Sunday, October 31, 2010

#43 Red & Bad

It is Halloween today. It is also the last day of the Fall vacation at school. While I thought I would have an ocean of time for writing one or more articles for 50 Gs, it appeared it has been even busier than at the last week at school.
I had not a real idea what to write when I started, but I searched for an orange model that has not been on 50 Gs before. I am afraid this model is the last orange model left. First I was thinking of buying a pumpkin, but I had no time left to search for one. Maybe next year.
So what’s up. It’s the DWX-100S-4V. For Casio this was an overseas model, that was sold in Europe and the US. While the Japanese version was released in 1998, this one was released in 1999.
I always found the name given by Casio Europe a bit funny. It’s called “Red & Bad”, but that’s probably because they couldn’t find a word rhyming with orange. So the watch is thus orange and it has gray accents. A total of 4 different models were released. There were also a black, blue and a gray model with yellow accents.
The watch was marketed as a model for water sports. While in Japan the DWX-100 was still released in the X-Treme series, this model is released as a G-Lide model. The G-Lide series are a special series in the G-Shock and Baby-G line-up, dedicated for “board sporters”. While other models were dedicated to snowboarders or skateboarders, this design is optimized for surfing (and other water sports of course).

The watch has a asymmetrical design, which theoretically gives the wrist more space to bend during extreme sports, but the DWX-100 is a relative small model. I think it’s also done to give the watch a more streamlined look.
The whole design has lining and holes that allow ventilation and drainage of water under the watch. It’s clearly a design of a water sports watch. Still there were special versions made (like the Steve Cabalero model) that were dedicated to skateboarders and snowboarders (Air+Style). These DWX-110 series models were less asymmetric and have a slightly different strap and a totally different button design.
While the DWX-100 was released in Japan with the 1978 module, this overseas model is equipped with the 2023 module, which has a totally different look. The eye is smaller and placed on the left side, while the day and date window is replaced by a seconds animation. The font of the time is a little bit smaller, because the day and date has been moved also to the lower section of the display. This doesn’t mean the time is unreadable. The display is very crisp and clear.
The fact this model is released as a G-Lide model has a nice advantage. While the X-treme models do not have a logo in the backlight, the G-Lide logo is present in this DWX-100S. Personally I prefer the G-Lide logo, as it represents the shape of a board. I think that is also the reason why the DWX-100 was the last of the X-Treme series. Later models dedicated to board sports were also in Japan released as G-Lide.
The main difference between the between the Japan Domestic DWX-100 and the DWX-100S is the “Surfing Timer”. This Surfing Timer is a 60 minute countdown timer with “Countdown Indicators”. We know these countdown indicators from G-Shock models with a Yacht Timer. On this model a 1 second audible alarm is heard every minute in the last 5 minutes of the countdown. With the alarm that indicates that there are 5 minutes to go, also the EL backlight lights up if the FLASH function is activated (default) and when the countdown is over the EL light flashes happily with 10 seconds with the alarm. The manual does not say there is a 3 seconds countdown to the last 5 minutes and does also not say the EL does not flash at the alarms when the Flash function is turned off, though the last is pretty logical.
The “Surftimer” can only be set in whole minutes. It doesn’t have to be entered into “Adjust Mode” to enter the countdown value. The upper right button functions as reset button and when the countdown is not running you can add minutes by pressing the same upper right button. A short push adds one minute, hold the button to add minutes fast.
In both Stopwatch Mode and Surfing Timer Mode the traditional 5th light button functions as Start-Stop button. The lower right button functions as light button. Personally I think it is a bit confusing, as in other modes the 5th button functions normally as a light button. The Stopwatch Function has by the way a 24 hour capacity.
The Alarm function is pretty basic. It can be set to 1 daily alarm and you can toggle the Hourly Chime on and off.
The “Red & Bad” was probably not a very popular model when released. It could be found for prices around DM 40.- (€20.-) easily when I started collecting. It might not be such a popular model because of its design. At the end of the 90’s G-Shocks became bigger and specially the DW-003, DW-004, DW-6900 and DW-90XX models became popular in street fashion. The DWX-100S does look much different from these models. It’s smaller and looks rather like a sports watch, like those were sold by popular sports brands like Adidas and Nike.
I can imagine G-Shock lovers and collectors are not very enthusiast about this model, but I think it is still a nice model. I do not own the gray-yellow variant, but also that model looks great. In Japan the orange and yellow X-Treme DWX-100 models looked great too. It would be nice if I ever walked upon one of these for a small price. It’s not a model that I would wear I think. First it’s relative small and I am used to the bigger G-Shocks. Secondly, I have noticed that the plastic buttons can break off relative easily when abused. I have no idea how people have managed to break them, because the case has quite a button protective design. It is a 13 year old model, so spare parts will not be available anymore. Don’t expect to pay much for a DW-100S. They do not pp up very often anymore, but if they do, expect them to find somewhere in the $30 - $50 range.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

#42: Dee and Ricky Design

Casio has released quite some sensational G-Shocks this year. We have seen the GXW-56 and the new Jason models here on 50 Gs. From a different order, the Dee and Ricky collaboration was quite a sensation too.
While the watch is pretty colorful, I did not expect that this watch would be so embraced by G-Shock collectors around the world. Maybe it was not such a big surprise at all. Dee and Ricky designs are often based on Lego. The colorful Lego bricks and colorful G-Shocks already go hand in hand. I noticed that there are also some G-Shock collectors who still seem to enjoy playing with the Lego bricks. As I use to visit a large Lego expo every year with my family, it seems that the love for the bricks is not exclusively for the older G-Shock collector.
The Dee and Ricky G-Shock model was announced in June 2010 and launched a month later. Frankly I had never heard of these brothers. I had seen their funny video’s and photo’s of the Launch Party and their weblog, but after reading more stuff, I gained more respect for these guys.
 So who are Dee and Ricky. Demetris (Dee), Ricardo (Ricky) and also sister Laura Jackson are triplets. Dee and Ricky are identical twins. They were born and raised in Arlington on Staten Island, New York along with three other children by a mother that was addicted to crack (according to relatives).*
* source: NY Daily News
Dee and Ricky design fun clothing accessories with the famous Lego bricks. Their belt buckles were seen on fashion shows and pop stars like Kanye West and Rihanna wear their brooches. Also they have designed brooches. I think that is a pretty smart idea to make jewelry and accessories of Lego bricks. Although the idea is so simple, nobody had done it before. I think they made some very creative designs, like the Chanel lipstick, the cigar and cigarette. The last two even look like they are burning.
Lego accessories for the 2008 collection Marc by Marc Jacobs.
For this G-Shock Dee and Ricky could of course not use the Lego bricks, but its design is definitely based on these building blocks. The design of the GA-100B mode also helps a lot. It might be that Casio had considered asking the twins to make a collaboration model after they noticed the similarity of the little round studs on the bezel and on the dial with the round studs on Lego bricks. When looking close to the GA-110 models, known from the Hyper Colors series, it is not a completely surprise that Dee and Ricky were asked to make a special limited edition collaboration edition.
It is always quite a question what a limited edition G-Shock is. I think the emission of this model was not very small. I even think that you rather have to think in ten thousands than in thousands. The main reason why this watch was sold out so fast must be looked in the fact it this model was a very attractive, and not only to G-Shock collectors. When this watch was released my sister even sent me a photo of this model, telling me she liked it. While I was looking over the website and noticed that they had this model too, Bram walked to me behind the computer and said, “That’s a nice watch, can I have it?”. As this model was primarily sold in the US, often in big department stores, I can imagine similar situations happened. I remember a member of the G-Shock forum went to a department store (Macy’s?) and returned with 7 Dee and Ricky G-Shocks.
This model was not only released in the US. It was also released in Japan. Strangely you can’t find it in the new products release list of July 2010, but if you do a search in “G-Shock Perfect Search” (GPS) you’ll find out it was definitively released in Japan too.
A funny thing is that New York based media artist and director Kenzo Digital made with G-Shock and Dee and Ricky a unusual promotion movie for the release of this watch. Of course the movie plays in a Lego build world, but with stills from life characters, that move through a very rough stop-motion technique. Bram has already bookmarked this movie in his favorites and every visitor that comes at our house has to watch this six and a half minute movie. Of course this movie shows some brilliant ideas like Lego Samurai swords, Lego Ninja Stars and Lego Sushi, complete with Chopsticks. Very nice how they made my favorite sushi, the rice rolls.
This G-Shock model has been designed very well by Dee and Ricky. Of course you’ll find the basic primary colors as used by Lego. Only exception is green, which is not a primary color, but this color has been used by Lego for a long time for the 32 x 32 studs base plates. Nowadays green building blocks are also available, as are other color variations.
While the colors red, green and blue are pretty exact like the colors of the Lego bricks, the color yellow is more pale. I do not know if this is done deliberately. The original bricks are more cadmium yellow, while the yellow inserts around the dial are more like citron yellow.
In the past years Casio released models in very wild colors in the “Crazy Colors” and “Hyper Colors” series. Compared to these models the Dee and Ricky model is that wild. I think that both the black bezel and straps as the pretty normal digital display keep this watch in balance. It’s like the black bezel says: “up to here and not further”, like some sort of color barrier.
 Whatever you might think of this model, I think the color design is pretty well thought of. A kind of playful on the inside and elegant from the outside. It’s a bit what you see in the Dee and Ricky articles and video’s that you can find everywhere on the net. At first glance they look like two colorful twin brothers who make a lot of fun. Although they wear these bright colored clothing, these clothing suite them well and appear even stylish and elegant on them. And I think they are pretty smart too. Selling self build Lego brick ornaments as clothing accessories was a nice move.
The GA-110 is a pretty new model, the first model was released in March this year. It marks the recent trend of Casio to release bigger G-Shocks. I’m not always fond of ana-digi models, but the GA-110 looks more like an analog model, specially on the mono colored Hyper Colors model.
For a model that looks more like an analog model, it has the good functions of a digital model. To start with the Stopwatch. It does not only have a 100 hour capacity, it also measure in 1/1000th of a second. And that’s not all. The small sub-dial on the 9 o’clock position works as a Tachymeter. You can even input a distance for the tachymeter, so you are not tied to one unit (mile, kilometer, etc).
I am always happy if a watch has a 24 hour Countdown timer, so I am very satisfied with this watch. The world Time function is fine. I only for East Asian time zones, so I don’t have to correct for DST every time. I think that is a bit the flaw on a World Time function.
The watch has 4 Alarms and a Snooze alarm. Of course there is also a hourly Chime. There is one thing I somehow miss on this watch. I am used that a G-Shock beeps, while scrolling through the functions. There is as far as I could find no way to turn it on, like the Mute function on some newer G-Shock models.
One of the cons of an analog model is that the hands do get out of alignment, due to heavy shocks. Luckily you can correct the hands to the original position in Hand Home Position Mode.
At night the dial can be illuminated by a LED, that is placed at the bottom of the dial. It provides enough light for a good analog readout. Reading the digital displays is almost impossible. The length of the illumination can be set to 1.5 or 3 seconds. I prefer the last setting, because it takes me about 2 seconds to read time well. The 1.5 seconds illumination is just a little too short for me.
The watch is powered by a CR1220 Lithium battery. Casio gives the battery a lifetime of 2 years, which probably means the watch will run at least 3 times as Casio is always on the pessimistic side with their estimate battery life values.
Of course a collaboration model must be recognizable as one. The watch comes packed in a special colorful box. Inside this box there is a very cheerful tin with a cartoonesque drawing of Dee and Ricky on the lid (which is also their logo). The logo also return also etched on the back of the watch.
Hey! Who turned off the lights!
This model was sold in the shops for the retail price of $130.-, which is actually a very friendly price. I paid around €125.- ($175) for the GA-110A Hyper Colors models. Since the model was sold out the prices went up quick. A quick look at eBay show that the current price for this model is around $250.-, while some sellers already ask over $400.-. Frankly I think that is overpriced, but I think these will sell eventually as there will always be people who can afford and want to pay these prices.
When this model came on the market I thought I should pass this model, since I have bought quite some expensive G-Shocks in the past months, but I got several times attracted to this model. A problem with buying in the USA is that the watch will be hold by the customs for a short week and I will receive an additional bill with tax and relative high fees.
In September Dreski, who I know of the G-Shock forum and caliber 2010 and who is quite a Lego fan, told me he was in the race for this model. I know I was late, but I started looking around and saw this model was for sale on I was very tempted to buy it, but simply didn’t have the cash for it. When my salary arrived on my bank account, the watch was already sold.
Around the same time I received a message from the USA. I think I was very lucky that a member of the G-Shock forum knew I liked this model and didn’t had it in my collection. He didn’t want to make fast bucks, but offered me this watch for the original price that he paid for it in the shop. I think this watch is a very fun looking model. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but on the other hand it’s also a watch not only for G-Shock collectors. I think this watch is also the ultimate watch for people who like Lego very much.
You might have noticed it already, I had very much fun with building the scenes for the photo shoot. I like to thank Bram for allowing me to build with his bricks and lending his Lego minifigures collection and Franzy for making it possible for me to get me this watch for a decent price. I hope you enjoyed reading and specially the photography of this article.
Happy Halloween!