Sunday, January 29, 2012

G-Shock #5: My Missing MR-G

I pretty much love the classic metal MR-G series, that were introduced in 1996. In the past years I have found several of these models for affordable prices. At their release they were pretty expensive. At that time a MR-G model costed around €400, which would probably more than double now if you convert that price to the nowadays market (it was almost about my monthly income around that time).
 From Left to right: MRG-100, MRG-110, MRG-210 and MRG-120.
 It’s not that I do not like the new MR-G models. Frankly I do like most, specially the MRG-7000 models and higher (to me the MRG-2000 and -3000 series looked a little too much like the higher end metal G-Shocks and hence not really worth the price tag of €1000.- or higher).
I think the current MR-G line has a totally different target group than mine. They are, with my spending pattern, not even close to affordable to me, but if you, as a consumer, are looking for a high end watch in the same category as the Omega Speedmaster, etc, this might be a reasonable series to look at too. Maybe I might find some in about 15 years for a than affordable price. As I will be approaching my 60 life year, it might be that my interest might have migrated to the higher end watches and that my spending spree might have been slowed down.
Today’s MR-G model is the MRG-110-7, released November 1996. I was highly convinced that I owned this watch, when my friend Neil offered me one last year. A quick look at my website G-Peopleland learned me I was wrong. There was a hiatus. I bought a MRG-100 earlier from him, and also I bought a MRG-210. There was my mistake. The MRG-210, released November 1997) has also a square case. The MRG-210 has more functions and 5 button (one 5th light button) operation, while the MRG-110 has only a 4 button operation.
In function I think the MRG-110 is more made for me. Despite it’s Telememo, ID data and vital statistics, the MRG-210 only has a Stopwatch, where the MRG-110 has a Stopwatch function and a Countdown Timer function. The upper right button is the light button, so the Split function in Stopwatch models done by the Adjust button (upper left). Not the ideal position for this function, but you probably get used to this pretty fast if you need this function often.
DW-8900, photo's by Jan (dschaen81 of the SCWF)
The MRG-110 shares the same module as the MRG-100, module1569. The MRG-100 is by the way released outside Japan as DW-8900. The only difference is the plastic face plate part, which is white in the Japanese version and gray in the overseas version. At the MRG-110 the plastic part of the faceplate is also white. Personally I love this color design. It is a nice contrast to the full metal case and also it makes the text pretty clear. The texts indicate if certain functions are toggled on. Then toggled on a horizontal black bar digit appears under the text. There is an indicator for the Alarm function, the Hourly Chime, the Split function in Stopwatch Mode and the Auto Repeat function in the Countdown Timer Mode. This last function might not easy to find. If you are in Adjust Mode of the Count Down Timer (the digits are flashing), press the upper right button and you will see the Auto Repeat indicator appear (or disappear if it was activated).
The MR-G feels quite heavy. Some may see this as a disadvantage, but from a lot classic 90‘s MR-G owners I learned that most people like the way you can feel the quality back in the weight of the watch. Pessimists can always complain that you walk skewed to the left when you wear such a watch, but we are talking a watch that weights about 150 grams here.
The weight of a MR-G watch is mainly the result of the use of solid links in the bracelet. The bracelet can easily be resized by driving out a split pin and taking out the link. You need the proper tools of course.
The finish of the watch is from what I know brushed stainless steel. It looks pretty nice, but you you can also see the wear of the watch easily, as you can see on my photo’s. I bought this watch used, so I knew what to expect. While wearing, I think the condition of this more than 15 years old watch is very good.
Classic MR-G models wear very comfortable, because of the hard rubber back protector. This allows a space between the back of the watch and the wrist. As there are no ventilation holes, I recommend to take the watch of at night as there is no ventilation.
As the newer MR-G models are far from affordable for me and I think for a lot of G-Shock enthusiasts, the classic MR-G series are a nice alternative. For me a price under €300 can be considered affordable, but I normally use the definition of the Poor Mans Watch Forum (PMWF), who state that an affordable watch is priced lower than $1000.-. Classic MR-G models of the 90’s can be found regularly for sale on watch forums and eBay. They are also often priced very wallet friendly. You often find them under €100.-. I bought this MR-G together with my GWS-900-4JR Speedpass. I am not sure what I paid for the two, but I got this one for far under €100, rather think around $70.-. For that price I think it is totally worth for what you get.
If you are interested in buying a MRG-110 or another classic MR-G model, keep in mind these models are slightly smaller than the usual basic G-Shocks of that time (and quite smaller than the current X-Large models). Although my preference goes to the larger G-Shocks, I still love these little gems with their unique full metal look and their heavy and quality feel.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

G-Shock #4: Black X Gold

After saving up money for more than a year, I finally had saved enough to buy my dream laptop. It is a 15" MacBook Pro. This article was still written on my old slow laptop, but the photo's were edited on my new Mac in CS5.5 and I also  composed this on . 
The Black x Gold series have been around since December2009, but the second release in June 2011 had probably more impact than the first release. While the AWG-100BC-1AJF, GW-2000BGD-1AJF and GW-2310-1JF could be the gold tone basic version of their model, most of the 5 released models of June 2011 have more blinging accents. Only the GXW-56GB-1JF looks more like a gold tone basic model. Also the GW-9300GB-1JF does not have much gold accents. These last two mentioned models were released in the US as Non-Atomic models (GW-56GGB-1 and G-9300GB-1).The GD-100GB, the today featured GA-110GB and the GDF-100GB are real blingy models. Outside Japan these models are known as the Garish Black series. Hence the code GB bind the model number. I even think Garish Black covers the overall look of this series better
Most G-Shocks have a part above the display that focus you on the used parts of the display, which I refer to as the “face plate”. On the last three mentioned models this face plate is mirror gold. The use of a gold mirror faceplate is not new. In February 2010 Casio released a new series of Crazy Colors (called Mirror Face series in the US), the pretty popular black DW-6900CB also had a mirror gold face. In fact it could easily blend in the Black x Gold series as the color scheme is practically the same.
Intermezzo: Above I mentioned gold tone basic models. Maybe I need to explain a little further. Until not that long ago, Casio released often besides their normal black version a second black version in yellow tones. The normal black version has the usual red and white lettering and the blue Water Resistant text and a blue/green display The second black version has a red/yellow color scheme with only the Casio logo in white and a gold/green display. The first basic model is often referred to as the silver model (while it’s just plain black), while the second version is referred to as the gold model. Often both versions were available at the release, but the availability of the silver tone was about 10 times higher than the gold tone. This is probably because the gold versions were more loved by Asian people. Some models were in Japan only released in the gold version, like the DW-6600 and DW-6900.
The so called "Gold Version" of the DW-6900.
Normally I prefer silver metal, for that reason I also love the MR-G models, but after I got a Precious Hearts model of 2006 I was pretty sure gold wasn’t a that bad color and with the 25th Anniversary models I was convinced gold could be looking great on a G.
Often when a series of models is released in a wide variety of colors I somehow try to get the colored versions first. Black is just ehm.. well, just black. This Black x Gold series are different. First of all the black resin is glossy, but we have seen that before. It’s the gold mirror parts that scream out for attention. When I saw this series announced I thought immediately, I should get the GA-110GB. Frankly also the GD-100GB and the GDF-100 GB look very nice to me. It’s that I have to make choices, but also I would have bought them all three.
The GA-110GB is probably the most blingy model of this series. All dial parts and markers are metallic gold and so are large parts of the hands. Personally I think this is a flashy watch to be seen with. Frankly the functionality of the analog timekeeping is maybe even worse than the monochrome Hyper Colors models. Note that I do not want to write this as a negative remark actually. The dial also has a digital display, which under normal circumstances shows time perfectly. No, the blend of the dial and the hands are actually giving the watch a kind of sophisticated look, which makes people curious.
Meeting at my house, January 4th, with from left to right: Ernie Romers (owner Watch-U-Seek), me, Tribe125 and DragonJade (who prefers to remain incognito)
Two weeks ago I had a meeting with Tribe125, former G-Shock Forum moderator on WatchUSeek and DragonJade, one of my co-moderators on the G-Shock forum. Our meeting point in front of the Antwerp Cathedral. By coincidence I ran into them at the side of the cathedral. I wanted to check time, but the sun had already set for about half an hour. I noticed my watch looked great, but it was almost impossible to read time in such bad light and weather conditions (there was quite some water pouring down from the sky.
I am not sure what attracts me most on this watch. Maybe it is the high contrast between the gold and black parts. I think the most interesting for me is the sophisticated look of the dial, with all its layers.
For the functions on this watch, I rather refer you to the Dee & Ricky model that I reviewed recently on 50 Gs. I think it’s enough if I say the watch has a Stopwatch function with Tachymeter, a Countdown Timer, World Time and an Alarm function. The only downside of the functioning of the watch, and I have mentioned that before, is that the mode button is standard silent and can’t also turned on. If you are used to G-Shocks it first feels like your watch is defect.
Like the other GA-110 reviewed here, this watch also has an amber LED backlight. Where I think this backlight does not real right to the previous reviewed models (my pink Hyper Colors shows bit boring brown/grey dial), it works out very nice with this Black x Gold display. With a bit of luck you can even read time (well, I maybe exaggerate a little here).
At “Shock The World Amsterdam” I met an employee of the Casio watch division and we have discussed about Casio watches since then. One of the first questions he asked me was why I bought so many G-Shocks overseas. In the past I had a good excuse to say these models were simply not available in the Netherlands. Well, since a few years things have changed drastically. G-shocks have become more expensive in East Asia (specially in Hong Kong), G-Shocks are relative cheap in the US, but the customs and specially the TNT postal service try to make from every good buy a very expensive one. For storing a package for almost a week before handing over a package to the customs they charge shamelessly €17.-, while the 20% tax has still to be added. You don’t have to be surprised when your $80.- watch with $20.- shipping ends up with an extra bill of around €35.- for customs and duties. I once had to pay at the door over €20.- for tax and duties for a $20.- watch, which appeared also to be the wrong watch sent from the seller.
The employee of Casio pointed me to some great Dutch G-Shock Trend Shops. Since shipping in my country is often free of charge, it became pretty interesting to buy G-Shocks here in my own country last year. I was lurking for this model for a long time. I knew “I Love Sneakerz” had one on their website, but when I finally decided to buy this model, it was just sold. Also no luck at Gorilli. Hmmm, I felt a little panic coming up. I contacted the account manager of Casio. He told me the watch was not available anymore, but he had seen one that morning in Amsterdam at Ace Trends Shop of Ace Jewelers and he gave me the internet address. I couldn’t find the watch directly on their website, so I tried out the “Live Chat”. I was helped within seconds. The watch was in store and a special page was made for me so I could buy this watch easily. Next working day (I ordered it Friday, but the postal service does not deliver insured packages on Saturday, so it was delivered Monday) the package was delivered perfectly. I had to say, I was amazed about the looks. I think I felt the same way when I opened the DW-6900CB-1. The black and gold color combination is just awesome. I have called it a blingy watch, but there is a good balance between the shiny gold and the black resin. Normally I would keep such a watch for my collection, but I couldn’t help myself by strapping on this watch.
I paid the full price for this watch. I think it was €129.-. After I bought this watch, I was contacted by one of the employees of Ace, who I happen to know, who told me that members of WatchUSeek can use a discount code (Ace Jewelers is also one of the sponsors of WatchUSeek). Well, it’s a little pity, but hey, I finally got a watch I was lurking at for a long time. That’s probably most important for me.