Sunday, November 28, 2010

#47 More beefy Royal G-Shock!

 It is already the 47th article of 2010. Only three articles to go. It feels if like I almost made it, but as always the final rounds are the hardest. This week I had not much time to write and next week it is Saint Nicolas Eve, a pretty important feast in the Netherlands, comparable with Christmas Eve in a lot of other countries. Keep your fingers crossed. I will try to come up with something in the next three weeks.While I already took photo's at school, yesterday a load of snow fell out of the sky. I thought it makes a cool environment for this watch. We had a lot of bad weather and dark gray skies the past week, so the photo's (most taken hand held) might not look the best I have taken. Still I hope you enjoy reading and watching this article about the GX-56 I got last week.
 At the end of the 20th Century G-Shocks were getting bigger and bigger. The DW-002, DW-003, DW-004 were pretty big, the Master of G models like the Raysman and Frogman were even bigger. The DW-6700, the predecessor of the Riseman was a very big 2 sensor model. Maybe the Antman was the biggest in looks ever made in the 20th century.
The release of bulky G-Shocks suddenly ends at the start of this millennium. New smaller models were introduced, but only the classic DW-6900 and the new Frogman model (GW-200) seem to be the only big models.
I think that about 5 years ago I regularly saw people ask to Casio to make bigger models, like they used to in the late 90’s. Meanwhile other watch companies were increasing the case sizes. While some people were afraid watches would become an old fashioned tool from a former millennium, we saw (at least in the Netherlands) watches grew in popularity. Not only the popularity of wearing a watch increased, also the case size. See people wearing a watch with a case of around 55mm is very common. While in the past ladies watches were much smaller than gents watches, now you see women wear sturdy pilot and submarine watches everywhere.
In 2009 Casio began to bring out bigger models again. It all started with an updated Frogman, the GFW-1000, the biggest Frogman they ever made with the biggest design change The GA-100 and GA-110 model followed. Even a re-issue of the infamous DW-001 was announced at Baselworld 2010. The best kept secret was probably “The King” of G-Shock.
The King of G-Shock was presented as the biggest G-Shock model ever made. It’s first appearance was a nice promotion stunt. Two months before the King was actually released, Taig Khris jumped from the first level of the Eiffel tower, landing with his in-line skates on a ramp.

The “King” came out in July 2010 in two versions. An Atomic GXW-56 version for the Japan domestic market and a GX-56 non-Atomic version for the rest of the world. In December Casio will release a GX-56DGK (Dirty Ghetto Kids) model. Maybe in time Casio will also release an overseas Atomic model if there is a demand for such a model. A little downside is that the Atomic model is somewhat pricy. The non-Atomic model retails here for €149.-, while a GXW-56 will cost a little more that €200.-.
I already featured the GXW-56 in orange a August. Now I feature the basic black GX-56 model. I got mine from Tiktox in the UK, that has them now in stock for £99.- (€116.-, $154.-), which seems a very good price at the moment.
The black “King” had been on my “Wish List” for a long time. Although I had seen a lot photo’s of this model, I wanted to see this one in person. Most curious I was how the αGEL® shock absorber would look like. On a lot of photo’s this absorber, which is partly visible in the display, looks a kind of fuchsia red. For those who don’t like pinkish tones, I can assure you the shock absorber is red like a fire truck.
The fuchsia color shade on some studio photo’s is maybe caused by white balance corrections of a little flare in the crystal.
This black GX-56-1AER is very black. If there weren’t red accents, it would have been a very big stealth watch. The resin used on this model has a matte finish. I haven’t compared with other G-Shock models, but it the appearance of the black resin is very dark black. From all basic models with the classic red accents (like the G-9000-1, G-5500-1), I think this one looks the best. The red accents make this watch get noticed, but are not over present. It is of course nice to get your watch noticed, if you wear the biggest model G-Shock Casio ever made. If you like a stealth G-Shock, a smaller model would be better, like one of the Military Inspired DW-6900MS or DW-5600MS models. I think Casio aims with this model more to urban street fashion and extreme sports culture.
I am a bit curious how the GXW-56 and GX-56 models sells in Japan and South East Asia. I think that my 7” wrist is a bit of an average wrist size for Europe and the US. The GX-56 looks big on my wrist, but on smaller wrists this model looks a bit cartoon like. The “King” might be a lot more popular in Europe and the US than in Japan and South East Asia as people there have a much smaller average wrist size.
I once read a post about the DW-81XX and DW-8300 style models. Although pretty popular in Japan, people looked like cartoon characters when wearing such a model.
The GX-56 wears very comfortably. Although it’s size, it weighs less than 87 gram, according to one of our digital laboratory scales. Like the Mudman, the bezel covers the complete case. The four red buttons are actually softer parts in the bezel that cover the real buttons that are under the bezel. The button covers are also well protected by button guards so no accidentally button pushing. The button covers can easily be found (if you are not able to see the watch), but it’s harder to operate the buttons than on a normal G-Shock. This is of course the small price to pay for the mud resistant structure, but because the button covers are pretty big, I find operating the watch not too difficult.
Almost all “King” models have a negative display. Only a “gold” Atomic model has a regular display. The negative display is good readable under normal light conditions. The display is located pretty deep under the crystal. Therefore light that falls from the side can shine over the display, so the digits won’t reflect light, but then the light has to come from really low angles and you can’t talk about normal light conditions. And if you can’t read the digits, you can also use the cool backlight function. I always like the backlight of a negative display. The backlight is, by the way, beautiful green and clear.
The GX-56 and GXW-56 are both Tough Solar, so no need to worry about empty batteries. The solar cells are pretty well hidden. If you didn’t know the watch was solar, you wouldn’t have noticed them. It shows how the Tough Solar concept has improved over the past 12 years (the first Tough Solar Raysman was released in 1998). As Casio didn’t release a new revived Master of G this year, maybe they should have named this model the new Raysman, although the Raysman was for its time very big, but more elegant. On the other hand, make an analog version in a similar case and you have a new Gaussman.
The functions of the GX-56 are the same as those of the GXW-56, but then without the Atomic timekeeping. First there is the World Time function with 48 cities and 31 time zones, then you’ve got the Alarm Function with 5 alarms (one is a Snooze Alarm) and a hourly chime. A 24 hour Stopwatch and a 24 hour Countdown Timer make this watch pretty complete.
I do not think the GX-56 and the GXW-56 is a G-Shock for everyone. The watch has a big sturdy look. It fits well on my 7” wrist, but a week ago fellow (G-Shock) watch collector Lester Burnham visited me. He has much smaller wrists than I have and the watch looked completely different. Well, the same probably goes with the Frogman models. It’s not an easy model for people who wear long sleeves. I wear short sleeve T-Shirts almost every day at home and at work. I have this watch for over a week now and it’s difficult to take it off my wrist. This is a very good looking black G-Shock. At release the price of this GX-56 was a bit high, but now with a price of £99.- you can say that the price of this monster comes pretty close to the price of a special edition G-6900 and you get a quite complete solar G-Shock for it with the newest technology in shock absorbing. If you really like a BIG G-Shock, this is the model you must get.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

#46 Nosebleed for the 21st Century

Ed Templeton Untitled (Bloody Nose) 2006 Color photograph, framed. 10.5 x 15 in (26.7 x 38.1 cm)

The 50 Gs Weblog started in 2008 with a small item about a model of the 21st Century Boys (in case you didn’t notice, that’s where C.B. stand for) designed by Gio Estevez. A year ago I wrote about Tommy Guerrero. This article is about another model of this series, designed by professional skateboarder and contemporary artist Ed Templeton. In 1993 he founded his skateboard brand Toy Machine.
When I first searched for Ed Templeton, I found a lot of great photos of night time skateboarding. I pretty much like his style of photography. Also his Sect creature can be considered his autograph, which comes back in his graphic works for Toy machine.. Ed has also published several photography books. He has a blog, both with personal and art photography.
 His wife Deanna Templeton is also a very busy photographer. They both have expositions at museums and galleries around the world.
Also Ed Templeton is an animal rights activist and a dedicated vegan. I’m not much into vegan culture, but I learned from an interview with him that he doesn’t even use sugar, because “bone char” is used to bleach white crystal sugar, he only wear shoes where no leather is used and doesn’t visit circuses. Still he doesn’t want to force people to become vegan. Pretty much I do what I do and you do what you want to do.
Last year I went to the skate shop Bonk in Breda to look for cool T-Shirts and other stuff. The shop owner was a great guy and pulled open all registers as he saw I was happily looking for T-Shirts. As he went to the back of the shop for the somaniest time to get a pile of other great shirts, my eyes fell on a wall with skateboard decks. While spotting a Sect deck, I asked the owner, “That’s an Ed Templeton deck, isn’t it?”. The shop owner put away the pile of tees that he got from the back and told me very excited, that I had to follow him to the entrance of his shop. “Look what we’ve got”. In the shop window there were 3 hand painted decks, specially made for this shop. Needless to tell that my tongue fell out of my mouth and dropped with a bang on the ground.
If you visit the website of Toy Machine, you might take a look at the links. If you scroll down to the “Rider sites”, don’t forget to check “Weirdness”. You may find a familiar website… and a familiar watch.
To me this G-Shock model is the standing out the most of the four models that were released in November 1998. It has a double Velcro watchband with graphics on the patches. The drawing of a green creature with a bleeding nose is drawing attention when wearing the watch. When the buckle is opened, this creature is seen from the side with a cascade of blood flooding out of his nose.
The nosebleed might be derived from Toy Machine’s tagline that you can find in their logo “Bloodsucking Skateboard Company”. The only reason I don’t skate is that at my first attempt, in the mid 70’s, the skateboard swapped from under my feet and fell very hard with my head on the street. It was very painful and I had never tried it a second time anymore. I guess nosebleeds and other injuries are common when you are skateboarding.
When the EL backlight is activated another creature by Ed Templeton is revealed. It’s a bird. No idea what’s the thought behind it. Maybe we are looking through a hole at a bird in a cage.
The three of the four models of the first 21st C.B. series all have a message from the designer. This watch has the message “Total Destruction”. Somehow Dan Drehobl didn’t leave a message on his G-Shock.
All models of these series are DW-003 models. This series were released only outside Japan, probably only in Europe and the USA. The series might have to do with the G-Shock pro skateboard team of the 90’s. This skateboard team included Eric Koston, Willy Santos, Ed Templeton, Omar Hassan and Steve Caballero. These are not quite the smallest names in the Skateboard world. Probably this series were made especially for the US. Skateboarding was at that time, and still is, also very popular in Europe. That might explain why this series was also available in Europe.
The complete model number for this model is DW-003CB-3AVT. As the 3 in the suffix already suggests, the main color used on this watch is green. It is an unusual taint of green, compared with the current G-Shock colors that are often bright light green or olive drab. This watch is close to forest green.
 This G-Shock comes with a 1597 module. This module features one big display and a very small circular sub display in the upper left corner. In this small eye you might notice a star icon. In that case the “FLASH” function is enabled. When a new battery is put in this module, the FLASH function is default turned on. With this function activated, the display lights up every time an alarm is heard. I think it is still a great feature on G-Shock watches, although it uses extra energy from the battery.
The module is very basic, but all you need on a basic watch. An alarm function, a 24 hour Stopwatch and a 24 Hour Countdown Timer. The alarm function is default set for daily alarm, but you can program it for a specific date, or at a day of the month or at a specific month. For those who always want to see what time it is, the time is also shown in the first 60 minutes in Stopwatch mode (you got to show the hours somewhere after the first 60 minutes…) and in Countdown Timer mode. Since I have been using the Countdown Timer regularly the past weeks, I think showing time in this mode is a very handy.
This watch is already 12 years old. When I started collecting seriously, around 2002, this model was not hard to find. In the US there were even big sellers offering a lot of G-Shocks of this series. This probably means that quite a lot of them were made. Still, after all these years it has become harder to find these 21st C.B. models.
 If you find one of these, the prices should not be excessive high. About 5 years ago you could get one for around $50.- in the US, I have seen some lately going for around $70.-. I think these models are very good looking (well, the Dan Drehobl is blue and wasn’t looking too attractive for me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have it in my collection). I must admit I still wear the green and black models of this series regularly. The double Velcro strap is very comfortable. The under layer is thin, so it wears also comfortable when it’s very hot outside. I would love to see Casio making more models with straps like these.