Sunday, May 2, 2010

#16 Middle Sea Race 1998

The “Stormvogel” of Cornelius Bruynzeel during the first Malta Middle Sea Race in 1968.
If you have a big collection with a wide variety of G-Shocks, it’s very hard to say which model is your favorite. When my collection was still overviewable, my favorite model was the Raysman. Big, solar and good looking. Still the Raysman is pretty much a favorite model.
I have seen the version featured today many times. I am probably known for skipping blue Gs, but there always was something special with this one. Probably because the blue accents matched very good with the white bezel and the complete appearance of the watch has quite a marine look.
It might be strange if you are born near the sea and have a father who worked on a shipyard, but I never had it with navel looks. I was telling Eva recently about my “Heinz” comics collection. I have all first releases, except one “Heinz Ahoy” with Heinz the cat dressed as a sailor man floating in a bucket with sails. I never bought that album. Guess which album sold out first and prices went sky high… If I had bought that comic, it would have been worth about 10 times more in about a year. Later I bought a later press of that album. It appeared to be one of the funniest of them all.
The Raysman featured today is the “Middle Sea Race Raysman”. Nowadays this race is sponsored by Rolex. Rolex might be a pretty well known expensive watch brand, but I think that this Raysman with a digital movement might be much more accurate than most Rolex watches.
The Middle Sea Race is an annual race with the start and finish before the harbor of Valetta, Malta. The 607 mile race goes around Sicily, Stromboli and several other small islands. It was first held in 1968. The race was founded by the Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club. It was the result of rivalry of Paul and John Ripard (both from Malta) and the Brit Jimmy White, all members of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. The fastest ship in 1968 was the “Stormvogel” of Cornelius Bruynzeel from the Netherlands. He set the course record on 146hrs, 9mins & 45secs.
In 2007 a large part of the fleet were blown out of the race during heavy storms. The Rambler (USA) however takes advantage of the strong winds and sets the current course record with 47hrs, 55mins & 3secs. Only 15 boats finish the race from the 65 starters.
According to Ted Turner (besides a good skipper also founder of CNN television station in 1980), the Malta Sea Race “must be the most beautiful race course in the world. What other event has an active volcano as a mark of the course?".
The DW-9350MSJ-2T Malta Middle Sea Race Raysman was released in June 1998. It is packed in a clear plastic G-Shock container. The two burgees of both clubs are printed on it (a burgee is the banner of a yacht club) and also the route of the race. A small sticker shows the EL Backlight. It is the trophy that is given to the winner of the race. It looks like a scale model of the fort Manoel on Manoel Island, where the Royal Malta Yacht Club had its residence until 2008. The new residence is at the nearby famous Ta'Xbeix marina, where the new clubhouse is about to be finished now.
The Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy and the winners of 2008 with the trophy. 
Photo's by Kurt Arrigo.
The Raysman itself is white and blue, classic marine colors. The straps have a textured resin insert. It looks like fabric, but it is actually stiff resin. Although these inserts are attached very well, after very long use the inserts can become loose from the rest of the watchband. Unfortunately it is very hard nowadays to find replacement bands.
The straps are attached to the case with four very long screws. I think this is a pretty good way to attach a strap to the case. The spring bars used on G-Shocks are very strong, but these strong straps must be attached even stronger to case.
On the straps the two burgees and the text “MIDDLE SEA RACE” are printed. It is highly probable that the winners of the race in October 1998,team Leo Pigier (Italy) with skipper Angelo Ursino, got these Raysman with the trophy.
Although the bezel looks like it is made out of two parts, it is one single mold. The Raysman is a Mud Resistant watch, which means the buttons are covered by the bezel. Back in 1998 the procedure to use different kinds of resin in one mold process was very unique. The bezel parts that are covering the buttons are made of a much softer material than the rest of the bezel. It works a bit like a membrane that keeps dirt out, but makes pushing the buttons possible. The procedure to make these kind of bezels was used for the first time already in 1985 on the DW-5500C-1. The DW-5500C-1 was actually a special landmark in G-Shock history. Instead of G-SHOCK, there was G-SHOCK II printed on the bezel. Casio advertized it as “Master of G” and it got the nickname “Mudman”. It was the first of a long range special utility G-Shocks. The Raysman line also is part of the “Master of G” line.
Although the button parts are softer than the other parts of the bezel, they are noticeably harder to push than on a regular G-Shock. Still it’s not very hard to use the buttons. When in 2006 Casio released a 2nd generation Mudman, the softer parts in the bezel were noticeably stiffer than on the classic Mud Resist models. The softer parts of the bezel were a bit the weakest part of the bezel. After long term and frequent use of the buttons, the membrane can tear open. I think this is improved on the new Mudman models, which result in a stiffer button operation.
I think the nicest detail on the watch can only be seen when the watch is taken off. On the back of the watch a detailed map of the course of the race is etched.
The Raysman was made in huge numbers, but that was over 10 years ago now. The common black DW-9300 (with blue RAYSMAN text in the display) and the yellow DW-9350 Yacht Timer model are probably the easiest to find models. Still I think this model comes in third place. I have seen this model for sale several times over the years. I bought this model from a friend of me in Chicago. It was in a batch of two watches, but I think I paid around $150.- for this one, which is a very good price. Expect a price around $200.- when hunting one of these in mint condition.


Jiggyseb said...

This is a fresh rays I will need one of them

Unknown said...

Hello Jiggyseb,

Thank you for your comment. It's indeed an interesting looking Rays. I have thought about getting one of these for a long time, but I am glad I have it in my collection now.

Kind regards,


JayJay said...

Wow, what a flawless example! My version is sadly discoloured but it is my favourite nevertheless!

dorkinaut23 said...

I just got the yellow one and after researching the 9350, I've decided that this one in your review here is the most desirable. I love the caseback and backlight graphics. You will definitely enjoy to continue having this in your collection, I'm sure!

ridhakaulan said...

I have one. Discoloured but function very well. Thinking of selling it on ebay.