Sunday, August 10, 2008

G-Shock #31: The first Heaven Controller in Europe.

Somewhere in the beginning 2002 I discovered the Antman. At that time an unreachable G-Shock, unfortunately. I had this great idea. I was dreaming about a G-Shock that combined the looks and features of the Raysman and Antman. At a day at school I wrote a contact form to Casio Europe.
In that contact form I complained there was no Antman for Europe (it is restricted to one transmitter Japan only). I suggested if that it would be great if there was an Antman released that was Tough Solar, like the Raysman.
I actually didn't expect a serious answer back, but I soon got a reply. The consumer service wrote me Casio Europe was very enthusiastic and very interested in my idea. They thought it was a great idea and they had sent my suggestion to the head office of Casio in Tokyo. Too bad my old computer crashed, so I actually don't have that e-mail anymore, but I think you can understand how proud I was.
For a long time, nothing happened. Than, in November 2002, Casio presented a now revolutionary model. It was the first watch that combined Tough Solar with Waveceptor technology. Cool I thought, until I saw the model. I wanted a BIG watch, like the Antman. This was not what I had in mind. Proudly Casio presented the GW-300 as the synergy of the Raysman and Antman in an advertisement. Unfortunately for me, the technology of miniaturization was improved and a G-Shock of a "normal" size could hold gadgetry. This was not the only deception. The big plus was that it could receive 3 transmitters, the down side was, the three transmitters were in Japan and the US.
Soon the watch became available for the US market. That sounds logical. It could also receive the US transmitter in Fort Collins, Colorado. The prices dropped dramatically. A little bit like what you now see on some of the 25th anniversary models at the JC Penney stores. In Japan the retail price was 24000 yen. ( $200.-/€180.-), in the US you could buy them for around $65.-.

Since 2001 I often bought G-Shocks from a jeweler in Germany. I had good contact with the shop owner in Augsburg. I even had his private cell phone number and could call him any time. Sometimes he asked me if I was looking for something. When the GW-300 was released in the US, I had asked him several times if he knew something about a similar model for Europe.
March 2003 I got a phone call from him. Very unusual, but he had great news. He had been to a big watches convention and got his hands on the first GW-300 "Heaven Controller" for the European market. Well, that was the good part. It was not really cheap. The suggested retail price was €130.-. I paid €110.- shipped to the Netherlands, double the price of an US version. In exchange I would be the very first owner of a GW-300 in Europe.
I still do not know what to think about this watch. I was expecting a huge watch. On the other hand, the red accents are great. I'm not sure what to think about the silver ring. I am a real resin lover and a tough shock resist watch does not have to bling for me. Also the watch missed the one of the best functions besides timekeeping. There is no countdown timer on board. Instead Casio invented a Time Stamp. You can memorize time and date by holding the TIME MEMO button for some seconds, but without description I don't think this is a strong feature.
For the rest, this watch has world time, a stopwatch and 5 alarms (one is a snooze) on board. So the watch is pretty basic, but you always have the correct time. I live around 500 km from the Mainflingen transmitter and never had problems with receiving the signal.

This model unfortunately is also known for it's high failure rate. I have three GW-300's and all three have had the "Recovery Blues". Somehow a batch of faulty Panasonic CLT1616 were placed in this model. After a period (which can take up to 3 years) these batteries work perfect. Suddenly, without warning it fails. Often when the EL light is turned on. From battery level HIGH, suddenly the recovery triangle blinks in the screen. After a while it shows HIGH again, but when using the light or even without anything, it goes into recovery state again. A battery change of around €14.- (and a week waiting for the battery) solves this problem. Casio had reported that there was a bad nbatch of CLT1616's. Now the Panasonic CLT1616 battery is even improved according Casio.
It seems that NASA has bought a batch GW-300. Many NASA astronauts have been seen wearing a GW-300 while diving to practice for their forth coming missions. Above you see Nicole Stott wearing a GW-300 after a dive session in 2006 (PHOTO CREDIT: NASA or National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Does my perception of this watch changed? I wore it today, while I made a large bicycle trip over some former islands of Zeeland. Over the years the Waveceptor function is found on many models. The GW-300 seems even a bit a forgotten model. It isn't very popular anymore, apparently due to the Recovery Blues. I must say that the watch has a nice sporty look. It doesn't even look small on my wrist anymore. I guess it's because I wear a lot of smaller G's these day's, not only classic Master of G's. Yes, I might even write that I like it's look actually cool. Ideal for a day cycling.

1 comment:

vqa said...

I like this watch for a few reasons:
- it is not big and not small
- digits are big enough to see the time under any conditions.
- only valuable information is displayed on the main screen. (no circles etc)