Sunday, November 29, 2009

#49 G-Lide GLX-5500

When I was introduced to the vintage G-Shock classics, most models did not much to me. No wonder, I was pretty new to the subject and gotten into G-Shocks by the bigger 90's models.
Still one vintage G got my attention in my early collecting days. The DW-5500C (August 1985). Already at release this model was a milestone.
Casio named it G-Shock II. It was nicknamed "Mudman" and it was also the first model of the "Master of G" line.
I didn't knew these details back then, but I very much liked the bigger case and the red covered buttons. In fact, this must have also been the first colorful G-Shock. Ahead of it's time.
I was pretty happy when I found out the G-5500 was about to be released in 2006. Now various Atomic and non-Atomic 5500 variations were released. In May 2009 Casio released a completely other 5500 version, the GLX-5500.
The GLX-5500 is part of the G-Lide series. In adverts Casio showed that they aim this model for surfers and other water sporters.
The watch has the same 3151 module as found on the GLX-5600. The first thing you'll notice on the watch is the Tidegraph. The Tidegraph is a kind of sinus wave grid with vertical bars. A block of black liquid crystals shows the current tide, if the Tidegraph is programmed correctly, of course.For the correct display of the tide, you'll need to know your longitude and the Lunitidal Interval. It's a pity Casio does not produce G-shocks which you can program with both longitude and latitude. With these two parameters you can calculate also sunrise ans sunset.
Above the low tide part of the Tidegraph, there is a circular grid cut out, again with vertical bars. This circle represents the moon and it displays it's phase.
Under the Tidegraph part there is a normal display that shows time, day and date. At the bottom there is a small line for markers. Here you can see if your alarms, hourly chime, auto EL, etc are toggled on or off.
An additional function is shown in that line too, the Mute function. You can toggle Mute on and off by pushing the "MODE" button for about three seconds. In normal mode there are beeps, when changing from one mode to the other. In Mute mode, the watch stays silent when the MODE button is pushed. If alarms and/or hourly chime are programmed or a Countdown timer ends, beeps are still heard.
Very cool is the ring around the display. At first look the ring looks a bit maroon to dark purple. When more light falls on it, the ring turns to a lighter shade of purple.
Like the GLS-5600V models there is a pattern etched into this ring, so light is reflected different every time you move. Quite an eye-catcher.
The resin used on the bezel and straps have a glossy finish. Only the buttons covers are matte. It accentuates the fact that these covers are made of a softer kind of resin.
On the DW-5500C the button covers were the weakest point. Far the most of these that were for sale (pretty rare occasions) had missing button covers on the bezel. Knowing Casio is always looking for new technology, I guess that the button covers of the new 5500's will be made of a new, stronger and longer lasting resin.
Besides the series name G-Lide, there is also an exotic print on the strap. It looks like a kind of stystic Hawaiian flower design. When strapped on, you immediately feel how comfortable the wider strap is. The 5500's have been out of sight for 21 years, but I ho e they are back for good.
The EL backlight is beautiful, clear and bright. Standard the EL stays on for 1.5 seconds. You can set the EL time (Casio calls this "Afterglow") to 3 seconds.
The prominent appearance of the Tidegraph clearly shows this is an ultimate watch for the extreme water sporter. Although it's black, the glossy finish, the reflecting maroon/purple ring around the display and the exotic flower print makes this a flashy watch for a surfing daredevil.
I am not a surfer or practicing water sports, but I like the looks very much. In some of the photo's the ring around the display might remind you to the Crazy Colors series, but in real this ring is much more subtile.
This model is still available. I got mine from a Singapore seller. I'm not sure what I paid for it, but it would have been around €50.- or so. In my opinion almost a steal.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

#48: A simple swap, to add more sunshine.

It’s getting cold in the Netherlands. The days are also getting shorter. A stormy wind of 7 Bft and a gray sky doesn’t make it look better at daytime. It has it’s advantages. This morning I rode almost 40 km/h to school, while I barely had to touch my pedals. Only too bad I had to return home sometime…
Good thing I have a watch to be the highlight of the day. It’s the GW-6900 again, but now I have switched the bezel and straps from my G-6900A-9ER.
I did look for a GW-6900A-9 actually, but the prices are a bit too steep for me at the moment. Strangely the best prices at the moment are in Europe. On eBay the cheapest yellow Atomic GW-6900A is €128.- shipped within Europe. For a Waveceptor model in Europe, that’s a good price.
I already had a G-6900A. I think I bought it for around €60.- in Singapore or Hong Kong (recently bought a 2nd). Tiktox has, at the moment, probably the most interesting price for the basic GW-6900 (£73.44 - €83.-) in Europe (I prefer to buy within the EEC, because I don’t have to pay extra VAT upon arrival). I very much liked the yellow color of the G-6900A, but I like the Waveceptor function too. I bought a little bit too many G-Shocks recently, so a swap was inevitable.
Taking off the bezels was not to hard, but swapping the straps was more difficult. Actually I also liked the bezel only swap. Black and yellow seem to be an attractive combination. Pretty common in daily life on things that want to be noticed: taxi’s, smileys, wasps.
I suspect that the holes in both case-lugs are a fraction different, but eventually, after some strong words, the push pins fell in the holes. Luckily I have a good pushpin tool.
I think the result of the swapping was looking good. It was not hard to imagine how both models would look like. The biggest difference is the text MULTIBAND 6 on the GW-6900 and the text SHOCK RESIST on the G-6900. Also the buttons are different. The originally GW-6900 is actually a pretty much stealth model. That means a plain black light button with a black G. The G-6900 had a great black light button with a white G.
Well, these light buttons are still on the same case. It’s possible to swap the light buttons, but that means that I have to open the cases and to peel out the circlips holding the buttons, peel them out and swap them. It’s not an easy job to get the circlips back on the place. I think there is too much risk for me to perform this action. I work with a lot of water on the labs. It would be a pity if I learned the hard way that the watches lost their water resistance. I am already pretty happy with this result.
The red text on the GW-6900 does not look bad with the yellow bezel. The blue text on the G-6900 match good too. Actually my old basic black DW-6900 has the same color scheme. The solar panel is very dark. It makes a nice hard contrast with the bezel. I like that.
The past week the watch is like glued on my wrist. Even worse. Also the modded G-6900 has got a lot of wrist time. Not my left wrist, it’s going everywhere on my right arm. I have adjusted time about a week ago. It’s about half a second fast, which means it will gain about 2 – 3 seconds a month. I think that’s pretty accurate. I guess it will be hard to beat this €60.- G-Shock with a mechanical watch.While I have these watches around, you might get curious. Same case, same looks, a lot of functions in common. How about the display. The GW-6900 shows that it has received the atomic signal by the text RCVD above the seconds. Apart from that, both displays look exactly the same.If you perform a screen test (push button right and both left buttons at the same time) with both the GW-6900 and the G-6900, you’ll notice the RCVD text does not appear on both models. Strangely I noticed a text blinking for a fraction of a second while returning to the basic timekeeping mode on the G-6900. While holding the watch under an extreme angle, I noticed that the RCVD text is included in the G-6900 display. So Casio uses the same display for both models. I assume that the modules are pretty different.
Probably I will move along to a next favorite G-Shock, but this one will stay probably high on my popularity list. Just one look at the wrist and I feel happy for the rest of the day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Intermezzo #17: Button Recession

I got several messages and e-mails of people asking if one of their buttons on their G-Shock was broken or defective in the past years. A fast look in a box of Gs learned me that some models have them, some don't.
Did you have had a digital watch before you got into G-Shock? Didn't it happen to you that your watch was suddenly in adjust mode, because you accidentally bumped the adjust button onto something.
Actually the buttons on G-Shock's are at first protected by the bezel. The chance of hitting the adjust button is often even more reduced, because it is recessed into the bezel. This feature is even found on the older models.
Also the basic DW-6900 has a recessed adjust button. I noticed the G(W)-6900 models do not have a recessed button. So are you not protected against accidental adjusting time because something hit the adjust button. No, you don't have to worry. The adjust button on the DW-6900 goes into adjust mode immediately when it is pushed, while you have th push the adjust button three seconds on the G(W)-6900 before it goes into adjust mode.
So, what;s the verdict. Is waiting the three seconds worth it. I think it actually is. The fact that the button is recessed, it also means it is harder to push, specially if you have large fingers. I don't think I have exceptional big or long fingers, but I always have to figure out how to place my fingers to find the button. Nope, for me the three seconds waiting probably saves more time. And bumping into something for longer than 3 seconds? Well, that never happened to me yet...
This article topic was inspired by James. Thanks!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

#47 G-Men: Purple Reign

In 2007 Casio started preparing for the 25th Anniversary of G-Shock. As we know now, Casio packed out grand and collaborated with a lot of designers and artists. One of the nicest products came from the collaboration with “play set products”. Shiro Nakano, part of their design team, designed G-Shock animated figures, called G-Men. The G-Men appeared not only animated, also action figures were made.
With a lot of envy G-Shock collectors worldwide saw how a limited supply of these figures were used in Japanese shop displays to promote G-Shocks in shops. Somehow it always seemed impossible to get hold to one of these.
Not only small shop display versions were made. At the “Shock the World Tour 2009” parties people could pose with a very big DW-6900 G-Man. This G-Man is awesome!
Finally in September 2009 it was possible to get one of these G-Man. A limited editions G-Shock package was released.
There was also a limited edition Baby-G with a sturdy looking G-Woman figure was released.
The models number DW-6900SW-6JR (and DW-6900SW-ER for the European market) didn’t ring a bell at first, but at the party you could see these sets were called “Shock The World Limited”.
Although these limited edition packages are available on the Japanese and overseas market, I think most were given away in press packages for journalists at the European “Shock The World Parties”. I must investigate if my writing for “50 Gs” is journalist worthy, so I can get a press card…
I met a nice journalist actually. She ripped open the package she got in her press package and strapped on her Baby-G. So I asked her what she was going to do with the little figure. “You want it?” she asked. “Sure”. So I now own both figures. Cool!
The DW-6900SW-6JR looks like a special version of the purple DW-6900CC-6JF Crazy Colors model. At first glimpse they look alike, but when you look closer, you see small differences. The light button on the G-Man Package model is gold metallic, while the DW-6900CC-6JF has a purple light button with a white G. The buttons and buckle of the G-Man model are gold tone, while the crazy colors version has silver buttons and buckle.
Also the back engraving is totally different. Instead of a standard DW-6900 back, the DW-6900SW has the head of a G-Man engraved.
I wish I could make a comparison of the Crazy Colors and G-Man Package model side to side. I almost bought this model at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. I could have bought it for €87.- at a tax free shop.I thought this was a little much, but after some investigations, I noticed the purple model Crazy Colors model is not easy to find and it is quite more expensive than the first Crazy Colors DW-6900’s. Finally, after a long search, I found one for around €68.- in Singapore. Most ones I found were actually about the same price as on the airport.
If you ask me which of the two looks best, I’m afraid I can’t give you an answer. The gold metal button looks pretty good, but I think the purple button with a white G matches better with this model. The gold metal button doesn’t look that bad either…
By the way, for G-Shock connoisseurs, the airport shop also had a 1997 MRG-210 (with dead battery), for €330.-. This sounds pretty expensive, but it was about the original retail price back then.
The package is presented in a plastic display box. My experience with these boxes is not very good. I had a nice presentation box for my “Pegasus and Unicorn” Lovers Collection 1997. After opening the box about two times, the plastic tore open. This box feels a bit more solid, but I think it was meant to be disposable. With that in mind, I was pretty anxious to get the watch out of the box for a photo shoot. Actually I made several great photo’s at the party in Barcelona, but, of course, I needed more.
This is not the first DW-6900 on 50 Gs, and certainly not the last, so I can be short on the functions of the watch. It has an alarm with hourly chime, a 24 hour timer and a 24 hour stopwatch on board. Pretty basic, but in daily life just need, besides time keeping.
Among the Crazy Colors models with mostly very bright shouting colors, the purple model looks almost a bit introvert. While purple might be considered not everyone’s color, it does look pretty decent on this model. The resin has a glossy metallic finish, which actually looks like a print. The inside of the band is plain purple.
The display has the same mirror effect as that is found on the Crazy Color DW-6900 models. The display is fuchsia, while the digits vary from black to almost white, depending how light falls on the LCD.The backlight is bright magenta. You’ll get noticed if you use this backlight in the dark. Not everyone would like this, but I think it’s very cool.
At the moment the G-Man package is still available in Japan and East Asia. I have no idea if the package was officially released in Europe, though –6ER versions are on auction on eBay. I suspect the availability will dry our soon. When I ordered mine in Japan, Katsu Higuchi-san told me this package was limited to one box per retailer. At the back of my DW-6900SW-6 there is stamp showing mine is number 2021 of 5000 pieces.
The original retail price was ¥16000 (€120 , $178). For a special model, I think the package was not very expensive. Recently I saw the G-Man figure on auction for a starting price of €33.-. with retail price for the purple Crazy Colors is here in the Netherlands around €90.-. If you now take a look at eBay, you see that the price has risen from $200.- to $260.-.
So it worth buying it? Well, if you are a G-Shock collector, I would say yes. I have waited a long time to get hold of one of those G-Men. This is one of those models you want in your collection. If you just want to have a cool deep purple G-Shock, you could save yourself a lot of money by buying a purple DW-6900CC Crazy Colors. The gold metal light button is funky, but I think a resin button looks better on a DW-6900. I couldn’t choose actually. I bought a DW-6900CC-6ER a week ago. It should arrive any day now…