Sunday, May 29, 2011

G-Shock #23: Bob Marley

I'm quit under time pressure. I have had a busy week and had no time to write an article, or even think forward. Tomorrow I will be on the way the Kaliber 2010 off-line meeting.Well, let's do a short one.
Recently I have been listening to some dub reggae and reggae inspired music. Last week, while enjoying a beer with Eva and my sister in law at a bar, I got curious to the dub reggae music played. Luckily Shazam found the answer. It was a band called High Tone with their double album "Out Back".
Yesterday I was looking at the "Guess the Watch" puzzle at Kaliber 2010. The question was, as most of the times, far to difficult to me, but it reminded me to a nice song by Flip Kowlier. Flip Kowlier is a singer songwriter from a little town called Izegem in Belgium. He sings in his local dialect, which makes him pretty difficult to understand if you are from The Netherlands. About a year ago he released an album, which has a reggae undertone, called Ottoradio (Car Radio). The dial of the watch in the "Guess the Watch" question had stars on it, which made me think of a part of the song text about the stars, the moon and Jupiter (the song in the above video is actually about a garden with a swimming pool).
With hearing such exotic music, I must write about a watch with a similar appearance. Casio has released quite a lot of Reggae and Rastafarian inspired watches. In 1995 they released the "Bob Marley" model.
The DW-002BM "Bob Marley" models were released worldwide and probably in large numbers. I have two of them and I have paid for both of them a very low price. Think somewhere about $30 - $40, about 10 years ago you could find them in large quantities on eBay Germany. On the other hand, they had been worn both and frankly, since I got them, I have been wearing them a lot too. The one I picked out of my collection is the most abused one. You can be sad about a little scratch and stain here and there, or admire it. A little "wabi sabi" gives this watch character.G-Shocks are made for use and abuse.
As you can see on the model number, the DW-002 was the second "Tough Capsule" or "Nexax" model. The case looks pretty huge. The buttons are pretty unique, as, like the bezel, the upper part is recessed a bit (I hope that's the right word, but pics probably say 1000 words in this case).
What would a Bob Marley model be, without the Rastafarian color. The ring around the dial is divided in three circles, from green (gold) to yellow to red. These colors symbolize the green vegetation and beauty of Jamaica,  the wealth of Africa (gold) and the blood of the martyrs.  These colors also come back in the loops around the strap.
According G-Shock Perfect Search (GPS) there are three versions of his watch. I believe there was also a 4th version released, probably only overseas. This one is probably the most common version, the DW-002BM-8. There is also a model with a brown leather strap and a model with a similar strap as this one in yellow. The version I mentioned, that was released overseas had also a similar strap, but in red.
When the backlight is used, you will see a big cannabis leaf . It might look controversial. Japan has very strict drug laws and the penalties for possession of drugs is pretty high. For the Rastafarian believe however, Ganja, or Sensimilla, as Cannabis is called, is used to clean the body and the mind, heals the soul, gives pleasure and bring the believer closer to Jah.
It took a long while before I bought my first "Bob Marley". As you probably know, the use and possession of  small amounts of cannabis is allowed in our country. You sometimes see kids with cannabis patches and tourists like to but T-Shirts, caps and strings with cannabis leafs on it. Somehow, therefore I always found this backlight image quite childish.
In 2007 I finally bought one. Actually, I pretty much liked this model, as I actually like all DW-002 models. You can't really say the DW-002 is a beautiful watch. It's pretty bulky and it hasn't a smooth surface. I think this model is actually beautiful and great, because it's ugly. I wish I had more DW-002 models in my collection
The DW-002BM has a simple 1298 module. It has an Alarm function, a 24h Stopwatch and a 60 minutes Countdown Timer. Pretty basic, but this watch was released in 1995, quite some time ago for a digital watch.
I haven't been searching for this model, but I guess, if you keep your eyes open, you can find one from time to time. Prices will vary from the condition from $40 for a used to maybe $120 or more for a new one. Along my Rolling Stones and my Adrastos, this is a model I have been wearing quite often in the past years. It's a nice beater and summer watch, but as it gets older, I try to be more precious with it. A kind of respect for the elderly I'll guess.

Friday, May 20, 2011

G-Shock #22: Ninja!

I must have this watch. Not that I am fond of motorcycles. Nope, cars and motorcycles are not really my interest. As a small child I as mostly impressed by trains. When I finished middle school, I went to a Laboratory School, 30 kilometers from home. Every school day I made the 20 minutes train trip to school and back for 7 years. I never got bored of it.Actually it was a bummer that my school moved close to my home, for my last 2 years.
My brother however was born for wheels, specially motorcycles. If you had a problem with your bike, you went to the garage of our house and my brother would get your bike riding perfect again. We were never surprised as we went to school in the morning and had to step over a motorcycle that has been spread in pats all over the garage in the morning and was riding again in the evening.
One day my brother had bought a Kawasaki 500cc motorcycle. It was quite a fast machine for those days. My brother often took me or my sisters for a ride. Of course, riding with two is always more cozy than riding alone, but there was one better reason. With a contra weight on the back, you could make wheelies of a few hundred meters (yards) with no problem. Later my brother got an old BMW R60/5, which he upgraded to 900cc which he had for many years.
A few years ago I bought a box of “Taxi” movies. These are hilarious French comic movies about a taxi driver, who, even when he is driving “normal”, is faster than any rally car. Some police men are chasing him in the first movie, while yelling “Ninja!” every time. My son Bram, who loves fast cars, kept yelling “Ninja” since then and discovered there were motorcycles called “Ninja”. Every time Bram saw a poisonous green racing motorcycle, he yelled: “Ninja!”.
In October 2009 I attended the Barcelona leg of the “Shock The World Tour 2009”. This leg was held in the beautiful Casa Batlló, created by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí. When I was in the basement looking at the ice sculptures, with some friends of the Comando-G, I decided t go to the bar and get something to drink. While I was meandering through the crowd, somewhere in the middle of the hall, I almost walked upon a Japanese man. We both apologized deeply and I followed my way to the bar.
While a few people were waiting before me at the bar, I started looking around, noticing the same Japanese man was standing behind me. I felt a bit ashamed. That man also went to the bar and I blocked his way, I thought. “Sorry, I didn’t know you were also going to the bar”, I said. “No problem”, the man said and he smiled. “While we are both standing here at the bar, can I offer you a drink?”. “Yes, please, a cola”. I waited patiently for a free bartender, while obviously observing the red G-7700 models they were wearing. I thought, “I wish I was a bartender, I bet they got these from Casio”. I didn’t have to wait long and I gave the man his cola, while I enjoyed my ginger ale.
In the crowd was a lot to see. A lot of people were wearing newer G-Shock models, but I also noticed some vintage models. Also my eyes wandered off to the wrist of the Japanese man. “Excuse me sir, I noticed you are not wearing a G-Shock watch. Aren’t you a Casio representative?” , I asked. The man smiled: “no, I’m not. Do you know Kawasaki motorcycle?”. “Yes, my brother had a Kawasaki motorcycle and my son is fond of the Ninja motorcycles”. The smile on the man’s face became even bigger: “I am the director of the Kawasaki Motorcycle Factory in Japan, can I take a photo with you”.
I was stunned. This man is a director of a well known motorcycle company and he wants with me, the simple guy from the countryside in the Netherlands, on a photo. I think I don’t have to explain this was one of the greatest highs in my life. Of course I also gave my camera to one of the Comando-G boys, to have evidence this really happened. After taking photographs with me I was introduced to the whole Kawasaki team that was attending Shock The World. I’m not sure if this was a team from Europe or Spain, but, hey, this was awesome!
I have been lurking long at the G-300 Kawasaki Ninja models, that were for sale on eBay. I believe these were for sale since 2005. I kept saying to myself, if it only was red. Of course, most Kawasaki Ninja models that you will see are the poisonous green models. And frankly, I like the green/black color scheme too. Somehow I never bought one and now it’s simply too late. You don’t see those green Ninja G-Shocks anymore. Sometimes someone tries to make a profit out of his purchase, selling his for twice the usual price or higher.
In 2007 Casio released a lot of 25th Anniversary models. One of them is a collaboration model with Kawasaki Ninja. Guess what, this model is red. Also it isn’t the G-300 model. Not that I totally dislike that model, but I admire the DW-6900. This watch is awesome. Only problem… It could only be ordered directly in the Kawasaki on-line shop in Japan and it was only meant for the domestic market. Well, with the enormous 25th anniversary models coming out in 2007 and 2008, it was of course not a real disaster I couldn’t get this watch.(Check out my comment on this post on My G-Shock, I was already lurking 3 years ago)
A few months ago I saw a green Kawasaki motorcycle riding through the street. I thought, let’s do a search for a green Ninja G-Shock. To my surprise, there were no green Kawasaki G-Shock models for offered on eBay, but I found three red DW-6900 versions!
I wish I had more funds as I simply couldn’t afford those watches at that time, but I really wanted this model bad. Really bad. I tried to save up some money last month and also this month I tried to save some money. I was thinking about this model practically a few times a day. Around the beginning of the Golden Week (GW)I pulled the trigger. I knew if I bought this watch, I needed to be careful with how I spent the rest of my money for this month. The watch was located in Japan, so I expected I had to wait a little longer due to the GW, although I had paid instantly after the purchase. Finally I got a mail that the G-Shock was in process in the weekend after the GW and it was sent from Osaka to me on may 11th. The waiting begun, but like the Japanese EMS service, the watch was in no time in Amsterdam. [rant] On Friday May 13th, it arrived at the office of the Customs Commissioner. I knew what that meant. A Loooooong wait and a huge bill. I can understand that we have to pay taxes for important goods. The only thing I don’t understand is the extreme long waiting time on a Express Mail Service package (usually 4 to 5 working days) and an additional fees of €17.-. If I sent a package registered from one part to the other part of the Netherlands, I pay €7.50 and even for Europe I pay less than €17.-.. No, for carrying a package from one office to another near Amsterdam Airport, the TNT parcel service write out a bill of €17.- , no matter what the content is worth. Once I got a bill with a $20.- watch. I had to pay €4.- tax and €17.- fees. The fees were even more than the worth of the whole watch (less then €15.-). I was pretty annoyed that Eva threw away this bill, because I wanted to save it for reference. Maybe I could go with similar bills to a consumers program on television, because I still think this is a horrible money grabbing practice of the Dutch TNT.
Today I got a telephone call from Eva. Your package arrived. I almost fell of my chair when I heard the height of the bill. “How Much!”. “It was 53 Euro something”. Bad timing. My father was hospitalized last Monday and some idiots (I have no other words for these selfish managers) have thought out that it would be good to keep only one hospital (the smallest) for two (former) islands and of course that hospital is located in the least populated island, about 30 kilometers from where I live. Instead of taking my bicycle and ride to the hospital in Vlissingen I now have to ride daily 20 minutes to the hospital in Goes. I pretty much could have used that €53.- to fill my gas tank of the car.[/rant]
This afternoon I got home and saw the package on the table. I also found my envelope, where I had put in the money for the customs. Eva had left €5.- in it. I must have looked pretty sad at that bank note. I took a deep breath and took the package outside. The watch was well packed in several of layers bubble plastic. First I found a personal letter of the seller. I must say, this cheered me up a lot. He was very happy that I bought the watch and also made two origami Ninja stars for me. Bram immediately recognized them.
The watch itself is a bit packed as the Toyota Land Cruiser Mudman. The big red outer box has a graphic of a Kawasaki Ninja on it, and also the marks Kawasaki Ninja x G-Shock , G-Shock 25th Anniversary, Kawasaki Limited Edition and both the Kawasaki and G-Shock logo.
I think the inner “trunk box” is even more beautiful. I noticed that someone had bought a 25th anniversary model a few weeks ago and he was disappointed he didn’t get the 25th Anniversary tin by Eric Haze. Well, those tins are looking great, but the trunk cases are at least as nice as these tins too.
Inside the trunk case, you finally find the G-Shock. Of course well packed in another plastic bag. This watch is a DW-6900FS model, with the typical gold trim, as we are used from the 25th Anniversary models. The buttons and buckle are in a gold tone. Strangely the back of the watch is silver. It has the 25th Anniversary logo on it, designed by Eric Haze. Very cool on this model is the face plate. I always wanted to have a model with a red face plate. Above the eyes there is the Ninja logo in white. The Ninja logo also appears in the display as the backlight is activated.
 The straps have red racing stripes on them, which make them look pretty fast. For those who didn’t get it already, Ninja is the trademark for the Kawasaki sport bikes and have been around since 1984, only one year later than the first G-Shock.
This DW-6900FS model has the 1289 module. I see this article has become quite long, so I think I can best refer to other 50 Gs articles about DW-6900 models featuring the same 1289 module. In short, it is a pretty basic module, with the basic G-Shock functions , as you found them on G0Shock’s in the 90’s.
 This model was available in the Kawasaki Store for 14700 yen, which would be now around $180 or €125.-. I wish I could have bought it for this price, but I paid $260.- (€175.-) for this watch plus €53.50 tax and fees, raising the price to a sad €228.-($326.-). There are still some for sale on eBay. If you are handy with From Japan, you can also find a few for a good price on Yahoo Auctions Japan. Although I have paid a high price for this watch, I am very happy to have this one in my collection. If this watch was priced more reasonable, I probably would have tried to find a second to wear.