Sunday, December 11, 2011

G-Shock #49: The beauty…

It’s G-Shock number 49 of this year. It was not an easy year for me to find a new subject every week, but again I managed to find 50 G-Shocks for the fourth year in row. The last two articles this year can be seen as twin articles. The title already indicates there will be a follow up and I think these two watches have both similarities, but are also a bit the opposite of each other. This week part 1: "The Beauty..." Of course, beauty is a personal thing. Still I think that most readers here will consider today’s special G-Shock model as a very elegant and tough watch.
The MR-G series appeared on the market on July 1996. The first MRG-1 had a titanium case with a resin bezel. This quite unique G-Shock style returned in 1998 in the stainless steel DW-9200K I.C.E.R.C. models. The first full metal MR-G model appeared in November 1996. These MRG-100 and MRG-110 were the start of full metal MR-G models range. Although different designs, the MRG line was very recognizable. G-Shock had, until July 1996, an all resin look. Even the vintage DW-5000C to DW-5600C, which all have a stainless steel case, looked “plastic”, because of the resin bezel. Probably due to the fact that the case is also the bezel on these models, these MR-G models were slightly smaller than the average ‘90s G-Shock. Most models have a part of the bezel screwed into the case at the front side. I’m not sure if this is only cosmetic, but it gives the watch a rugged tough look, though the metal case and bracelet make the watch also look elegant enough for daily use at the office and formal meetings. An exceptions in this design are the MRG-1100 Frogman and the MRG-1200 Revman. Both these models miss the 4 screws on the front.
When I started collecting, the MR-G series looked too expensive for me. Also I was more interested in the bigger resin late ‘90s models, like the DW-003 and DW-004. My first MR-G was a MRG-121. It’s still one of my all time favorites, due to the fact it’s completely complementary to most G-Shock’s that I have. It can only show analog time and the only extra is an electroluminescent backlight. Around 2003 some MRG-1200 Revman models were on eBay. The price was a firm $250 BIN. That price was back in those days incredible high. I had bought the GW-203K-4 models for around $200.- each, which was at that time about the maximum I could afford on a watch. If you would compare it with present prices, it’s a bit like the new Frogman models. They are just above my G-Shock budget, while maybe in 10 years $700 or higher are suddenly affordable for these higher end models. In 2001 the MR-G line was stopped, but in November 2003 Casio started a completely new MR-G line in the high segment of G-Shock, with ditto prices. Still new models in the MR-G line are released.
Today’s article is about probably the most elegant model of the MR-G series. Several times someone offered me this model, but I knew I couldn’t afford it. They were just too expensive for me. Suddenly at the end of the summer vacation (2011) I was chatting a bit with my good friend Neil in Chicago about watches and prices. He told me he was thinking of selling his Frogman. Good thing was that he wasn’t in a hurry, so I could save up money. I got this Frogman for a great friend’s price, because I bought also another G-Shock (and later even the Men In Yellow Frogman, as featured about a month ago).
The MR-G Frogman is not only a different in design to the regular MR-G models, it is in fact the only Master of G model in the MR-G line. It was released in June 1999. The official suggested retail price was quite hefty, ¥70000, instead of the usual ¥23000 for a Frogman. Even most MR-G models were under ¥50000.
The MR-G Frogman has the 2036 module, which has the same functions as the 2016 module, which you find on the DW-9900 Frogman and DW-9950 Seaman.
Like the regular Frogman models, it has an asymmetric shape, where the case is attached shifted to the right of the center on the bracelet. According the description of the watch, this is done to provide more comfort and easier access to the buttons with gloves under water. The clasp has a special expansion piece, which, when deployed gives you an extra 20 mm length of the strap, so that it will easy fit over a wet suit.
The difference between the DW-9900 and MRG-1100 is the way the displays are divided. While the DW-9900 has the day and date in the upper display, the MRG-1100 has only the day in the upper display, while the date is above the time in the lower display, like on the GW-200 Frogman. A difference between the regular Frogman models and this MR-G Frogman is that the displays are not separated with square angles, but with more organic formed shapes. Actually that makes this watch look different than most G-Shock models (curved shapes in the display are also found on some G-Lide models). The eye in the upper right part of the display acts as a kind of hour hand, like on most Frogman models. Only on the new GWF-1000, GF-1000 and GF-8250 models, the eye functions like on most G-Shock models, as a seconds hand.

Pretty unique is also the location of the text of the button functions. Normally you find the functions on the button guards, but on the MRG-1100 the text is edged in the upper protection ring around the display. Unique is that the order of the modes is also printed o this protection ring.Under this protection ring there is a blue ring. It looks like this ring can screwed out of the bezel with a special tool, as there are 5 notches, a bit similar to the 6 notches you’ll find on the back of the watch. The notches on the screwback are larger and deeper than on usual Frogman models. On the back of the watch a diving Frog is engraved. The frog is holding something in his hands, but I can’t really make out what it is.  Maybe it’s a kind of diver’s transport device.
So, what’s on board this MR-G Frogman. While pushing the mode button you find the following modes: Time Keeping Mode, Site Mode, Identification Mode, Alarm Mode, Countdown Mode and Stopwatch Mode. This watch is designed for diving, so there is a Dive Time Measurement on board too. You can reach this mode by press and hold the Mode button. This Mode shows you the dive start time, the current time and the dive time. You have to start and stop this timer manually. When stopped you can view your dive data in the Log Data. To view the Log Data you have to return to Time Keeping mode and press and hold the lower right button. This log shows the time your dive started, the dive duration and the elapsed time after the dive . The log can only show the data of the latest dive. A new dive will automatically overwrite the old Log Data.
Some old G-Shock models had the possibility to program a second time (sometimes completely independent of the first time). Most new models have a World Time functions with over 40 cities. This MR-G Frogman has a Site Mode, which is better than a second time, but not as good as a World Time. Default it has10 Diving Sites programmed and Japan is (of course) set as Home Site (GMT +9). Of course the thought is great. I live near a popular diving site, the Easter Scheldt (Oosterschelde), but you won’t find that site on the watch. Well, if I live near a dive site, there must be lots of popular dive sites on this globe. I think a normal World Time would have been better, than 10 dive sites. What you have to do if your time zone is not in the list of the 10 dive sites, you have to choose one of these sites and reprogram that site. It’s quiet funny, as you can input your own sit, hometown, or even your name. If you have changed the site to the site or city you desire, you have to set that site as Home Site when programming Time Keeping Mode.A Home Site can't be changed, but you can choose one of the 10 sites as Home Site.
The Identification Mode is a kind of small emergency notebook. It can store our name, credit card number, emergency number, passport number and blood type. Personal I do not know if it is wise to store your credit card number in your watch memory, but your name, emergency number and your blood type might be valuable information. Now hope when you are in an emergency, rescue workers notice you wear such a watch. You can input 16 characters in the upper display (Text Area) and 10 ciphers in the number area. Inputting characters is quite “hard core old school” as my students probably would say. You have to scroll through all the letters, numbers and symbols for each text area space. That’s quite different from the modern touch screen age.
About the other functions I can be much shorter. The Alarm Mode has three alarms and a hourly chime, which all can be turned on and off of course. The Stopwatch Mode and the Countdown Timer are both the 24 hour type. Nothing wrong with that. The Countdown Timer also has an Auto Repeat function.
The MR-GFrogman has the nice greenish color backlight, not the typical blue backlight which is typical of this MR-G Generation line (1996-2001). The watch has an Auto Light Switch on board. When you have activated this function, the electroluminescent backlight lights up when your arm is, when hold parallel to the ground, twisted towards you for about 40 degrees. This means in practice the movement you make when looking at the time. Of course the Auto Backlight function can drain a lot of battery power. To avoid too much loss of battery energy, the Auto Backlight function is turned off automatically after six hours.
I think the MR-G Frogman was in 1999 the best G-Shock possible, combining both a high end series and the most prestigious Master of G model into a elegant total titanium watch. I do not know the numbers this watch was made in, but about a year ago I heard from Spanish G-Shock Friends that they had bought several MRG-1100’s in a shop in Andorra for a good price, more than 10 years after the release. Maybe the number produced wasn’t that high, but the price would have made this watch a pretty exclusive G-Shock item. It might probably not surprise you that the price I paid, although it was a good friend’s price, was still quite hefty. This watch is nowadays pretty hard to find. If you want one, expect to pay around $450 - $550 for one in a good condition.


rosendo said...

Best G-Shock ever. I have one. I posted some pics at No complain. Titauniun Rules.

Roelf Wiebe said...

What the diver/frogman is holding in is hands is a underwater sea-scooter. I've got one: they're awesome!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comments. I was thinking about an underwater scooter, but I wasn't sure.



Solomon Stuart said...

I just realized that I have this watch, and knew nothing about it, but now it's so much more valuable to me.