Friday, December 31, 2010

Intermezzo #31: Another series of 50 G-Shock articles completed.

I was happily surprised 50 Gs finished another series of 50 G-Shock articles this year. Since I had restricted myself to limit my G-Shopping to maximal 2 G-Shocks a month, I sometimes had to dig deep to get inspiration for a new G-Shock article.
I just returned from a 11 day visit to Japan. Of course I went there to feel and see the Japanese culture, but you can probably guess my main goal. G-Shocks. I traveled with a good friend, who has nothing with watches at all, but who is interested in architecture and art. I think it’s an interesting combination, because only looking for G-Shocks for 11 days will be getting very boring.
We stayed in two places, Kanagawa (about 60 minutes by train from the city centre wards like Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ginza) and Kyoto (right next to the station).
Before I left I organized a meeting in Tokyo with my blog friend Kenichi. In Kyoto Yamazaru-san organized a dinner for us with Kwan (a vintage G-Shock collector) already before we left.
It’s good to know G-Shockers worldwide can rely on each other. At the first evening in Kyoto I went out shopping in Big Camera (and bought a yellow GF-8250 Frogman). While I was having fun with shopping, Yamazaru-san had already checked the hotel and found my friend. Together they waited for an hour (while I was photographing almost every detail of the Kyoto station in almost every possible position).
It was a great surprise to meet a G-Shock legend for real. I think we both had that same feeling. When I just started collecting, I already had contact with Yamazaru-san, who was at that time better known as “Risefreak”.
We ended that night at a traditional Japanese bar. Kyoto is known for the women wearing traditional kimonos and so we were served by traditional dressed women.
Next day we went for a long walk through Kyoto, visiting temples and at the end of the day we went shopping for clothes. Well, for me shopping for clothes in Japan is a big deception. I wear EU/US size XL and in Japan most biggest sizes are L. Actually Japanese XL is like a EU size L. I had seen great shirts and hoodies in the Stussy and X-Large store. Finally I found two nice shirts at Bape Exclusive. Luckily it was sale.
For G-Shocks I actually only found the Yodobashi and Big Camera, where the Big Camera had a slightly bigger selection. I have not seen any 2nd hand store. Next day we visited Fushimi-ku, the ward where Yamazaru-san lives (20 minutes from Kyoto station). Fushimi-ku is known for the Sake production and the inn where a failed assault on Ruichi Sakamoto took place in the 19th century.
We visited the inn and a sake factory, but the highlight was visiting Yamazaru’s house and family. I have seen his Daughter grow up the past 3.5 years on his weblog, as Yamazaru-san saw Bram grow up on my Japanese weblog. Although people in Japan live traditionally In small houses or apartments, Yamazaru-san managed to have a special room for his 300+ G-Shock collection.
Back in Tokyo we had a big meeting in Okachimachi, near Akihabara. Besides Kenichi, watch collectors, Tibiko, Anicar, Hydro and Oyaji were present. We started with a lunch. Again the food was fantastic. Kenichi had organized a route through G-Shock stores. Most of them had only the new models or had some high prized 2nd hand models. We were better off in Koenji. Here we went to a kind of mall with several floors, filled with small shops selling second hand items. Very interesting were small shops that had many glass boxes, where people could sell their items. The shop keeper does the transactions for you. It’s a kind of flea market where you don’t have to stay with your items. Many interesting old Casios and G-Shocks can be found here. I bought myself a nice W.C.C.S. Frogman and a yellow DW-003.
Anicar took us the other day for a tour around architectural highlights of Tokyo as a sort of compensation for my friend for the G-Shock Meeting on December 26th. We started at the unfinished “Sky Tree” and Asahi Super Dry Beer Hall end ended in Ginza. I managed to buy no G-Shocks that day.
For shopping for older G-Shocks around Tokyo, look out for “Book Off” stores. These are stores specialized in 2nd hand goods. From clothing, sports accessories, bicycles to books, CD’s, games, musical instruments and of course, watches. I found quite some nice G-Shocks for interesting prices here (MR-G 121T with leather belt for 8000 yen).Yodobashi and Big Camera carry a wide range of the current G-Shock line. They all have the Burning Red series and the DGK models, as about 20 - 30 other G-Shock models. You find many of the Yodobashi and Big camera shops in different wards.Don't expect cheap prices, though these discount shops sell G-Shocks for around 20 - 30% under the suggested retail prices.
I ended finally up with 13 extra G-Shocks. Buying G-Shocks in Japan is not quite cheaper. The prices are actually comparable with those in Europe. At least this bunch of G-Shock should give me an interesting base to start a new series of 50 Gs articles.
Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki with eggs, bacon and cheese. Very delicious!
I like to thank you for reading my weblog and I hope you will continue to follow 50 Gs in 2011. I wish you all a great new year, with lots of warmth, love, good health and G-shocks.

Sjors (Sho-zu)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

#50 G-Shock for the German Police: DPolG

Here it is. The 50th and last article on my 50 Gs weblog for this year. It has been quite a Moloch to write an article every week. I don't know how, but it seems to cost me more and more time to make a new article. More text about backgrounds, more detailed photo's. I do not know what I am going to do with 50 Gs next year. I think I will release the pressure on my a bit and only write every now and then instead of every week. A 50 Gs article takes about 8 to 10 hours of work a week of my free time and I don't get paid for it. It's time to spend more time on my family and contribute a little more to the G-Shock forum. We will see what happens in 2011. First I hope you enjoy reading this article about a very nice old limited edition G-Shock, that's hidden in this box. I hope you will continue reading 50 Gs in 2011. Everyone have a great Holiday Season! Cheers!
In December 2001 I saw this watch on auction on eBay Germany. I do not remember the exact end price of the Auction, I believe it was around DM110.-, but more important,  I was the lucky winner. Like always I wrote the seller soon after the end of the auction. I do not exactly remember if I got a fast reaction, but as soon as I got the details I had sent the money to Germany. For a long time it remained silent, but in January I still got no reaction, and worse, also no watch. I was pretty worried, since for that time, that was a lot of money for a G-Shock.
In these days there were two ways to sent money to a German seller. You could sent money via the bank. At that time a time consuming operation. It was not possible via internet banking, so I had to go to the bank with all the information needed and had to fill in a lot of paperwork at the counter. 
Another method was sending money in a "shielded" envelope and sent it out registered. We didn't have the Euro at that time (I have totally no idea why a lot of people still want to go back to all those national currencies...), so I had to get German Marks. First I had to get them from the bank. In Vlissingen the bank had a special ATM that distributed foreign currency bank notes. Later I had a much better solution. A friend of me has a antiques/furniture shop. A lot of his customers come from Germany. As he delivers furniture in Germany a lot, he also had a lot of German Marks in cash. 
How did I sent the money shielded? It was actually pretty simple. I put the money behind a free card (which you can get at schools, café's, libraries, etc) and put aluminum foil around it. This way, it is impossible to detect that there are bank notes in the letter. the costs of sending money registered to Belgium was cheaper than an international bank transfer. 
I am pretty happy the Euro was introduced in 2002. In the beginning there were still high costs for international bank transfers, but I could make them at home behind my computer, which is much more easy. Now the costs of transering Euro's to another Euro country is free of charge, if you use the international bank number (IBAN). This has saved me a lot of money (I had to pay sometimes over €60.- for international bank transfers per month, so you still complain about the 3% Paypal commission?) .
Since I had the name and address of the seller I searched and found his telephone number in an on-line telephone book. I think I was waiting for about a month when I dialed the telephone number. A woman took up the phone. According her name, it was the seller’s wife. I do not speak German very well, but I managed to make clear I had bought and paid for a watch of her husband. She noted my name and told me she would tell it to her husband.
Within a week a small package arrived. The watch was packed in a very nice tin with the DpolG logo on it. The watch itself looked awesome. I knew how a basic DW-6600 looks like, but this one looked nicer. On most models with a design in the backlight, this design remains hidden until the light is turned on, but the big logo on this model is quite hard to overlook.
This model was realized by a German Casio dealer in Sahms called Freetime Sportuhrenversand which is run by Ralph and Kerstin Thimian (the warranty card shows an address in Reinbek, 24km from Sahms). Freetime was not only responsible for the DPolG model, also the MTV and Buchstabe models were from this firm. The MTV model seems to be highly collectible. If one pops up for auction, the bidding can end at a considerable high price. The Buchstabe model was released in Japan as the A-Z Gangsters. I do not know if the A-Z Gangsters were released before or after the Buchstabe series, though these are actually the same models. Freetime Sportuhrenversand is now called
For the DPolG I think someone of the Police had good connections with Freetime and asked if they could realize a limited G-Shock model.
DPolG is short for Deutsch Politzeigewerkschaft, the union for Police employees. The DPolG is part of the DBB, the Deutsche Beambtenbund, which is the German overall organization for civil servants Unions. The DPolG is located in Berlin and has about 80,000 members. With an emission of 750 G-Shock,s the DPolG model was an interesting watch. If only 1% of the members of the Union would buy the watch, they will sell out. If you release a watch for a specific group of people, it is pretty hard to get hold on one. G-Shocks were pretty much worn in Germany around 1998 to 2000 and are still popular under police officers and firemen. Since I got this watch in 2002 I have only seen this watch on auction once. I was even tempted to get a second, but let it go to make another G-Shock sammler happy.
Ralph Thimian once wrote Freetime had let Casio manufacture 750 pieces of this DPolG version in 1999. Only Number 0 stayed in Japan and is in the Casio Manufactory Museum. I also discovered that one of these DPolG models ended up in a collection in Japan. Unfortunately the “G-Shock Museum website” of this collector is already years off-line.
Buyers of this watch got a certificate with the number of their watch on it. The number of the watch can also be found on a sticker at the bottom of the tin.
The DPolG model is based on the Japanese DW-6600B-1A model. The overseas basic black DW-6600 model, with the red G-Shock text and white lettering on the bezel is officially never released in Japan. The DW-6600B-1A model is on the contrary a common model there, while hardly found here. The model number of the DPolG G-Shock is DW-6600B-1AP.
The DW-6600B-1AP has an unusual orange/white color scheme. I think it looks very nice. The DW-6600 was the first model with the EL backlight. That is probably why the DW-6600B has written ELECTO LUMINECENCE printed on the band. The Shock Resist logo, which is mostly found on the face or etched on the back is printed on the other strap. The strap is perforated with three rows of holes. Ventilation through these holes might bring the wearer comfort when wearing on hot summer days. I think the design looks pretty well. Maybe Casio should bring this straps back on more new models.
Normally I would prefer a DW-6900 model, but this logo is perfect for the big display of the 1199 module of the DW-6600. The EL backlight is not easy to read. The logo in the backlight is the biggest I have ever seen and probably the biggest Casio ever used.
I think this watch, number 392 of 750, is one of the high lights of my collection. I paid a lot of money for a G-Shock at that time, though compared with the prices today, €55.- is very cheap and I would be easily willing to pay double now.

Intermezzo #30: A look inside a DW-6600.

If you want to write a 50 Gs article, it is of course necessary that the watch fully functions. The DPolg model, featured in the next 50 Gs post was unfortunately very dead. A nice occasion to look inside this special DW-6600 version so we can change the battery.
 First remove the four screws that hold the lid in place. If I recall right, there is no spring in the module, but still I recommend not to turn over an open case. 
 Notice the open structure of the back shock absorber. You can easily take of the rubber shock absorber. You get where you want to be, the battery and the battery lock.
You will notice the AC contact at the 5 o'clock position (not very good visible this time). I'll come back to this contact later. You can open the lock pretty easy with a sharp metal subject, preferably a sharp point tweezer, but a sewing pin works fine too. Most important, the lock opens itself, do not apply too much force. If the lock does not open, it means you are doing something wrong. The tweezer or pin must be stuck in the little hole, where my tweezer is put in the photo above.

If you can not easily remove the battery out of the battery holder easily, you can put the tweezer in the small hole, left of the battery (near the black circular object in the photo) and push it out of the holder.
Take a fresh battery (CR2016) out of it's package. I recommend a Japanese brand battery. Hitachi, Panasonic, Sony and Maxwell are the most used batteries brands by Casio. Like my Casio Service Centre I use Maxwell batteries. Try not to touch the battery with your fingers. I also wipe the battery clean with a cloth. There is a little air hole at the back of the package, so you can touch the battery without knowing you are touching it.
Insert the new battery in the module. Be careful not to bend the contacts at the bottom (that make contact to the - side of the battery) when inserting the battery. If possible, use a plastic tweezer. In the early past I used a cloth ot even a tissue paper to insert the battery. When the battery is in place, you can push down the lock with your tweezer (or something similar).
When the lock is closed, short circuit the AC contact and the + side of the battery for about 2 seconds. This should be enough to reset the module.
Now it's time to re-lubricate the rubber gasket ring. I use a little very clean silicon oil, that normally is used to lubricate race bikes and mountain bikes. Just a little bit to prevent the rubber to dry out. With the sealing ring in place you can now put back the back lid on and turn the screws in their place. I always put tighten the screws cross ways. Do not over tighten the screws, or you might strip the screw thread in the holes of the case.
Now it's time to turn the watch over and check if it functions. The watch should beep and the EL backlight should work perfectly.
The procedure of changing a battery of a G-Shock is pretty standard like this battery change, though in most modules there one or more lose parts (tiny springs), that can fall out of the module if it is turned upside down. Of course there is no guarantee of 20 Bar Water Resistance if you have changed the battery yourself. If the gasket ring is in good condition and the model is not a very old model (>10 years old), I would still trust the water resistance of the watch.