Sunday, May 27, 2012

G-Shock #24: My Yellow replacement GW-6900

I think I have written many times I sometimes have multiple copies of a certain G-Shock. Just because I like it, and probably because it was possible to get more than one. This article is about my recently acquired GW-6900A-9.
In June 2011 I had, for the second time a meeting with Ibe Kikuo-san, the man who developed G-Shock. The first time I met him was in October 2009, during Shock The World Barcelona. My good friend and guide through Barcelona ToniToni was clever enough to bring a fine marker to that event. During the event Tonitoni had his yellow DW-6900H autographed by Ibe Kikuo-san. I thought this was a very cool idea, but since `i was wearing my jelly red GW-203K Frogman, it thought it was not a good idea to let my Frogman autographed.
When I learned there was time reserved for an interview I did not hesitate. I searched through my collection to find nice light colored G-Shock’s that could be signed. Also I bought a good marker and of course tested it, before driving off to Shock The World Amsterdam. In my camera bag I had my yellow GW-6900 and a white G-6900EW.
The GW-6900 was actually a custom job, since the straps and bezel were taken from a G-6900A-9 and put on a basic GW-6900-1. The black strap and bezel were put on the G-6900A case. This change could only be spotted when observing the big “Eye”. On the G-6900A the eye is (pinkish) red, on the G(W)-6900-1 the eye is regular greenish gray as the rest of the display.
I was very happy to have my own signed G-Shocks now. Ibe Kikuo-san has signed with his full name in Japanese characters. It was obvious that I could not wear these watches (or straps) again, as the ink might wash away or dissolve during my work at the lab.
It didn’t take me too long to find a replacement for my G-6900EW. The GW-6900A took me quite longer, as this model is not really cheap in Europe. I could by it in the US, but the very unfriendly Dutch custom service of the TNT (standard charge is €17 + 20% value added tax) withhold me of trying to find one there, although the prices in the US were under $100.- at that time. Quick calculation, watch plus shipping would be around $120 - €100, custom fee €17, VAT €20. So a $100 (€80.-) will cost you eventually €137.- here… and I won’t even start complaining about the 4 -5 days delay in shipping.
Several times I have been looking at the yellow GW-6900A in Germany and The Netherlands. The usual price here is €149.-. Recently I was longing very much in wearing my yellow G-Shock, so I tried to find one. It seems this model is getting rare, since it was sold out in some stores I regularly visit. Also at Ace Trends (part of Ace Jewelers) in Amsterdam, it was not sure if the watch was present. Luckily they have a live-chat and I even got Dimer (Sponsor and moderator of WatchUSeek) on the other side. He had to check his stock, but returned quite fast luckily reporting he still had 2 left. I couldn’t be happier. Also the regular price of €139 on their website was €10.- cheaper than the sugested retail price. Also members on WatchUSeek you also get another discount, so I ended up with this great Atomic GW-6900A for around €125.
What makes the GW-6900A so attractive you may ask. Well, first of all I am fond of yellow G-Shocks. Casio once referred this color as “Positive Yellow”, like it should make you hapy, ans frankly, to me it does. Just think about the yellow Frogman, the DW-6900H “Taxi Driver” or the DW-8800AB Aurele G-Shock. All great watches to own and to wear. The GW-6900 in general is also a very complete Atomic Tough Solar model. Here in The Netherlands I have, like in most parts of Europe, always the correct time. I think the only three colors you can get a GW-6900 type model is in basic black, yellow and white. The black verion is by the way also pretty nice looking, but personally I think the white version (GW-6900A-7) is relative dull (although the purple accents are then nice). For me the yellow version s simply the best looking model available in Europe (I know, I also have a white/fuchsia red and a purple GW-6900, which I bought both in the US).
The GW-6900A-9 has the 3179 module on board. As this is a newer type G-Shock, the automatic calendar goes up to December 31, 2099, instead of 2039, which is found on older G-Shocks. The watch can sync with 6 public transmitters of Atomic Time signals (2 in Europe, 1 in China, 1 in the US and 2 in Japan), hence the text MULTIBAND 6 on the display. The battery is charged by the solar panels around the display. A fully charged GW-6900 can maintain timekeeping for about 9 months without recharging. The Tough Solar feature means that the watch battery is already charged in relative dim light, such as at the office or in the living room.
On board of the 3179 module you’ll find the following modes: a World Time Mode with 48 cities in 31 time zones, an Alarm Mode with 5 daily alarms (1 is a Snooze Alarm) with a hourly Chime, a 24 hour Stopwatch Mode and a 24 hour Countdown Timer Mode. Nowadays you find these functions often on every new G-Shock model, but these are also the most used functions that you use on a regular digital watch.
A good Double I.P.A. from a local brewery tastes good after a long photo session...
Extra features on this watch is the possibilities to mute the buttons and adjust the EL duration between 1.5 and 3 seconds. Also this watch has a “Full Auto Illuminator”, which in simple words means when the function is turned on, that the EL light lights up automatically when you look at the watch in the dark, but does not light up when you are in a well lit environment. You can choose to view the day and date in the display in normal Time Keeping Mode, or view the World Time. As I quite do a lot of communications in Japan, I often have my World Time set to Tokyo. Sometimes I prefer to see Tokyo time above the local time in the display.
The GW-6900A is officially discontinued in japan and I guess this means for the rest in the world too. The official suggested retail price was ¥20000 in Japan (around €200,-). Luckily it was much cheaper in the US and Europe. I think the retail price in the US was $149.- and in Europe the retail price was €149.-. The regular prices around the release were $120.- in the US and €110.- in Europe. Unfortunately this model becomes harder to find now, which means it will probably cost you around the regular suggested retail price if you find one.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Intermezzo #52: Tees and Trains

I was visiting an event of historic trains called "Sporen naar het Verleden" ("Tracks to the Past") a week ago. As long as I can remember I love trains and riding in them. Above you can see me posing before the "Red Devil". Actually my friend and huge G-Shock collector Yamazaru-san from Kyoto is also a train lover. I had made a movie of this event and showed it my friend DougFNJ (expect a new article from him here soon) he told me I should post it here on 50 Gs. Well, not sure why. You probably only see Bram his blue metallic DW-6900. Well, if you like trains, here some footage of the event. Sorry about the predictable music...
If you are mad about (historic) trains too, check out my posts on my Japanese weblog (with English translation): 
My friends at Kiks TYO and Sneaker Freaker are releasing a collaboration Tee. Kiks TYO uses a full print on the back for the first time. It's a must have for the real Sneaker Freaks. Did you ever read the Sneaker Freaker interview with me?
Also returned are the Summer Lucky Packs. You can choose between a ¥5000 and a ¥10000 Lucky Pack. I am a big fan of those lucky packs, simply because you never know what you get. I have bought several Lucky Packs in the past and was always pretty satisfied of the content.
Did you check your soles? Kiks Tyo now has a Tee inspired by the sole (soul?) of the AJX Jordan. I have no idea which sneaker this is, but the result is cool! Between the lines you find timeline facts of Michael Jordan. Pretty cool detail.
Well, back to the keyboard. Need to write the next G-Shock article for Sunday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

G-Shock #23: G-Lide of Winter 2004

Let’s do a quicky. The camouflage DW-6900FS and the Rush DNM x G-Shock articles have cost me lot’s of time. I know the WatchUSeek motto is “Time is on our Side”, but I’ll guess time will learn now if I can make a new articel in time. I dove into my boxes with G-Shocks and dug up this model.
First photoshoot I did on the beach this year.
This is the GL-260-3JR from the 2004 Winter collection. It was released in October 2004 and there were 3 variants. The other are a black and blue variant, who both have a blue double cloth and Velcro strap. The GL-260 is basically a G-2300 model, but since it is released as a G-Lide, it got a quite different model number. You will notice in this article I often refer to the basic G-2300, which was released first in October 2000.
G-Lides that are released in a Winter Collection are mostly aimed for snowboarding activities. Casio advertises this model as Low Temperature proof, but we all know nowadays G-Shocks all are. This was different in the early 80’s. The Low Temperature LCD WW-5100 and WW-5300 were novelties back then.
The easy adjustable strap is ideal for snowboarding. The upper strap is guided through two special designed strap adaptors (different version than used on the DW-002, DW-003, DW-004, DW-5600, DW-6900, etc). These strap adaptors are more streamlined and adapt also the design of the case too. This construction prevents loosing your watch if one of the springbars might be torn loose when you are performing your most dangerous tricks on the slopes and your strap is hanging behind something.
The upper strap has a kind of speckled camouflage pattern on it. The series name G-Lide is embroidered near the buckle,
Most striking in my opinion is the creme/off-white ring around the display and buttons. They contrast nicely to the khaki green case and giving this watch also a unique look, as the ring normally is in the same color of the case or metallic (G-2310).
The GL-260 has the 2594 module. This is a bit interesting, as it the original G-2300 has the 2184 module. I have thoroughly read both manuals, but all functioning is the same. Also the display lay-out is the same and both modules are also powered by the ML2016 rechargeable battery.
I took my beat-up GL-260 to the beach. I never noticed the battle scars obvious visible on the light button and the bezel. Below is the light button of my other, hardly worn, GL-260.
Although I was not a big fan of the original G-2300 design, it was quite a well equipped model when it was released back in 2000. It has similar functions as the first Tough Solar Casio watch, the DW-9300 Raysman plus World Time. I never understood why I couldn’t get used to the normal G-2300 design. Somehow it looks small, but compared with a DW-6900 there is not much difference in dimensions. Probably the parts that stick out of the DW-6900 on the sides make it appear a bit bigger. In the past I have recommended the G-2300 quite often for people who wanted a very complete basic G-Shock though. All these people were pretty happy with my advise. The smaller look of the G-2300 is with the GL-260 compensated with the double Velcro cloth watchband. It brings the case a little higher on the wrist giving it a better appearance on the wrist. Somehow I think these double Velcro cloth watchbands give smaller models like the DW-5600 and the G-100 a better appearance. I would not object if Casio would be making models with thee straps again.
Let’s take a look under the hood of this GL-260. The GL-260 is one of first generation Tough Solar models G-Shock released. These first generation models (DW-9300 and DW-9350 Raysman, G-2300 and the solar versions of the GW-200 Frogman) had an enormous power reserve when the battery was fully charged. The ML2016 could easily power the modules for about 9 months if the battery was fully charged. Characteristic on the first generation models is that the solar panels had a large surface. All black you see under the crystal are solar cells. On the latest solar models these solar cells are often much smaller and still provide sufficient energy to charge the battery, even under dim light conditions.
The GL-260 has also a Power Safe function, but this function does not work automatically. You have to push and hold the MODE button for about 2 seconds. The display will go blank. The only digit in the screen is for the SLEEP function in the bottom section of the eye.
Besides Timekeeping Mode, you find a World Time Mode, a Data Bank Mode, an Alarm Mode, a Stopwatch Mode and a Countdown Timer Mode. The World Time Mode is not as extensive as we find on nowadays G-Shocks, but with 27 cities and 29 time zones, it’s sufficient for most travelers.
The Data Bank Mode can store up to 30 sets of names and telephone numbers. A name can be up to 8 characters, a number up to 14 numbers. The Data Bank function is a bit dated now and I can’t remember any recent G-Shock that has this function on board. When the G-2300 was released, mobile phones were not as widespread as now. I can remember using the Data Bank function on the DW-9300 and G-2300 when I started collecting.
The Alarm Mode has 5 Alarms and a Hourly Time Signal. There is no Snooze Alarm, but frankly I never use that Alarm function. The 5 Alarms can be programmed as Daily Alarm, Date Alarm, 1-Month alarm and a Monthly Alarm. This sounds quite extensive, but it is the result that you can facultative add a date you your alarm (Date Alarm). If you leave the day or date digit black you get the 1-Month Alarm, respectively the Monthly Alarm.
Both the Stopwatch Mode and the Countdown Timer Mode are of the 24 hour type. The Stopwatch Mode has an Auto Start function. When toggled on, the Stopwatch performs a 5 seconds Count Down. In the last three seconds a beep sounds and a long higher peep sounds as a start. The Count Down Timer has an Auto Repeat function, which is handy if you have to perform an activity repeatedly at a certain time interval.
The G-2300 was one of the first G-Shocks with the Full Auto Illuminator on board. Expensive battery powered G-Shock models sometimes already had an Auto Illuminator function. This function switches on the EL Backlight automatically when the arm is hold parallel to the ground and twisted 40º towards your face. The Full Auto Illuminator only turns on if there is not enough light to watch time on the display normally. Of course the light intensity is measured with the solar panels.
In Japan and I think in East Asia this model was released with an extra strap. It is shown on the japanese product page of this model. I have two of these GL-260s, although you don’t see them often. I know that I bought my first one years ago from a member on WatchUSeek, who was studying for watchmaker and now works for a prestigious Swiss watch brand (I forgot if it was Rolex or Breitling). I don’t know what I paid for this watch, but I think it was peanuts. Maybe €50.- or less. Later I found a second green GL-260, which I obtained for a similar price. Probably if you look a bit better, you might find one somewhere in the world. As G-Shock collectors do not dive on this kind of watches, you’ll probably can get one for similar prices as what I paid for it. For that price you get a nice looking, somewhat smaller G-Shock with a good functionality. The first Tough Solar generation G-Shocks have proven to be very reliable. I have only replaced a rechargeable battery in a Raysman once, and that was because the previous owner had drained the battery and instead of charging it again, he had put in a CR2016 battery. I use this GL-260 often for riding on my mountain bike. The strap is very comfortable during sporting.