Sunday, September 26, 2010

#38 G-Shock Heritage: G-5500

In August 1985 Casio released probably one of the most sought after classic G-Shock. The DW-5500C-1, released as G-Shock II and also known the “Mudman”. At release this model was presented as a new generation G-Shocks, which will be known as the “Master of G”.
The main novelty on this watch was that it was “Maddorejisuto” or “Mud Resist” as we call it. A funny thing is that the pronunciation of Mud in Japanese (and actually for Dutch people too) sounds like Mad. Therefore the Mudman is often advertized as Madman and is it Mad Resist in Japan (hence Maddorejisuto).
Vintage Casio and G-Shock collectors are willing to pay huge amounts for an old DW-5500C-1. This model had been produced for a short while and not many survived time. If you find one now, the red soft parts of the bezel that protect the buttons are probably broken off, or worse, the whole bezel has crumbled. I can only remember one time a mint DW-5500 was sold. It looked like it came directly from a museum. Probably the watch switched owner for an amount of around $1500.- or more.
Timelines seem to be an important thing in Japanese culture. About every G-Shock magazine I have show somewhere a timeline where is indicated where which key model fits in the G-Shock family tree. The DW-5500C-1 is always at the start of the “Master of G” line. Still, after the Frogman was released, the DW-5500C had not been seen in the “Master of G” line-ups. The DW-5500C-1 became a forgotten model. In the past I had told a lot of G-Shock collectors I liked the DW-5500C, but with my job, I simply can’t afford such an expensive model.
In June 2006 there were rumors under Japanese G-Shock collectors about the 5500 line being revived. In September 2006 it became true. And how. The G-5500 looked very much like its predecessor, but is updated with more modern features like a 24 hour timer (was 12 hours!), more alarms, World Time and, most important, Tough Solar energy source.
I pre-ordered this model at Higuchi-inc. Since there is sometimes misunderstanding with the term pre-ordering, maybe I should say, I ordered the watch before it was released so I have it as fast as possible. Three days after the official release in Japan the G-5500-1JF mine was delivered at the door.
The color scheme (black bezel with red button covers) used for this first G-5500 model, referring back to the old DW-5500C. Maybe not for everyone, but I pretty much like this touch of color. Actually the first new generation Mudman also referred to this color scheme with the G-9000-1JF. Recently also the GXW-56-1AJF was released with red buttons.
Although you can categorize the G-5500 between the basic square models, like the DW-5600E, it is quite some bigger. The reason for this is the button covering bezel. First applied on the DW-5500C, the bezel is mold out of two different resin compounds. The parts that cover the bezel are made of a softer compound than the rest of the bezel. Back in 1985 this fabrication process was unique.
The Mud Resistant structure gives the 5500 a very special look. The case looks wider. A wider strap gives the watch a smooth look and the double closure buckle gives you the feel it is a tough watch. The strap is very comfortable, probably because it is wider than most other G-Shock straps.
In February 2007 Casio also released an Waveceptor version. It seems that besides the 5600 and 6900 models, the 5500 models found a place between the classics. I would be the last person to say I would not be happy with that. The G-5500-1JF is hard to find nowadays, but at the moment many color variations can be found worldwide. Let’s hope the 5500 bloodline will keep existing in the future G-Shock line-ups.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Intermezzo #29 Timestamp

"A timestamp is a sequence of characters, denoting the date and/or time at which a certain event occurred. A timestamp is the time at which an event is recorded by a computer, not the time of the event itself. In many cases, the difference may be inconsequential: the time at which an event is recorded by a timestamp (e.g., entered into a log file) should be very, very close to the time of the occurrence of the event recorded." (Wikipedia)
When was it I heard this song for the first time?
In 2002 Casio came in Japan with the First Tough Solar Waveceptor model, the GW-300. Soon a new generation of these watches followed, like the MTG-920D, MTG-930D, GW-700, etc. Although there were many different models and versions, they all had the basically functions. One of the new functions on these models that appeared was the “Time Memo” function.
I think this is one of the strangest functions that could be found on a watch. So what does the Time Memo function do. When you press the upper right button (you can’t miss, it’s marked with “Time Memo”). At that moment the time and date are stored into a memory. The memory of the watch can store up to 30 “Timestamps”.
It sounds good, this Time Memo function, but what can you do with it? For myself, I didn’t had any idea when I got my first. The Time Memo also replaced my so loved Count Down Timer function. When you work on a lab, a countdown timer is a very useful instrument when working on several experiments. The alarm at the end of the Count Down time is pretty essential. The Time Memo doesn’t give a signal. It is just a number, a date and a time. After about 8 years, I still didn’t have a use for this function, though I have read several suggestions over the years.
What to think about: Record the time you start and end working, or when you go to work and get home, start sporting and stop, etc. Hmm, nice, but the watch got a 24h stopwatch. You don’t have to calculate the elapsed time and also, you don’t have to remember what number your Timestamp has.
Somehow the Timestamp does make me think of hospital series like ER. The birth or death of a human being is often recorded. I remember when Bram was born, the doctor said, please write on the documents 10 minutes before 11 (10:50 a.m.). When you see someone die in a hospital in a television show, the doctor always says “Time of death, ….” Or in forensic series they always talk about “Estimated Time of Death”. Right, maybe that are good occasions to use a Timestamp, but be honest, unless you are a doctor with a high birth or death rate, how often will you use this function?
 Some of my Tough Solar Waveceptor models that have the "Time Memo" function.
Over the years, members on the G-Shock forum came with some ideas for the Time Memo Function. Freediver told once he used it to record the time he gave his children medication when they were seriously ill. There had to be a certain time span between the medications, to prevent medication poisoning. A good idea, but why not use the 24 hour Stopwatch, unless you want to record more than one “Timestamp”.
The most funny use for the “Timestamp“ came from Leewmeister. This is the text he posted on the G-Shock forum: “My '86 Toyota Tercel wagon clicked over 210,000 miles this morning at 08:04:11 AM!  My last legitimate use for the timestamp was on 06 May 2005 at 12:32:55 PM when she made 200,000 miles”. Well, I can’t argue with that. That’s a useful function. The use of the Timestamp is good for rare occasions, like these.
Just over a month ago Mickeymoto posted a very clever use for the Timestamp. “I listen to the radio often and I use the timestamp feature on occasion to mark the time I heard a new song I liked so later I could check the playlist and find out what it was.” That’s a real useful idea. I often listen to the radio station called Studio Brussel. This radio station is known worldwide for it’s music. They often play music that can’t be heard anywhere else or months before other radio station pick up the music. Studio Brussel also have an on-line playlists. Using Shazam is not an option. The music is sometimes so new, it has not even distributed on any source yet. I think this is the only real good use I have seen for the Time Memo function (although, I still like Leewmeisters idea too) up to date. In fact, Mikeymoto’s post inspired me to make this small article. Do you think you have a good use for a “Timestamp? Well, share it with us by writing a comment on this article. Meanwhile, enjoy G!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Intermezzo #28: G-Shock naming.

I’ve been for a few days in the beautiful Loire valley in France. Since I have almost no internet connection, I have a lot of free time to write an intermezzo article that I planned quite some time ago. Every once in a while we see names for certain G-Shock models on the G-Shock forum, My G-Shock and here on 50 Gs. Where do they come from?
DW-5200C a.k.a. "Hero"
I think one of the oldest G-Shock names is “Speed”. The “Speed” model is the basic DW-5600C-1. It was, pretty obvious, named after the movie with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. There also was a green classic DW-5600. It was called “Hero”, because it was worn by a character by the same name in a Japanese movie. Also the DW-5200C got the name “Hero”, but for another reason. The DW-5000C and the WW-5100C were not very popular when they were released. It was said that the DW-5200 would be the last of the G-Shock range if the sales would not increase. Probably thanks to the famous “Ice hockey” commercial, the sales of the DW-5200C was booming.
The DW-5200C saved the Casio’s G-Shock line and so it deserves the name “Hero”.
DW-5600C a.k.a. "Speed".
The origin of the name “Hero” and “Speed” come from the land of G-Shock, Japan. G-Shock has been popular in Japan probably since the 90’s. As long as I had access to internet, there were already many G-Shock platforms in Japan.
G-Shockers, as Japanese G-Shock collectors call themselves, did came up with another name. “Gundam”. The classic “Gundam” is the, somewhat robotic, DW-6400. With some imagination you can indeed see the head of a Gundam robot in the face of the watch. In Japan, also the DW-8300 “Heavy Metal” is also called “Gundam”. I actually didn’t know that, until recently my friend FUMI from Utsonomya told me this. I’m not sure, but probably also the “Techno” models might be called “Gundam” by Japanese G-Shockers. The “Techno Models”are the DW-81XX models, on the XX can be filled in numbers, like 10, 20, 50, 95, etc. Although the models numbers are different, the basic case. Like the DW-6400 and DW-8300, they have a bezel that consist of a square big metal cover with big resin bumpers on it.
DW-6400, a.k.a. "Gundam"
While explaining the name “Gundam”, two other names come up. As far as I know the term “Techno models” are not official too. It is unclear to me where this name came from. It could been from Japan (most obvious), but it could have been one of the first names given to the watch by European or US G-Shockers.
Then there is the “Heavy Metal”. That name is actually an official name for the DW-8300-1V. Since G-Shock was introduced in Europe (if I’m correct in 1994), Casio had a tradition to give all G-Shocks a name. And not only G-Shocks. At least all Protrek, SeaPathfinder and Baby-G models got names. I wish I had a database with all G-Shock names. These names were mainly used in Germany, but I have seen them used in the Netherlands also occasionally. I never saw those names in Belgium though, so I think the names were primarily used in Germany.
The DW-8300 a.k.a. "Heavy Metal". In Japan also considered a "Gundam" model.
The DW-8300 was widely available worldwide and I think quite many of them were sold. They were actually not very popular in Japan. The watch was simply too oversized. Most Japanese people have very small wrists, compared with the wrists of Europeans and US citizens. These huge watches looked in Japan more like toys on your wrist, than a serious tough watch. The DW-8300 “Heavy Metal” was also worn in the US television series “Stargate”, so the watch is sometimes also referred as the DW-8300 “stargate”. I didn’t watch that show often. I rather liked watching the Star Trek series, so for me the DW-8300 stays “Heavy metal”. With the big metal cover, I think it’s quite a appropriate name and it is also an official name by Casio.
DW-8150. The DW-81XX models are called "Techno models".
Recently Casio Europe stopped with name giving. Maybe the inspiration went dry. There have been hundreds of models that have been given a name. Actually I found it always cool to see those names, so I am a bit disappointed that it stopped.
The website of a German  on-line store.
Sometimes the German nicknames can be very confusing. It is not handy to give named G-Shock models also a name. I think nobody knows what I m talking about when I mention the Gridstone, Sky Tramp, Clasher or Conspirator. It would be easier to talk about the Riseman (DW-9100) or the Gaussman (AW-571).
"Sky Tramp"
 "Red & Bad" (it's actually orange...)
"Planet Hopper"
"Ocean Outlaw"
Personally I try to limit the use of German names to only a few models. The only name that come into my mind are the “Cosmoxer” and “Heavenly High”. Probably because it were two models I wanted very much after I had bought my first G-Shock in 2000.
Images of the German 1999 catalog "Tough Stuff"
Personally I prefer not to use too many names, besides the model numbers. It is fun that some special models have a nick name. Recently I think two names can be added on the list.
From left to right: "Cosmoxer", "Smokey Sunset" and "Heavenly High".
First there is the DW-6900CC-1 of the Crazy Colors series. Because of the poisonous green color used with shiny black resin, someone called the watch “Zombie Slayer”. It came pretty fast adapted on the G-Shock forum and it seems to be a general name for this model now. I think somehow it is both a suiting as a funny name.
This version of the Crazy Colors series is also known as "Zombie Slayer". This is actually a special version, made for Mountain Dew.
The second new name is from very recent origin and comes from Casio. The GX-56 models were called “The King of G-Shock”, referring to its size. This means that the GXW-56, with the same case and bezel, must be referred to “The King of G-Shock” too. This name is too long for normal use, so the name will probably be shortened by G-Shockers as “The King”. I think that is already usual to use this name.
GWX-56-4JR, a.k.a. "The King of G-Shock"
So, I think I have written enough. I smell delicious Italian pasta. Ciao!