Sunday, September 30, 2012

G-Shock #41: Albino Panda in the Drôme.

This is my second article that I have been writing during my vacation in the Drôme, France. I took some nice watches with me during my vacation.
Above: Palais d'Idéal, Hautrives
The watch of today I had specially bought to wear on vacation. It’s a pretty good place to write here. While the family is enjoying the swimming pool or is reading on the veranda, I enjoy a chestnut beer from the Ardèche (Bière aux Marrons de ‘Ardèche). It tastes remarkably good.
Even for the Hardcore G-Shock aficionado it’s sometimes not easy to keep updated with all the new models. I knew there were 8900 models for a while now, but the exact model numbers were not known by me. I was looking for the Panda (GR-8900A-7), so I guessed the models number to be something like G-8900-7. I quickly found the G-8900A-7, which was not the model I was looking for exactly. I had seen the Panda at a photo taken at Ace Jewelers in Amsterdam, next to that same white G-8900 model. I became pretty curious. That watch looked not bad, so I looked at my savings and decided I should try to ask a good price for the two. Unfortunately that G-8900A-7 was already sold, so I went for the GR-8900A-7.
Curious as I am, I went looking further for that G-8900A-7 and a Google advert showed me a “too good to be true” price at Kish. Something around €83.-, while everybody else sells them for €99.-. 
A short message to Vanity of Kish learned me that Google made a mistake. In Europe you normally show the full prices with VAT, but Google had somehow subtracted the VAT on the advert on Kish (it was exactly 19% off). Well, I could have expected that (they also didn’t knew about this, so I can’t really blame them) and since they had them on stock, I decided to buy this watch for on vacation. You can’t go wrong with a white watch. Next day it was delivered, within two minutes before my Panda arrived.
Although this watch is in a white/light gray combo, it looks pretty much in appearance as a model of the Basic White series. Something that I noticed immediately when taking the watch out of the box were the somewhat fade digits. It seems that the display is a very light gray mirror type. It’s not that it is hard to read the digits, but on the other hand they are not as clear as on a normal G-Shock. I think that normal digits would have been to black in the eyes of the designer on this model with only light accents.
I thought I would be irritated by the fact the digits were lighter than normal, but frankly the watch is still good readable and even looks good. It is not even easy to say if I like it more or less than the Panda. The Panda has strong accents, while have the tendency to go for these model. The real accent appears on my arm, when wearing it, since i’Il have acquired a strong sun taint here in Southern France.
The G-8900 was probably the first of the new 8900 models and is the non-Tough Solar and non-Atomic version. You can say it’s the most basic 8900 version. The module number is 3285.
Modes sequence
Opposite of the GR-8900, the eye is located on the right side. I think it is very nice that the inner part of the eye is white. I can’t really remember Casio has done that since some 90‘s models. It functions as a a kind of seconds hand. The 10-seconds are shown on top of the lower display, under the week day. The large case makes it possible to use big time digits and also the date digits are bigger than usual. In the upper display the day is shown.
Test screen sequence.
In Time Keeping mode normally the time zone of your Home City is shown, but when you push the lower right (FORWARD) button, you can also view three other times in programmable Home Cities. A pity maybe is that the display shows this is actually the 2nd, 3rd or 4th time and always shows the City Code. Of course you can easily change your home position in the Timekeeping mode when you are traveling, so it is not that big problem.
By pushing the Mode button, you can scroll through the functions. You’ll find a 48 Home Cities, 31 Time Zones World Time function, an Alarm function with 4 normal Alarms, a Snooze Alarm and a Hourly Chime, a 24 Hour Countdown Timer and last, but not least, a 24 Hour Stopwatch. Remarkable is that you can’t see current time in all these functions and that in the Countdown Timer you see the 1/10th seconds above the time and in the stopwatch you see the 1/100th seconds above the time.
The Backlight is activated by the usual 5th “G” button under the display. Although bigger than usual, the light button does not look oversized, because it’s in perfect harmony with the large case size. The G-8900A has, like other X-Large G-Shock models, a LED backlight. On this model the LED (I think it are actually two, one on each side at the bottom) is blue. I would have preferred amber or maybe green, but blue will do. Again, like on the normal display, there is not much contrast between the display and the digits. The mirror display has a big advantage in dark surroundings. You only need to use the backlight when it is very dark. If there is any light, the display reflects pretty clearly. You can set the Backlight Time 1.5 or 3.0 seconds when you are in Adjust Timekeeping Mode. With the low contrast between the display and digits, I think I can recommend the 3 seconds setting.
The G-8900A has both an Auto-Illuminator and a Flash Mode. With the Flash Mode on (it shows “FLASH” at the bottom of the display), the LED Backlight lights up when an Alarm sounds (one of the Alarms, the Hourly Chime or the Target Time has reached in Countdown Timer mode). With the Auto-Illuminator function enabled (it shows “LT” at the bottom of the display) the backlight turns on when you twist your arm about 40 degrees towards you when holding your arm parallel to the ground. This function works always, no matter if it is in the dark or in the light. I can recommend not to use this setting frequent, as backlight operations use relative a lot energy and frequent use will shorten the battery life drastically.
In the past Casio has released a lot of white G-Shock models, like the early Lover Collections, several G-Cool models with white leather and also some nice more recent special models, like the Rising White, the 25th Anniversary Eric Haze model, the Dee and Ricky 2 and the Maharishi. I would love to see that also other colors might get more chance in the near future. Probably white G-Shocks will always exist. Maybe the white G-Shock is for man what a little black dress is for woman. They go with everything.
The G-8900A-7 is a pretty basic model that is easily to find worldwide. In Europe you find this watch usually for €99.-, I guess that the usual prices in the US will be around $99.-. You can find this model maybe cheaper in East Asia, but you got to have patience, as it usually takes two weeks for watches to reach outside Asia. In The Netherlands and probably a lot other countries in Europe, a relative high Customs fee plus tax might take away the advantage of getting your watch cheap there. I sometimes call my watch the Albino Panda, because it looks a bit like the GX-8900A-7, but my nickname is maybe a bit off. It would of course have been perfect to be called “Albino Panda” if the backlight was red...