Sunday, February 19, 2012

G-Shock #8: Ocean Gray Gulfman

It’s already almost 5 years ago Casio started with series G-Shocks to celebrate their 25th anniversary. In total 5 special series were released, which started off in May 2007 with the Black Dawn series. I have no idea how Casio is going to celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2013, but I spoke to a G-Shock designer a year ago in Japan, who told me they were already busy with these models. I think we have to stay tuned this and next year for special 30th Anniversary products, as Casio has made it a tradition to bring out special editions and series every 5 year, since their 10th anniversary.
The Ocean Gray series were the 4th series to celebrate the 25th anniversary, preceded by the Dawn Black, Rising White and Master Blue series and succeeded by the Glorious Gold series. There were three Ocean Gray models, the AWG-525D-8JF, the DW-5025D-8JF and this GW-9125D-8JF. As far as I know the DW-5025D-8 was the only model that was also available outside Japan, though it did not hit the European market.
The most striking detail of the Ocean Gray models is the translucent resin. I have checked, the color Ocean Gray does exist, but frankly I didn’t know oceans were gray. I more thought they were sea green or bluish. The official description of Casio and my photo experience with this model explain a little more. The color scheme of the gray resin and the mirror display are inspired by the sun reflection in the ocean. Well, I can tell you that getting these Ocean Gray models natural on photo (I have the DW-5025D and this GW-9125D) is a pretty difficult thing.
Our eyes are capable to see so much contrasts difference, but a camera just registers the light. The mirror display reflects a lot of light, specially outside. Therefore it is often only possible to show the display, or only the translucent resin with a over-exposed display. Well, I see a challenge here (I am writing this article, without one photo being shot yet).
The 25th Anniversary series models came is special packages. In Japan this was a special grey box with a “Chest Box” in it. When it is opened you see the 25th anniversary logo, designed by Eric Haze printed in the box, next to your watch.
Trunk cases for the 25th Anniversary models.
Overseas models cam in a specially designed tin, also by Eric Haze. It’s pretty hard to decide which package appealed most actually. I think you are always unconsciously attracted to the package you can’t get in your region. Indeed, I think I like the chest box over the tin, but if I lived in Japan, I might probably have liked the tin more.
The 25th Anniversary box and tin for the overseas models.
I bought this Gulfman from the Sales Corner on WatchUSeek for a reasonable price. It’s actually in near mint order, there is not even an imprint of the buckle on the strap. As I like to wear my watches pretty snug, all the watches I wear show the imprint, where the buckle meets the strap, pretty well.
The history of the Gulfman dates back to may 1999. The classic Tough Solar DW-9700 followed up the DW-8600 Fisherman. Both models were from the Master of G series and were intend to for use at sea, hence their names. Typically, these models had a titanium back plate, to prevent rust. Also both these models had a Tidegraph. While most the original Master of G models were relative big (Frogman, Mudman, Gaussman, Codename, Riseman), the DW-9700 was relative small. In my opinion, the DW-9700 looked smaller than the then commonly DW-9000 models for instance.
The Gulfman was revived in 2007 in two versions, an Atomic model and an non-Atomic model, the GW-9100 and the G-9100. The difference between these models were more than only the Atomic time reception and that the Atomic model was Tough Solar and the G-9100 not. In my opinion the biggest difference between the two is that the GW-9100 does not have the Tidegraph, while the G-9100 still had this feature. I don’t know why Casio left out this feature on the GW-9100, but I think cosmetic reasons of the display would have take part of that decision. The GW-9100 has a very nice looking clean display in my opinion. I very much like the eye. In 2010 Casio released the GW-9110 with the Tidegraph and Moonlight function. Probably the improvement of the solar panels would have made it possible to make such a display, as the visible surface of these panes have been decreased significantly on the GW-9110.
All metal parts of the 25th anniversary models had gold tone metal parts, even the bezel screws. On the GW-9125D there is an exception. The metal (titanium) ring around the display is in silver tone. This is probably done to match the mirror display. Actually the Gulfman of the Master Blue series has a blue metal ring. As I am not a fan of blue colors, I have no models of this series. Not that I wasn’t happy Casio released the Master Blue series. The Dawn Black and Rising White series had burned a serious hole in my wallet already.
So what’s on board this Gulfman. It is driven by a 3089 module. The watch is Tough Solar and has a 5 Multiband receiver for atomic time signals transmitter in the world, 2 in Japan, two in Europe and one in the US. Nowadays a 6 Multiband receiver is used on newer Casio Waveceptor models, since China now also has a transmitter. I think the GW-9100 Gulfman was the first Multiband G-Shock model. Before this, you could only buy G-Shocks and other Casio Waveceptor models that could sync regional. The US had the advantage that they used the same frequency as one of the two Japanese transmitters, so US models could be used in Japan and Japanese models could be used in the US (except for the first Waveceptor model, the Antman, who could only receive signal from one of the two transmitters in Japan).
The watch has, like all newer solar models, a Power Save function. This means the display goes blank when the watch has been not moved in the dark for a few hours. The timekeeping on mine is excellent, even without Atomic time reception. When I took this one out of a box in my storage room, it had not synced since November 19th. After two and a half month, it was only 2 seconds fast compared to my Atomic Casio alarm clock at my work. I think one second per month or less off is very good. Casio handles an accuracy of 15 seconds per month when the Atomic signal is not received, where in my experience 8 to 10 seconds is normal.
The functionality on the Gulfman is basic, but good. It has a 48 cities Worldtime function, a 24 hour Countdown Timer and a 24 hour Stopwatch on board. Also the watch has an Alarm function, which can be set to 5 alarms and of course the Hourly Chime is present.
I very much like my Gulfman. Somehow I think the translucent gray color is not real look good on my wrist though. I think this color would look better on someone with a lighter skin tone than I have. On the other hand, I can come away very good with the bright color tones, which I also like.
Although the 25th Anniversary series were made in high volumes, they are getting hard to find now, specially outside Japan. The original recommended retail price was already pretty steep, ¥28500, though I think it would have been possible to buy one for around ¥20000 in 2008. There were two of them for sale on eBay when I checked, both in Japan. I think I paid around $200.- for this model, maybe less, because there is no box. Now you might expect to pay over $375.- for a new one. For that price you get the great looking cardboard box and chest box of course with it and free shipping from Japan.


Gary said...

Very nice presentation, Sjors! You provide the most detailed photos of all G-Shocks that are found on the Internet. I would rank this model in the top 5 of most beautiful/handsome looking G-Shock watches. I didn't realize this watch existed until last year, and now I'm thinking of eventually getting it. I already have the GW-9100 and like it very much, despite the lack of a tide graph and moon phase. Although Casio habitually provides that functionality with "water theme" watches, I don't really miss it. If you've got access to the Internet, you can always find out the tide and moon status before venturing out for the day. The primary function here is for the watch to tell time and look good, which this GW-9125D excels at without question.

One other thing worth mentioning is that the alarm tone is fairly decent, about on par with the DW-5600E. It's important, as being near the water means increased ambient noise, and the chance to miss hearing an audible alarm.

Sjors said...

Hi Gary,

Thank you for your complementing comment. It was a pretty hard photo shoot for this one. The mirror display is hard to get on photo right. It shows that our eyes and mind records different than what the camera sees. Our eyes can see much more contrasts than the camera or a computer screen. In most cases I got: or the display right, or the case an bezel right (with a dark display). Therefore I have edited quite some photo's to the way they look for my eyes, which worked out well, but has cost me quite a lot of time.

If you like the alarm tone on this one, I would not try the upcoming G-Shock for next Sunday. I have already finished the article. It's probably the loudest alarm ever made by Casio.



TR853-1™ said...

Nice SJors. I've been hunting the gulfman and 5025 for awhile but no luck. Great pics!

Christofono Brown said...

I just learned of this model, is it based on the 9100?

Sjors said...

Hi Christofono,

It depends on which 9100 ypu are thinking. It is based on the GW-9100 Gulfman. There is also the G-9100 Gulfman, which is not atomic, but has the Tidegraph. The GW-9110 is an atomic model with a tidegraph.

There is also the DW-9100. That's the classic Riseman.