Sunday, July 19, 2009

#32 Mission Impossible 2½: "The Solar 6900"

I think I never did hide my love for the DW-6900 model. In June 2009 Casio released a successor of this very popular model, the GW-6900.
Like with the introduction of the DW-6900 in March 1995, several models are released. Together with the basic model, a black model with bracelet and negative display was released. This month a bright yellow and a white model follows.
Although I tend to cut my G-Shock expenses for about a year, I'm planning to buy a yellow GW-6900. I think it is a worthy successor of the DW-6900H "Taxidriver".
The announcement of the GW-6900 came right after the announcement of the GW-5000. Since I was a "bit" shocked by the price of the GW-5000, I was afraid that the price of the GW-6900 would be very high. Fortunately the GW-6900 did not get the expensive stainless steel case with the screwback like the GW-5000. With a suggested retail price of 20000 yen($212, €150, £130), this is a pretty normal price for a Tough Solar Atomic watch.
I got mine from Tiktox. At the moment they sell it for £95.-. From what I understand, it's pretty normal the shop prices in Japan are about 33% lower than the suggested prices. I wish this was normal in Europe too, in The Netherlands we often pay full retail price. Therefore I think Tiktox offers a pretty good price for European standards.
Keith of Tiktox let me know that he will receive another batch in September and he will try to get them for maybe even a better price. It's good to have a good European source, since the custom costs (at least here in the Netherlands) are pretty high.
Yesterday I received a gift, declared worth ¥10000 ( €75), custom duties and tax €35,24 which is almost 50%. And don't let me begin about the 10 days(!) delay on an EMS package. Viva la bureaucracy!
Enough grumbling...back to topic. The classic DW-6900 was featured in the movie "Mission Impossible 2" (a.k.a. MI:2). I saw this movie in the cinema in 2000, not knowing I was going to be a little G-Shock collector. I thought Ethan Hunt's watch was pretty cool, though I had no idea I was looking at a mocked up DW-6900.
Later, when I was starting my website G-Peopleland, I started searching for information. On a small Japanese personal website (probably long gone, unfortunately) I found the nickname "Triple Eyed Devil" for the DW-6900 (all models, not only the basic model). I started using this term too, assuming it was a general nickname. Probably the collector who invented this name will always remain anonymous, but I think it's a great name for this model.
I also found that the basic DW-6900 was nicknamed "Mission Impossible 2". I lend the DVD from my friend "Bleephead" and observed the close-up screen shots. It's a pity the movie makers mocked up the original display to add a "Transponder Tracking Device", but still the G-Shock is impressive. I recently heard MI:4 is about to hit the Cinema's. Wouldn't it be great if Ethan Hunt would wear a GW-6900?
The DW-6900 was released 9 months after another classic, the DW-6600. The DW-6600 was the first G-Shock introduced in Europe (read Germany) in 1994. This is the reason why you in the past could find auctions on eBay Germany referring the 6600 as "Die Ersten G-Shock" (the first G-Shock). First I thought this was a mistake by the sellers, but later I found out that before 1994 G-Shock were not sold in Europe.
In the beginning both the 6600 and 6900 model were used for special and limited edition models. Later the DW-6900 (together with the DW-5600) became the most popular model for these purposes.
The GW-6900 is too short on the market to know if it will success the DW-6900 for special editions. The release of the yellow and white model this month might indicate so, but I think the DW-6900 will still remain an important model.
A limitation for using the GW-6900 for special models is it's Waveceptor technology. While large parts of the world are covered now for the atomic time signal, also large parts of the world are excluded, like South America, Arabia and Australia.
I think that eventually some JP or US limited editions will follow, but most emissions will be the classic DW-6900. Maybe, like with the MIRO models, there might be a non-Atomic overseas release of a JP-only Atomic release. Well, a month after the release of the GW-6900 it's still guessing game.
As being basic, the classic DW-6900 has the perfect basic functions. Just an alarm function (can be set to a date!), a 24 hour Stopwatch and a 24 hour Countdown Timer. The Countdown Timer (CDT) function was improved compared to the DW-6600, which has only a 60 minute CDT.
Of course the functions on the GW-6900 are improved. Obviously the watch now has a 6-Band Waveceptor function. As all modern Waveceptor models are Tough Solar and the World Time function is inevitable with a 6 band atomic signal receiver you might consider this basic on this model.
The Alarm function is expanded to 5 alarms (including a snooze alarm). The possibility to program to certain dates has gone. Frankly I've never used that function.
I am not curious, but what's all that beeping about?
The Countdown Timer and Stopwatch function are of course still present. It's a pity the current time is not more shown in these modes. Instead of the current time, in the CDT mode the programmed time is shown, while in STW mode the hours are shown in the upper right part of the display.
The eyes of the GW-6900 have different functions than the DW-6900. While the big right eye now counts the seconds (was indicating the 10 seconds), the left eye shows the battery notifications (levels, Power Save and Charge). The middle eye shows the status of the Alarm functions (Alarm, Snooze, hourly chime, Mute) and the Full Auto Illuminator function. In some models DST is also indicated in one of these eyes, but Casio choose to show DST in the main display, where the old model shows that the 24h system is displayed.
The designers of Casio have fitted the solar cells beautifully in the display. Earlier Casio released models with 3 eyes, that, in my honest opinion, did not look as good as the Triple Eyed Devil. The three eyed version of the GW-300 and GW-500 (2003) did actually not even look like the DW-6900, because the big eye is on the wrong side and the cases are different. Also the G-7210 (2004) did not look as good, though similarities in the case were present. The metallic ring around the display and the smaller eyes made this model not look as good as the DW-6900.
Resuming all this together, I think Casio did a terrific job in making the GW-6900 a worthy successor. One can always debate if things could have be done different, to make it better, but overall I think Casio made the right choices (except of displaying the programmed CDT instead of the current time) to make this a great looking and functioning watch.
This model is only short on the market, so I can't say anything about the price development. If it hits the US market, it might become significant cheaper than in Japan. At a certain moment the GW-5525A was sold for less than $80.- in some shops, while the retail price actually was ¥22500 ($225). I do not expect such spectacular price drops, but if in the US the GW-6900 will be widely available for between $80,- and $100,-, this could become a very popular basic model.
If I'm correct the European release is in September. I do not expect it to be cheap. A standard DW-6900 costs still €80.- in the shops, while Waveceptor models are about €150.-.


Seamaster said...

Brilliant review and photography, Sjors, as usual. I have one of these on order from Tiktox myself. It will be my first 6900 variant. In the past, I have not been drawn to this model due to the spurious three "eyes". Now that these actually display something meaningful, I have decided to add one to my collection. There's no arguing against the 6900 being a quintessential, classic, G-SHOCK model, and this looks to be a worthy updating of the original. I look forward to getting it!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the review Sjors!

I have plan to purchase it on next year, but is the non-atomic version, the G-6900-1.

Hopefully, this model will release as limited edition same as it's brother, the DW-6900.

For functions, it's same with the GW-5600 & the GW-9010 Mudman. Just minus the rally timer & recall mode of the Mudman, the function is all the same.



Albe said...

Hi Sjors,
Great review and fine photography.

I've seen you've got the new green frogman. That one looks really great! A watch for sunny days on the beach.

Cheerios !

Jurphaas said...

Hi Sjors, I just returned from a week on the road. I heard that I missed yout call, sorry about that but I will contact you soon.
Nice watch and review! Great stuff myou come up with time and time again! Now when you start ranting about custom fees and customs customer service, you open a can of worms..!
I had my i-range 300 delivered also 12 days late and I too was presented a hefty invoice on custom fees. To my opinion it is pure at random harassment.
SAtill, enjoy your wach and I always enjoy your News collum and your blogs.

SkyForce6 said...

Great shoots, as usual!

I am also curios to see if this will become a popular limited edition model!

Regarding G-Shocks in europe. I do not know for the rest of Europe but I do know that here in Sweden. G-Shocks have been available already from the very beginning during the 1980's. I have been interested in them since about 1992 and back then there was several models to choose from.

So perhaps it was only in Germany that they where introduced in 1994.

Unknown said...

Hi Guys,

Thank you all for your positive comments.

Seamaster, I hope you enjoy your GW-6900. It has quite some different looks than the 5600 models, but I love it.

Chow, I heard for the first time of the G-6900 in your comment.

Albe, Well, I just posted an article about the "Kermit" yesterday evening. It is indeed a great looking summer watch.

Hi Jurphaas,

I got your e-mail. I hope to see you soon. I will contact you later this week

Hi Joakim,

Did my package already arrive? Thanks for clearing up about the G-Shock availability in the past. I already started to write a next article for Augustus 2nd. I will rectify my earlier comment that the introduction for Europe was in 1994 (with name).



Maine said...

Looks fabulous. You've really made me want one :-)

In the pictures, the GW looks to have a more matt / non-reflective resin than the DW. Is that the case? I prefer matt,which is good if so.

Unknown said...

yeah the case is a matte black color and i just got mine from KOHL'S here in the US for about $43.00 USD which includes sales tax. i got lucky with the price using my discounts.
im waiting for the reverse display model to also drop in price to about $75.00 USD and im planning to upgrade the and to a BEEFY PVC with the strap adaptors.
ive been using my dw6900 street arts model which has the reverse display and is a made in japan version and its been on the job with me as a cop on and off for the last 10 years and SJORS is right a lot of cops and firemen and paramedics i work with use the dw6900 and dw5600. They are true classics.

Taku said...

can i use the G - 6900 for daily swimming for around 1 to 2 hours of continuous water contact.

Unknown said...

Hi Taku,

I do not think that is a problem. It seems you are a real water sports man :-) As you are in the water so much, I would try to limit the button operations under water. Although there are double gaskets around the metal pushers, maybe water may slip through it if you use these buttons too much.