Sunday, June 30, 2013

G-Shock 28: The 30th Anniversary GW-5530C-1JR

The GW-5530c is an oddball within the Rising Black Series for a few reasons. First and maybe most obvious is how it even fits in, because it never should have made it! “Preposterous!” No, not exactly. When you look at the 5000 series, it was the original G-Shock, pure function. It has gone on for 30 years for that very reason, updated and refined, but the shape hasn’t changed.
The 6900 series has gone on to be the modern re-interpretation. While the exact numbers are unknown it is either the #1 or #2 best selling G-Shock of all time, with the 5000 series being the “other”.
So, where does that leave the 5500 series? In that 1st decade there were various stylistic variations of the 5000 which the 5500 was one of. The 5500 is very “80’s”. From the ridges on top of the buttons (Ferrari Testarossa anybody?) to the aesthetically “logical” building block design (makes me think of the original Tron movie). Many varieties fell by the wayside over the decades, why did this one survive? It is hard to pinpoint, but I would suggest the almost universal praise of comfort. While it is sized bigger than the 5000’s it still isn’t anywhere near today’s bigger watches it is still similarly low profile (important for fitting under cuffs of shirts and jackets) but with the weight spread out on the wider straps and module means it’s grams per square centimeter come into play.
There is also some history involved which I don’t wish to undervalue. Did you know in 1985 this “G-Shock II” was the original Master of G? The buttons are the first (within G-Shocks) to be “Mud Resist”. That term is used when the metal buttons are hooded by a larger resin button, making it difficult for mud to enter directly through the button hole. While it obviously didn’t replace the original it has been in and out of production over the years and obviously has a soft spot within Casio and G-Shock aficianados worldwide. I hope this all helps the “How did we get here?”.
That isn’t the only way it sticks out among these 3: if you’ve noticed, the other 2 are “DW”s or very basic modules. This one is a GW or MultiBand 6 as well as solar. How did that happen? Of these 3 it is the one not making it to the world market, but is a Japan market release (with a few headed to Singapore from what I understand). Very odd, and succinctly showing where the true love of the 5500’s are.
As it is the Rising Black series it is meant to be a rustic colorway and it turned out pretty amazing in person. From the faint gold lettering on the black band and bezel to the Ion Plated buckle and case back to the gold screen with light gold/brown lettering around it is understated in a very nice way. Most of the 30th Anniversary models wear the same keepers (metal, etched with 3 stars and the verbage “SINCE 1983”) in different colors. On these it is more of a rose gold and came out in an attractive way that goes well with the overall coloring and theme.
When you hear about Casio’s Ion Plating on metal bracelets (GW-3000D, GW-4000D, GW-A1000D, etc) it quickly devolves into two camps. Because the plating is all that good at protecting from scratches, wear shows. Some people love this “patina” and others simply cannot stand it. Being on the caseback (next to skin and hair) I expect it to wear a little differently over the years and should be a pretty cool effect! One of my friends recently scratched his buckle (and quickly cursed himself) and while mad at first, I believe he will eventually come to terms with the “wear marks” that I find characterful on G’s. We shall see.
With the light weight and the wider bands this watch is unusually comfortable, and because of its overall size is actually quite versatile on wrist sizes (mine happens to be a flat-top 7.5” wrist for visualizing). The straps also have a nice visual touch of hiding the break between the straps and the bezel. When looking at the topside, it is very hard to distinguish. When looking underneath you can see the jigsaw of interlocking pieces and the hidden springbar. While looking at said jigsaw you also notice the button arrangement and everything else.

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