Sunday, October 26, 2008

#42 Cetus

As probably most collectors, I started close at home. I bought my first G-Shocks at my local jewelry, later other shops too. Then the first on-line adds and auctions. When the Dutch auction website fused with eBay, I discovered Germany. That time every European country had it's own currency. Bank transfers were relative expensive. The best way to close the deal was to sent the money in a shielded envelope. A post card and aluminum foil worked as shield to hide the bank notes.
Luckily I had a friend who sold a lot of furniture and ornaments in Germany, so I could change German Marks (DM) pretty easily.
The last step was to hunt G-Shocks outside Europe. In the summer of 2001 there was a seller from Florida, selling G-Cools for unbelievable prices. They looked pretty different. White color was missing in my collection and the white leather straps made these models look very fashionable.
If I remember right, the prices were around $25.- each. Unbelievable. I had already a pretty much used stainless steel version that cost me around $65.-, which needed a new module, which also cost me around $50. So $25.- for these watches was unbelievable. The international shipping costs were also very friendly.
I contacted the seller, who was very friendly and cooperative. In those days there were two payment methods, Paypal and Bidpay. Both could be linked to your credit card. Unlike in the US it's not usual to pay with your credit card in Europe.
Although Paypal was the preferred method, Bidpay was for me a better option, because after setting up an acount, I could immediately use it. You can set-up an Paypal account also easily, but it takes sometimes a month to activate.
It was a plunge in the deep for me. Unbelievable. You could pay someone in a few button clicks. Still now transactions between Dutch banks can take one or two days.
Four days later the postman delivered the package. There it was, new in it's box. Smiling to it's new owner.
The watch is a GT-000. I noticed yesterday that it is not a watch that let itself being photographed easily. Reason therefore is that it's crystal is biconcave, so it reflects light from wide angles.
This GT-000BJ-7 was one of the first G-Cool models that were released in November 1996.
In Europe it was advertised as a fashion watch, that was designed for fashion catwalks in Milan. This model was called Cetus in Germany.
Cetus was a Greek mythological sea monster. Although it's almost comic appearance doesn't look like anything, Cephus is sometimes called a whale. Maybe Casio Germany had a whale in mind and gave the watch this name, instead of the most famous white whale. Who would ever buy a Moby Dick...
I don't think it was very popular. In the US and lately in Europe these G_Cools were sold in large quantities for dump prices.
I do not know exactly why. It might be the silver ring around the crystal. Casio did obviously not even try to let it look like metal. The plastic looks a bit cheap.
In Japan it was advertised as a stream lined G-Shock. The case is pretty slim and with all the rounded shapes, yo u have to admit that's true.
For the first time Casio used the two tone display. It looks very cool. Under poor light conditions the upper part is hard to read, but the most important information is displayed in the bottom display.
The GT-000 has a bit unique floating memory of 100 storage places. There is a telephone book and a schedule alarm function. You can use this memory for both functions. Every phone number or schedule alarm uses one storage place. Note that in 1996 mobile phones were not as common as they are now today. In fact, although I had a mobile phone since 1996, I still used the telephone book function of some telememo g's for some years.
The schedule alarm includes a text (maximal 11 characters) and a date and time. I think this amount of storage in a watch was a lot for a time when gigabytes were still unimaginable. and 100Mb hard drives had the size of a thick pocket book.
In my opinion, this is maybe not the most beautiful G-Shock, though it isn't ugly too. Actually I think it looks nice on my wrist. It's comfortable as well. Probably the white color might not be everyone's choice, but I was very happy with my first G-Shock I bought in an intercontinental transaction.
I just checked. The seller is still very active on eBay and has still a lot of Casio's for nice prices.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

#41 Orange Alert

Traditionally news of the release of a new Master of G leaks out pretty early. Casio announced this model already march 5th, 2008, with a release date of of June 28th. This time the release of the new Riseman was received with much different response in Japan and outside Japan. Actually I still don't know a Japanese collector who has this "most precise watch Casio has ever released" (quote according the Dutch science magazine "Kijk").
How much difference was the reaction of the members of the Watchuseek G-Shock forum. It seemed everyone was getting this watch and also the response was almost unanimously positive.
In may I contacted my friend Yamazaru-San in Japan. I learned to know Yamazaru-San 5 years ago under his legendary nickname "Risefreak". He was then already a highly respected Japanese collector. For collectors outside Japan he is probably best known for the photo of his complete DW-9100 Riseman collection.
Photo: Yamazaru-san a.k.a. Risefreak
Yamazaru-San is often the first one to report new G-Shock models. When a new retail catalog is released, he publishes photo's of them on his website. This time he was completely surprised. "A new Riseman, I haven't heard about that yet. I must go to my clock shop on Monday (I believe I sent him that e-mail on a Friday evening).
Monday I got a mail back. He showed me some snapshots of the new "Spring - Summer 2008 Collection".
Since we communicate via translation websites (Excite), you sometimes get strange results. I thought something went lost in translation in the last line. His message ended with "I like it, specially the orange one.
Orange? Something must have been wrong. There were red accents on the new Riseman, a big red button and a big red eye....
I posted a question on WUS. I was pretty busy that time and maybe I missed something. Funny enough I did a search on Google and found out pretty fast Casio was about to release an Orange series. And not just a new series. Casio did not only revive the "Master of G" series, they were about to revive one of their best returning theme series, the "Men in..." series.
Between 1998 and 2000 Casio released several "Men in...." series, starting with the "Men in Black" series (mostly referred as MIB). The new 2008 series were called "Men in Rescue Orange" (MIRO). Cool!
Somehow I always had a lot of contacts with the local lifeguard organizations, so I liked this name. Also is orange the national color of my country, The Netherlands.
Soon I found out this series were released at the end of September.
The whole summer I tried to put some money aside, which wasn't easy, but at the end of the summer holidays I filled in an order form at Higuchi inc. In the hope I was not too late. Luckily I could still order the set (beside the Riseman, the first series also contained a new GW-9010R Mudman Rally and a GW-9100R Gulfman.
Lately Michael of MSG-Distributors showed two additional models, a G-9000R Mudman and G-9100R Gulfman. I'm not sure when these two non-Atomic models will be released, but I like lo have this series complete. I hope the release of these will take a few months until the new non-Atomic models will be released. My computer system software crashed. If you read this, I probably have a new computer system, that cost me roughly three Atomic MIRO sets, so I have to save up some money again.
My experience is that if you order a complete set, the price is significant cheaper. The official price of this model is about 28000 yen. Mostly shops in Japan offer a discount of around 10%. If you buy this watch at Seiya-san or Higuchi-san, you might expect a price around retail price including international shipping. What would you do without these two great men from Japan.
The MIRO Riseman has the 3145 module. It is the Japanese module. This means it only displays ISO units. So if you read air pressure in in. Hg, temperature in °F and measure height in feet, this model is mot for you (if you are planning using it for outdoor activities), you would probably like the 3147 module more. This difference in Japanese and overseas models of sensor watches can also be found on it's predecessors, the DW-6700 and DW-9100.
Frankly I do not exactly understand why Casio makes two modules for basically the same model. It would be probably much cheaper to developed just one module for the home market and export. I won't Be surprised if the real difference between those models is a small piece of software.
You can recognize a Japanese market model on the back. The overseas model shows a dragon (see Vintage's article), while the home market model shows a flying squirrel.
I'm sure this model is not for everybody. The basic black model looks awesome too and black goes with everything.
I like this model very much. It was worth the long wait. I and am looking forward in having my GW-9010R and G-9100R too. With a little luck I'll be having those two at the end of the week.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

# 40 Smokey Sunset

Today's article is a bit different. First I didn't take the pictures,except for the EL-backlight, the fruit basket and wrist shots. Second, because I got this watch actually by mistake. One of my pupils recently bought the successor of my camera, the Canon D450. She has the past 6 years shown much interest in my watch- and T-Shirt collection. Escha has asked me for photography tips several times, so I asked her to do the photo's for this article with my camera. It took two sessions to make photo's I could use. Most photo's of the first session were not sharp at the right places. A bit my fault too, because I use many personal settings. I think she did a good job for a beginner. The Smokey Sunset, as this DW-9005V-8AV is called in Germany is a European only model. As it is both present in my 1999 "Tough Stuff" and my 2002 catalog, it was sold for a pretty long period. Although it is a basic model, you might consider it a part of a series of three. There were also a navy (-2V, Heavenly High) and a black (-8BV, Cosmoxer) model.
When I bought my first G-Shock, I did not had internet. Also the new science wing of the school I worked did not have a network connection. Between lessons I descended into the building foundation and made network connections for the whole wing.
Of course I went looking for G-Shocks. I found an on-line jeweler that was located in Breda. The opening page showed several G-Shocks. The most eye catching was a dark model, with a negative display. "That's the one I want" I thought. I saved up money for this watch for about two, three months.
When I finally had the money together, I called the store (it must have been December 2000). A friendly man answered the phone. Yes, they did sell G-Shocks, but the one with the negative display? That one was sold ages ago. It was only a promotional stock photo, to show what they were selling.
Bummer. Luckily I found this watch at Megatime in Germany. I never learned proper German, but with a dictionary and my instinct, I managed to buy this watch. If I'm correct it was DM180,- for the watch and DM25.- shipping. A total of €102,50 does unfortunately nowadays not sound very expensive, but it was a lot of money those days.
Finally it arrived about a week later. It looked nice, but the watch was navy blue... Not quite my favorite color. I always thought the watch I saw was black.
Soon I found out there was a black variant. It was called "Cosmoxer". I discovered eBay Germany, and soon I found this dream watch. I also was amazed about the prices. There were hardly G-Shocks over DM 100,- (€50,-). I think I payed around DM 75,- for a brand new "Cosmoxer". Since an international bank transfer took about 4 days, it was a long, long wait. Finally, about two weeks later, my grail package arrived.
I was very excited. My dream watch. Finally. The box was sealed pretty well, but after some careful cutting I got at the black G-Shock box. Inside this box was the well known hexagonal G-Shock nut-box. So I opened the box and what did I find.
Something completely different from what I expected actually. In stead of a black G, this was creamy white. It did not look bad at all and frankly I wasn't disappointed at all. Actually it took years before I bought my first Cosmoxer.
The "Smokey Sunset" is a kind of special DW-9000 model. All DW-90XX models (for XX read 05, 50 or 52) share the same case. The DW-9000 case is characterized by the protected buttons and the four metal decoration pins around the display.
The functions on the DW-9005V are the basic alarm functions, a stopwatch and a countdown timer. The display is divided in three parts and an eye. The middle part animates the seconds, while the eye shows the 10 seconds. These animations are comparable in function as the seconds hand on an analog watch.
The negative display looks very cool. Actually it is not difficult to realize this kind of display. Therefore you need to know a bit how an LCD display works.
Liquid Crystal (often a kind of cholesterol derivate) has the ability to turn polarize light. When an electric potential is applied, the crystal will turn polarized light by 90 degrees (with certain thickness and potential). Now the polarized light cannot pass through the polarizing film again, which we see as a black. If a pattern is made of liquid crystals with very thin electrodes, you get digits. Under these digits there is a reflective layer (often a kind of green or grey) to make these digits clearly visible.
If the polarized filter is turned 90 degrees, light will not pass the filter in ground state. If now a potential is applied, light passes the digit. We now can see the back reflector, which is more or less white, hence the white digits on a negative display.
Negative displays look very cool, but are a bit harder to read under an angle. While normal digits stick out above the reflective layer, a negative display is more or less a black layer with small holes (digits) in it. Only light that passes these digits reach the back reflector, while on a normal display all light fall on the reflector except where the digits are.
This model has a double Velcro watchband. The under band is pretty thin and not elastic. Still this watch wears very comfortable. Because of the cream color and the black display, this is quite a nice looker on a sunny day.