Sunday, June 3, 2012

G-Shock #25: An old friend falling apart.

Today I start with a series of Mudman articles, which I will try to continue during the month June. It will probably not be easy again to make a series of articles around one model, but since Casio released recently the 3rd generation Mudman, I think I can bring up at least 4 articles. I hope you find them interesting.
This article is not a happy one, I’m afraid.  I thought it would be a happy one before I started it, but it turned out a bit sad when I gathered all my stuff together for this article. It is about my Men In Navy & Khaki (actually misspelled by Casio as Kahki, see above) Mudman, released December 1999.
I had mine stored in one of the boxes where I keep my watches that are worn and which I can choose from to wear . When I picked this one out of the box, I noticed the battery was dead. I took this Mudman to school, so I could replace the battery in a spare moment.
When I took the Mudman out of the back, I noticed that there was a crack in the bezel near the light button. It became even worse… When I had replaced the battery, the EL backlight did not work. Another AC reset and a close look at the back lid did not change a thing. It was dead and it stayed dead. Meanwhile, also the the light button part of the bezel began to crack further. Frankly I didn’t dare to look inside the case again, as the bezel might crumble completely then. During the photo shoot also a piece of resin fell off he light button. Not good.
It seems that the first Mud Resistant models were relative early victims of the so called Resin Rot. Resin Rot occurs as the weakeners (additives to plastics, to make plastic flexible and not brittle) vaporize out of the plastic. As the parts that cover the buttons are less stiff than the other parts of the bezel, these parts probably contain higher concentrations of weakeners.Therefore, the risk of the vaporizing of the weakener out of the plastic, making the button parts weaker, is seemly higher than for the normal used resin. A pity, as I very much love the early Mud Resistant models. The first Mud Resistant model was the DW-5500C from 1985. When I heard about this model for the first time (probably end 2003), most existing 5500’s already had broken of button covers. It was a pity that the revival of the 5500 with the G(W)-5500 the new bezels did not fit on the old DW-5500C.
The bezels for the 90’s Mudman, Gaussman, Codename and Raysman were probably produced with a better material. One of the (newer) triple 10 criteria is that the watch can be used for at least 10 years. Since my Mudman is now about 12 years out, it seems that the bezels last longer than the DW-5500C. By the way, even with a cracked bezel, the Mudman an other Mud Resist models, are still functional. It might have lost it’s Mud Resistance, but the watch is still 20 bar Water Resistant.
Casio is known for their bold futuristic innovations and designs in their watches. I have no experience with the DW-5500C, but the feel of the buttons on the DW-8400 Mudman is different from the new(er) Mudman of 2006. I think that Casio has developed a new resin type, which will probably last longer. Unfortunately the G-9000 model is not really old enough to really know if the durability is better. We simply have to wait probably at least 5 á 6 years to see if the bezel is really stronger. Now we are even already a new generation further as Casio has released the GW-9300 and G-9300 Mudman about a year ago (June 2011).
I got this Mudman in December 2002, 12 days before I bought my also precious Real Black Mudman. At that time I had no recourses for G-Shocks. I actually think I bought the Real Black Mudman earlier (actually won, since it was an eBay auction), before I won the auction of this Mudman, but as I got this on from the UK, it arrived pretty fast, compared with the Real Black Mudman, that came from East Asia.
I remember I saw the auction on eBay for this watch. I won the auction for a pretty low price. I do not know exactly what the final bid was, but I think it was around £30.-. I even remember the seller lived in Cornwall. He was very friendly and according his name he was East Asian. He wrote me that he had bought this watch in Hong Kong, while he lived there.
The watch had been used a lot when I got it, but I very much liked it’s color. I only recently discovered  that the original G-SHOCK lettering on this model was orange. It had been gone long before I got it. The auction photo’s were not that clear. Digital photography was not that mainstream in 2002 and it would hardly imaginable that 10 years later we have mobile phones that take much better photo’s than a good compact camera then. I bid on the auction, because I saw the silver faceplate, which made this model stand out of my other Mudman. Also I liked the MUDMAN text, as my normal Mudman says “ILLUMINATOR”. I was happily surprised that the resin of this Mudman was dark khaki. As there were practically no on-line reference about all G-Shock releases at all in 2002, it took a while to find out this was a Men In Navy Kahki Mudman.
You probably might think what does this double color in this Men In Colors series mean. In this series Casio had 3 Master of G models in Khaki and 3 Master of G models in Navy. The three khaki models were the Gaussman, Mudman and Wademan. Two Frogman models (a DW-8200NK and a DW-9900NK) and a Gulfman were the navy models of this series.
You can consider the classic Mudman as a pumped up DW-6900 model. Unfortunately the outside of the case and the buttons are different, so it is not possible to swap bezels. The DW-8400 does also use the 1289 module, the classic “Triple Eyed Devil” module, commonly known of most DW-6900 models (not all DW-6900 have three eyes!).
So how do I feel about this Mudman falling apart. Well, as I still remember that I won this model and I really loved the looks. No, I feel indeed really sad, but these things happen. Casio’s “Team Tough” has stated that a G-Shock can fall survive a fall of 10 meters on concrete, can at least withstand 10 bar water pressure (100m water resist) and the battery should run for at least 10 years. With the introduction of the EL backlight, this was pretty impossible, but the last criterium was replaced with “A G-Shock has a lifespan of at least 10 years”. The older Mud Resistant bezel survived 12 years, but in my experience bezels can survive longer. With a lot of abuse, the resin can survive for about 15 years, but if a watch is hardly worn and kept in boxes, I think they will survive 25 years or longer. Still I have no clue why the EL backlight suddenly died. Luckily I have a relative recent photo of this backlight, so I can show it here.
Looking for a Men In Navy Khaki Mudman is a pretty hard job. I looked at Yahoo Auctions and I could find several “limited editions” Mudman models, including a good looking Real Black Mudman for ¥30,000, but no MINK Mudman. It’s pretty hard to put a price on this Mudman. Frankly, I would scratch behind my ears twice for paying ¥30000 for a mint loking Real Black Mudman. Simply because this model is getting older and older. The chance to become victim to resin rot increases pretty fast. If someone offers me a good looking MINK Mudman for around $100, I would probably buy it, if I have the money, but frankly I won’t ay much more for such a model. Simply because I don’t want to sped too much money on a watch where there is a pretty high risk of a cracking bezel.


havell777 said...

It's amazing how well you can remember details from getting this watch so many, many years ago. Very well written story - keep them coming - enjoy reading it very much
Radek NY

Justin Koh said...

Raysman suffered from resin rot as well. My DW-9300BM-1T Men In Black Raysman and DW-9350J-1T Raysman rot beyond recognition. It started rotting about 6-7 years after I bought it.

Then again, I am from a very hot and humid country (Malaysia), which is probably why the earlier G-Shocks don't last as long.

Adan said...

Grande Sjors, casí tanto como los Mudman.

Felicidades por esta nueva serie de reportajes sobre estos relojes.

Mr. Mott said...

A truly unique and great model. Maybe you can pick up another one...

btw, wasn't the original strap keeper a cloth camo pattern?


Unknown said...

Hi Neil,

Thanks for stopping by. You are absolutely right. I had to look close to the stock photo and indeed saw the strap keeper. I have no idea what happened, as these cloth strap keeper must be a lot stronger (over a long time period) than the resin strap keeper. I even believe kevlar was used. The previous owner must have replaced it before I got it.