Sunday, November 3, 2013

G-Shock #44: From G-Shock Junior to G-Shock Mini. The GMN-550.

For the seasoned G-Shocker, the various DW-5600 models look often a bit small. It might be hard to imagine then that in 1983 the DW-5000C was considered a big watch, specially compared to other mechanical and digital watches. The DW-5000C evolved via the WW-5100C, DW-5200C, WW-5300C, DW-5400C, DW-5500C into the DW-5600C. From these models the DW-5200C and DW-5600C were very popular, which makes them the easiest to find from these vintage models. To make the line complete, the DW-5700C and DW-5800C were also released around the same time as the DW-5600C). In 1988, a year after the introduction of the DW-5600C, Casio made the first smaller sized G-Shock model, the DW-500C. The reason the DW-5000C is big in size is of course the shock absorbing structure. It probably took 5 years for Casio to make a “floating module” structure in miniaturized form.
DW-500C-1V, Photo by Casiophile
2 DW-500C-9B'sshown by my friend Yamazaru-san in Kyoto, 2010.
The DW-500C got nicknamed “Junior-G” and “Baby-G”, obvious because it is mini G-Shock model. This model had only a Stopwatch and an Alarm on board and because of the downsizing, there was no room for a micro-light. It was marketed as a boy’s size G-Shock. I do not know how big the production was of the DW-500C, but this model, specially the yellow version, is pretty rare and wanted in Japan. If it’s a good investment? No, I don’t think so. After 25 years the resin bezel, if still present, will probably not hold very long. When I started my Japanese weblog, I had a blog friend who had such a yellow DW-500C. The resin crumbled soon after. And this was at least 6 years ago.
Shown in Green Arrow Graffiti 4: the smaller G-Shock models of 1994
Shown in Green Arrow Graffiti 4: The first Baby-G models 1994/1995
In the early 90’s Casio started making more and more different models, which were also getting bigger in size and wrist presence. In 1994 a lot of bigger G-Shock models were introduced, like the DW-6600, DW-6400C “Gundam”, DW-001 “Jason”, DW-002 and both the “Sky Force” models. The DW-6700 “Sky Force” was for a long time the Biggest G-Shock around and can still easily compete with the GX-56 “King” in size. It must have been the increase in size that Casio decided to also release a series of smaller models. These models were remarkable smaller than the other G-Shock models. The models got the numbers DW-600, DW-610, DW-620 etc, until the DW-650. This time the models were produced for a longer time and were not only sold in Japan only. At least the DW-610, DW-640 and DW-650 were sold worldwide. Many of these smaller G-Shocks were sold with a screen protector (a.k.a. “Bull Bars”).
A G-Shock DW-640, a Baby-G BG-341 and a Club-G GXS-900 model. 
Above DW-610, below DW-620 LONDON
Many of these “Bull Bars” probably look familiar and this is why. In November 1994, Casio decides to rename these smaller G-Shocks, which was the birth of the G-Shock spin-off Baby-G line. A lot of these werre reeased early 1995. As nowadays Baby-G models ware almost only marketed as a girl’s and women’s wristwatch, it first wasn’t. The Baby-G line was in the beginning an alternative for people (children, men and women) who didn’t was to wear a big G-Shock model, but want a tough looking, shock resistant and water resistant watch. I think the shift to market Baby-G for women started somewhere half the ‘00s.
Bram (at age of 5) and his, then new, Club-G in June 2006
Casio started a new line for kids also halfway the 00’s. These watches are not branded G-Shock, but definitively look like miniaturized G-Shocks. This new line was called Club-G and they popped up worldwide probably somewhere in 2005 or 2006. I can’t find any info about when Casio started releasing them, because G-Shock Perfect Search does not include these models. I do not know if these models were popular, but fact is that the prices for these watches dropped drastically. You could easily find these watches for around €30.- to €40.-. My son Bram got a red Club G in 2006 from G-Shock legend Buzzbait and around the same time a black one from my friend and former G-Shock Moderator tribe125. For several years eBay was flooded by Club-Gs.
Fumi's GMN-550 and GMN-50.
In 2009 my blog friend FUMI (I still regret he stopped blogging after he got married in 2011 as I miss his presence, info and input) introduced me the G-Shock Mini early 2009. He got this exact model, the GMN-550-1B. It’s a miniature sized G-5500B-1. Other G-Shock Mini models are the GMN-690 (a miniaturized DW-6900), the GMN-590 (DW-5900) and the GMN-50 (AW-500). In later GMN-690 models, were numbered 691 and 692.
Actually I always wanted to have this particular G-5500B-1 and this G-Shock Mini since I knew about there existence, but had forgotten both a little. This was until i was browsing through the G-Shock models on Kish. To my surprise, they had this GMN-550-1B. The G-Shock Mini’s were as far as I know not sold in Europe and mainly distributed in Japan. I could not resist, but if I bought this model, I should also get the big brother. Fortunately I found an surplus seller in the US, who had this G-5500B listed. With the help of a friend I got this watch within two weeks after I found the G-Shock Mini.
The GMN-550 is really designed for the smaller wrists. It does actually not even fit on a normal watch stand.

Besides the size difference between the G-5500B and the GMN0550 there is also a difference in case structure. The G-5500B has the typical Mudresistant bezel. The pink parts at the side of the case are actually soft resin molded into the bezel. This allows you to press the buttons, located underneath the bezel. On the G-Shock Mini the pink parts are actual buttons. It allows easier button control, but you loose the mud resistant feature.
The GMN-550 might be smaller in size, but that does not mean Casio cut into the functions. The only difference with it’s big brother is that it missed the Tough Solar feature, but on board you find the 3126 module that has a 48 city and 29 time zones World Time, a 24h Stopwatch, a 24h Countdown Timer and 5 Alarms (one is a Snooze Alarm). The Button Tone can be muted and also the duration of the EL Backlight can be toggled between 1.5 and 3 seconds. This makes it a very complete G-Shock. The watch is powered by a CR1616 battery, which is found also in many Baby-G models. Usually they power a watch for about 3 years.
The GMN-550 has a relative short strap. It shows it is really designed for smaller wrists. I can hardly strap it on with my average 7" wrists (above). Luckily we have Bram (below)
A G-Shock Mini also has smaller prices. On Yahoo Auctions Japan you can find them still for prices around ¥7500, which is slightly cheaper from the prices you find them on eBay. Kish has them for the great price of €59.-, which is about the same price as for which you find them in Japan. For me much easier of course, because I don’t have to pay a relative huge price for intercontinental shipping (and let’s not mention the huge custom fees and taxes here). I pretty much like this model, but not for wearing. I am pretty much used to wearing big G-Shocks. I think my 7.2” wrists are pretty moderate in Europe, but I can imagine that the average wrist in East Asian countries is smaller. With the mostly unisex look of the G-Shock Mini, they are a pretty good alternative for men who don’t have big wrists or don’t want to wear big watches. The G-Shocm Mini seems out of production. If follow the old link to the website, you get redirected to the Baby-G homepage. Maybe not a surprise. Recently Casio released smaller Baby-G versions of the DW-6900 and GA-110. 

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