Sunday, August 28, 2011

G-Shock #35 : MR-G Eric Clapton

I bought this MR-G very recently. I bought it from my good old friend Doug, who is probably best known for his video reviews of G-Shocks. It was a bit unusual transaction, as I was on my holiday address in Belgium when I bought this MR-G. For a long time I only knew of its existence, but in the past few years several of these Eric Clapton models came on the market. Maybe there was some dead stock hat was found somewhere.
Frankly, I do not know much about Eric Clapton as a musician. Of course I know his name, but my musical interests are typically in a different direction. Still, if you do a short search on YouTube, you’ll find out that quite a lot of his songs sound familiar in your ears.
Eric Clapton is not only known for his music, but also for his love of watches. He has a collection of vintage Rolex models which were worn during his performances. In the late 90’s Casio asked him for a signature series.
Above: taken from Casio Hong Kong, middle and below, view of the MRG-121 and MRG-121T in a German 1998 MR-G Brochure. 
While G-Shock is for the outside world often known for the “cheap plastic” watches, we know better. Casio has released high end models in the higher price regions and the MR-G series is the most prestigious series in the whole Casio line-up. Also a Giez model (GS-100EC-1) was released. Although this first Giez model had a polyurethane bezel, the Giez line (G-Elegance) is the high end models line under the MR-G series.
Like the name indicates, the MR-G series are for the real serious boys. It is seen as an adult version of the G-Shock series. G-Shock toughness in a classy housing. This MRG-121TEC-1A is probably the best looking MR-G of the total 90’s line. The titanium MRG-120T was one of the most expensive MR-G models available, so I guess this must have been the most expensive G-Shock of the 20th century. The suggested retail price of this model was ¥52000, back in June 1999. I do not know the overseas price of this watch, but the MRG-120T was the almost the most expensive G-Shock model available, DM 949, which would have been €475 back then. This special model should probably have cost here €500,-, which was the same price as the Revman here.
This MR-G comes in a black MR-G cardboard box. In this box you’ll find the special leather cylindrical box, which was typical for the 90’s MR-G models. The cardboard box shows he initials E.C. and Eric Clapton’s signature. The leather box has the signature on top. My friend Doug was wearing this watch at a Casio Edifice presentation event, which was not unnoticed by the Vice President of Casio's Timepiece Division, Shigenori Itoh. He told him that a few days after Casio and Eric Clapton agreed to make a signature series, they needed a signature. Eric Clapton wrote his signature on a napkin, the first thing to write on that was on hand. It’s funny to see this signature transferred on the back of an expensive G-Shock and its packaging.
The watch exterior is made of black titanium. Also the dial is deep matte black. The black color refers to Eric Claptons favorite guitar, “Blackie”. Blacky was a customized Fender Stratocaster which had been put together from several strats. Eric Clapton had bought a whole rack of second hand vintage 50’s Stratocasters in 1970, which were very unpopular and thus reasonable low priced. As he liked the black body, but that Strat was in very bad shape, so there came the idea to exchange parts of several guitars. This guitar has been used on every album that Eric Clapton between 1970 and 1985 and also it was used on a lot of live performances.
Although “Blacky” officially retired in 1985, Eric Clapton played on it in a commercial for Honda in 1990 and in 1991 it was used to play one song in the Royal Albert Hall shows. Finally in 1994 Eric Clapton put the guitar on auction in benefit for the Crossraod Centre, a rehabilitation center for drugs and alcohol addiction, founded by Eric Clapton. The highest bidder was Guitar Center, a US musical instruments chain, and they paid $959,500 for it. At that time it was the highest price ever paid for a guitar. In 2006 this was surpassed by a guitar that was signed by a large group of artists and it raised 2.6 million dollar.
In 2006 the Guitar Centre and Fender made a limited run of “Blacky” replicas with permission of Eric Clapton. He played on the first prototype at a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. A portion of the benefits of these guitars were donated to the Crossroads Centre in Antigua. All 275 were sold within hours.
The MRG-121TEC has very basic functions. It just can display analog time, and it does it very well. It doesn’t even display the date, but this results in a very clean dial. The base of the dial is perforated black metal, the texts and markers are raised from the dial The markers and hands have illuminating paint, but don’t expect too much from this paint. They light up in the dark, but that’s about it. I think for his model a modest illumination is also at its place. And why should you have illuminating markers and hands as this watch has a very cool backlight. When you push the EL button, under the crown guards, an EL panel lights up under the perforated metal.

I’m not into metal finishing, but as far as I understand the links of the bracelet are mostly brushed, but polished smooth at the junction part. The case upper part is brushed on top and polished on the side, while the lower part of the case has a beautiful matte black finish. You can adjust time by screwing out the crown and pull it out. When finished you pull the crown back and push/screw the crown back in the case. A very nice detail to the crown is the G-logo.
Like all classic MR-G models, this version comes with a screwback. Like the rest of the watch, it’s also black titanium. The back is protected by a rubber or polyurethane ring. I do not know the exact function of this ring, but I guess it is to provide extra comfort. I have a MRG-121 (stainless steel) model for a long time and I must say that, although it is a heavy watch, it wears very comfortable on the wrist.
I do not know why, but in the past few years this model has come up for sale several times. Somehow there are suggested collectors prices varying between $350 and $10000. I got this watch for a friend’s price, but I think a price between $350 and $500 would be plausible for this model I remember that this model was pretty sought for about 10 years ago. I do not know if that applies for today too. I own a Straight No Chaser model, which I paid around €400.- a 5 - 6 years ago as winner of an auction. As this is also a titanium MRG-120T (or MRG-121T) model, I think the value would be comparable. I think the photo’s will tell it all, this is a very beautiful watch and a great addition to my collection. Although I like all the functions on digital G-Shocks, I love the MRG-120 and MRG-121 models because they are beautiful in their simplicity and design.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Intermezzo #42: New Bible has arrived.

I just came home and found a large envelope on the doormat. It came form my friend and colleague G-Shock collector Yamazaru-san (a.k.a. Risefreak a.k.a. 山猿) in Kyoto. Before I could even open the envelope, I also received my new glasses from the courier service. Of course I knew what was in the envelope. It was the new G-Shock Perfect Bible 2011, which was released in July 2011. Let's have a clear look at this mook*
It starts off with e LOVE "G"  pages, with people from the street wearing G-Shocks. I have saved the photo's in a larger format than usual. If you want to see them full format, right-click on the image and open in a new tab (op window).  It's of course not done to copy the whole book (copy rights, etc), but I have taken a few photo's to show you what this is all about.
Some series have more spotlights on the next pages, like the Love The Sea And The Earth and the G-Lide series.
The present basic models (2011)
Pages of special series and a preview of the Blue Tooth G-Shock.
There is an interview with Shiro Nakano of the " Play Set Products" design team, who has created the G-Men.
Pages about the latest technology used in modern G-Shocks.
The inevitable pages with history and time lines.
More "We LOVE "G"
G-Popularity pages. What's the most popular I.C.E.R.C. model, which is the most popular Collaboration model (United Arrows!), etc.
Pages with a chronological appearance of all G-Shock models (in Japan) like on G-Shock Perfect Search. 
End of the line!
Some more background information about special G-Shock features, model numbers and the difference between 200m Water Resistance and 20 Bar Water Resistance.
The "G-Shock Perfect Bible 2011" is available in Japan at book stores for 880 yen ($11.50, 8.00). Outside Japan you probably have to look for people and shops who sell this book. I have seen them for sale in Hong Kong and the Philippines already, though the price is quite higher (and don't forget that intercontinental shipping isn't cheap either). I can't finish this intermezzo with a BIG THANK YOU to Yamazaru-san, which made it possible for me to get this bible for an afordable price.
* Mook is a Japanese term for a luxurious magazine that looks more like a book. It's a subtraction of the words Magazine and Book.