Sunday, August 29, 2010

#36 The Steve Caballero G-Shock

Todays G-Shock is one of the GWX-100 range. I wanted to include a tutorial video of changing the battery on this model, but unfortunately only the intro and the outro were focused. The most important part, almost 6 minutes, was blurred. I must have missed the correct focus point when I started.
The actual changing of the battery was pretty simple, but I had to remove the straps first. The streamlined straps fit pretty tight against the case. It was not easy to remove them, but it was even harder to place them back. Well, I didn’t record that procedure anyway, because I need the watch right under my eyes and it would have been impossible with a camera in-between.
Somehow the DWX-100 series models are not pretty known and often a forgotten. Still 39 versions were released between October 1998 and November 1999. There were two different models between the DWX-100 series released in Japan. The models starting with the model number DWX-110 are “surf models”, with a Tidegraph on board. To make it a little complicated, the DWX-111 and DWX-112 models have the same module as the Japanese DWX-100 models. The basic European DWX-100 has a different module, which looks like the DW-003S module. And we are not there yet. According to the Japanese G-Shock database, this is the DWX-111BD-4AT. Strangely the back of my watch says DWX-112. Also the Steve Caballero signature is not present. I checked my DWX-112AS (Air + Style), which has a special A+S back inscription. The only possible explanation is that the DWX-111BD-4AT was released in the US as DWX-112 model. There is simply no other DWX-112 model with a “standard back” as on this watch. Casio does sometimes bring the overseas model with another model number like the DWM-100, which became the DWM-101 in Europe.
In September 1999 Casio released three DWX-111BD models, which are Signature models of three big skateboarders. There is a Omar Hassan model, a Willy Santos model and of course this great looking Steve Caballero model.
In Japan this models were released as X-Treme G-Lide models, which is pretty unique. In the beginning series of models designed for extreme sports were called the X-Treme series in Japan. Overseas models of the same series were called G-Lide. It seems the G-Lide name was introduced in Japan with the DWX-100 series models.
Steve Caballero (left) and Tony Hawk.Tony Hawk is riding a blue Steve Caballero signature deck  with a yellow dragon.
So who is Steve Caballero. He was born in 1964, the year of the dragon. That’s why the dragon is a returning theme in his graphics. He started skateboarding at the age of 12 and in 1978 he was sponsored by Powell Peralta at the age of 15. He is a member of the Bones Brigade, which was mentioned on 50 Gs before in my article about the Tommy Guerrero. He is considered a legend of skateboarding. Vert Champion and Skater of the Year in 1983 and 1984, World Champion Street and Vert in 1987 and won over 30 titles over the years. Recently in May 2010 he won the Masters Division at the Pro-Tec Pool Party. Even at the age of 45, he proofs to be one of the best skateboarders.
Steve Caballero skating in the evening of his 45th birthday in November 2009.
Besides skateboarding he likes motocross bikes and collects hot rod cars and toys. He has played in several punk bands (I think I heard a famous musician recently say: “Every good musician should have played in a punk band once in his life”, which I can totally agree with). About 6 years ago he started painting as well.
He shows paintings, drawings, skateboard and family stuff on his weblog called “Have you seen him”. It’s pretty amusing to read and it shows he’s a sympathetic and down to earth man and a gifted artist.
Test screen of the 1978 module. Read here how to achieve
This DWX has an asymmetrical design, which makes this model very ergonomic and comfortable for extreme sports. Since the first DWX-100 models were designed for water sports, there are a lot of design patterns that allow water to drain as fast s possible. Also extra holes in the strap allow water to vaporize fast when worn to prevent irritation and nasty odors, etc.
At the top of the straps there are extra resin inserts. The one on top of the case shows the G-Shock G logo. On the bottom of the case there is Steve caballero’s trademark, a red dragon. While later signatures like these are mostly placed on the strap with the buckle, I like it this way, because now the wearer can see the dragon when he or she sees the watch on the wrist. The strap keeper shows a nice G-Lide logo.
The bezel’s red accents look like a black bezel is placed over a red case, but the case is just black. The bright red contrasts very beautiful with the deep black resin. The buttons on the right side seem to be made out of one piece of red resin. They might be a cover of two real buttons underneath it. A bit similar as is done on Mud Resistant models. Although it probably leaves more dirt out than regular buttons, I think it’s done in this case more for ascetic reasons. The buttons on the left side are more or less regular G-Shock buttons.
The 5th light button also functions as a Start/Stop button in the Stopwatch and Countdown Timer mode. I still don’t know if I have to like this or not. Probably I do not like it, just because I own many G-Shock’s, where the Start/Stop button is placed in the lower left side. I guess if this is your only watch, the 5th button as a Start/Stop button is not a bad choice. You have to figure out where your light button has gone when you use the Stopwatch or Countdown Timer (lower left button).
The functions on this Caballero model are simple, but good. I has the 1978 module. An Alarm with Hourly Chime, a 24 hour Stopwatch and a 24 Hour Count Down Timer, just the basic needs for a nice sports watch.
When the backlight is activated, the same dragon as on the strap is shown, like he is protecting you from evil. Very nice.
This watch is more than 10 years old, so even as it was released in large numbers, it would have become rare now. The fact that this watch has DWX-112 as a model number, indicates it must have been an overseas model. This model could be found in Japan and outside Japan. You might think it is released in the US, but since Willy Santos is a Philippian skate boarder, it might also have been an East Asian release.

I do not know exactly how I got this watch. It was from an eBay auction, but I do not know anymore where it came from. I think I did not pay a very high price for it probably in the $60 - $80 range. The original retail price in Japan was 15000 yen. The DWX-100 series models are not very big. That might be the reason why these models were not as popular as the DW-003 and DW-004 models at that time, which were much bigger. You also don’t see DWX-100 for sale anymore, although the basic orange DWX-100 (“Red & Bad”) was offered a lot for a long time on eBay Germany at several sellers, with prices around €40.- new in box. Last year Dave from the Singaporean G-Shock Fansite published an article about his Willy Santos model. Maybe I should try search a Japanese Steve Caballero version, just to have the signature on the back. G-Shock Collecting is so addictive…

Sunday, August 22, 2010

#35 Seeing Red with S-Kool G-5500C-4

First off, I would like to thank Sjors for giving me the great honor of writing an article for 50 G’s.
I’ve enjoyed reading the articles written by him, as well as those who have been invited to contribute, for years, that I’d never imagine myself being a contributor.

What I enjoy most about these articles, are the great pictures taken and stories behind the acquisition of the watches, on top of the usual reviews and discussing its features. I figure I could never write like that, or even be interesting enough to have a story. So I offer my apologies in advance to readers if you fall asleep halfway reading this article. I hope I can make up for it by taking beautiful pics.

Red: Passion, blood, fire, rage, beauty, revolution.

I absolutely love red among all colors. Not that I’m obsessed with it, but I feel that this particular color evokes the most variable kinds of emotions when applied to different subjects. I use red a lot in my art too.
It’s a different theory however, when it comes to watches. I prefer my watches black, silver or gray. Most of my watches in other colors barely got their deserved wrist time.  So what got me  hunting for this red piece? I honestly don’t know, but this article will probably help churn up some "excuses".
I was on a break from acquiring G-Shocks for a while, for about 2 months (seems damn long) due to my busy work schedule, and the fact that I had gone broke from an almost monthly G-Spree. It was a couple of days from the final stage of the FIFA World Cup 2010. Teams have been narrowed down to two; Netherlands and Spain. Not that I’m a fan of soccer, but just because this was one of the biggest sporting events watched all over the world, I ended up watching it too. I never had a favorite team to support to begin with, but as the matches passed and teams got eliminated, I fell in love with Spain’s performance. Powerful, precise, and perfect.

Probably driven by the bold colors represented by both teams, I felt the urge to look for a  G-Shock of either Orange or Red. So my hunt was narrowed down to two; a used but in great condition red S-Kool series G-5500C-4 from an online forum, and the orange Summer Gradation series DW-5600LC-4, which I found mint in a local store. Both models were released in 2007. Both models look great, and it sure was a tough choice to make, even though I know I’d pick a red watch over an orange watch anytime. So first I did a visual comparison of the two, then weighed in the features and my vote quickly veered towards the G-5500C-4.

Then there was this much-hyped octopus named Paul in Germany that made accurate predictions of the World Cup match winners. For the final match, Paul "The Oracle" had chosen Spain as the winner. So I decided, “Ok, let’s go with Paul’s decision. With this purchase, I’ll bet that Spain will win the final.”
Photo: AP/Roberto Pfeil

Well we all know who won!

I didn't receive the watch until about a week after the finals, so I missed the chance to celebrate together. When i saw this watch in person for the first time, I think I would have believed if Casio said this was a G-Shock X España Collaboration.
G-5500C-4 Vivid color/ S-Kool series
The G-5500C-4 was released in November 2007 along with 2 other colors, G-5500C-3 in green and G-5500C-7 in white. As described by their title, all 3 colors are vividly strong and really pack a presence when worn on the wrist. I think this series makes for a great summer watch. A quick search online for this series showed that it was released under 2 names, 1 for the Japan Domestic Market, the other for worldwide release. While it was released as vivid color series worldwide, the Japanese market released the same models as S-Kool series. S for Stylish, Smart, Sporty. Kool was added to complete the idea of the influence G-Shock has had among the popular youth culture, the "cool" people. S-Kool also reads skool or school to indicate this model was adapted from its 'Old Skool' model from the mid eighties, the G-Shock II DW-5500. It has since been given a new "engine" and solar charging technology.
What I like about 55xx series is the construction of the bezel and band. Unlike other models, the part where the bezel and band meets are perfectly flushed you would be convinced it was constructed as a single piece. The first of the G-55xx model I owned is the Solar Atomic 25th anniversary GW-5525A. I had to take it apart to feed my curiosity as to whether the bezel and band are a single piece or not.
Putting them back together was no easy task as well. The 55xx bands have an extra securing loop just near the screw holes that you need to be aware of when replacing the band so as not to snap the side, which I find it looks pretty fragile when it's taken out.
I also found out the button covers were not constructed with the bezel as a single piece, but the way the covers flushed so well with the bezel, just like how it is with the bezel and band, made the whole resin look unified.
The well covered buttons are pretty hard to press at times, that's evident in most mud-resist models (the DW-5500 was regarded as the first mud-resistant G-Shock) , but it's a relief to know that no dirt will get in between the buttons. Its raised bezel is also much higher than any other square models, giving the crystal extra protection.
Here you can see the difference in legibility among different 55xx models.

While taking photos for this article I found out the LCD display of the G-5500C-4 is one of the hardest to take photos of. Legibility is harder indoors but once it's outdoors the screen is sharp as a knife. The lay-out of the display is close to the other squares, e.g DW-56xx, except for the day and date feature. On this 3062 module to toggle between day of the week and date you have to press the adjust button.
The black solar panel compliments the black buttons well and it makes a cool proportional contrast against the overpowering red. It would be interesting though if solar panels can be created in different colors.
I find it a major plus too that the digits can be adjusted in a forward and reverse manner. On the older modules when you're setting the time for example, if you missed a digit you have to continue pressing the forward button until it goes full circle to the digit that you want.
I really like the 2-holed wide bands and the brushed metal buckle with the G-Shock text embedded into it. These 2-holed bands and buckles are also found used the the latest GA-100,110 series, my current favorite series. It makes the watch look visually stronger and less worried about scratching them as opposed to the shiny normal-looking buckles on other models. The buckles on the frogman models are superbly done as well.
The usual modes are found on this module; Time keeping, World Time, 5 daily alarms, stopwatch and timer. Too bad though the timer can only be set up to 60 mins, so does the stopwatch that can only record up to 60 mins. It would be better if both could go up to 24 hours.
I have a 6 1/2 inch wrist so this watch looks big on my wrist. Actually almost all the other G-Shocks look big on my wrist. But I like big chunky watches and that was one of the reasons i fell in love with G-Shocks in the first place.

Blue/green EL Backlight

Probably another reason why i'm passionate about red. Red is a color that is found in my country's flag, SINGAPURA.
On the 9th of August we celebrated our 45th year of Independence. On this day, most of us will be seen wearing red and the city hall will be packed with people trying to watch the National Day parade. The parade will be filled with spectators dressed in red or white. I didn't attend the parade, but I managed to catch the military contingents preparing while I was on my way to work. Because of space constrains, access into the parade ground is limited, so the crowds gather around the area to watch aerial displays and fireworks, a favorite hobby of Singaporeans.