Friday, March 30, 2012

G-Shock #15: Heavy Metal

In December 1995 Casio came with a decent successor of the DW-6400, the DW-8300. While the DW-81XX models were merely used for limited edition runs, the DW-8300 was a basic model. In Japan three versions were released, a black, red and a blue version. All these models had a leather/cloth watchband, similar to the ones found on one of the Japanese DW-6400 models and on some DW-002 and DW-003 models.
The DW-8300 was also released “overseas”. There were two versions, the silver version, which is featured here today and a gold model. This model had yellow and white lettering and a yellow/gold tone display. I believe in Europe only the silver version was released. Around 2001 - 2003 you could find them by heaps used on eBay Germany for very nice prices. I have tried several times to get a new model for a good price, but they were still popular then, about 5 years after release.

Casio Europe, based in Germany, had a tradition of naming G-Shocks. Unfortunately it seems they ran out of names a few years ago. The DW-8300 was well known for it’s nickname “Heavy Metal”, which in my opinion suits this watch well. Somehow it always reminds me to the great song "(She's) Heavy Metal" by the Märtini Brös.
The DW-8300 had adopted a similar bezel as the DW-6400. The big bumpers on the side are still there, but the bumpers on top and bottom are less high and are as wide as the straps. This makes this watch look, in my opinion, more balanced in design, than the DW-6400. Still the DW-8300 stands out, specially in G-Shock line of that time, but I think this model still stands out as a remarkable good looking G-Shock.
As it was pretty easy to find for low prices 10 years ago, I happen to have 4 of them. Although the bezel and case are all in good condition, I had to replace the straps on 3 of them. There is still one with the original strap, but it started to bleed in sunshine, while I was writing and also the band loop is about to tear or crumble. I think this is a pity. Casio is doing a lot with big cases lately, but the variety of GWX-56 and GX-56 models is not very high. Would it not be a good idea if Casio made a similar looking model, but with metal parts in the bezel and bumpers. A kind of what Casio did with the DW-80XX and DW-81XX models. I was in front row when the GXW-56 came out (I actually phoned Casio Europa personally about the release). I will be on front row if Casio would release a big square metal model with bumpers again.
Something I noticed on all the DW-8300’s I bought was that the white paint of the upper bumper (showing “ILLUMINATOR”) is that it was pretty faint. I had repainted the letters on several of my DW-8300’s. Repainting is pretty easy. Just use enamel (the paint used for scale models). Repaint the letters and wipe off the excess of paint with a cloth and white spirit or a similar paint remover. The result gives the watch a surprisingly fresh look.
The DW-8300 is powered with the 1288 module. This module was at that time already used by the DW-6800 (February 1995). The the DW-290 uses a similar module too (1189). The DW-290 is not a G-Shock, but is has quite a futuristic and tough look. On these modules the upper and lower display are separated by a row of indicators. The indicators show if the Alarm and the Hourly Signal are toggled on, if the Stopwatch shows Split Time and when the Flash function is activated. For the Alarm, Hourly Signal and the Split Time an triangle indicator appears above the indicator. For the Flash function, the Flash indicator pops up in the square right of the LIGHT indicator.
The functions of the 1288 module are very simple. Besides Timekeeping, this module has one Alarm function, a 24 hour Stopwatch and a 24 hour Countdown timer  with Auto Repeat on board. Maybe the functions are simple, but for me these are the most used functions I use. The Alarm function is default set to Daily Alarm, but you can also set it to a date. When you only set the month, the Alarm will sound on the programmed time during that month and when you only program the day, the alarm will only sound on the programmed time on that day of every month.
The EL is very bright. There is a Flash function. Default its’s set on. When the Flash function turned on, the EL backlight flashes when an alarm sounds (Hourly Chime, Alarm, Countdown Timer end signal).
From all models I have reviewed this month, I guess this one is the least rarest. Until a few years ago it was even possible to find a new old stock (NOS) model on internet stores. I actually don’t know what the popularity of this model is now, but about 6 - 7 years ago it was a hot model. At that time it was possible to find for low prices (around $80.-), but now it’s not easy to find anymore and prices around $150 - for a regular version and $180 for the gold version. Nowadays I do not see this model pass a lot, so prices might have been dropped. For me it’s a great model. In the past I wore them a lot, but since the resin is getting older, I’m afraid for the bezel to break. I now keep my quadruplet safely in a box with other vintage G-Shocks. Secretly I hope that there will be a revival of these big metal square models. Until now, this DW-8300 was the last big metal square G-Shock model Casio produced.

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