness bands cribbed from the Fitbit Inspire series or square-faced Apple Watch look-alikes. 

But, in a sea of miniature AMOLED screens, slick silicone straps and unoriginal designs, one smartwatch stood out from the pack in 2023. I’m talking about the Casio Casio G-Shock Move DWH5600 series, which is my favorite tech wearable of the year.

G-Shock Move smartwatch.

The Move DWH5600 is an all-around awesome little wearable with a lot of character. (Image credit: Future)

Good design inspires use

What good is a tech wearable if it doesn’t make you want to wear it? What good is a sports car if it doesn’t make you want to drive it? 

Let’s be honest: There aren’t a lot of truly good-looking smartwatches or fitness wearables in 2023, let alone original-looking ones. The Whoop 4.0 is certainly an exception, as is the Oura Ring. Withings also makes several darn-nice-looking watches — including the forthcoming Nova smartwatch — with strong nods to classic sports watch design. 

But the G-Shock Move smartwatch — modeled off of the legendary G-Shock DW-5000C from 1983 — is the first fitness-focused tech wearable I’ve ever considered buying purely based on its “cool factor.” 

Horology roots, modern tech

Casio G-Shock Move next to a standard Casio watch.

Can you tell which one of these Casio watches is the "smart" one? (Image credit: Future)

Beyond looking cool, Casio did a bang-up job keeping the Move DWH5600’s design true to its 1980s roots. Side-by-side next to a standard Casio watch, one would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Both sport the same classic octangular design, resin bezel and old-school LED backlight.

Casio also didn’t cut corners on the watch’s tech — even if there is room for improvement. The Japanese watch brand partnered with Polar for the fitness tracking stuff. 

Polar makes some of the most robust fitness tracking devices on the market, including the new Polar Vantage V3. However, Polar smartwatches tend to be geared more toward hardcore athletes than streetwear aficionados/watch geeks.  

Nevertheless, as a result of the collab, the G-Shock Move offers a competitive set of holistic features. This includes fitness and sleep tracking, heart rate and blood oxygen saturation monitoring, meditation exercises and more.

Rather than a fancy AMOLED touchscreen, the Move sports a delightfully retro monochrome LED display with four physical buttons to navigate the settings. Well, really, three, as one is dedicated to the previously mentioned backlight.

It’s also refreshingly simple to operate, thanks in part to the buttons being labeled with their respective functions and because there are no cryptic touchscreen gestures to decipher. 

More than meets the eye

The G-Shock Move smartwatch on wrist with dog in background

Handsome dog, handsome watch. (Image credit: Future)

The G-Shock Move DWH5600 additionally has some legitimately impressive features to boast about, including solar charging and class-leading water and impact resistance.

While you can’t charge the health-related features using the sun, the time and date display are powered almost exclusively by solar (except in rare cases, like living in a cave). Battery life, by the way, is fantastic. I’ve gone well over a week wearing the Move daily without needing a top-up. 

Water resistance is 200 meters, which blows most smartwatches, including the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 — two of the best smartwatches in 2023 —  right out of that water. The shockproof design is also time-tested and (this) user-approved. 

It’s time for other legacy watch brands to step up

The G-Shock Move DWH5600MB is my favorite tech wearable of 2023 because it breaks the mold of the mundane, and gracefully merges nerdy, classic watch design with well-functioning fitness tracking tech. 

Fitness trackers and smartwatches can take on infinite forms. Yet, these devices largely look like clones of one another in 2023. Sure, the Apple Watch aesthetic is “cool” if you dig the utilitarian spaceship look. But for me, that’s grown tiresome. 

Moreover, in 2024, I would love to see other brands with horology roots follow Casio’s lead with their take on a past-meets-present smart wearable. 

Your move Seiko, Swatch, Citizen and Timex. 

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Dan Bracaglia
Senior Writer, Fitness & Wearables

Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd. 

  • Briwil
    I owned this watch, and while I loved the look of it, it’s HR monitor is pretty crap by all accounts, every review I’ve read mentions how off the HR monitor is compared to known winners like Fitbit and Garmin.