Sunday, August 31, 2008

#34 Michael Lau's Gardener.

Last Friday I got a G-Shock that I wanted since it was released. The DW-6900AS, NY FAT Gardener model, designed by Michael Lau.
I was browsing the WUS sales corner about two weeks ago and my eyes fell on the Michael Lau. It was sold by a WUS member from Finland, that I know, because I helped him out in the past with a music DVD that was only available in The Netherlands.
It was fair priced, though, the Michel Lau were already at release (April 2005) not cheap. Although the official sales price of 12000 yen, the price on internet (eBay) was around $150 ex. shipping.
The watch was for sale for a similar price shipped, so it was a good deal. My problem was that I had spend a lot of money in the summer holidays. It looks like spending the summer holidays at home is much more expensive that traveling to a an exotic destination. Luckily the seller knew how much I like this model and he agreed to hold the watch for a week, when I got my salary.
This model was mainly sold in Hong Kong. It was often offered with a Michael Lau NY FAT "Gardener Shock" vinyl mini figure. This mini figure was released on May 20th, the same day the NY FAT G-Shock was released in Hong Kong.
The website on the box does not exist anymore... In January 2007 I already obtained the Gardener Shock mini figure.
Micahel Lau is pioneer designer of Urban Vinal Toys. In 1998 Michel Lau published Gardener comics in the East Touch Magazine. He decided to make the characters of his comics in 12"and 6"vinyl as the Gardeners series.

In his series you find children, graffiti artists, basketball players, rappers, DJ's, snowboarders and skateboarders. They wear clothes inspired on popular street fashion, like Nike, Bathing Ape, etc. As fashion designer artist he knows a lot of people, like James Lavelle (designer, Mo-Wax label boss, U.N.K.L.E.) and Hardy Blechman (owner of Maharishi). These people have showed up in the Gardeners series and also did Michael Jordan.

The small mini figure (normally the mini figures are 6", this one is 4.25") wears a NY FAT logo T-Shirt and a big resin watch. I presume this watch (it is very small) represents the DW-6900AS. Although small, the figure is very good detailed, as you can see here on the pockets and the watch strap.
The DW-6900AS came with the face protector. This face protector is rarely seen on DW-6900 models. It makes this watch look very sturdy. Also it's scheme with grey lettering makes the watch looks somewhat stealth.
You might expect this watch is a Foxfire, because the watch is rated water resist 20 Bar, but on top of the face it shows Illuminator.
On the strap the NY FAT logo and the Gardeners logo (a spray painted G) are shown.

An graffiti artist is shown on the label. This figure also returns in the backlight.

The Gardener logo is also etched in the back.
From the side you can already see the impressive backlight design.It is one of the most impressive EL backlight designs I know. I think that 50% of the display is red.
You might think it is hard reading time, bit the backlight if this model does not disturb at al,
The Michael Lau will be kept safe in collection. Below you can see my garden table in the back yard at the end of the 50 Gs photo's I made Friday.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

G9200-1DR: The Dragon and the Serpent

It has been a Casio tradition to create mascots for each one of its Master of G series models. Those animal cartoons that identify themselves with the watch's main functions or attributes are well-known by G-Shock enthusiasts all over the world. So we have the frog and the diver's Frogman, the mole and the Mudman's classic mud resistant design, the turtle and its Titanium rust resistant Gulfman, and very recently the Riseman and its flying squirrel.
Nevertheless, for the new Riseman Casio decided to create two mascots: the Flying Squirrel for its Japanese market Multiband 6 version, the GW9200-1JF, and the Oriental Dragon for the export version of this same model, the GW9200-1. This dragon also appears in the solar/non-atomic version of the Riseman, the G9200-1DR.
The difference among these versions is the capacity to read altitude, barometric pressure, and temperature in Imperial or Metric units of the GW9200-1 and the G9200-1DR, against the GW9200-1JF Metric units only sensor programming. The G9200-1DR can't sync itself to atomic clocks. This one is the Riseman version destined primarily for markets out of reach of the atomic transmitters in Japan, China, the US, and Europe, like Southeast and Central Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
GW9200-1JF (Flying Squirrel):

G9200-1DR (Oriental Dragon):

Dragons in the Far East are an old and important mythological presence. Even though they are flying creatures too, Oriental dragons don't have wings like their European counterparts. Dragons arrived in Japanese culture through Chinese, Korean, and Indian stories and cultural influence. Japanese dragons were usually water deities, related to the rain and to water bodies in general; they are gigantic creatures with reptilian heads, serpent bodies, and large claws.

When this new version of the Riseman appeared (G9200-1DR), I, as Mexican, immediately associated its dragon mascot with one of the most important deities in the ancient Mexican Aztec and Mayan cultures. Quetzalcoátl, that means Feathered Serpent in English (Kukulcán for the Mayas), was at the same time a god and an ancient ruler. As a god it was related to the sky, the wind, knowledge, and priesthood. He was also associated to Venus, the first star that appears in the evening sky and the last one to disappear before the sun rises. As a ruler, he was related to an age of peace, harmony and cultural advance in Mesoamerica.

In Mexico, Quetzalcóatl can be found today in old pyramids, stone engravings, clay figures, rests of paintings, and codex images. He is always a feathered serpent or a man with elaborated symbols of bird and serpent. As those creatures represented the sky and the earth, Quetzalcóatl was considered too a symbol of all the creation.

Quetzalcóatl was, notwithstanding his fierce appearance, a god of good, and in the absence of the Sun he held a duel of balances with Teztcatlipoca, the jaguar with skin like the starry night sky.

Quetzalcóatl has inspired many Mexican artists since the prehispanic days to our times. But for me the resemblance between he and the Oriental Dragon of the Riseman solar version, was evident at first sight.

The G9200-1DR is the newest version of the Riseman. It has all the functions of the solar/Multiband ones, but the atomic syncing: altimeter, barometer, thermometer, world time, 24 hours chrono, 24 hours timer, 5 alarms, and a recording mode for altitude. It is, without doubt, a fine alternative for all those who want a Riseman but live out of the reach of the atomic clocks, or also for those who want an affordable version of the Riseman without compromising any of the its quality and performance.

But for me, firstly and foremost, the new solar G9200-1DR is its mascot and the resemblance this Oriental dragon has with the Mexican Feathered Serpent.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

G-Shock#33: DW-5600EH-7JR The 25th Anniversary watch designed by Eric Haze

I know I normally publish a new blog article on Sunday, but I had waited for this watch for such a long time, I just can hold.
I think I read about this model about two months ago. Probably on Riley's My G-Shock. It looked like the perfect DW-5600 for me. The shade of red on the black display plate is so beautiful. Full respect for the designer Eric Haze (photo above). Eric is a pretty much known graffiti artist from NYC. As far as I know, this is the 3rd G-Shock designed by Eric Haze. Also the 25th Anniversary Logo, found on the 25th anniversary models was designed by him.
Above is a tribute to Keith Haring for his 50th day of birth. In 1997 I visited an exposition about Haring, which had a great impact on me, specially the letters he wrote before his death and how much he wanted to live. The last painting, a spermatozoa on a black background with devil horns had a deep emotional impact on me and other visitors. As a graffiti artist in NYC in the 70's, it is not hard to imagine that Eric Haze and Keith Haring were friends
Although my budget this summer vacation is very tight, I wanted this model very bad. I saw it on Seiya's website. A few days I kept spending looking at his splendid photo's. I had a bit hiccup against the price. Not that $120 is expensive, but simply I had doubt I could afford it this time.
Finally I decided I must have this watch. I placed the order on Friday evening August 8th (GMT+2). I noticed Seiya's shop is closed in the weekends, so I expected a reply from him on Monday morning.
To my surprise I found his friendly e-mail on Saturday. I was very happy the watch was sent out the same day. Japan celebrated the Obon festival from August 13th, so I hoped my watch was out of Japan then.
Indeed, the tracking service of the Japanese post told me the watch arrived in Amsterdam next Monday. It was sent to the customs office. Bugger (well, I actually called out something different, that not is suitable for this weblog). Normally Japanese EMS is a very fast and reliable service. The absolute record is a package that arrived in 2½ days (also due to the 7 or 8 hours time difference).
The waiting begins. Finally on Friday I saw the package was released from customs. I already expected to pay duties now. It's pretty sour. Because the rice of the watch is not very high, the customs fee would be relative big.
Saturday.... No watch :-(
Finally yesterday (Monday August 18th) I see the package service arrive at my door. I already packed my wallet when I see all the papers on and around the package. €32.30 for a €78.- watch. Unbelievable. The €16.- custom fees are in my opinion huge out of proportion. With 19% the Netherlands has a very high VAT rate. We are used to that, but in my case it's over 40%. I would like to see that the customs fees were a small percentage of the total value, but that's probably talking to a big wall...
Enough of my rant. I was waiting for this watch and it took me more time to write down my rant, that that I thinking about it. I wanted to open that package.
The EMS envelope was not opened. The Paypal invoice that was provided in a plastic sleeve was probably enough for the customs this time. When I opened the envelope I found a great box and some Casio catalogs.
I felt blood run through my vains. How would this watch look in real. Pretty nervous I opened the box and the tin.
For the first time I saw the face of the watch through a plastic protection bag. It's really here! It really looks as good as the Casio promotional photo's. I wanted to take pictures immediately, but unfortunately my parents internet browser crashed. Before I could start I drove with an USB stick with Firefox 3 to Vlissingen. Eva was at work, so when we came home I also had to put Bram to bed. Finally I could start making my photo set-up.
It was a great joy to shoot pictures. I made a series for G-Peopleland. After that I made a series for 50 G's. I could have posted this on next Sunday of course, but I'm so excited, I just want it to show the world now. It's 1:35 (am), so time to go to bed. But not before I thank Eric Haze for this beautiful watch and Seiya-San for the great transaction. Enjoy the photo's. They are taken against an Eric Haze x Stussy collaboration T-Shirt. And if you like this watch, don't take the text "Limited Edition" too seriously. This watch is released in Japan, the US and Europe. It is probably as limited as the TLC Mudman...