Sunday, August 30, 2009

#38 Funky Hopping Planets

This is the "Planet Hopper", full model number G-3011F-1VER. It's part of the series watches Casio released around February 2002, equipped with a Duplex display. The G-3011 was also available with a metal ring around the display. I think I rather like the whole resin bezel model.
This Duplex display makes it actually a cool watch. Different combinations of red and black liquid crystal can be chosen.
Although the design makes the watch look smaller than it is, the display is unusual big display. While from top to bottom the display is divided in three parts. The digits are significant bigger than most regular G-Shocks.
One good reason it was possible to use big digits is the fact that the seconds have moved to a second line in the middle part.
The day and date are clearly shown in the upper part of the display. Also here larger digits are used.
Most eye catching is the big oval eye. The crystal is curved above it and works as a magnifying glass. The eye is divided in 12 parts, each for every 5 seconds. If the eye is filled, the parts disappear one by one every 5 seconds, resulting in a 2 minute cyclus. A dotted line at the bottom shows the seconds.
A nice accent to this watch is the red light button. The button is well protected by two raised structures on both sides of the button. The raised ring in the bezel around the display protects the display. I pretty much like this structure on G-Shock. Before I owned a G-Shock my watches showed the marks of collisions with walls and door knobs pretty soon after purchase. In the past 9 years I have only managed to scratch a G-Shock display once and it was not even easy to achieve that. In this case my watch probably saved me for a deep cut in my wrist while installing school lockers.
The bezel, straps and back protector are streamlined integrated into each other. It's a quite difficult operation to change a battery on this kind of G-Shock, so I hope it will not be needed for a while.

Actually I never bought the watch after it was officially released, though I had looked at it at the shop displays often.
Several times I was on the point of buying the G-3011B-1V model. I believe that model has a separate strap run through strap adapters. The black resin strap with bright red stripe is very eye catching. That model is sold in Japan as the G-3011-1JR.
As these 3011's were sold for around €89.- I never got on buying one, considering the B version was only sold in Germany (at least, I could only find it there).
Quite some years ago I was able to get a blue/yellow version with a metal ring around the display (Moon Stepper). I am not sure anymore, but I believe I bought that one Canada for scratch.
For a basic model this G-3011 has good features on board, besides time keeping. First of all there is a Telememo on board. You can store up to 30 names and telephone numbers. Well, with almost everyone having a mobile phone now, with much easier data input, it's more a geeky function, but it's cool to have it. Furter ore the watch has 5 alarms (one as snooze alarm), a stopwatch function and a 24 hour countdown timer.
The last function is dual time. You can set a second time with 30 minutes intervals from the main time. It's probably handy when traveling, but the Worldtime function as found nowadays on a lot of G-Shocks are better. On the other side, when using dual time, you don't have to worry about summertime/daylight saving time.
I actually got this G-Shock, together with another G, in an unusual trade. My part of the trade is classified, but before you think strange things of me, just think T-Shirts, etc and 50 Gs article..
The former owner is Flexofiel, who also wrote a guest article last year on 50 Gs. He wrote me if I was missing this model I my collection, which was the case
Well, I must say I'm quite happy with the deal. The watch forms great to my wrist and with the back protector it's very comfortable. It's a pretty huge model, which makes the case look somewhat small. The huge digits are good readable, even if you choose the red digits. I haven't paid attention to recent prices, but I saw two versions with metal rings for sale on the WatchUSeek sales forum in April for friendly prices (US only). I set the watch on red digits now and I think it will stay on my wrist for quite a while.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

#37 Jam'in Muddy Waters

Probably the most remarkable come-back in the G-Shock line was the release of the G-5500 in 2006. The DW-5500 from 1985 was the first G-shock model that broke with the standard basic square design. The case was wider and with the text G-Shock II written on the bezel, Casio suggests G-Shock entered a new era. The DW-5500 was nicknamed "Mudman" and was part of a new group of models: "Master of G".
Well, the suggestion was a bit premature, in 1987 Casio prolonged the classic G-Shock design with the DW-5600C. Finally in 1989 Casio came with other designs.
I always was attracted to the DW-5500C. Since this model is very rare and almost always has damaged bezels (no button covers), I had to do it with photo's.
You can imagine I was pretty excited Casio came with a new 5500 in June 2006. The first G-5500 had the same color scheme as the DW-5500C, black case, red buttons. Also the first new Mudman (G-9000) tributes the DW-5500C with this color scheme.
In October 2006 this model, G-5500MC-5JF was released. It was part of the 2nd "Jam'in Color" series. Besides this G-5500, there was an other G-5500 and two G-9000 Mudman models.
The coolest thing of the "Jam'in Color" series is the fact there are no two watches the same. During the production process two color of resin meet in the mold. This results in a somewhat camouflage pattern. The colors create a new composition every time, like jamming musicians.
The colors used in this jam are pretty unusual. There are not many brown G-Shocks. I think it's a good combo. Since the G-5500 has a Mud Resist construction, this model looks like a mud camo model. About two years ago I made a photo with this watch in an undeep mud pool. It indeed blended great with the background. Since it rained a lot a two weeks ago (when I made these photo's), I tried to make similar photo's, but unfortunately there was not much mud left and the only place I could create my mud pool was used as toilet by local dogs.
The case of this watch looks pretty tough. The raised protective rim of the bezel is pretty high, higher than a basic square model.
The covered buttons are probably the most eye catching feature on this watch. These covers are the secret of the mud resist structure. These covers look like the buttons itself, but are softer compound resin that are molded into the bezel. This process, found on all mud resist models, is actually pretty special. It's not easy to process two different resins on different places into one mold.
The buttons on a mud resist model are usually harder to push, though the buttons on the G-5500 are relative not very stiff compared with the g-9000 Mudman. On the other hand, what's the problem with stiff buttons. G-Shock owners are no sissies. I hope that these stiffer buttons also mean a longer life than the old ones. Almost all photo's I have seen of the old DW-5500C missed the red buttons.
The solar panels are prominent present around the gold tone display. The lay-out of the display is like the classic squares. The small rectangle above right shows the date or day in time mode and the mode name in other modes. A pity for those who like to see time in every mode.
So what modes does this model have. First of all, and the most important function, time keeping. In nice bold digits it shows time. You can toggle between the day of the week and date by push the adjust button.
A nice surprise is the worldtime mode. With 48 city codes, there is always a timezone matching yours.
5 alarm (one is a snooze alarm) and a hourly chime. I rarely use the alarm functions. I only use the hourly chime.
Of course there are also a countdown timer and a stopwatch. The down side is that they are both have a maximum of 60 minutes. I rather would have seen 24 hour versions. The countdown timer is only programmable in whole minutes and does not have a repeat.
The display is very clear and good readable, even at dim light conditions. If it is too dark to read, you can also use the clear greenish backlight. The duration of the EL backlight can be set 1.5 and 3 seconds. I must confess that 1.5 seconds is very short to read time and 3 seconds is more than enough.
Well, the short timers is not a reason to leave this watch at home. The watch looks pretty special and the wide strap (with double buckle ) is very comfortable. I think I paid around $90, which is a reasonable price for a Tough Solar model.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

#36 Bacon & eggs and a GW-5000B

Last Sunday I got a visit of my G-Shock friend Jurphaas and his wife. Jurphaas lives in Leiden (also a beautiful city with a lot of history), 175 km from Middelburg. He has seen a lot of photo's of where I live on my Japanese blog, so he and his wife wanted to a round trip.
Such a visit has of course it's advantages. I knew Jur had ordered the stealthy GW-5000B-1JR at Seiya-san. To fund this watch he sold some watches. The retail price of this model is ¥43000, about €320.- at the current rate (lets not calculate in US$ to prevent heart attacks), so it's not cheap.
I bought two of his watches and put one on hold for after the summer holidays. I don't know what it is with this overdose of free time, but money seems to flow everywhere, so that last one have to wait a little.
Since I had also a present for Jur (guess what, I think it shows time and can be worn on the wrist), it was also convenient to meet in person. It saves some shipping cost (I'm teasing Jur, he brought a lot of presents for the whole family, but forgot the watches).
After some coffee, cake and a battery change on a MR-G (after telling that all classic MR-G's have a CR2016 battery we found, of course, a CR1620 battery...) we went to a restaurant with a micro brewery for lunch. Not only for lunch of course, though I enjoyed my bacon and eggs and Jur sandwich with traditional beef sausage looked very delicious too.
I already spotted Jur's new toy. He got his GW-5000B just in time. So after a good and tasty lunch Jur and I found a nice spot for a photo shoot of his new treasure. Today's G is this time not a G from my own collection.
The resin parts on the GW-5000B are deep black. It does hardly reflect light, at least significant less than "ordinary" black G's.
Also the strap feels a bit rubberish. It's extreme flexible and very comfortable to wear. Touch the rubber and you immediately want to strap it on. It reminds me to the original straps of the first DW-5X00C models, though this strap is thicker and seems pretty tough.
Pretty eye catching is the negative display. From a distance this black watch with a black display looks impressive. And that's not all.
When taken off you notice the shining black screwback. No, this not just ordinary coating. This is DLC coating.
DLC stands for Diamond-like Carbon. Like the name says, it is a carbon crystal structure that looks a like diamond. Very hard and durable. Normally carbon is sp2 bond, with both double and single bonds. It has a 2-D structure, in other words, it's flat. This explains the use of graphite as lubricant or as most important ingredient of pencil fillings. The sp2 carbon structures (only one carbon atom, = 70 pm, thick!) slide along the other structures with low friction.
Graphite, you can clearly see the 2-D structure. Copyright: The IN-VSEE Project; Arizona State University 1999
Under high pressure and special conditions you can force carbon atoms to form sp3 bonds. This results in a tetrahedral 3-D crystal structure, which does not only look like diamond, but also has the same hardness. A coating of a few nanometers thick already reduces scratch and wear dramatically.
The tetrahedral structure of sp3 carbon. Copyright: The IN-VSEE Project; Arizona State University 1999
This coating makes the watch very durable, matching the aim of Casio for a green character. I would not be surprised if the new resin used is also more durable than the current resin.
The resin used on the old DW-5X00C models tend to decompose when about 15 to 20 years worn. UV-radiation, moisture and sweat seem to be the main enemy of old bezels. Breaking vintage bezels seem to be the horror dream for the G-Shock collector. Dozens of mails I have found in my inbox over the years of owners of mainly DW-5300, DW-5900 and DW-6100 models. All with questions where to find a new bezel, because theirs broke. Sorry, I wish I knew a source for these long unavailable watch parts.
Back to the watch. So, at first you notice the black screwback, but a closer look reveals that the case is also DLC-coated. Even the buttons and buckle have this coating. This makes me look with respect at this watch. Such a basic design, so much high-tech and details on board.
The screwback is beautifully engraved. I think it's a kind of laser edged, or maybe it's the result of the DLC procedure. When observed closely, you see some kind of circular patterns in the edged letters. On the bottom there is a kind of serial number. Unfortunately the serial number can't be read as the conventional serial number as fond on the first DW-5X00C models and the Frogman models.
Although some people complain about negative displays, Jur thought this model was too cool to let go. I know Jur good enough to know he loves the basic square Gs. For this model skeptics talking about less readable negative displays prove wrong.
This display has very sharp digits, not only when viewed under a normal angle, but also under extreme angles. In fact, I think the viewing angle of this particular model does not differ from a traditional LCD display.
Jur told me how he always was intrigued by the fact that the basic square models are used for new innovations. This model is no exception. A tough solar module with 6 band receiver was been introduced in bigger models, but the combination of DLC coating and the extreme comfortable straps make this watch a small technical wonder.
For who is interested in the GW-5000, but just don't have the ¥43000, there is also a basic version with a normal display. This version also has the DLC coated case and screwback and the comfortable straps. This model has a retail price of ¥38000 (€280.-).
The functions on the watch are the same as the recently released GW-6900. Unfortunately there is no English manual for the 3159 module yet.
The GW-5000B is not a cheap watch. This 6th generation of the original G-Shock is considered the Flagship of the G-Shock line at the moment. All new innovations made on this watch has it's price. It cost almost 4 times the price of it's grand-grand-grand-grandfather, which was ¥11800 in 1983. Probably hard to compare with today prices. I guess that was also a lot of money at that time.
Considering this all I think, like Jur does, this watch is worth the money. If you think it isn't, you can always buy a cheaper model. A DW-5600E can be found under $50.- if you do some search. Same dimensions, but though totally different.
This is not the actually EL backlight of the GW-5000B. It is a mock-up of a G-5600. The EL backlight of the GW-8000 has a beautiful greenish EL backlight with very sharp digits.

The images used from IN-VSEE were allowed to be used for non-commercial use as long as the copyright of the pictures were notified. More inof: IN-VSEE, Arizona.