Sunday, January 13, 2013

G-Shock #2: Toyota Land Cruiser Auto Body

I do not know if you are into it, but since the beginning of the year I have been following probably the hardest test between man and machines, the Dakar Rally. My eyes are primarily aimed on the Dutch truck drivers. These mastodons of the race make spectacular jumps over huge sand dunes, which is a pleasure to look at. Unfortunately Stacey is out of the race, but there is still De Rooy on the lead.
Thierry Sabine (1949-1986)
The Dakar Rally originally started for the first time in Paris 1978. Originator Thierry Sabine got lost on the Libian desert in 1977, which inspired him to organize this now legendary race, so that people could “tame the desert”. Every year the race is held in the first weeks of January. Although the Race nowadays is held totally in South America, the race is still known as “The Dakar” or “Paris-Dakar”.
In June 2006 Casio revived the Master of G line with the G-9000 and GW-9000 series Mudman. The G-9000 was a rally inspired model. The Mud Resistant housing was perfect for racing in the dirt. Probably not coincidentally, in 2005 G-Shock became a sponsor of the Toyota Land Cruiser Auto Body team. If you look at the reports of the Dakar rally of 2006, you’ll notice, although the photo’s are pretty small, a lot of drivers and mechanics are wearing a G-Shock. On the Dakar Rally of 2007 the TLC team is wearing the basic black G-9000. Of course Casio wouldn’t be Casio if they did not made a special G-Shock Mudman in the team colors, red with white accents. Exactly a year after the release of the first new Mudman, Casio came with a limited edition G-9000TLC-4JR for the Japanese market.
I was very happy my friend DragonJade in Japan was able to hunt one down in Japan pretty fast, probably in one of the many Yodobashi stores in Tokyo. This model was indeed sold as a limited model in Japan, but outside Japan it was released a few months later as a more or less regular model, but packed in a chest case, instead of the Japanese cardboard box. First it was available in East Asia, but later also in Europe and I even think it was available in the US. I think it was available for about a year (outside Japan) and could be found relative cheap, specially in Singapore. I think the Chest Case was limited available and that later models were sold in the regular black G-Shock cardboard boxes. I think it is pretty unusual that the overseas model got a more luxurious box than the domestic model.
Casio is still a sponsor of the Toyota Land Cruiser Auto Body team, but the Mudman model has been upgraded last year. When you look at the TLC-Auto Body Gallery, you’ll notice that the team is wearing the new GW-9300 Mudman, a perfect choice for this desert rally. The TLC Auto Body team drives with two cars in the Dakar rally. Car 341 is driven by Jun Mitsuhashi (JP,1970) with Alain Guehennec (FR,1954) as Navigator, car 343 is driven by Nicolas Gibon (FR, 1981) with Akira Miura (JP, 1983) as Navigator. According the team, the Compass and Thermometer function of the GW-9300 is very useful for the Navigator, but let us concentrate on the G-9000TLC.
The G-9000TLC was released specially to commemorate that in 2007 Team TLC Auto Body won  the title for the third time in a row in the T2 Cross Country Series Production vehicles, the class of the un-altered production cars. In case you are looking through the history results, you won’t find these in the results. There are three sub-categories, but only the 3 fastest teams are noted, which are of course altered cars of the T1 Improved Cross Country Vehicles or Open Class vehicles (everything that looks like a car or truck under 3500kg). The Toyota Land Cruisers fall in the category T2.2, a class where Toyota is a very strong competitor.
When I heard about a red Mudman coming out, I knew I had to have it. I love red and yellow G-Shocks. I think that this TLC model is maybe the best looking Mudman in the G-9000 style range. Specially the choice of leaving the display plate black instead of white (the TLC color scheme is red/white), makes this red watch look good. The white accents come from the lettering and the white TLC logo. Col detail, the G-9000 Mudman was the first model with a “Dual-Illuminator”. This does mean that not only the display lights up, but also the lettering on the face plate. This way it’s easy to read the functions of the buttons in the dark. It’s a pity this Dual Illuminator is not used on many models. It’s not only cool, but in my opinion, also pretty functional.
The G-9000 is the 2nd generation Mudman, after the DW-8400 (ignoring that the DW-5500C was nicknamed Mudman). The DW-8400 Mud Resistant structure consists of one bezel which covers the top and the side of the case. Even the buttons are covered, to prevent mud and dirt entering the case behind the buttons through the button holes. The G-9000 has a two part bezel. No not only the top and side are covered, but also a part of the backplate. Also the bezel seems to be attached tighter to the case. There is a small price to pay for this new mud protection. The button covers are pretty hard to push. You will get used to it, but it will surprise you in the beginning.
The G-9000TLC comes with a 3031 module. the watch might look relative small, specially compared to a DW-8400, but it’s packed with features.
Most interesting are the two separate 1000 hour capacity Stopwatch functions. These Stopwatches can be used to time a total run and Special Stages in a rally stage. You might think 1000 hour is pretty long. I think 100 hours would have been pretty good too. A 1000 hour capacity, means you can time an event for 41 days! Of course there might be small problem with the accuracy, as the module has an accuracy of +/- of 15 seconds a month. Frankly this should not be a problem, since the absolute precision will still be high if after 1000 hours (36,000,000 seconds) the timing would be 15 seconds off (a deviation of maximal 0,000042%). My experience with this module is that it is actually very accurate. I haven’t set both my G-9000TLC’s since 2007, but they were both only a few minutes off, instead of over 15 minutes. The first Stopwatch Mode can be set to a 5 seconds Auto-Start delay. If this function in toggled on, the watch will start count down the last three seconds before the it starts.
The Mudman comes with a full functional Countdown Timer function. It has a 24 hour capacity, with an Auto Repeat function and a Progression Beeper function, which can both be toggles on or off. When toggled on, the Progression Beeper starts marking the last 5 minutes by emitting 4 short beeps counting down to the minute. Also 4 beeps mark the 30 seconds, while the last 10 seconds are followed by single beeps, before a full alarm marks the end of the Countdown.
If you need an Alarm, well, the G-9000 is packed with 5 Alarms, 4 normal alarms and a Snooze Alarm. All Alarms can be set as a Daily Alarm, but also as a Date Alarm. This also means you can set them as a 1-Month Alarm and a Monthly Alarm by leaving one of the date entrees blank. Of course there is also the Hourly Time Signal.
You should almost forget the watch has a World Time mode, which can of course be handy if you drive rally’s all over the world. It shows times in 48 cities in 29 different time zones.
I already mentioned the Dual Illuminator. I think the G-9000 was the first G-Shock where the duration of the illumination could be changed. You can change between 3 seconds and 5 seconds. Well, they are both long enough for a good reading in my opinion. Actually I think 5 seconds is a bit too long, but it’s good for me, making photo’s of the backlight. Ideal for the noisy cockpit of a rally car at night is the Flash function. It lights up at the Hourly Time Signal, the end of a Countdown and when an Alarm goes off.
This little red devil is powered by a CR2025 battery. According the Casio manual, it has a battery life of 3 years, but I was somehow not too surprised both my 5 year old G-9000TLC’s were running still smoothly. Casio’s prediction of battery life has always been a bit on the safe side. As the battery capacity of the CR2025 battery is significant larger than the usual CR2016, I would not mind if Casio would use this battery more often in their modules, although a Tough Solar driven module would be fantastic too.
In Japan the G-9000TLC sold out pretty fast, but outside Japan this watch was not that hard to find for many months. It was even sold in Germany and if Casio Benelux would have exist back then, I would not be surprised if this watch would have sold well here in The Netherlands too. The original retail price in Japan was ¥14500. Knowing DragonJade a bit, he probably got one for me for around ¥13000, which was around those days a little over €100.-. I don’t remember the price of the overseas model. I got it from a friend in Singapore, who has also a small shop on eBay. I guess they were sold for around €80.-, but it is too long ago, so I really do not remember. When I was wearing this model for the wrist shot, it really looked very nice. These G-9000TLC’s are a bit somewhat forgotten gems in my collection. Although they are not easy to find, they can still be found for sale from time to time. I do not know how big the total emission of this model was, but still I think you must think somewhere between 5000 and 10000 pieces.


havell777 said...

Great review Sjors - awesome pictures with commentary of High Tabloid reporter.....thx - keep up GREAT work Radek from The East Coast

viewjapan said...

Hi Sjors. Just to add some detail to your great article:
The retail price before tax is ¥14,500. With Japan's 5% consumption tax, it works out to ¥15,225.

I can't completely remember where I picked it up from but it was either Yodobashi or directly from Casio's online store. I've had a look at my payment records and I think it may have been Yodobashi. Either that or it was from Casio's website and you forgot to include the postage costs! :)

viewjapan said...

I did some more searching and it was definitely from Yodobashi.

I think the watch was officially released on 14 June 2007 as that's when mine was shipped to me. Your watch was posted out on the 18th, Sjors.

There should be a thread on WUS with the exact date, I think.