Sunday, October 13, 2013

G-Shock #42: Rangeman

Early 2013 there was a rumor Casio was working on a new G-Shock Master of G model. It would be a model which combined the Compass function on the G(W)-9300 Mudman and the Altimeter, Barometer and Thermometer functions of the Riseman. This would mean finally a real ABC G-Shock (ABC stands for Altimeter Barometer Compass).
At Baselworld 2013 a pic (accidentally?) was shortly leaked by G-Shock East (or was it West). The photo revealed the name, Rangeman. A mock-up model was on display at Baselworld, but only for Casio representatives and a few selected retailers. Finally, a few days before Shock The World NYC 2013 in August, the Rangeman was presented. Last September three models were released in Japan. About two weeks ago the basic black version (with positive display) was available in Europe. Although officially available the khaki green model did arrive in the second week of October. There is a difference between the Japan and the overseas versions. The Japanese versions have a carbon fiber strap and the overseas model (the one I bought) has a normal resin strap. This small difference does pay of in the retail price. The Japanese version has a retail price of ¥48000, which is roughly €360. The retail price in Europe is €299.- and probably also $299 in the US.
The new Rangeman is nice big and thick, which suits a watch loaded with features. It’s even a little bit bigger than the 3rd generation Mudman. It’s probably the most complete G-Shock out there. It has big buttons with an anti-slip profile, which makes it possible to even operate the watch with gloves. To access all functions there are not less than 6 buttons. For the “basic” functions, you use the usual MODE button to scroll.
The Rangeman is equipped with Casio latest Ver. 3 Sensors, which you also find in the latest generation ProTrek models. This means faster, smaller, more accurate and much less energy consumptive (see pics above). To access the sensor functions you have the big SENSOR button on the right of the watch. The watch has three sensors on board. The barometric sensor is used for both the Altitude as the Barometer readings. The thermo sensor is used for the Thermometer function, but is also used to compensate temperature drift of the barometric sensor. Actually it is mentioned in the manual that it is best to keep the watch at a constant temperature when using it as an Altimeter or Barometer. I probably have mentioned before when writing about Riseman and ProTrek models, a good barometric sensor is not only affected by the barometric pressure, but also by the temperature. That’s why you always find a Thermometer function of a high quality watch with Barometric functions. It’s of course obvious that temperature readings on the wrist are not displaying the temperature of the surrounding environment, but keeping your watch strapped on your wrist is a good way to keep the temperature pretty constant.
The khaki Rangeman comes with a nice crisp negative display. If you don’t like negative displays, there is always the normal basic black model. I always prefer to look for a little different color model and for me this model was perfect. You can wear this model any time for any occasion. The nice big strap with a double row of buckle holes, fits perfectly. The resin is feeling a kind of rubberish soft, the kind you find on the more expensive G-Shock models. I very much love the metal keeper. I wouldn’t mind if Casio would use metal strap keepers more often. I suspect the 4 screws on the case are there pure cosmetic, like the ones you find on the GW-7900 and the Frogman. You can of course complain about non-functional elements on the bezel, but on the other hand it adds a lot to a tough look. Pretty nice is the new Rangeman logo etched on the back. It looks like a cat that wears a compass on his wrist.
The photographers wet little helper. 
I live in Middelburg, which is almost grown together with Vlissingen (Flushing). I actually live less than 5 kilometer from the weather station. Check out the Barometer function. It is spot-on!
Like mentioned above, you enter the sensor functions of this watch via the SENSOR button, located on the right. You can scroll through the Sensor modes also with this button. The function you last used, before leaving the sensor function, is displayed first. You can manually save an altitude reading, a barometric/temperature reading, a bearing and a time/date event in the Recorder function by pressing and holding the upper right button for about 2 seconds.
The Altimeter function is actually a barometric function. When the barometric pressure is stable, it still fluctuates when you descent or ascent. This is pretty logical, as the barometric pressure is nothing else than the column of air in the atmosphere pressing upon us. The higher in the atmosphere you are, the smaller the column of air. Of course the barometric changes are pretty minimal when you ascent or descent a few meters, but you probably have felt the difference of air pressure in your ears when traveling through the mountains or inside a plane. When you have a very good barometric sensor you can read the relative altitude changes. This means you need to correct for the current air pressure. At a normal day the air pressure does not change a lot, but it can change a lot over a few days. For me setting the Altimeter pretty easy. I live at sea level, which means I can always set my watch to 0 meter. As my country is almost everywhere as flat as a pancake, I can do that almost everywhere here. A big improvement on the Riseman is that the Altitude function on the Rangeman is that good that it can display the altitude in increments of 1 meter, instead of 5 meters. It’s actually pretty accurate.

I checked it by walking up and down the stairs in my house (approximately about 6 meter difference) and the meters changed fluidly up and down. The video above I recorded in an IKEA elevator, by going down one floor (approximately 5 meters). You can see the Altimeter fluidly follow the elevator movement. The altitude changes are shown in both the eye as in the graph. In the small display above the Altimeter, the current time is shown, so you can use this function for a longer time without knowing what time it is. You can use the Altitude function in 2 modes. In the 0’05” mode, the watch measures after three minutes the altitude every 5 seconds for an hour. In the 2’00” mode, the watch measures the Altitude every 2 minutes after three minutes. In both modes the Altitude is read every second for the first three minutes. In 0’05” mode the watch returns to Timekeeping Mode in an hour, while in 2’00” mode, this happens after 12 hours. By short pressing the ADJUST button, you can toggle the upper display format between a graph or the relative Altitude.
Normal Time Keeping
Time Keeping with Barometer Graph
World Time
Stopwatch
Countdown Timer
Alarm
Sunrise/Sunset start animation
Sunrise/Sunset
Recall
Receive (Wave Ceptor)
Barometer
Altimeter
Compass
The Barometer/Thermometer mode is the only sensor mode that doesn’t show the current time. Instead it shows the current temperature. It’s possible to activate a Barometer Alarm if there are drastic changes in the barometric values, for instance when very bad weather is coming. Handy when you are hiking and want to know when it is better to go to your camp site.
The Compass function uses, like the 3rd generation Mudman, the eye to shows the magnetic North. In the small upper display the bearing is shown, with the 12 o’clock position of the watch as reference. The magnetic bearing sensor is active for 60 seconds. To reactivate the sensor you have to press the upper right briefly. I guess this is done to save the battery.
We return back to TIme Keeping Mode. You can get out of a Sensor mode by pressing the MODE button (lower left). In Time Keeping Mode you can view the day or the Barometer Graph in the upper (graphic) display. The date is always displayed in the small middle display. When leaving the Time Keeping Mode we first encounter some familiar basic functions. The Rangeman has, like any Atomic model, World Time on board. Nothing new or spectacular here. It’s the usual 48 cities and 31 time zones version. As always, DST has to be applied manually. Next you’ll find a 1000 hour (!) Stopwatch Mode. It is operated with the lower and upper right buttons. You can also instant start the Stopwatch function in Time Keeping mode by pressing the Start/Stop button (lower right). You can use this Stopwatch mode for timing very long hikes (笑). The Rangeman also has a simple 24 hour Countdown Timer on board, as well an Alarm function with 4 normal Alarms, a Snooze Alarm and a Hourly Signal.
The next mode is pretty cool. I loved the Sunrise and Sunset feature on the old DW-001 Jason and DW-6100. I can’t remember there were actually more recent models who had this feature, although I pretty much like to know these times. I live pretty much to the north of the globe, so the differences between Sunrise and Sunset are pretty big between summer and winter and the further you go north, the bigger the differences are. For a correct reading, you need to input the longitude and latitude in the settings screen of the Time keeping Mode, which should not be a problem if you use your home position. If you live in the city you choose as the Home City, you already have the correct Longitude and Latitude, by the way, but as I live far from Paris and Berlin (my nearest Home Cities), I need to adjust. If I recall right, the DW-6100 did also show the Sunrise and Sunset in the eye, with the current time. The eye acts as a 24 hour dial. Isn’t that just cool? You can scroll through the dates to view Sunset and Sunrise times on a specific date. If you do not press any button, the watch goes into Time Keeping Mode after 2 minutes.
In the Recall mode you can view your saved data from the Time Keeping mode, Altitude Mode, Baro-/Thermometer mode and Compass mode. There is storage room for 40 sets of data. If the memory is full, the oldest set is replaced by the newest. Besides your saved data, it also calculates the Total Ascent, Total Ascent, the maximum Altitude and minimum Altitude.
The last mode you find, before returning to Time Keeping Mode is the Receive Mode. This mode shows the time and date of the last time the watch synced with an Atomic Time Receiver. The Rangeman is a Multiband 6 model, which means it can receive the signal of all six public transmitters of Atomic Time in the world. These transmitters are located at: Fukushima, Japan (JJY40), Fukuoka/Saga (JJY60), Fort Collins, Colorado (WWVB), Mainflingen, Germany (DFC77), Anthorn, UK (MSF) and Sangqui City, China (BPC). Every midnight the watch attempts to sync with the Atomic Time signal. If the attempt fails, the watch will try to sync an hour later, if needed up to 6 times.
Note: Due to the long exposure times the background of the backlight turned blue. In real it is more dark bluish gray. Hard to photograph that shade. As I pretty much like the blue shine, I left the color as I found them on my camera.
The watch has an LED backlight, which makes it the first Master of G with this kind of backlight instead of an Electro Luminescent backlight. Of course the watch also has an Full Auto-Illuminator function. This means if you twist your wrist towards you, while holding your arm parallel to the floor, the backlight will turn on, but only if the surrounding light level is below a certain level that illumination is needed to read the display. The duration of the backlight can be set to 1.5 seconds or 3 seconds. The watch also has a Mute function, which mutes all button tones. The light duration and button tone mute can be toggles on and off in the Time Keeping Setting mode.
Note: The Eye is now a 24 hour dial. You can see here the sun  has just risen. 
The Rangeman is quite a watch. Packed with features, which you never found packed together on a G-Shock before. I am pretty pleased by it’s size and it’s look. If you go out hiking, this is the watch you need. Of course it’s a great watch for spending all kinds of free time activities, but also for every day wear. The sensors seem very accurate and the Altimeter function, now showing altitude in meters instead of 5 meter increments, works very fast. The direct access to the Stopwatch mode is very good. If I recall right only the Raysman Yachttimer had such a function. There is only a small think, I would love to see improved. The Recall function is nice, but I love the (automatic) recorder function as found on the old DW-9100 Riseman. When this model was announced some people were complaining about the pricing of this watch, but actually, you can’t really compare this model with any other G-Shock. You can better consider this as an Atomic ProTrek model in a G-Shock housing. In that light, the GW-9400 Rangeman is pretty well priced. I like the look of the ProTrek (Pathfinder) models, but frankly, this watch looks much better. That’s of course easier said for me, as I am a G-Shocker at heart and the looks are definitely that of a good looking G-Shock. I got mine from a jeweler called Boersma Juweliers in Monnickendam, which happened one of the first shops in The Netherlands to have this model available. Needles to say I am very happy with my new purchase.
I remember when the GW-9200 Riseman was introduced I saw an article in a Dutch science and tech magazine telling the Riseman was the best watch Casio ever made. Well, I’ve got news for you. This G-Shock is even better. I look very much forward to the Lightning Yellow series coming out next month, featuring a very cool yellow Rangeman.
Note: The eye acts as a 24 hour dial in World Time too.

10 comments:

LucianoW said...

Great review, Sjors!
It's AWESOME, ain't it? Definitively one of the best G-Shocks Casio has ever released (I think I have a new all-time favorite model). If only it had a barometric/altimetric lock this would be the best outdoors watch ever made - South of a GPS watch, that is. And one more feature that I haven't seen on my other Multiband watches: depending on your home city, the watch won't try to sync with the radio signal, so if you're out of range of a tower (and as long as you have the right home city), the watch won't waste battery trying to sync, even if you had set it up for auto-receive. Cool, huh? :)))

Cheers!
Luciano

Robert-Jan Veltmeijer said...

Great review. Just bought one, very happy with it. Almost too many functions ;)

Rob & Chris said...

Hi, very nice review.
Question: Are you still happy with the negative display of your rangeman? Is it difficult to read outdoors?
I like the negative one, but there are so many people saying that the positive one is better that it makes me doubt.
Thank you very much.

Regards,
Christian

G-Shock Sjors said...

Hi Christian,

Frankly the negative display on the Rangeman is, after several months user experience, not always good to read. It is good enough for reading the main digits, but specially the smaler indicators are sometimes hard to read. I have the Lightning Yellow Rangeman too, which has a very nice clear greenish display. Still I regularly wear my green Rangeman. Simply because I love the khaki color.

Kind regards,

Sjors

ezad said...

Good day Sjors, I own a Rangeman and it is 2 months old. My rangeman seems to have click sound whenever shaken and also when I move my hand while wearing it. Is this normal? I have sent the watch to the casio service centre and at first the have told me that the watch has module problem and kept my watch for almost a month. when I came and collect, the sound still there. When asked, they replied 'this watch indeed has this sound'. Is it true? or do I get cheated by them? I feel very disappointed. I know that the watch has auto light sensor but the sound quite loud and can be heard. Quite annoying sound. The sound suppose to faint clicking but not loud. Anyway, my name is Ezad and I'm from malaysia. I hope to get feedback from you. Thank you.

G-Shock Sjors said...

I have never experienced this, but I have heard of this clicking sound before. It's the little ball in the Auto EL switch. I think your clicking sound comes from there.

Kind regardss,

Sjors

non_sequitur said...

Sjors,

thank you for this article... i was just looking around for more info on my Rangeman, this was extremely helpful!

non_sequitur said...

Sjors,

thank you for this article... i was just looking around for more info on my Rangeman, this was extremely helpful!

cyclesilly8 said...

Excellent pictures and detailed information. I will be the next proud owner of such a cool watch. I own many classy dive watches but this one will get a lot of use. Good looks and I love the negative display (even if hard to see). Thank you, Chris

Soft Otaku said...

Great refresher on one of my new favorites. Thanks!