Sunday, November 1, 2009

#45 Neon Lights

Today's subject on 50 Gs is the MTG-520M-4BJF Neon Illuminator. It has been waiting some time for an article on 50 Gs. In August my friend Jurphaas visited me. When I asked him, during our lunch at a brewery, which model of me he wanted to see in real, he answered that he would like to see, he answered that he would love to see my NEON Illuminator. Since we had a very busy schedule that day, I didn't have time to fish this watch outside my watch collection. I hope this article compensates this a little.

Neon lights
Shimmering neon lights
And at the fall of night
This city's made of light
With Neon Illumination I automatically think about one of my favorite bands Kraftwerk. On their album "Man Machine" there is a track called "Neon Lights". When I though including this song in this article, I found this version of U2, from which I forgot it existed too.
I'm normally not a big U2 fan. Not that I hate them, I just don't play their music. I actually like this cover of "Neon Lights". You can't really say the original is better, or the U2 version is better. The text and melodies are the same, but performed in two total different, but well balanced ways.
The name Neon Illuminator does sound flashy, but there is actually no neon light tubes in the watch.

The colors of neon lights tubes can also be formed by a fluorescent coating. A glass tube filled with Neon gives a red glow and with Argon gives a lavender glow when a high voltage is applied. However, when a drop of mercury is added in a tube containing an Argon or a Argon/Helium mixture, it will emit ultra-violet light. Fluorescent coatings can changes UV light into bright visible colors. A Similar phenomenon happens when the backlight of a Neon Illuminator is activated.
At the 3 and 9 position of the watch there are two small LEDs that emit a purple and UV-light. The white marks and drawings on the dial and the paint on the hands are fluorescent paints. When the UV-light of the LEDs falls on these paints, they light up in different colors, which must (and probably also do) remind you to neon lights.
Fluorescence is a pretty interesting phenomena. High energy light (smaller wavelength) shoots electrons of a fluorescent material to a higher orbital. When this "exited" electron falls back to it's ground state, it sent out energy in form of light of lower energy (longer wavelength). When the high energy light source is invisible UV light, it looks like the coatings emit light themselves. I think everyone knows the effect of blacklight in discotheques.
But how does it look on the dial of a ¥28000 watch. At first sight, it looks l
amazing. The colors seem to come out of nowhere. On the other hand, after a while, I think the use of different colors also make it look a bit toyish.
In the MT-G line only 7 Neon Illuminator models were released. The first 5 models (2x MTG-502, 1x MTG-512 and 2x MTG-520) were released September 2002. Two other MTG-520 models were released a month later, a blue dial version and this one. The blue dial version became a very common model and was also released in the US. While this model was sold for ¥28000 in Japan, stores like JC Penney and Wallmart were selling them for bottom prices in the US. I bought a blue version in a blister package for $60.-.
This maroon model however wasn't available for the US market. Although $150.- was a good price for this watch (compared to the suggested retail price in Japan), it was more than double the price you payed for the blue version. Well, I am not too fond of blue, so after some long searches I managed to get eventually two of these. If you don't tell along, I also have two blue version, because they do not look that bad. The plus on this one (besides the color) is the presence of numerals on the dial. Of course, I can read a clock without them, but I personally think it just looks better.
You might think such a watch may have a short battery life. The manual says that under normal conditions the battery will last at least 2 years. Well, my MTG-520M-4BF is still performing well on it's initial battery. Therefore I have never looked under the hood of t is watch. Normal G-Shocks use CR2016 batteries, but this model might be an exception. It's smaller than usual and analog models sometimes use different batteries.
All Neon Illuminators were in the MT-G line. MT-G stands for Metal Twisted G-Shock. This means that metal is used on the watch mixed with other materials. With "other materials" high quality resin is meant. Along with the Giez models, the MT-G models are the bit more exclusive models, where new materials and techniques are introduced.
The MTG-520 model is very streamlined. It's a good model that can be worn under long sleeves at the office. Of course I always prefer to work with short sleeves, so my watches stand out better, some people prefer to wear G-Shocks that are not thick. Though this MT-G model is not really slim compared with current G-Shocks, the rounded forms at the side give it a slimmer look. Cuffs should glide easily over this watch.
The way resin and metal are used is very practical. The parts that might have contact with hard or sharp edges are made of resin, protecting the metal parts of scratching. For instance, the ring around the crystal and the button protections are made of resin.

Also four bumpers, two near the case, the others between the first (fake-) links and the second, give the bracelet extra protection. These bumpers are in fact part of two wrist protectors at the back of the watch.
Pretty eye catching are the drop shaped buttons. They do not only follow the overall streamlined form, they somehow also give me a feel of velocity. The button protection give this even an extra accent.
Very unusual is the G-logo on top of the bezel. Normally we find G-SHOCK on the bezel and do we find the G-logo on the box, merchandise or the back of the watch. I can't remember seeing the G-logo on the front of a G-Shock.

The G-Shock name does appears on the dial however. The dial also shows an ECG line, which also lights up during the illumination.
Also the text ANTIMAG. 1 can be found on the dial. I thought this is somewhat strange. The movement of the watch is purely digital. The minute hand moves every 20 seconds 2°, hardly visible for the naked eye. Maybe strong (electro-)magnetic fields can disturb the quartz crystal, but I think it won't. I think, because every G-Shock can be used dive watch, Casio wants to follow the ISO 6425 divers' watch standard, though every G-Shock probably falls easily within the criteria. The accuracy has to stay within +/- 30 seconds per day. Even my worst Gs are within +/- 30 seconds per month!
So we have a nice looking watch with a Neon Illuminator here. So, what does this watch have more under the hood. Actually it's getting even better. For me, a G-Shock is complete when it has an hourly chime, a stopwatch and a 24 hour countdown timer. This model has even more functions.
First it has a new function, called e-Data. It can store 40 sets of data like internet access codes, e-mail, URL's, etc.

Furthermore there is the World Time function (27 cities, 29 timezones), not one, but 5 alarms, a 24 hour Countdowntimer and a 60 minute Stopwatch.
After you have scrolled through these functions you end up at the H-Set function. This is the Hand Set Function. If you press the adjust button, the time appears flashing and you can adjust the hands to the digital time.

Unfortunately you always have to adjust the hands manual when you change the digital time (for example with DST changes).
I think the MTG-520 is a pretty remarkable watch in the G-Shock line. It combines elegance, toughness and functionality without compromise in one watch. The blue version of this remarkable model was sold in pretty large quantities in the US. It was a somewhat popular model too back then. The maroon version has always been a rare item. After a search I discovered that this model is still for sale at a shop in Malaysia for MR702 ($210,-, €140.-). I haven't seen the blue model for a while, but I think if you look good, you'll find one for a more affordable price in the US.


Jurphaas said...

Ja Sjors, dit is 'em! Wat een leuke klok met die twee-kleurige verlichting.... of beter die twee- kleurige reflectie. Een ouder model maar om zo meer begeerenswaardig. En jij hebt er twee??? Ik zou er zo mijn GW-5000B voor geven...(? vraag, vraag, antwoord, antwoord??)
Bedankt voor deze 50 G's editie, dit is een hele leuke!
Overigens, m'n complimenten voor je "Barcelona Trilogie" op 't WUS! Top werk en foto's. Ik lees gewoon dat je je heel erg goed vermaaakt hebt. Dank je wel dat ons daaraan deel hebt laten nemen.
Groeten Jur, ennuh....ik hoor 't wel.

Unknown said...

Hoi Jurphaas,

Ik ben blij dat je van de Barcelona trilogy genoten hebt. Misschien volgt nog een vierde deel.

Een aardige suggestie voor een ruil, maar je kent me he? Het heeft me nogal was moeite gekost om deze exemplaren te pakken te krijgen. Ik blijk na nader onderzoek ook maar één exemplaar van dit model te hebben (ik heb waarschijnlijk geschreven dat ik er twee hee, maar helaas heb ik er maar één).

Ik heb nog steeds een kleinigheidje voor je (van de jongens van comando-G).



Unknown said...

FYI - the MTG520 uses a CR1616 battery. After 4 years of constant use, I just had to replace mine.