Sunday, January 17, 2010

#1 Yacht Timing

Well, let’s give it another try for 2010. It will be a challenge to reach another 50 articles, but this year I hope I get reinforcements . I’ve been looking through my collection and I have seen several interesting model to write about, but it is after 100 articles and over 20 Intermezzo’s pretty hard to tell what’s already been written about, and what’s not.
This afternoon I brought Bram to a Nature Historical Museum, where he joined an excursion, while I sit in the lunch cafe of the museum. Before we left I picked up my yellow DW-9350 Raysman out of a box. I thought I did not have written about it, but alas, in November 2008 it was also the centre object of a 50Gs article. Well, let’s just pretend I didn’t find out this and see if this article has a different approach than the other.
The DW-9350 Raysman Yacht Timer model was released May 1998 and is a little different model than the standard DW-9300 model which was released 2 months earlier. All DW-9350 models were derived from the Middle Sea Race Malta model (DW-9350MSJ-2T), which was officially released a month later.
The yellow version is in my opinion by far the most good looking DW-9350 Yacht Timer model. The other two models were in beige and gray tones. I personally do not like the Middle Sea Race Malta model very much, because of the blue/white color scheme. I just do not like most blue G-Shocks.
The Raysman (in general) was a quite a novelty, back in 1998. Before this model, solar watches had a capacitor that could store energy for maybe for a couple of days. For the Raysman Casio used powerful solar panels and a large storage battery (Panasonic ML2020, ML stands for Manganese -Lithium). When it was fully charged it has enough energy to keep the watch running for about 9 months in total darkness.
I somehow regret that Casio stopped using this battery model (I am not sure which battery is out in the new GWF-1000 Frogman) and uses mostly the CTL1616 battery now. While Casio once admitted there were problems with the first batch of CTL1616 batteries they used, I must admit I have (again) at least 3 G-Shocks entered the Recovery mode. At least one of them already had its CTL1616 replaced with a new one. Some G-Shockers describe a failing CTL-1616, making a G-Shock go into Recovery Mode, the "Recovery Blues". Although I can get the batteries replaced for a relative low price (about €15.- each, including water resistance test), this can become quite an expensive problem in the future. I hope I can find a cheap way to get a few of these batteries and change them myself. The replacement procedure is about the same as a conventional battery change.
Note that the chance to get the recovery blues is drastically reduced when a Tough Solar G is worn daily. The Recovery Blues is maybe luxury disease, but pretty nasty for G-Shock collectors. The problem has with me only occurred to models released around 2003 to 2005 (first Tough Solar Waveceptor models, like the GW-300, MTG-930, etc).
The solar cells of the Rayman are the black/blueish panels around the display. These cells are strong enough that they can even use dim indoor light to recharge. Of course direct sunlight speeds up the process very much.
A funny novelty on the Raysman is that you can turn off the watch. The display just turns blank. Only the "SLEEP" mark in the eye is filled. It is a way to conserve energy for a long time.
in newer models this function was replaced on Tough Solar models by an automatic Power Save function.
I discovered the yellow Raysman pretty soon after I started collecting. Two USA sellers on eBay put them on auction, starting at $1.00. I think one of these sellers is still active, now under the name jj_watches. They still have often interesting models on auction, but unfortunately the Dutch customs like the way they sent packages. So I have to add at least €40.- ($60.-) to the total amount of watch + shipping, making buying G-Shock’s from this seller quite less interesting. Actually I hardly buy from USA sellers, due to the high shipping prices and the almost 100% catching rate of the Dutch customs. But enough rant, you can't blame the seller for this and the walnut pie and hot chocolate are tasting too good here in this restaurant .
The auctions for these Raysman may started at $1.00, the usually ended between $110 and $130. I think I got my first one for about $125.-. Not much later I won another one. I believe at a pretty low price, around $100. I don’t know why, but I seem to have 4 of these very good looking watches around (2 used, 2 new), since I got the opportunity to buy them. I think if I get the opportunity to get one for a nice price I still would be tempted to buy it. I think it was the first big G-Shock I really loved. The one photographed has got a lot of wrist time. Therefore some colorization might be seen on the straps.
The outward design of the DW-9350 is not much different of the DW-9300. The two toned bezels are the same. The Raysman is a Mud Resist model, so the buttons are covered by the bezel. Casio developed for the Mud Resistant models a new procedure to use two types of resin in one mold. The type resin used around the buttons are flexible, while the rest of the bezel is pretty stiff, acting as a shock absorber for the case.
This procedure was actually already used for the first time for the DW-5500C in 1985. Nowadays it’s almost impossible to find one with a complete bezel. The Mud Resistant structure is vulnerable when aging. The life span of a G-Shock is, according to the triple ten criteria, at least 10 years. For most G-Shock models this is much, much longer. Stories of DW-5600’s that run for about 20 years are not uncommon. Unfortunately the bezels of the DW-5500C disintegrated soon after 10 years and I get from time to time e-mails and other messages of people who’s Raysman bezel is cracked at the buttons or light button. Frankly I also have two Raysman with cracked bezels. Unfortunately bezels are not longer available at Casio. I nowadays am more careful with wearing my Raysman, which is actually very much a pity, because it still is a very nice big beautiful model.
The strap is also different. While the two tone strap of the DW-6300 seems to be made in one mold, the strap of the DW-9350 is probable made in two pieces. When used for a long time the middle part (that looks like a woven structure) can loosen from the outer part. It has happened to me two times (actually I bought the watches both times this way). Luckily it happened in a time I could simply buy a new strap. New straps were by the way pretty expensive. I believe they were about $50.- or more. If you read this and think: “I have a broken strap and I want a new one”, please don’t mail me. I have no idea where to get spare parts of a Raysman. As far as I know even the supply of straps have dried out worldwide.
The woven part of the yellow and the beige Raysman are in the same tone as the outer part. On the grey model the woven part is lighter. At the top of both straps there is a metal insert. One says “Yacht Timer”, the other says “Shock Resist”. The straps are attached to the case with 4 screws.
The Raysman Yacht Timer uses the 1584 module, while the basic Raysman uses the 1803 module. The differences are small. The only difference I can find, besides the display layout, is the “fast button”. When you push the upper right button, you enter with the basic Raysman the Data-Memory mode, while the Yacht Timer models enters the…,Yacht Timer.
So what does Yacht Timer mean? The yacht timer function is a Countdown Function that gives a series of signals given on certain times before the timer ends. These signals are given 15, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, and one minute before the timer ends and then 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2 and one second before the target time. If you think so many beeps are annoying (which is pretty understandable), you can of course turn this function off. The Yacht timer can be repeated. Small detail, when watching/using the Yacht Timer, the regular G-light button is used as start-stop button, while the lower right button acts as a light button.
The Raysman has a Data memory function, that can hold 30 data sets of names with telephone number. Back in 1998 a mobile phone was not quite a common yet, so it was a cool function back then. With a 24h stopwatch and 5 alarms with a hourly chime on board, the Raysman is a pretty good equipped model.
On the back of the watch a bat hanging on a branch is hanging upside down. On the regular Raysman the moon can be seen under the bat. On the Yacht Timer model you see waves of the sea.
A pretty cool feature that came with the new Tough Solar technology is the Full Auto Illuminator (Full Auto EL light). On some earlier G-Shock models the Auto Illuminator was already introduced. When this function was turned on, the EL-Backlight is turned on when the watch is tilted for about 40 degrees. This is about the position when you look at your watch. This function can become pretty energy consumptive, so this function turns off by itself after a few hours to spare the battery. The Full Auto Illuminator detects the amount of light (via the solar cells). If it is light enough, the light does not turn on, but if it’s dark the light turns on when the watch is tilted. In contradiction to the Auto-Illuminator, this function does not turn out itself after a few hours. The philosophy behind this is of course that the energy lost on these illuminations can be charged up again with light.
Although the Raysman is released almost 12 years ago, it is still not too difficult to find. Easiest to find are the basic and this yellow model. Also the prices are not too high. Expect prices around $100 for the basic Raysman and a little more for the Yacht Timer model (less in used condition). Bear in mind that the bezel is the weak part of the watch after these years. Let’s hope Casio will make once again such a nice big G-Shock like this.
* Note 1: The photo's of this article have been shot later. When I wrote this article, it was relative warm and there was no sign there was going to be snow. A week later about 10 cm of snow fell, which is pretty uncommon here.

Note 2: I normally don't do this, but a good friend of me put up his entire collection of Raysman for sale. There are are some pretty rare ones and I'm biting my fingers, because I don't have the funds for the Middle Sea Race (I may not like the color combination, it is a cool model to have in my collection) and the Gardian Angels at the moment. The prices are very fair, so if you are interested, have a look here.

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