Monday, January 31, 2011

Intermezzo #33: First battery change of the year!

I was fishing in my collection for a nice G-Shock this morning. Unfortunately, I had a dead battery. I took the watch and a fresh battery with me to school, but I had no time for the battery change. I did the change after dinner. A nice plus is that I could take some photo's of the procedure. I know I made a few of these battery change posts before. I have a new camera and I wanted to see how much details I could show with new photo's. Replacing batteries in a G-Shock is for the most models the same procedure.Most use a CR2016 battery, but other batteries are also used. The battery locks can differ a little bit. Some G-Shocks have a screw case back, most have a 4-screw case back.
The lucky victim of today is a DW-9005V. First I remove the buckle from the strap, before I can remove the strap from the adapters. I know my service centre actually removes only the strap adapters (including straps), but personally I prefer this way.
Before the case back can be opened, two back protectors need to be removed.  After removing these protectors the screws of the case back can be removed. 
When the case back is removed, you most of the time find such a rubber protector. When the case is open like this, I recomend not to turn around the watch. There is a small spring. It might easily fall out when the watchis turned over. It is part of the floating module construction. Sometimes you find a white plastic plate or a metal protection ring. In all cases it needs to be removed, so you can reach the module.
There it is. Take a look at the battery lock. It is hooked behind two notches. With a sharp tweezer or another sharp object, like a sewing pin, you can easily pry open the lock. If it does not open easily, you are clearly doing something wrong. Some locks are not opened in the middle, but on the side. In that case, you'll find a small tab on the side of the lock mechanism.

Here you see the tweezer pry open the lock. It will just jump open.
So, the battery is out, so time to get a fresh one. Try not to touch the battery with your fingers. Best is to use a plastic tweezer, but a piece of clean cloth will work too.
Just put the battery in the holder and push the lock back in it's place. On this model there is a big sticker about the reset procedure. I can recommend to do this after every battery change. Possible indications that the reset procedure is forgotten are: strange digits,  the EL stays on or sometimes the module works but suddenly dies within a few days. For the Reset procedure you need to locate the AC contact. 
You need to short circuit the contact and the back of the battery (+). Best to use your sharp tweezers, but if you are inventive, you can use other metal objects too (two watch screwdrivers, fold open staples, paper-clip, etc).
Now the rubber protector can be put back in place. If you forgot how to put it back, just look at it's shape. There is a hole for the spring and a piece is left out for the tab.
I always put a little bit of silicon grease on the seals. This is best to keep the watch waterproof. Notice the little bump. It fits in a cut-out in the case.
Now put the back plate back and fasten it cross-way with the screws. I always first fasten two screws and test the watch. There should be a normal display, the alarm sound and EL backlight should work. If something is not working, or only weird digits are visible, the Reset procedure needs to be done over again. It sometimes happens, but in the past seven years (and about +200 battery changes) it has only happened to me about 5 or 6 times. Sometimes it is not possible to bring the watch back to life. It happened to me twice and I have helped about two times people with similar symptoms.
The symptom: display dead, after reset display dead or only strange digits, even after several Reset procedures.  If you have this problem, do not panic. Take out the battery again and leave the watch for about 24 hours. Strangely the watch will reset in one attempt after such a rest.
 A new problem can occur if you have a similar model as I used for this battery change tutorial today. It happened to me the first time too. "How do you put back the buckle on the strap".
I think this picture tells more than thousand words. You start with sticking the strap through the left part of the buckle (in the picture). The rest is pretty easy, as long as you keep the strap a little lose in the buckle.
Now you only need to set the time of the watch. An atomic timepiece is of course the best way to set your watch. Yeah! I revived another G-Shock today! A big shout out to Ivan of Horology Crazy weblog. Thanks to him I can add some new battery change nomenclature to my vocabulaire. Thanks!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

G-Shock # 4: Conspirator

 Today’s G-Shock is the DW-003TL-5V. At first sight it looks like a common DW-003 model from the late 90’s, but this model has a 1898 module, which has a BPM counter implemented.
This model was released in Europe, but I am not sure it was also released in the US. It was not a Japanese release. In Japan you had the DW-003RB (Rock & Native) series, with a similar look, but with another module and the DW-003HH (G’Mix Groove Tune, also released worldwide) with a similar module, but different straps.
This G-Shock was my 2nd G-Shock I bought (note that I wrote it was my 3rd on G-Peopleland, got to change that). It was kind of a coincidence. I was very happy with my first maroon DW-004 and had shown it to a lot of people. One of these people said that he had seen a G-Shock in the “Kijkshop”. This is a kind of department store in The Netherlands, where you can view the products in show cases and you order them by filling in an order form. You deliver this order form at the cash register. The form is given through a hatch and an employee gets your item out of the stock.
I was amazed about the price. While I bought my DW-004 for f250.- (€115.-) I think I paid f120.- (€55.-)for this model.
One thing I liked about this model at first was the fact it was brown and not plain black. The bezel is a nice mix between chocolate brown and anthracite. The straps are mainly made of two parts of leather. I think no real leather is used, but artificial leather, to make the strap more waterproof. The black bears the name “Tough Label” and it also has the a big “G” logo stamped on it. It’s the same G as on the light button. The light button is a metallic silver version, which complements nicely with the unusual metal strap holder loops. It would be nice if Casio would use more of these metal loops on their G-Shock straps, like they also did on some I.C.E.R.C. models.
 “Tough Label” was the name of the series called for models that were inspired by music. This could be Rock, Reggae and Hip Hop. This series name is used for overseas models only. In Japan these models were sold under the name G’Mix.
 The DW-003TL wears pretty comfortable. The watch is kept in place by the two wrist guards, which you often find with the DW-00X models. I think they do not only provide comfort, but also allow a little ventilation under the watch, to prevent irritation and bad smell after you went out for a swim or otherwise had become wet.
The DW-001, DW-002 and DW-003 were in Japan promoted as the “Nexax” models, outside Japan these models were also known as the “Capsule Tough” models. These models all have in common that the watch is totsally covered by the bezel and back protector (like a capsule). Only a G and a small rectangle hole at the back allow us to see the model and module number and the production location.
My DW-003TL shows it was made in China. I think in the late 90’s most models that were made in China were the DW-6600’s. There is often a discussion about the difference in quality between models made in Japan and models made outside Japan. I believe that the quality control in Japan and outside Japan in every Casio assembly line is the same. As digital watches are manufactured in an automatic assembly line, there can’t be much difference between a Japan made model and a model made in other East Asian countries. There is however a big difference between Japan made and overseas made G-Shocks and that is the price. I think Japanese employers are about the most expensive in the world. Since people are needed at the manufacturing and quality control, a Japan made model is more expensive than one produced Malaysia, Thailand or China.
Back to the watch. The functions on the watch are very basic, except for the BPM counter. A 24 hour Stopwatch and a single day alarm with hourly chime, that’s it. Unfortunately no Countdown Timer.
The BPM counter on this model is more a gadget than a serious measure tool. In 2001 I went to “I Love Techno” in Flanders EXPO, Ghent (Belgium). I had a lot of fun with this watch by trying to find out the BPMs of the records that were played in the different rooms. The BPM counter worked well, but with an accuracy of +/- 5 BPM, you can’t call your measurement accurate. Later Casio came with the DW-9550 with a BPM counter with an accuracy of +/- 1 BPM. I have used this BPM counter a lot in my studio in the past (I haven’t been producing music since 2005).
A cool feature is the two tone display. The negative display above shows, most of the time, bright green digits, while the background of the normal display is greenish gray. The intensity of the green color of the upper display depends on the looking angle a bit. If you roll the watch so that you will look at the bottom, the color changes from green to amber.
The watch has a very beautiful bright and sharp EL backlight. The eye starts animating, like in BPM Counter mode when the EL is activated.
This model appears sporadically on eBay Germany. It is not a wanted model, so if you find one, you don’t have to dig deep in you r wallet. With a bit of luck, you might own it under €40.- (ex shipping). For that price you get a nice 90s looking G-Shock with very basic functions and a bit inaccurate BPM counter. Because of the good looks and the comfortable fit, I think my DW-003TL-5V is a very nice watch and it was a good choice of me t buy it at that time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

G-Shock #3: Coral Reef Preservation

The W.C.C.S. series was one of the series where Casio wanted to show their environmental awareness. Between 1997 and 2000 29 models were released.
Strangely there is nothing to find about this organization, except for the information you can find on on G-Shock Perfect Search (GPS). Since there are many organizations involved with coral reef conservation and protection, it is good possible that the W.C.C.S. has merged into a bigger organization.
Back in the 90’s the World Coral-Reef Conservation Society, as the W.C.C.S. is called in full, was founded in 1994 by people who love water sports, like diving, sailing and wind surfing. This society was concerned about the Japanese coral reefs.
The W.C.C.S. organized symposia and educational campaigns to inform about the importance of protecting and preserve the Japanese coral reefs and they exchanged information internationally to study how to maintain the diversity of marine organisms at coral reefs worldwide.
It might be that the W.C.C.S. has dissolved into the Japanese Coral Reef Society (J.C.R.S.). This society has over 500 members and organize annual meetings and publish articles concerning life around coral reefs and studies about coral reef preservation.
Coral reefs are considered the forests of the sea. They work as the lungs of the oceans, taking up carbon dioxide and providing oxygen, which makes a wide variety of marine life possible.
A "Book-Off" store in Kobuchi. The "Hard-Off" has a similar logo in yellow. Good places to spot G-Shocks for good prices.
Today’s G-Shock is a W.C.C.S. Frogman, model number DW-8201WC-2T. It was released in June 1998. Actually I have been wanting this model for a while, but never bought one. Not that it is a real rare model. If you keep your eyes good open, you can find them under €200.- from time to time. I have been tempted many times, but or there was another G-Shock I wanted, or I had already spend all my money on other G-Shocks.
Before the food arrived on the table on the lunch of the "Off-Line Meeting", we had a beer and watched a lot of watches. 
On December 26, 2010, Kenichi and I had organized an “Off-Line Meeting”, near Akihabara. After the lunch we did a walk through some shopping centers, before we went to Nakano. At Nakano there was a huge mall packed with small shops. At the second floor there were a lot of shops with “rental displays”. Sellers can rent a display (a glass display cabinet with a locked door on the front) in one of these shops and put things they want to sell in the display.
 Nakano Broadway, a big mall with on the 2nd floor "rental Displays" (photo by Tibiko)
It was amazing what there was for sale. Baseball cards, pens, Be@arbricks, everything that could be valuable for a collector. Of course you can find many watches too. Kenichi showed me his display. Obviously he had a lot of watches for sale. I was tempted to buy a nice Seiko 5-er. Tibiko bought a nice vintage AW-560. Anicar bought a Tom & Jerry watch.
At a certain moment we passed a display in the hall of them mall. I spotted some very nice G-Shock watches. I pretty much had to choose what to buy, because it was packed with older models of the ‘90’s. Finally I choose a Codename of the Lovers Collection 1996 and this Frogman. With pain in my heart I had left the yellow DW-8800AB-9T Codename by Aurele. Actually I bought one on Yahoo Auctions (with help of a friend) and sent it as a gift to my friend Yamazaru-san in Kyoto.
This is probably the rental display where I found this Frogman. I'm the big guy with the backpack, Tibiko is the man with the orange coat. Photo by Kenichi. 
I do not know exactly what I paid for the Codename. I think it was ¥4500, else it was ¥5000. The price for the Frogman was also very good. It was ¥12000 (less than €120). Actually I almost bought a second W.C.C.S. Frogman. In the Hard Off in Machida I found this . It was in a little less good shape, but the price was only ¥9000. Unfortunately the watch was already reserved, as was also a very good condition MINK Mudman for only ¥4500(!). I would have bought that Mudman, even for double that price.
Above: Shopping street in Machida, near the station. The "Hard-Off" store where I saw the 2nd W.C.C.S. Frogman must be in this neighborhood.
Below: G-Shocks on display at the "Hard-Off" store in machida.
Let’s return back to the Frogman. All 29 W.C.C.S. models are jelly models. In Japan these are also referred to as skeleton models, as you can see through the resin. 13 models were Frogman models, which seems logical to me, as the best way to observe the beauty of the coral is to dive.
There is one thing about jelly models that’s less pleasant and that is that over time they will turn yellow when worn or exposed to light for a long time. There are two ways to think about this yellowing. If you like the bright clearness of the resin, you’ll better not wear it and keep it in the dark. This would of course be ridiculous, so better not buy it. If you do not have a problem with yellowing, you might actually like it, as the yellowing gives the Frogman an unique look.
Frankly, I thought the yellowing was not really bad on this Frog, until I began to wear it. The combination of the bezel and straps are not matching well with my skin tone. In the photo’s I had to correct the yellowing a lot as the yellow/greenish color seemed much harder than in real. Also the yellow color might look different in other light conditions. In sunlight or tungsten light, the watch might look much less yellow. This light contains a lot of yellow, so our eyes might over correct the yellowing.
A few weeks ago I found an old page about yellowed resin on G-Shocks. It was in Japanese, but it used a kind of bleach to reduce the yellowing. Of course I didn’t safe the page (I actually don’t even know on what computer it was). It might be that I found it through Kwan’s “Frogman Party” website. Maybe I should drop him an e-mail, as searching for a page about yellowing resin in Japanese is a little too difficult for me.
The model number, used for this release is a bit odd. Normally the usual DW-8200 would be used. I have not noticed anyreal difference with the usual DW-8200 model, other than the logo’s and special engraving of for the W.C.C.S. on the back. Normally a model ending on 1, 2 or a 3 in such a model number have slight cosmetic differences from the basic model. The text AIR DIVER´S is also used on 8200 models.
So what makes a Frogman special. First of all, it´s the only G-Shock model that meets the ISO standards for 20 bar water resistance. This means that these models are tough tested for water resistance. Also is every Frogman made in the homeland of Casio, Japan. This means that the assembly of a Frogman means more labor than normal and labor in Japan is, like in Europe, very expensive.
Also is the Frogman one of the few asymmetric G-Shock models. The asymmetry is probably used to make the watch wear more comfortable when worn over a wet suit. The straps therefore unusually long. A nice detail is the end of the straps. It looks a bit like a fin of a dolphin. The W.C.C.S. models have the image of a small crab on the tip of the strap.
The double row of holes and the double buckle suggests the straps are really tough. The double buckle was by the way not used on the first Frogman, the DW-6300. In June 1995 the DW-8200-1 was probably the first G-Shock model with the double buckle closure.
This Frogman comes with the 1294 module. At first sight it is a pretty basic module with a 24 hour Stopwatch, a 24 hour Countdown Timer, 3 alarms with a hourly chime. If you hold the MODE button pressed for about 2 seconds, the module jumps into Dive Time mode. This is a kind of Stopwatch mode, but it displays the current time, the start time and the elapsed time, so you can calculate how much time you have left while diving.
This W.C.C.S. Frogman was released in a series of 4 models. This is the blue version. There were also a white, black and a gold version. All had this clear resin. The gold version featured a the metal parts in a gold tone, the other models are like this one in silver.
Very nice on this Frogman is the backlight. It shows three dark devil fish (Mobula mobular) “flying” over on a bright cyan background.
Looking for a W.C.C.S. Frogman should for a 1998 model not be too hard if you are a bit patient. I think quite a lot of them were made. Unlike the rare DW-8200 versions, this model can be found for reasonable prices. I was very lucky to find this one for ¥12000 (€107/$146). For a model in this condition a price of around $180 - $200 is in my eyes reasonable. The original listed price was ¥26000, which was probably a lot of money in back then. I’m pretty happy to have this watch. It’s not only a nice model, it is also a souvenir of one of the greatest days in my life.