Sunday, December 5, 2010

# 48 Polygon G-Shock

Definition of a Polygon:" A number of coplanar line segments, each connected end to end to form a closed shape".
Recently we have seen BIG G-Shocks here. Now let’s take a look at the smallest and thinnest G-Shock around, the G-056. The G-056 is the non-Atomic brother of the GW-056. The GW-056 was released in Japan in November 2005. The G-056 models were released in March 2006 in East Asia and probably worldwide.
Snow again...
Eventually the GW-056 was released in Japan, Europe and the US. For Europe a module was used that received both the European Atomic Time transmitters in Mainflingen (Germany) and Anthorn (U.K.).
While Kikuo Ibe was in the creation process of the G-Shock structure in the early eighties of the 20th Century, he saw a girl playing with a rubber ball, which gave him the idea to build a watch into a rubber construction, to absorb the impact of the shock. While he first used a ball of rubber elastic bands, the final version was a module embedded in a construction with rubber shock absorbers.
Kikuo Ibe talking about the history of G-Shock during "Shock The Worlds Barcelona 2009". Below he shows one of the first prototypes, a rubber ball with the watch embedded in it.
The fact the module floats in shock absorbers makes it hard to design a shock resistant watch with smaller dimensions as the DW-5600. The modern DW-5600 is about 13.5 mm thick. While most G-Shock lovers think that this G-Shock is small enough, Casio wanted to make a thinner G-Shock.
To make the watch thinner, there had to be found a new structure to preserve the shock resistant structure that still can pass the triple ten criteria, defined as: surviving a 10 meter drop on concrete, at least 10 bar water resistant, and at least a 10 years lifespan.

A thin stainless steel polygon structure between the case and bezel protects the internals of the watch for impact. The redesigned case has a metal structure to absorb impact and also the back protector is redesigned to make the watch as thin as possible, but still providing a shock absorbing function. While polygon refers to a structure with many angles, the polygon material looks to me as a net of regular hexagons, like empty honey cells of a bee hive.
You can easily see the polygon compound, it is partly visible under the crystal. To see the metal parts of the case, you need to open the case and remove the module. This is something I can’t recommend, as you might lose the 20 bar water resistance, so I have done this for you. When you look into the empty case you can see the metal parts of the case. It seems to be embedded in thin shock absorbing materials.
Not only the shock absorbing structure has been re-designed to make the watch thinner, also the module has been made thinner. The LCD panel has been made as flat as possible and has a thickness of only 0.1 mm, a reduction of 50%! Casio believes that this is the absolute minimum thickness of a good LCD panel. All this advanced engineering and technology resulted in a 11 mm thick watch that still meets the requirements of the Triple Ten Criteria.
The watch is not only futuristic on the inside. It has a very streamlined look. The hexagonal structure comes back in the face of the watch and also on the “waffle” structure of the straps. The straps are connected on the upper side as on the bottom of the watch. On the upper side the straps are even part of the bezel, while screws holds it in place. It’s not the first time Casio makes such a streamlined model, where the straps integrated. In 2001 Casio released a GC-1000 in the G-Cool series, which was not very popular. The G-056 just has a much better look.
The four buttons are beautifully hidden in the side and look like a black striping, giving the watch even a faster look. The operation of the buttons, tough, is a bit tricky. Specially with my big clumsy fingers. When you are used to it, it probably won’t be a real issue.
The double pin buckle holds the strap tight and comfortable around your wrist. Even when loosen the strap with one hole, it still fits tight and doesn’t move around your wrist.
The streamlined shapes might have revealed it already. The G-056 is designed for all kind of sports and you might find some useful functionality in the functions found on this watch.
When leaving the Time Keeping Mode, you enter the Stopwatch mode. The stopwatch function can measure up to 99 minutes and 59 seconds. It can be set to a Target Time. When the Target Time has reached, an alarm sounds. You can stop the stopwatch. In that case the time in the main lower display continues . The stopped time is shown in the upper display. A bit strange is that the 1/100 seconds still continue, so you can only measure minutes and seconds. The alarm for the Target time sounds after the programmed time has elapsed after starting the Stopwatch, even if you have stopped or have paused the measurement. I see some similarities with the Referee Timer function here, which is used to time sport events. It’s not easily to explain how the Stopwatch function works, but if you have this watch, take a look at the on-line manual and just practice around a bit and you’ll find out how it works.
Next to the Stopwatch function, you’ll find the Preset Timer mode. This is basically a countdown timer with nine preset countdown times: 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 minutes. Just choose one of the preset times and start the countdown.
Next to the Preset Timer you’ll find the Countdown Timer, which actually is a sophisticated Interval timer. If you only program the first interval (INT1), this function works just as a regular Countdown Timer, but you can chain up to 9 intervals varying of 1 second to 59 minutes and 59 seconds and make a complex interval schedule. If you like to train for instance 5 minutes running, 1 minute sprint and 3 minutes walking, you program INT1 as 5’00”. INT2 as 1’00” and INT3 as 3’00”. If you want to repeat this training over and over again, set the timer in repeat mode. An alarm sounds as an Interval has elapsed. The interval you are in is displayed in the upper right corner of the display. A pity this function is not integrated in many more G-Shocks.
When leaving the Countdown Timer, we’ll enter the World Time Mode where you’ll find 48 city codes in 29 time zones. Like always you have to set the DST for different time zones manually. The calendar of this watch is programmed until 2099 and DST dates can change over the years.
The last function on the G-056 is the Alarm function . Nothing fancy here. Just one daily alarm with a hourly chime. For me that works perfectly. I hardly use Daily alarms anymore.
Extra options on this watch are the Auto-Illumination function and the MUTE function, which mutes the button sounds. Funny thing is that if you shake the watch, you can hear the little ball of the Auto Illuminator switch. I never heard that before. I discovered this by reading the manual.
Although this watch is relative thin and small, there is quite a lot of positive features under the hood. So are there any cons? Well, I found some. The Illumination time is with 1.5 seconds very short. I prefer an illumination time of about 2.5 to 3 seconds. I am simply a slow reader. Also the button control is for me a bit tricky. The watch operates best for me when taken off when using the Stopwatch or programming the Countdown Timer function. A little more practice should probably make button operation on the wrist easier. I think these cons I have are very minor to what this watch has to offer. If you look around well, you might still find a G-056 in various color schemes for a nice price. It’s also probably the best g-Shock model to wear under long sleeves shirts.

1 comment:

Carol Francois said...

nice review of an old favorite!
Are you able to remove the 'glass' face? The reason is that I'll be getting myself the GW-056b-1jf for x-mas, but I really love the red strap on yours, and I'm wondering if I'll be able to switch them if I get both.