Sunday, September 26, 2010

#38 G-Shock Heritage: G-5500

In August 1985 Casio released probably one of the most sought after classic G-Shock. The DW-5500C-1, released as G-Shock II and also known the “Mudman”. At release this model was presented as a new generation G-Shocks, which will be known as the “Master of G”.
The main novelty on this watch was that it was “Maddorejisuto” or “Mud Resist” as we call it. A funny thing is that the pronunciation of Mud in Japanese (and actually for Dutch people too) sounds like Mad. Therefore the Mudman is often advertized as Madman and is it Mad Resist in Japan (hence Maddorejisuto).
Vintage Casio and G-Shock collectors are willing to pay huge amounts for an old DW-5500C-1. This model had been produced for a short while and not many survived time. If you find one now, the red soft parts of the bezel that protect the buttons are probably broken off, or worse, the whole bezel has crumbled. I can only remember one time a mint DW-5500 was sold. It looked like it came directly from a museum. Probably the watch switched owner for an amount of around $1500.- or more.
Timelines seem to be an important thing in Japanese culture. About every G-Shock magazine I have show somewhere a timeline where is indicated where which key model fits in the G-Shock family tree. The DW-5500C-1 is always at the start of the “Master of G” line. Still, after the Frogman was released, the DW-5500C had not been seen in the “Master of G” line-ups. The DW-5500C-1 became a forgotten model. In the past I had told a lot of G-Shock collectors I liked the DW-5500C, but with my job, I simply can’t afford such an expensive model.
In June 2006 there were rumors under Japanese G-Shock collectors about the 5500 line being revived. In September 2006 it became true. And how. The G-5500 looked very much like its predecessor, but is updated with more modern features like a 24 hour timer (was 12 hours!), more alarms, World Time and, most important, Tough Solar energy source.
I pre-ordered this model at Higuchi-inc. Since there is sometimes misunderstanding with the term pre-ordering, maybe I should say, I ordered the watch before it was released so I have it as fast as possible. Three days after the official release in Japan the G-5500-1JF mine was delivered at the door.
The color scheme (black bezel with red button covers) used for this first G-5500 model, referring back to the old DW-5500C. Maybe not for everyone, but I pretty much like this touch of color. Actually the first new generation Mudman also referred to this color scheme with the G-9000-1JF. Recently also the GXW-56-1AJF was released with red buttons.
Although you can categorize the G-5500 between the basic square models, like the DW-5600E, it is quite some bigger. The reason for this is the button covering bezel. First applied on the DW-5500C, the bezel is mold out of two different resin compounds. The parts that cover the bezel are made of a softer compound than the rest of the bezel. Back in 1985 this fabrication process was unique.
The Mud Resistant structure gives the 5500 a very special look. The case looks wider. A wider strap gives the watch a smooth look and the double closure buckle gives you the feel it is a tough watch. The strap is very comfortable, probably because it is wider than most other G-Shock straps.
In February 2007 Casio also released an Waveceptor version. It seems that besides the 5600 and 6900 models, the 5500 models found a place between the classics. I would be the last person to say I would not be happy with that. The G-5500-1JF is hard to find nowadays, but at the moment many color variations can be found worldwide. Let’s hope the 5500 bloodline will keep existing in the future G-Shock line-ups.

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