Sunday, May 31, 2009

#25 My Precious Heart

Often I take photo's before I write for 50Gs. So did I for this article. It's more than a week ago. That night I was finishing the DW-5200C article (G #22), but suddenly I had inspiration for the next (I didn't know I would write the MIB article in between yet). Well, somehow the story went 180 degrees in the opposite direction. All the beach photo's I made ended up in the recycle bin. They were great, cheerful and colorful, but somehow did not match the story. Next morning (Sunday a week ago) I made a new series of photo's. I thought this was a long article, but I didn't realize I made 97 photo's. well, that's a great pool to choose from. Here's an article coming to you, straight from my heart...
Normally I do not give much about gold. My mother gave me a gold necklace from Indonesia, which is great (I should wear it more often), but except for some plugs in my studio, I don't own precious metals. The gold chain has a small Chinese pendant. It brings luck and good health when worn close to your heart.
This Precious Heart selection 2006 model caught my eye as soon as it was announced on the Japanese G-Shock website.
As soon as they were on the market I ordered one. When I opened the box it was love at first sight. From a Precious Heart to my weak wooden heart.
This G-Shock is not an expensive model, so as soon as I had some spare money, I ordered a second one from a friend of me in Singapore.One of the nicest photo's I made were for one of my first posts on my Japanese weblog "G-Shock Sjors". It was raining, pretty hard actually. My old neighbors had a black car, so I lend the roof for this photo. A weeping Precious Heart.

I recently read a very good book ("A Man and his Bicycle") with cycling columns, by Wilfried de Jong (sports journalist, television host and theater maker). One of the most catching stories is about the "Tour of Flanders" that passes a small town called "Munkzwalm". If you think "those people in the Netherlands and Flanders create pretty weird names" you can take it from me. Munkzwalm is also a very strange name for Dutch people.
This small village has about three houses and a bar. Once a year Munkzwalm is the center of the (cycling) world. People gather from all over Belgium, France and the Netherlands in the small bar, waiting for the cyclists to pass through the village. For about two hours the bar is crowded.
People, who haven't seen each other for a year talk and drink a beer together. They have all a good time. In the background the television plays the cycle course. Suddenly, the peloton is near. Everyone goes outside. Waving, cheering to the pedaling heroes. Some with flags with the name of their hero. In less than 20 seconds the train of titans pass. The peloton doesn't wait for no one. A few cyclists can't keep up the murdering tempo and pass Munkzwalm one or two minutes later as the village slowly gets deserted. Soon Munkzwalm will be only three houses and a bar again. At the end of the street is a little chapel. The little statue of Maria shows a little tear in her left eye. It rolls over her Sacre Coeur.
(After reading this story I never will forget this little village. Maybe I even will try to visit this village, as I also once saw the mysterious island Filfla through a plane window, after reading a book by Boudewijn Buch. "The Man and his Bicycle" opens with a story about the author climbing the Mont Ventoux, where in the mysterious misty forest he meets the legendary Tommy Simpson (1937 - 1967). I think my heart skipped a beat.

Tour de France 1951. The rider in the maillot jaune, Wim van Est (1923 - 2003), dives during the descent 50 meter from a cliff on the Col d' Aubisque. Legendary commercial slogans of his sponsor after this incident: "50 meters I fell, my heart stopped beating. It was my Pontiac that kept pace"(translated from Dutch) and "His heart briefly stopped beating, but his Pontiac kept ticking".
Where am I... Oh yeah Precious Heart. I must be day dreaming, which is pretty much impossible now. It's over 1:00 am, I'm lying in bed, listening to Minimum- Maximum by Kraftwerk on my iPod. "I program my home computer - Beam myself into the Future". My Pacemaker for this article.
The Precious Heart Selection series were introduced in 2002. The series got successes in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. The models are or stainless steel models or white resin with gold accents. I hope Casio prolongs this series in the future.
The main idea after this series is that you give it to someone who is very precious to you. Else then the Lovers Collection, a Precious Heart can also be given to a good friend. I didn't buy this watch with this intention. I simply fell in love with it.
The 2006 models were both DW-6900XLV models. This is the white/gold model, the other model has black lettering, a black G button and a negative display. Personally I find the white and black a little too much contrasting, though the gold digits look very good.
The straps and bezel are pretty unique. The bezel translucent, but with a matte finish. The case is visible through the resin. These clear bezels are sometimes called "Skeleton models", though I think a mechanic watch enthusiast thinks about different watches with this name. The straps are pretty unique. These are composed with two white translucent resins with different light densities, brought together during the molding. This gives a marmer effect. A similar technique is used with the straps of the Jam'in Color series.
Well, the functions of the DW-6900 and it's 1289 module are very basic. Alarm, Stopwatch and a Countdown Timer (24 hr). Actually the basic needs for sporty persons. The coolest feature is the very clear green backlight.
You might have noticed the little "star icon" above the seconds in the display. It shows the Flash function is toggled on. It can be toggled on and of by pressing the bottom right button for 2 seconds. As the Flash function is toggled on, the EL will flash shortly when an alarm sounds.

I paid around $80 for my Precious Hearts and I think it's worth all the money. The DW-6900/DW-069 models have always been my favorite basic models, but the very clear gold display, marmered straps and green EL backlight add a lot of extra zest.
This article is dedicated to philosopher and cyclist Pedro Horillo ("It's only a few thousands of a second. Still enough time to think about why you are falling, how you will touch ground, where your fall will end and how you will stand up"). I wish him a speedy recovery.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

#24 Here come the Men In Black, They won't let you remember...

Who haven't seen the movie. I had the Video, but our video broke down years ago. I gave my video movies away over a year ago. Men in Black. Galaxy Defenders.
Casio was probably inspired by the movie. While the movie came out in July 1997, the Men In Black series were released in 1997. The Men In series was born. A second Men In Black series followed, but the first series always had my most interest.
The Men In... series are series of Master of G models. Master of G models are G-Shocks designed for special purposes. The model names end with man. For instance this Riseman.
The Riseman is equipped with a thermometer, barometer and altimeter. So it's designed for mountain climbing and other mountain sports, where it's handy to know your altitude.
The MIB Riseman is a JP only model. This means it has the 1664 module, that only shows altitude in meters, pressure in hPa and temperature in ºC. So keep this in mind if you go hunting for this model and you are not familiar with ISO units.
For a long time I wanted a Men In Black model in my collection. A very long time. Probably when I heard the name for the first time. Actually I missed an eBay auction pretty cheap, not knowing what watch this was. I believe someone outbid me on a German auction and won with €41.-. That was a long time ago.
Every two years there is a "Rescue Vlissingen" organized in Flushing (Vlissingen). All kind of rescue organisations demonstrate what they can. Enormous firetrucks, lots of rescue helicopters, army trucks, jet fighters, ambulances, CSI units, red cross, defibrillators. You name it, it's there.
This event draws a lot of people. Half the Boulevard of Flushing (about 2 kilometer) is crowded with ten thousands of visitors.
So in 2006 I was walking up the Boulevard. I was looking to some demonstrations on the beach. When I looked to the other side, I noticed a G-Shock. Not just a G-Shock. It was a Riseman. Out in the wild. No time to pull my camera. I tried to reach the man, but he was walking away from me. I saw it clear. It had white lettering. This was a Men In Black model!
Well, it all happened in two three seconds. The man, probably a German tourist, vanished in the crowd, but I had seen a MIB model in the wild, and it looked so good!
Luckily I was able to find one on the WatchUSeek sales forum about two weeks ago. Saturday I finally got it. Probably my holiest grail (the watch I wanted most). So I present proudly here, my MIB Riseman. A big THANK YOU goes to KIWI DJ (a.k.a. Fast Dave). By the way. I also bought his Men In Black DW-8400Z-1T Mudman. One grail remains. I hope I ever find the only analog Mudman, the AW-570Z-1T.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

#23 Don't give away your darlings

Most photos in this article were taken at the "Steaming to the History" festival, during a steam train ride, in a newly restorated coupé.
I pretty much can get attached to things, specially my Gs. Even when I have bought a G for family or friends, it's hard to give away. The loss is of course less when you already have one or more of that model. My brother Paul for instance has a great DW-069USV "Street Arts".No problem, I already had 2. Nope, I had more problems to part with the G-2300 Viper I bought as a birthday present for the son of one of my superior colleagues. Parting with the EQW-M1000DB was also not easy, and it wasn't even a G.
For the photo competition, that I and Adan (G-Stock, Hablemos de Relojes) organize, I bought a new DW-6900-1V. It is still in it's unopened box. Don't ask me why, but after all these years I somehow still have no proper DW-6900-1 (the one I have is beaten up so much, I barely dare to wear it).
Things get worse if it's your daily beater, or when your watch has a special story. So what's up with this DW-5200C, released by Casio June 1984.
About two years ago I bought a batch of watches from my friend Neil (G-Shock Nation) in Chicago. Regular readers of my weblog probably already know that he's a pretty good source for G-Shocks for me.
Neil is a Chemistry teacher, I'm a Technical Educational Assistant Chemistry, a kind of practical help for students and teachers on the laboratories. That creates a bond.
For years Neil had worn his DW-5200C as daily beater. In summer he makes some extra money with painting houses. Collecting G-Shocks is an expensive hobby ;-)
As a surprise gift Neil included his (July 1984) DW-5200C in the batch of Gs I bought. He knew I had ways to get a fresh battery, new straps and bezel.
When I got the watch I was actually in doubt. Should I leave the watch as I got it, or should I restore with bezel and straps. The watch looked actually great with all the splashes of paint on it. Still I was afraid the bezel would fall apart in a few years, so I decided to install a new bezel and straps. I must say I was amazed. There were some minor scratches, but under certain views it looked like new. I kept the old bezel and straps apart in a plastic bag. You'll never know.
Of course I examined the watch. The most surprising feature I found on this watch was the half hourly chime. A pretty cool and unique feature of the 240 module. Also I discovered the 12 hour countdown time (actually 11 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, 0:00:00 does not start). A bit odd, since I read in an article the 240 module has a 60 minute countdown timer.
About a year later I got a mail from Neil. He missed his dear old friend. That was not hard to imagine. He had a proposal for me. He would try to find another DW-5200C for me and I would sent him his friend.
Of course I could imagine how he felt. Freely quoting a famous (90 year old) Dutch guitar legend: "He, who can give a G-Shock a favor, has a friend for life" (sorry, it doesn't rhyme in English).
A hard decision, but Neil has become a great overseas friend over the years. Friends should be reunited. For me another DW-5200C would be as great as his, specially when given by the same good friend. He found me a slightly younger DW-5200C, produced March 1985. So we traded, a 5200 for a 5200.