Sunday, February 5, 2012

G-Shock #6: G-Shock for the outdoor enthusiasts

In March 2011 Casio released the GDF-100. It’s a remarkable looking watch. Although the GDF-100 has adopted the strap style of the new X-Large series, the case of the watch somehow does remind me more to the vintage Skyforce models, probably because of the asymmetric shape, caused by the sensor on the left side of the case.
If Casio would have brought a 2nd generation Riseman around 2000, it probably would have looked like this. And the Riseman was the first model that comes to my mind when I heard about this new twin sensor model. With the revival of the Master of G line, now even regenerating of the new models combined with the trend of bigger G-Shock models, it would not have been strange if Casio had called this model the new Riseman, probably even with a new G(W)-9400 model number. Casio did not choose for this approach, but I think it would not be strange to compare this watch to the G-9200 Riseman.
Two basic models were introduced worldwide, a black version with orange lettering and accents and reversed display with amber digits and this “Crimson Red” version, also with a negative display and black accents and lettering. I have a weakness for red models so I bought the red version, but frankly, the black version looks also great.
While, as far as I know, all sensors found on Casio watches are located at the side, the sensors are facing to the front of the GDF-100. You can recognize the sensors as the four little black (on this model) points on the protrusion on the left.
On a good barometric watch, you always find a thermometer. Barometric sensors can be very accurate, but the readout not only depends on the atmospheric pressure, but also on the environmental temperature (temperature drift). If you know the temperature of the sensor, you can compensate the temperature drift of the barometric sensor.
There are some notable differences between the G-9200 Riseman and the GDF-100. You would probably not notice at immediately, but the GDF-100 is controlled by only 4 buttons and the G-9200 is controlled by no less than 6 buttons. This is not really a big problem, as the original DW-9100 Riseman was also controlled by 4 buttons. I think if you look at the front side of the watch for the first time, you might wonder: “4 buttons? But I see a light button”. It is indeed a bit strange. There is no upper right button. Instead there is a little raised structure that looks a bit like the sensor. It seems not to have any function.
Actually the missing upper right button makes it a little different to operate. Sometimes the light button takes over the function that you might expect from the upper right button, like scrolling backwards. Personally I rather would have seen a classic 4 button control of the functions and optional the light button as the 5th button. The 6 button control of the G-9200 is a little over the top I guess. The lower right button is also used for direct access to the Altimeter from Timekeeping Mode.
Another visual thing missing on the GDF-100 is the Barograph. The GDF-100 has a “Trend Graph”. It’s the round graphic area on the top right of the display. In Barometer mode, it will display the “Barometric Pressure Differential Pointer”, which shows the trend of the barometric pressure, compared to the last measured point. When the Barometer function is activated on the GDF-100, it starts reading the barometric pressure every 5 seconds for the first 3 minutes and from then one reading every two minutes. The readings on the Altimeter function are the same. I had to deep out the G-9200 manual (module 3148) and compare it on the 3255 module of the GDF-100. On the Riseman the barometer keeps reading every 5 seconds after the function in activated. The Altimeter can be set to every 5 seconds or every 2 minutes updating.
Taking barometric readings (both the Barometer function as the Altimeter functions use barometric readings) consumes energy from the battery. I think the frequent updating of the barometric readings on the Riseman is not a real problem, as the watch is Tough Solar, which means it can store a lot of energy in it’s rechargeable battery, and can be recharged time after time again, while the GDF-100 uses a conventional battery. Casio was smart enough to equip this watch with the CR2025 battery, which can hold much more energy than the usual CR2016, though Tough Solar would have been better, but also more expensive.
The Altimeter function does calculate the altitude with the barometric changes. This means the barometric sensor is very sensitive. It can detect altitude changes of 5 meters, which is the accuracy of the readings. Although Casio promoted this watch with a spectacular “Decent” video, the 5m increments and the 2 minutes measuring intervals (after 3 minutes) are probably not useful for parachutists and other people who need an accurate and fast altimeter. The Altimeter function is a fine tool for hikers, skiers and snowboarders, who want to keep track of their altitude. I think the 5m increments are fine for these sports. If you really need a good altimeter, you can look out for a Suunto, but such an Altimeter of course has it’s price.
Note that the Altimeter function accuracy, how expensive your Altimeter watch might be, needs a stable Barometric pressure. If there are severe weather changes on the way, the barometric pressure might drop fast, causing very inaccurate readouts. Also note that you have to adjust the altitude of your Altimeter, before you are going to use it. I have seen owners asking why their Altimeter was so much off. Well, in all cases the owner did not know how a barometric Altimeter worked.
What other functions do you find beside the Barometer and Altimeter function on the GDF-100. The watch has a World Time mode with 31 time zones and 48 cities to choose from, a 24 hour Stopwatch function, a 24 hour Countdown Timer and an Alarm function with 5 alarms and a hourly chime. A nice thing is that the time is always visible in the upper display in every function (except Timekeeping function of course).
Compared with the G-9200 the GDF-100 has less functionality. There is no recorder function, it is not Tough Solar and there is Barograph, only a barometric trend indicator. If you are a fan of the 90’s look, you probably will love the GDF-100 over the G-9200. The visibility on the G-9200 is okay, but the digits in the main display and the seconds display are relative big and very good readable, even though it's a negative display.
If you look around good, you’ll see that prices for both the G-9200 as the GDF-100 vary a lot, though, the Tough Solar feature and better functions on the Riseman pay off. I do not know the retail prices for the G-9200, as it is not released in the US and Europe (we had the Waveceptor version GW-9200), but a basic Riseman can be found already for around €120.-. The recommended retail price f the GDF-100 is in Europe €139.-, but if you look around well, you’ll find them for much lower prices than you’ll find the a basic Riseman. I found mine in Singapore for €85.-, which is probably not the lowest, but a great price. For that price the GDF-100 is worth it’s money compared to the Riseman.


Cornel Ecuacion said...

Great review mate! I have the same watch. Love it but notice the red color is starting to fade after wearing it in the ocean and pool while on vacation. Any tip on restoring it back to its matte dark red color?


Joostdesuproost said...

Ha Sjors, bedankt voor je review! Je Blog helpt me om een keuze te maken in de wereld van Casio!

Kun je wat meer vertellen over blik dat je bij de Casio's krijgt? Ik heb al een aantal GDF-100-4 in andere blikken gezien, bijvoorbeeld de brons koper kleurige. Weet jij hoe dat kan?

Groeten Joost

Sjors said...

Hey Joost,

Het ligt er aan wanneer en waar je horloge verpakt is. Ook kan het schelen waar je het gekocht hebt. Vaak worden de horloges apart van de verpakkingsmaterialen bewaard. In Japan heb ik eens een Frogman gekocht en het hele proces eens kunnen aanschouwen. De bekende "domestic market" doos kwam uit een aparte ruimte, waar het horloge dan netjes wordt ingestopt. Alleen collaboration of bijzondere G-Shocks worden in speciaal ontworpen verpakking gedaan.