TOKYO, JAPAN - Kikuo Ibe walks into the conference room at the Casio R&D facility in Hamura, West Tokyo, with a fuschia paper heart pinned to his chest. "This is my heart. I want you to know how happy I am that you are here," he says.
For someone regarded as one of the most important figures in modern watchmaking, his humility is also extremely refreshing.
Ibe is the man behind the Casio G-Shock, the iconic line of almost indestructible watches. Since it was launched more than 35 years ago, more than 100 million of these hardy timepieces have been sold.
In 1983, the first G-Shock model DW-5000 was released with 200m water resistance and the ability to survive a fall of more than 10m. Since then, there have been hundreds of iterations, with prices starting from $120.
Having the G-Shock become a global phenomenon was something he did not expect. "I actually designed it for construction workers and those in tough jobs. I was surprised we managed to capture such a big audience," he says through an interpreter.
Over the decades, he has met more than his share of rabid G-Shock fans.
"One day, I met a mother with a one-year-old baby in her arms. She told me: 'We're both big G-Shock fans.' I can understand the mother being a fan but a one-year-old infant?"
"She then told me that when the baby was teething, he loved biting on G-Shocks because they helped soothe his discomfort."
Surprisingly, Ibe himself has only three G-Shocks - all classic DW-5600 models."I've had them for more than 20 years. One black, one white and one red. The black one I wear during spring and autumn, the white for summer and the red for winter."
For the man behind such a high-tech watch, he is surprising in other ways.
"I don't use a smartphone, I don't look to technology for inspiration. I see more appeal in the analogue world," he says.
Many of his ideas come to him while he is doing what he loves best: growing vegetables.