Saturday, August 7, 2010

#33 α-Gel and Royalty. The new king of G-Shock has risen: GXW-56

The release rate of new Casio G-Shock’s models last year and this year is amazing high. With the new Waveceptor Frogman last year, the GW-2000, GW-2500 and GW-3000 pilot watches this year some quite interesting models were released. Also this nice new product, with mysterious ghost appearances worldwide is finally released.
Was this model first announced as the GX-56 model in March on Baselworld, last month it became clear also also Waveceptor version was available, the GXW-56. This last model, the model featured in this article, was only announced days before Casio Japan showed the new models for July 2010 on their new products page.
The orange GX-56 was already spotted in Paris in May 2010. X-Game Inline skater Taig Khris jumped from the first level of the Eiffel tower onto an enormous skate ramp. The first level doesn’t sound high, but if you look at the video, you see it takes quite a lot of nerves to jump from that height. It’s 40 meters, so it’s like jumping from a 10 stories building!
I noticed this stunt on the Dutch youth news program, but I didn’t notice the watch. I just thought: “that’s a huge stunt!”. A day later I got a mail from my friend Jochen in Germany, reporting me of a similar video of “Der Spiegel” newspaper. Ge told me he saw a G-Shock in that movie.
Taig Khris and 2 people of Casio after the jump
Curious as I am I begun spotting for this G-Shock. I noticed it was an orange G, but first couldn’t make what it was. Then I realized, it had to be the new GX-56 in orange. Finally all pieces fell together. Taig Khris is sponsored by G-Shock. The G-Shock logo can be spotted on the back of his shirt, just before his jump. All sponsors are also shown in the video I found on youtube to attach to this article.
A GX-56. This watch was announced for late June or begin July in Japan and a month later in Europe. How was it possible this model appeared in Paris? This question was in my head for some time. I decided to call to Casio Europe. I know someone of the Casio staff who maybe could help me.
In fact my contact was a bit puzzled too, until he had a bright moment. A few days before the event a co-worker of him at Casio Europe had returned from the headquarters of Casio Japan. He had bought this watch and took it to Europe. Back in Europe he gave it to Taig as a gift from the sponsor. So, probably millions of people could have seen his stunt in Europe, while he was wearing this new innovation of G-Shock. It was shown in a lot of news bulletins.
About two weeks ago reports of G-Shock enthusiasts came in about the GX-56. I couldn’t resist. In Europe this model will be available soon, but I wanted this model as soon as possible. I filled in an order form at Higuchi-Inc with a request for the price of the GXW-56. Katsu-san returned quite fast with the price of this watch. It was not cheap. The Japanese yen is very strong compared to the Euro and US-Dollar at the moment. The price was about €200.- when I ordered the watch. Only problem, I had to wait about a week, because the watch was not available until at least July 26. After a long wait, the watch started his journey on July 31st and was presented to me at the door on August 4th, just before I hat was cool, wearing my Hazard Orange GXW-56 to an event of rescue workers.
When I opened the box I was impressed by the size. I was actually wearing my Hyper Colors, but the size of this watch was huge, even compared with the relative big GA-110B. The color of the watch is a tint darker and a little more saturated orange than the M.I.R.O. models. If you don’t put them together, you would probably not even notice though. The case and straps have a matte finish and the first impression is that this is a very sturdy watch.
This week, on August 2nd it was also the Shock The World Tour 2010, NYC edition. DougFNJ (guest writer here on 50 Gs and co-moderator on the Watchuseek G-Shock forum) and Riley (My G-Shock) attended the party and made loads of movies and photo’s. Finally also in the US the GX-56 was announced. The GXW-56 is at the moment only available in Japan and no word yet of an international release. There might be hope, because I found yesterday the English manual for the 3220 module. Until recently the manual was only available in Japanese. This might indicate that an European or an US release might be near.
In the speech of David Johnson Sr, General Manager of Casio America Timepiece Division, names this G-Shock model “The King of G-Shock”. Also he explains the new innovations for the structure of this watch. We have already seen Mud Resistant structures on the Mudman and G(W)-5500 models. On a Mud Resistant G-Shock, the bezel does not only cover the case, but also the buttons, to prevent mud coming in the seals of the buttons.

Video recording and custom editting for 50 Gs by Riley
The newest innovation of this model is the use of αGEL® (alpha-GEL). So what is this αGEL®? αGEL® is a collective name of soft silicon gels made by the Taica Corporation in Japan. The soft silicon gels have a lot of useful properties, so it is used for many products. The αGEL® can be used for vibration damping, shock absorbing, temperature isolator and feel. It is very resistant against UV-rays and chemicals, it’s very durable and it is non-toxic, non allergic and no toxic products vaporize when burned.
GX-56 Booth at Stop The World 2010, NYC edition. Photo by Riley.
You can find the αGEL® in many products. Pen grips, supporting breast pads for women, hip protectors for elderly people, mattresses, camera grips, Asics gel soles, protection of chips and other electronic parts in outdoor electronics, vibration damper sheets for damping resonation of loudspeakers and other vibrating objects, etc, etc.
Description in GX-56 Booth at Stop The World 2010, NYC edition. Photo by Riley.
 Actually, studying a Taica brochure, I see that the use of αGEL® is not new for Casio. The shock resist G’Zone telephone uses this gel also for its shock absorbing properties, as well because it conducts warmth very well. Also, electromagnetic waves are absorbed well, so no problems with receiving signals, like with the iPhone4.
“The King of G-Shock”. That’s an interesting name giving. Also in the press release this model is called “The King of G-Shock” because of its size. It’s not often done that a model get’s a name like that. There IS some resemblance with the name “Master of G”. Also these series of models started with very big models. I do not know if this name is general or in use by Casio USA only. We probably find out in the future.
So, is this watch the biggest G-Shock ever made? The official dimensions are 53,2mm x 50mm x 16,3mm. If you compare it with the GW-3000B, you’ll notice it is indeed a bigger model, but with 52,5mm x 49,8mm x 15,5mm it’s in theory not much smaller than the GX-56. I think the secret of the big looks is the fact the watch is square.
I have compared this watch with several other big G-Shock models, the GW-200 Frogman, the DW-8300 Heavy metal and the DW-6700 Skyforce and the “tiny” DW-5200C. In dimensions the DW-6700 Skyforce is just 1 mm wider than the GXW-56, but only at the sensor. With the DW-6700 on top, a lot of orange is still revealed.
GX-56 and DW-5200C
GX-56 and DW-8300 "Heavy Metal"
GX-56 and DW-6700 "Skyforce. Sorry, dead battery.
GX-56 and GW-200BC-1JF Black Helios Frogman
Another big boy, the “Heavy Metal”, looks almost as big as the GXW-56. In dimensions it comes very close. The “Heavy Metal” looks square, but it has sloped edges. A lot of orange is showing when the GXW-56 is placed under the DW-8300. One remark, The rubber protectors are about 1mm higher than the GXW-56. Still, overall here also the GXW-56 wins.
GX-56 and DW-6700 "Skyforce
GX-56 and DW-8300 "Heavy Metal"
GX-56 and DW-5200C (top) and GW-200BC (bottom)
 You might expect that a watch with so many protective layers and technology and huge dimensions will be a heavy watch, but the 88 grams are pretty reasonable. The 67 grams of a standard DW-6900 is only 21 grams lighter. The strap with the double closure and the back protector are comfortable and make sure the watch keeps on its place. The buckle looks very heavy duty and it is probably for the first time I see that a buckle is attached to the strap with Philips screws. Also the strap is secured to the case with 4 screws for extra strength.
 The development of solar panels must have produced very highly solar panels. Compared with the first generation solar models, like the Raysman and the GW-200 Frogman, the surface area of the solar panels is very small. The biggest panels are hidden behind the brand logo and the Shock Resist logo, but panels can be found around the whole display. The solar energy is stored in the infamous CTL1616 rechargeable battery.
The special αGEL® shock absorbing layer can be found under the solar panel. At Shock the World a video is shown about the shock absorbing properties of the gel. A raw egg should survive a 20 meters fall (60 feet) without breaking. The test is actually also a standard test for the Taica company. The same test is shown in their folder.
Actually I found a movie about UNI αGEL® pens. The grip of these pens are made of this same gel. A pretty annoying man tells women about the pen. In one of the commercials they drop raw eggs on a sheet of αGEL®. I’m not sure how you must interpret this commercial. So if an egg falls on you pen, it might not break? Probably not much product relevance here.
In case you missed the special gel layer, the display is divided in two halfs by a beam. In big bold letters you can read “SHOCK ABSORBER”.
 
The buttons are well marked on this model. They are big, black and round. Like the new Mudman model, the buttons are a bit harder to push than standard G-Shocks. You get soon acquainted with it. Also the buttons loosen up after some time of use. Because the buttons are much bigger than on the Mudman, they are not too difficult to push.
 So, what features do we have on the GXW-56? Well, it has just the basic functions that you might expect from a Waveceptor G-Shock, but all functions are just perfect.
 Every 6-band Waveceptor model has a World Time function. The GXW-56 shows the times of 48 cities in 31 time zones. Caracas, Venezuela (GMT-4.5) is not on the list, but all other time zones are present. If Casio ever makes a Caracas time zone, I hope they will add AMS too. In my time zone I can choose between Madrid, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Stockholm. I like beautiful Paris, so I set this city as my home city. It is probably also the closest, since it is about 370 kilometers from here.
Next is the Alarm Function. Not one, but five alarms, which nowadays looks a bit the standard on new models. The fifth alarm is the Snooze Alarm. Also the hourly chime is present. The alarm sound is pretty loud for a Mud Resist watch that is covered with layers of Polyurethane and of αGEL®. I was writing this article with pretty loud music on the background, but the Alarm is easily heard above the noise.
The Stopwatch is just the standard 24h version. Start-Stop with a Split function. Some people want to see time in all functions, but for the 24hour stopwatch the upper display is used for the hours.
Also the Countdown Times does not show the current time in the upper display. The upper display shows the programmed Timer value, in case you forgot from where you started counting I guess. No Auto-Repeat function, but what the heck…there is a 24 Hour Countdown Timer on board of a Tough Solar Waveceptor.
When you preset mode in the Countdown Timer you return back in Timekeeping Mode. There are also hidden extra’s. You can turn on and off the button beep. The GA-110B does not have the button beep. Somehow it feels like a malfunction, as I discovered it lately. I rather have this function turned standard on. Maybe because after 10 years I am used to it.
Best thing maybe is the adjustable EL backlight. One of the most annoying things on some Tough Solar Waveceptor models is the 1.5 seconds backlight. It is just a little too short for me. I guess I need about 2 seconds to get used to the display and then read time. On this model you can choose between L1 (about 1.5 seconds) and L3 (about 3 seconds). Very handy for taking EL backlight photo’s, but I discovered this function after I took the photo’s. I guess the EL backlight is pretty bright, because I am not used to get these bright EL photo’s at 1 second exposure time.
So, I think I have written enough about this G-Shock. No doubt, I am very happy with this enormous watch. It’s like a bodybuilder version of the DW-5600 on steroids. Luckily there are no Whereabouts for G-Shocks. The GWX-56 is only available in Japan at the moment and no news about a release outside Japan yet. The fact that the English 3220 manual is already on-line might indicate that an international release is on hands. On the other hand it could be a gesture to the many overseas G-Shockers who buy this watch.
The GXW-56 comes in 3 colors. Mine is the so called “Hazard Orange” version. It is orange indeed!. Furthermore there is a “Heritage Black” model with a negative display and red accents and a “Gold” version. This is a black model with a yellow display and yellow accents. The GX-56 looks almost the same (no MULTIBAND 6 on the display). The functions are also the same (module 3221), only there is no Atomic Time Keeping. I am not sure the gold version appears in the GX-56 series. In December a purple DGK collaboration model will be released in the.
The GX-56 and GXW-56 will probably be considered as a “standard G-Shock”. Casio launched this year a new Master of G, the GW-9110 Gulfman. It’s actually an upgrade of the GW-9100 with a Tidegraph. It would have been more fun maybe if they released the GX(W)-56 as the new Raysman.It has all in it what the original version had: Tough Solar, BIG and Mud Resist. Well, you’ll never know what Casio is still hiding for us, for now.
The price is a bit shocking. The price in Europe for the GX-56 is €149. I have not seen prices elsewhere, but I guess the price will eventually stay above €100.-. It’s looking forward on what happens after it is released in the USA and maybe in South East Asia. The GXW-56 cost you about €50.- extra. I paid 22000 yen, including EMS shipping. The suggested retail price in Japan is 28000 yen, including tax.  I have to admit that I have thought more than once if I should buy it, because of the price. Now I have this watch in person I am very happy this one landed here. Casio is at the moment launching one after the other interesting G-Shocks, so it’s hard for me to keep up, since I have limited funds. Still I hope I will eventually get the “Heritage Black” model too. Not sure if that would be the GXW or the GX model. I am used that the Timekeeping on new G-Shock models without the Atomic Timekeeping is also very good.
I think Casio has shown a lot of courage in building this big model. On the other hand Casio has produced some pretty decent G-Shocks lately too, like the GW-2000, GW-2500 and GW-3000. My credo “There is a G-Shock for everyone” is at its best now, I guess. Let’s see what’s Casio next move at the Baselworld 2011.
I often get questions about my watch holders. I got them from Higuchi-Inc. I do not know if they are still available, but these are very nice, solid and stable watch holders.
 I like to thank Doug (Guest writer on 50 Gs) for pointing out the αGEL® egg drop test, Riley of My G-Shock for the special edited movie, my friend Jochen for pointing out the Skate Video, Dave (Carrot) for suggestion and Ronaldo for additional information on the GX-56. Thanks guys, without you this article wouldn’t have been so complete!

8 comments:

Владимир Онищенко said...

Hi,

what can u say about watch strap? Is it soft?

I'm considering to buy exactly the same watch but without atomic feature. How do u think, orange color is eye catching?

Negative lcd is easy to read?

I like only this color, red and gold could be better...

Sjors said...

Hello Владимир Онищенко,

The strap is made of a kind of stiff resin, but due to its width the strap is still comfortable. The material is comparable with the new MUDMAN models. I have worn the watch quite a lot of times and if you have strapped the watch on your wrist you hardly notice it's there. It might also be comfortable because of the back protector.

The LCD is reasonable good to read, but not as sharp as on the G(W)-6900 models, that have a very sharp contrast. I have had no problems readin the display, and inthe dark you can also use the EL-Backlight.

I think the orange color is pretty good noticeable. It's about the same color as lifeguards use for their equipment. Maybe even more saturated andbrighter.

I hope my answers help you. I think all models are looking great. The gold model seems very popular.

Cheers,

Sjors

Владимир Онищенко said...

Yeah it helped! Thanks a lot.

When i saw real life photo of gold model, my first thought was that it looks not so good as on pics. It looks too simple...

Don't know why, but personally i dislike other colors. Black/Red not impress me a bit...

But orange with inverted display is niceee. Special watch =)

Владимир Онищенко said...

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_IwjYmWWCAPE/TIkgIRm2BTI/AAAAAAAACOc/MF4LZziWePQ/DSC01380_2.JPG - here is mine =) Finally got it!11

Sjors said...

Hello Владимир Онищенко,

Finally it arrived!That must have been a torture for you to wait such a long time. I hope you are as happy with your KING as I am. Frankly I have worn it about 80 percent of the time since I got it. It is a real good looker!

Greetings from The Netherlands,

Sjors

Владимир Онищенко said...

Yeah !!1 I am really happy =)

Happy enough to say that i am going to wear it 24/7 I like the size and the design. Just perfect.

All my coworkers like this watch. First word after the they saw it: WOW. Then: BIG etc =)

One guy even told me that i can kill somebody with this watch ( i'm not going to ).

It was worse than torture =) But i'm happy to finally receive it.

One guy posted a video with toughness test:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWQNoVu3_Fk&feature=player_embedded

Nice to know that The King is really durable.

Владимир Онищенко said...

As far as i know all GX(W)-56 models are assembled in Japan?

Martin said...

Hello, mate! I saw this amazing watch for the first time today in my local Casio stockist here in Tonbridge. I thought, that's like an oversized, solar, Mudman-inspired 5600. The one here is black but I absolutely LOVE your orange version!

Gotta get one, somehow... ;-)