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.