Sunday, March 24, 2013

G-Shock #13: DougFNJ presents a Holy Grail of G-Shocks, The MR-G 8100B

First of all, I kept my acquiring this watch a secret so it may be revealed on 50 G’s. Sjors has no idea how much self control it took to keep quiet. It also gave me incentive to get this review out by a deadline.
You have to be a real collector to find interest and see the true value of an MR-G. I mentioned in my MR-G-7500 article, I first caught interest in them when I acquired a 25th Anniversary G-Shock Magazine. I started my taste with an Eric Clapton MR-G. I really enjoyed that watch so much so it moved my eye to one of the newer versions. I sold that watch to my good friend Sjors and thoroughly enjoyed his take on that rare gem in a separate article on this great website. His purchase amongst a few other sales helped me fund the MR-G-7500 which I reviewed shortly after I acquired it. I was fascinated by the detail of that watch. I really enjoyed the fact that every level of light, every angle you looked at that dial you saw something different. It was like art.
As much as I enjoyed THAT watch, I was introduced to the 8100 last year when I had a great privilege to meet one of the G-Shocks designers. Compared to the 7500, it was thinner, the DLC was tougher, and it added a Countdown Timer to the features which brought the kid back in me to want to see if I could hunt down this "perfect G" at the right price. I regularly found myself on Ebay typing in that search bar “Casio MR-G” for months it continuously stayed out of my range. To hunt a G like this requires a lot of patience. Finally I found a workable price. I found one sitting in it’s gorgeous wooden box sitting in California waiting for a wrist to put it on. I contacted the seller who’s name I recognized from Watchuseek and we began our communication. It was unveiled that the watch was sized before it was shipped to him, and only worn a few times. It sat in the box most of the time, so the seller felt it would be best to sell it. My question whenever I purchase a watch is does it have any marks, dings, dents, scratches, or blemishes, and does it work as it is supposed to. The answer was no to the first 5, and yes to the last....Like New In Box waiting for a good home.....the negotiation began. I sold the 7500 and a number of other watches. We settled on a price we both felt was VERY fair, and the next day I signed for the highly anticipated package (I love USPS Express).
I brought the box inside and sat it on my desk in my office and carefully unwrapped the shipping box, padding, and got to the white cardboard box with the MRG logo underneath. Removing the cover revealed the beautiful rich looking wooden box with a small box sitting next to it with it’s paperwork. It was like Ralphie opening his Red Rider BB Gun in “A Christmas Story”. I slowly opened that wooden box to reveal what felt like bright light glowing under it’s top. It was everything I was hoping for and much more. I tried the watch on and the tight fit had me take it off to add a link to it. The bracelet uses the Pin and Collar setup. I carefully laid it down on a soft cloth I use to size watches, and added 1 needed link to the 12:00 side. There is 1 half link on the bracelet with 3 micro adjustments to assure a perfect fit. It fits like it was made for my wrist. Not too loose where it flops around on my wrist, not too tight where it leaves a mark on my wrist. It is so light, it is easy to forget it is on. As a watch collector, it is such a pleasure to wear a watch which feels like it was custom made for your wrist. I have this comfort level on the bracelets on my Omega Seamaster Pro, and my Tag Heuer Link. I feel this MRG is definitely in that class of those 2.
One thing I always appreciate with Casio is the design. The toughness is automatic, but there is something about the variety of designs that seems to have an appeal to all different types. From High School Students, to construction workers, to lawyers, there is an extremely diverse crowd attracted to the G-Shock. The MR-G is for the collector, they market this one for the adult crowd, at least that is what I read.
I have never been a big fan of Titanium. Although I do like the strength of this metal, you can usually scratch it by looking at it. Some makers look to strengthen Titanium with a hardening process that makes it highly scratch resistant. From what I have read, Casio has improved this process with each new MRG release. It is called DLC (Diamond Like Carbon). I do not beat up my watches, I have a regular rotation and keep my collection in a nice watch box, you are unfortunately bound to bump into something or accumulate a mark at some point. The G-Shocks I have had that used this coating have remained mark free. Casio went one step further as well and used Sapphire Crystal with an Anti-Reflective coating underneath. For the price one pays for this watch, Casio goes all out on the MRG.
Regarding it’s name, I used to call it by it’s initials, M-R-G. I was corrected by it’s designer, it is Mister G, thus the dash location MR-G. Casio typically released a new version of the MR-G annually. The MR-G 8100 was released in 2008, and this has been the MR-G since. They came out with 2 limited release variations, a Black with Gold accents version and a Ruby version.
Getting into the magic of this watch, it definitely has some special features that you won't tend to find in watches in this price range. G-shocks offer modules, not movements. This particular module is a 5 motor analog with Atomic timekeeping that can synch 6 towers throughout the world. USA, 2 towers in Japan, 2 towers in Europe, and one in China. It offers Tough Solar Technology with Power Reserve so you never have to worry about the battery. It offers World Time for a second time zone that you can easily swap between the 2 time zones. It's got a 24 Hour 1/20 second Stopwatch as well as a 24 hour Countdown timer and gives you an Alarm too.
When you set the time or various functions, you truly get to appreciate the 5 motor technology. It is quick moving, and allows you to set these functions or time in simple incremental movements by pressing the buttons repeatedly, or continuous movement by holding the buttons down. Previous modules made you wait for the hands to stop before moving between modes. This module allows you to switch modes and the hands automatically shift between those modes mid operation. Another thing about the detail they put in under the hood is fine tuned accuracy. They claim better than +/- 15 seconds a month when not getting an atomic synch. Of course I haven’t had to test it, this watch synchs every night religiously. They also put some gold parts in the gears which contributes to some of the reasoning behind the price.
Getting back to physical design, I already discussed the DLC Coating, and the sapphire crystal with AR Coating under the glass. But the reason I get sucked into the MR-G is the fine detailing and utter perfection that goes into this. The bracelet has brushing along the surface, and in the bottom between the links they are polished. There is of course the push button clasp with a lock. Going to the case, they hand engraved 2 horizontal lines at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock edged. They polished off inside the engraved lines. The 3 and 9 o'clock edges have 2 small screws in each. Then you have the knurled buttons around the 2, 4, 8, and 10 o'clock positions. I particularly love the bezel on this watch. all lettering is also hand engraved, it shows G-Shock above the display, MR-G below the display, and button designations showing Start at the 2 o'clock, Reset at the 4 o'clock, Mode at the 8 o'clock, and Adjust at the 10 o'clock. This does not look busy because these words are machined in, not painted. Also, around the corners of the bezel are the signature screws you will typically see in the MR-G. These screws are different than what is normally used, they are flat top Philips-head similar to the screws used on the newer Frogman models, all symmetrically screwed in.
On the rear, the back case is attached with 4 small Philips-head screws. The case has some engravings. The top shows G-Shock and Casio below that. In the middle they engraved G with the MR-G Logo in the middle of that. This is engraved in the center of a knurled surface. Then they laser engraved the module and serial numbers. I think about the amount of work in putting all of these pieces together, very impressive.
I love the face designs of MR-G's. Every generation gets a distinct look, and subtle details. The MR-G has a polish like finish on the ring that displays the Time zone countries. Unlike other Chrono watches that usually keep what appears to be a second hand, but is a designated Chrono hand that stays at the 12:00 mark until the Chrono is activated, the second hand on the 8100 ticks the seconds, and hits all the marks around the dial spot on. This is helped by another technology feature, Tough Movement. This assures all hands are where they are supposed to be at all times, if you somehow jar the watch hard enough where a hand falls out of alignment, it adjusts itself back into alignment, this is automatically checked on the watch hourly. The dial has a very thin 3 dimensional look to it. The indices have lume inside each steel marker and the indices appear brushed on one angle and polished towards the bottom of each, not blingy at all, but just a little glare to let you know they did it.
There is a ring that circles around the bottom of the markers that stops and starts around the date, and the 9 o'clock sub dial. The detail that can only be seen in macro shots and a loupe is the fine lines that run around that ring. Towards the top center of the face is the wording in metal MR-G and 3 lines painted below that reading Multi-Band 6 in white, Tough Mov't in red lettering, and Casio in white below that. The 3 o'clock sub dial is the chrono hand with the small hand being wide yet skeletal and the long hand being thin and white. The 6 o'clock sub dial shows 2 thin white hands. The 9 o'clock sub dial is the mode dial. It shows the day of the week, Stop Watch World Time, Countdown Timer, and Alarm modes. The Hands are unique here as well, one big red arrow shaped hand. This mode dial also has a thin reflective metal ring around it. The face itself has an interesting texture. Looking at it in some lights make it appear a flat gray. Bright angles have its texture appearing like wavy lines, and other lights show a shell like pattern. This is one of the most fascinating things I enjoy with the MR-G, and I made sure to take as many different shots at different angles as I could to appreciate it.
Getting into using it’s features, this was one of Casio’s easier analog modules to learn. Pressing the mode button switches between the functions of the watch each time you press it. First press activates the 1/20 second 24 hour stopwatch. Pressing start/stop immediately moves the second hand to the 12:00 position as well as all sub dials. The second hand then moves in 1 second increments, the 3:00 subdial ticks off the minutes, the 9:00 subdial hand spins around that dial and ticks off the hours. Pressing Start/Stop again pauses the stopwatch, pressing yet again resumes the stopwatch. Pressing reset while paused zeros out the dials.
The second function is the 24 Hour Countdown timer which moves the second hand to the 12:00 position. When pressing the reset button, the 3:00 subdial moves to set it in 1 minute increments, holding it moves it forward until you are near the time you want, then pressing reset again moves it in 1 minute increments until the desired timer is set, up to 23:59 hours. Once set, pressing the Start/Stop button, the second hand moves counter clockwise as the 3:00 subdial counts down to 0 to an alarm.
Next is World Time which moves the second hand to the 2nd chosen time zone. Pressing one of the right two buttons moves the second hand either way to pick another Time zone, and you can choose Standard Time or Daylight Savings for each zone. Pressing the Adjust Button for 3 seconds swaps the home time to the chosen timezone.
The final mode function is the Alarm, you set this on the 6:00 24 hour subdial, and pressing the Adjust button sets the Alarm on or off.
One final thing I want to cover here is the Lume. You know when you are buying any Casio watch, you are not buying a Seiko Monster. The Lume however on this watch holds it's own. If I charge it with an LED light, it lasts overnight which is all one can ask. The other night I went to bed around midnight and had it at its brightest. I woke up at 4 AM and was pleasantly surprised at how bright it still was.
This watch is incredible. It is scratch resistant, tough, versatile, feature rich, and I really haven’t found much reason to remove it from my wrist since I got it. When you read various forums, you might read about the “Grail” watches. I think every collector has one, it is the ideal watch for that individual, and this is that watch for me. I cannot begin to describe how happy I am with this piece. It has a premium pricetag, and when you wear one, and look at it, handle it, put it on, click the clasp lock and feel near nothing on your wrist while being very present. I find myself looking at it often, not necessarily always to tell the time, but to appreciate what I have. As I stated in the opening, this is a watch mainly G-Shock collectors would appreciate. It's not just another Casio watch one pays a premium for. It is a high end watch with more features, strength, and detail than found on typical high end watches. I am extremely happy with this watch, and would easily say if I were forced to choose 1 watch in my entire collection this would be it.

1 comment:

geLo said...

Found your site on your watchseek sig. I love g's and only have 2 (for now haha) i literally drooled when i saw your mr.g, and im willing to sell a nut for it. :p