Sunday, January 25, 2015

G-Shock #3 : Bloo G-2600

Recently someone asked “What’s a Grail”. Apparently the epic movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” from 1975, is not that known under the younger generations (笑). A grail is something personal. It doesn’t have to be necessarily very expensive, but it’s something you want very much and which is hard for you to get your hands on. Although, it does not look like one, specially if you look at the color, maybe this G-Shock was a kind of grail for me. I wanted to have it for a long time, but it took me more than 10 years to get one.
The Kouter in Ghent, where we usualy park our car.
It must have started somewhere in winter 2001-2002 I think. I live in the south of the Netherlands, far from Holland. This does not mean we live totally isolated here. From where I live you are in 45 - 60 minutes in the center of big Belgian cities, like Ghent, Antwerp, Mechelen and Bruges. When visiting Ghent I discovered a jeweler not far from where we usually park our car. They had a nice selection of G-Shocks. Most of them were the typical basic G-Shocks from that time and this one. For a moment I must have been in doubt, should I buy it? The price however was too hight for an impulse buy. I think it was probably around BEF1000 (around €120.-). This model was only for a short time on the market and within months you did not see anymore. And frankly, I think this was the only store I saw this model.
Still, this model has been “ghosting” in my head for years. Every time I was in Ghent, I walked through the street of that jeweler. The first time it was still there, but the next time it was sold. Now, more than 10 years later, I can’t find that jeweler anymore.
A few moths ago I was browsing the listing of an overstock seller. I was a bit surprised, as I know that seller for a very long time and he still sells over stock G-Shocks. I haven’t bought from that seller for a long time, because of the customs. It is fun to buy an extreme discounted G-Shock that you cannot find elsewhere, and the customs think the same, as they add you here a nice extreme high duties and fees bill with it. So you think you are happy with your $50.- watch and $20.- shipping, but the additional €30 - €40 is killing all the fun. Luckily I had a friend who brought me over three cheap Gs from the US (one is the G-5500B which cameoed in the G-Shock Mini article last week, the other one the Annelies Braeckman G-Cool) from this seller a few weeks ago, avoiding me from a huge customs bill.
The G-2600 was released October 2001. It has a very nice streamlined design, though I think it does not have the usual “tough look”, more an elegant one. It might explain why this model was a less popular. For elegance you probably look for another watch than a G-Shock and for a tough watch, you rather have your watch looking tough too. Still you find the typical recessed crystal with a protective rim and button guards at the side. The strap contains of two parts. The gray part on the strap is actually an extra insert. I don’t know the reason why it’s there, but it might be there for extra comfort and holding the watch in place on the wrist. If you want to change the battery, you have to remove the whole construction, which is probably a bit of annoying an time consuming process, compared to the models with a simple easy accessible 4-screw back.
Around 2001 Casio released several G-Shocks with day counters, instead of a Countdown Timer. Well, this is one of these models. Although the lay out differs much, it’s 2248 module operation is exactly the same as on the G-2110 and the G-2210 models (modules 2276 and 2278). With that knowledge, I observed the display closely…
About 10 years ago I was looking at my G-2210 and suddenly thought the watch was winking to me. Really? So I watched closely and nothing seemed wrong. Then there it was again. When I wasn’t paying attention. It was winking to me. I had not drunk any beer, I don’t do drugs. Was I loosing my mind? Was I seeing things. There it was again…. Finally I discovered the time digits animate for about a second when they change and this actually happens every minute. But for short moment it fooled me. Indeed, this G-2600 also has winking digits. It’s playful, but on an elegant designed watch, it looks a bit odd. This feature better fits a Baby-G, where display animations are more common.
Let’s look deeper in the functions of the G-2600. The display lay out has three eyes, which move similar to the DW-6900 “Three Eyed Devil”. The bigger eye on the left displays the 10 seconds, while the two small eyes display the seconds. You can compare the functions of these eyes with that of a seconds hand on an analog watch. Pretty unusual, besides the time, day and date, also the year is displayed. You can easily change from Summer Time (Daylight Saving Time) to Winter Time and vise versa. All you have to do is toggle DST on or off in Time Keeping Setting mode.
When leaving the Time Keeping mode, we enter the Data Bank mode. In an era without mobile phones and not even smart phones and clouds, this was a handy feature. You can store up to the amazing amount of 25 records of names (8 characters) and telephone numbers (12 characters) in this watch. A quick calculation, that would be about 500 bytes or 0.5 kb storage capacity.
Next is the Day Counter mode, where you can input 5 target dates. To let you know what target you have put in, you can give the Day Counter a name of maximal 8 characters. If a target has reached the indication “DAYS” is shown in the Time Keeping display. I rather see a Day Counter as a gadget, more than a functional feature on a watch, although in 1999 I had bought a “Millennium” watch, which counted down to a specified date (pre-programed to January 1, 2000 of course). For years I had programmed it to Bram’s next birthday, until recently the batteries died.
When leaving the Day Counter, you find an Alarm function where you can Program 5 Alarms and the Hourly Signal, followed by a usual 24 hour Stopwatch Mode. The last mode is interesting. This watch does not come with World Time, but with Dual Time. In my opinion a bit easier to use, as it can only show one time and can be programmed in steps of 30 minutes from the Time Keeping Mode. Besides the Dual Time, it also shows the time in Time Keeping Mode.
You don’t see these G-2600 models very often. Although produced as a basic model, I do not think the production number was extreme high. As far as I know, there were three color variations, Gray, yellow/blue and this dark blue/gray model. Although you don’t find these models very often, they tend to be very cheap. When they are on sale, they often do not cost more than maybe €50.-/$70. If this model is something for you, is up to yourself. It has a quite different look than most G-Shocks, but of course it features the Shock Resistant and 20 Bar Water Resistance. In the past I already bought the yellow version, but finally, after more than 10 years, I bought this remarkable looking blue/gray model. I’m probably am not going to wear it, but keep it as a nice and remarkable model in the G-Shock line-up in my collection. But never say never, I may pick it out of the box and strap it on as, although it’s bloo, it looks pretty sexy.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

G-Shock #2: The Bull Bars are back!

2 pages from the "Get Tough" catalogue (Germany) from 1999. 
Sometimes I get happy by seeing a new basic model. Well, this happened to me when I saw the GD-400 for the first time. And actually, I haven’t even seen a color variation I don’t like yet. Even the greenish bloo model looks good to me. It is quite a choice for me to buy the right one. First I was thinking about the greenish bloo version, but my friends Piowa and Kronos really convinced me that red is definitely the best for me.
You may ask maybe why I was instant happy by seeing this model. Well, I can’t help it, but these models look pretty much like my beloved G-Lide DW-003S and DW-9000S surf models, launched spring 1997. Those DW-003S models looked kind of big in the late ’90’s, but Casio beefed the 2014 versions up a little, so they fit into the popular G-Shock X-Large models line.
Although the size is seemly larger than the DW-003S, it actually doesn’t look real big or too big. This makes this watch probably suitable for most wrist sizes. What amazes me a bit is that these models were released as basic G-Shock models. I think they would have been a great model for the G-Lide series. The original DW-003S models had a single piece resin strap that went through strap adapters. The straps on the GD-400 is a two piece style and does not go through adapters, but two extra attachments that give a similar look. The strap is guided through the attachments. They seem to prevent the straps to move too much outward, so it stays in round shape, while taken off the wrist. I think these attachments are pure cosmetic, but they really look nice and give the watch a tough look. The G-Shock brand text on these attachments are also very nice. The strap itself is remarkable flexible. The outer part of the straps have a nice relief pattern.
Probably loved by many G-Shock collectors is the face protector. This steel frame is made of a quite thick diameter steel wire. It is perfectly symmetric shaped that it fits above, below and under the button guards, which hold it perfectly tight in place. The face protectors are also generally known by the nickname "Bull Bars".
The display is divided in three parts. Top left there are two "Graphic Areas". The top area shows the seconds, the area below it shows the 10 seconds. Top right there is a big eye, which can show if the Alarm, Hourly Chime or the Mute function is activated or not. The large area under these "Graphic Area" and Eye is reserved for the time display. Because of the bigger case, there is also a bigger display. The digits are big and clearly readable. Although not a real bummer for me, the current time is not shown in the upper part in the Countdown Timer Mode and Stopwatch Mode.
The GD-400 comes with the new 3434 module. It may look like the old G-Lide models, this watch has quite an improved number of features. Most important is of course the Timekeeping Mode, that displays the day, date and time as usual in big clear digits. The GD-400 is prepared for those who are fond of traveling. The Time Keeping Mode has a quick reachable 4 programmable Time Zones (T-1 to T-4) called Time Screens. T-1 is the Home City. By selecting another Time Screen (for instance T-2) and pressing both the upper buttons together, changes the Time Zone of T-2 to become Home City (T-1). A pretty handy feature if you travel a lot. The Home City can be changed in the Time Setting mode, so you can by switching Home Cities program C-1 to C-4.

When leaving the Timekeeping Mode, by pressing the usual bottom left button, you enter the World Time Mode. The World Time Mode can show you the time in 48 cities in 31 time zones around the world. You need to apply DST/Summertime in these cities yourself. Since the watch is pre-programmed until 2099, it's of course impossible to know if DST switch dates change over the years and if they still apply in the future.
Next you will find the Alarms. There are 5 Alarms. There is no Snooze Alarm (which I actually never use), but you can program an Alarm as a Daily Alarm or as an 1-Time Alarm. That last feature actually looks very functional to me. After an 1-Time Alarm has gone off, it is immediately disabled. Pretty handy if you need an Alarm at an unusual time and don't want to be bothered at that time on other days (for instance very late or very early).
Further you find a 24 hour Countdown Timer and a 24 hour Stopwatch function on board. There is nothing real special on these features, but in my daily experience they the most used modes besides Time Keeping. The 24 hour range on both modes is in almost all cases more than sufficient.
There are some extra features on the GD-400 that are a nice extra. It has a Flash Alert. If toggled on, the LED backlight shortly flashes too. The Illumination of the display is standard set to 1.5 seconds, which, in my opinion is a bit short. No panic, it is possible to toggle between a 1.5 (L1) and 3 seconds (L3). Both the Flash Alarm as the Illumination duration can be toggled on and off in tone of the Time Keeping Setting screens. An other extra feature is the Mute function on the button sounds. Like on other G-Shock models with this feature, you can activate and deactivate the mute function by press and holding the lower left (MODE) button. If it is activated, the indicator in the "Eye" for MUTE will turn black. The eye can also show if the Alarm and if the Hourly Signal is activated.
The GD-400 is in my opinion a great model. Although there is obvious a similarity in it's case design of the older DW-003S and DW-9000S models of that '90s, it is a modern looking watch with a sturdy design.The Bull Bars look awesome. I think a lot of color and strap combinations are possible on this model. I pretty much hope this model will be a basic model in the G-Shock line for a long time. This model simply has potential to become a new classic and a good base for future G-Lide models, for all kind of board sports. I really would be happy if Casio in the future will launch not only a series Surf models,but also Skateboard and Snowboard models.
Kish.NL, the on-line shop I bought my GD-400 has also a physical shop in Oldenzaal. Unfortunately for my, completely on the other side of my country. 
The GD-400 appeared first in July 2014 in Japan and followed a month later in Europe and the rest of the world. The retail price of this watch is €109 in Europe,$110,- in the US and ¥14500 in Japan. In Europe we only get three versions of this model, black, greenish blue and this red model. There are also a green and a yellowish brown model. The last one looks actually pretty nice too, probably because brown is not a quite usual color for a G-Shock. I got mine from, originally a Dutch on-line wristwatch shop, but recently they opened a physical shop in Oldenzaal. Unfortunately it's a three hour drive to the north east end of my country, so I can't easily visit. I met the owner,Rogier, at Shock the World Amsterdam. He is really a great guy. I ordered my watch, via the chat function, two days for Christmas, and I got it just in time for Christmas Eve. A big thanks for the always friendly Kish crew!
I think I do not really have to say I love this watch, I think I already summed up in this article why I love this model so much. At least one new black model will be released soon and I hope many more will follow. Just a small hint to Casio. If you can "hear" me, I would love to see this model in a series of jellies!!! For now, enjoy my article and the photo's. See you next week!