Sunday, February 24, 2013

G-Shock #9: Backstreet's Back

Today I have probably one of the most unwanted G-Shocks, though it’s based on a quite popular model of it’s time. Wasn’t it in the ‘90s, that punk and grunge bands liked to wear Madonna shirts. I would not have been surprised to see Johnny Rotten performing in such kind of shirt. It’s that I am not musically active anymore, but maybe I would perform playing intelligent techno in a Britney Spears shirt. Anyway, my fellow band members could not appreciate me wearing this watch, about 10 years ago. I think it’s pretty usual to wear fan shirts of totally different music styles by artists. I often wore Queens of the Stone Age shirts, because I like their music very much. But, hey, that’s quality music. But the Back Street Boys?
Frankly, I am not such a fan of “arranged bands”, but them young kids, specially girls, seem to love it. It’s that I have a little niece in that age, that I know “One Direction”. While writing this, I hear the voices in the back of my head quote Dan Bejar’s voice on Loscil’s “The Making of Grief Point”.
“There is a certain kind of person whom things come with great facility. They say this is the noise that gets made while my life is lived. So be it, but don’t feel the need to record it. For a second I thought this myth, that they were not interested in history, but that’s wrong. Wrong, wrong. A bad reading of the situation. The right reading is that I don’t understand, at all.”
I am not sure what’s the source of this watch, but I guess, it was made in small numbers and it was probably not for sale. There could have been maybe 10, maybe 100 made of these. My guess is that it was some kind of price in a contest in a German music magazine or music program. Another possibility is that these were given away when the Backstreet Boys won an European MTV Award in 1996 or 1997. Probably these ended up is some teenage girl’s drawer, before it was found years later and sold on eBay Germany.
Above: DW-6900X-9T X-treme. Bottom: The, in those days very popular, overseas DW-6900 derived from the DW-6900X-8AT model, which is the base for the BSB G-Shock. 
As far as I know two of these have been on sale on eBay Germany, which I bought both. In both situations, I was the only bidder. The fun thing was, that only the strap is different from it’s original model. That original DW-6900 model has a patch with Illuminator G-Shock Shock Resist on it. It was a very common model, derived from the DW-6900X-8AT of the X-treme series. This Backstreet Boys version has the name of the “band” embroided on the strap (not sure if I can call the Backstreet Boys a real band, as they don’t play instruments and don’t write their own music”) . The basic form of this watch is probably was released in 1996 or 1997 in Germany and was highly popular. The Island where I live is a popular place for German tourists. At the end of the 90’s and begin ’00 I saw many tourist wearing this basic model. Of course, I have never seen any tourist wearing a Backstreet Boys model, which must have been also from around 1996/1997.
The "FOXFIRE" text on the X-Treme model
Should I waste some space on the Backstreet Boys? Well, maybe they weren’t so bad. Five young guys were arranged together in 1993 by Lou Pearlman, who was inspired by the New Kids On The Block. Nick Carter is probably the best known member, since he had also a solo carrier. I have worked as a DJ in a big discotheque throughout the 90’s and can frankly only remember one song we used to play. It was the extended remix of “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”, where the people on the dance floor always shouted “Everybody” at a moment they expected it, but was much to early on that version. Always a reason for a good laugh in the DJ booth.
People who are new into G-Shock collecting probably look up surprised by this 6900 model. It does not feature the usual “Triple Eyed Devil” face, nor does it feature the module found on the G-Lide GLX-6900. This model features the 1449 module. When you consult the manual, you see it share’s functions with the 1446 module. You’ll notice that the 1446 is a similar module as the 1289 (regular DW-6900 module). Maybe not strange, as the 1449 module looks pretty similar to the 1569 module (as found on the basic DW-004). The functions are also similar on all 4 modules. Besides Time Keeping, you find a Alarm function, where you can also input the date, a 24 hour Countdown Timer with Auto Repeat and a 24 hour Stopwatch. The main difference between the 1569 and this module is the position of the eye. It is positioned on the right.
Patch of the normal version.
I pretty much like the lay out of these kind of modules. It was probably the reason I bought my first G-Shock (DW-004 with a 1569 module). The eye shows the 10 seconds, while the horizontal “beam” displays the seconds. Nice extra is that the current time is shown also in Countdown Timer and Stopwatch mode.
I couldn’t find the model number of the basic version of this Backstreet Boys model. Frankly I haven’t searched too deep, but I think it is now not that easy to find out. I do not think this BSB model has ever had a model number. No idea what it’s worth. At the time I bought these, nobody wanted it. I have bought both of mine for around €5 to €10. At that time you could get a replacement strap for around $10.- at a seller in NYC (stopped laready many years ago). This meant you could have the basic model for less than €20.-, but no one seemed to realize that. The basic grey DW-6900 version went for around €40 - €60 on eBay at the same time (2002 - 2004). As G-Shock collecting is mainly a man’s thing, I do not think this model will ever become a wanted model. But, hé, from time to time, this is a fun watch to wear.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

G-Shock #7 and #8: The Lovers Collection 2012, a Valentine Special.

"I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give, I got so much Love to give...."
Since 1996 Casio releases every year the “G Presents the Lovers Collection” (Gプレゼンツラバーズコレクション) models around Christmas. These series come in pair of 2 watches. A G-Shock for him and a Baby-G for her. It seems that in the early years, it was also possible to buy the watch alone, as I have seen several LOV-96 models from 1996 for sale. Actually one of these models is featured on the arm of a female rally driver Yuki (Mirai Yamamoto) in the Jackie Chan movie “Who Am I” (1998).
Frankly (as a lover for the ‘90s models) I actually didn’t like most models that were released since 2001, but I pretty much loved the delayed 2011 models (which were actually released in March 2012, due to floods in Taiwan). Specially the special white GA-110 model of this set, with a key as speed dial for the tachymeter was a nice detail. I always said that if there would be a nice colored DW-6900 model included in a new “Lovers Collection” set, I would very much consider buying, so as you see, I kept my promise.
Casio always makes a nice package for the Lovers Collections. This time no exception. The set comes in a special heart shaped box. As this set is black, the box is black too, but the white set, containing a special GA-120 model, comes in a white box. The heart shape box is actually not new for Casio. In February 2008, Casio and Mastermind released a special Valentine set in a similar box. Unfortunately, the price of that (very cool looking) set was about double of that of a regular Lovers Collection set.
Like in the past few years, Casio released 2 sets for 2012. The first set contains two white watches with gold accents. Casio chose this color combination to express purity of love, symbolizing pure romance. If you think this isn’t over the top already, the hour hands have a red tip, the color of love. Well, I went for the black set. The black set has “berry” accents. Well, if you ask me about berry, I must immediately think of Berry Scary, one of my favorite episodes of “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends”. The black color and berry accents chosen by Casio for “couples with mature and sophisticated tastes”.”Hi, Terry, isn’t it”. -”it’s Berry”. “Berry, like in Strawberry”. -”More like...Blooberry”. Well, this quote from Berry Scary fits perfectly in the pinkish purple berry accents.
The models of this set could not be a better combination. The G-Shock is a special DW-6900 version and the Baby-G a special BG-6900 version. The BG-6900 is a small version of the DW-6900, with a round 5th light button, to give it a more feminine touch. On the back the model numbers of these models are not LOV12B, but just DW-6900LA and BG-6901LA. Although no suffix is given by the individual watches, I assume it’s -1JR, as that’s the suffix of the entire set too. Both models feature a negative display, which is very nice with the total black look of the watches, but on the other side, I love the EL backlight backgrounds in previous Lovers Collections. Wouldn’t it have been nice to see another devil chasing an angel, or another mythic creature representing love.
Did I al ready mention these models are black. Not just black, but very deep shiny black. Even the buckle and buttons are black. The face plate is so shiny black, it almost acts like a mirror. If you didn’t knew better, you might think it was made for a Batman movie.
Well, I think we have reviewed a lot of DW-6900 models before here with the 1289 or 3230 module. The last module has an internal calendar that ends on December 31 2099, instead of 2039 (for the 1289). For the rest, it’s the usual 24 hour Stopwatch, 24 hour Countdown timer and the Alarm with hourly signal function. But let’s have a look what’s under the hood of the BG-6901LA. It has the 3297 module.
From the outside, it looks indeed like a miniaturized DW-6900, specially with the three eyes. It’s a bit more sophisticated though. First of all, pretty unusual for a Baby-G, the module is powered by a CR2016 battery. Usually Baby-G models uses smaller batteries, like the CR1220 and CR1616. This is probably because the lack of space in older modules. Probably Casio managed to miniaturize the module as well, so it can fit a bigger battery, to provide a longer battery life.
When leaving the normal Time Keeping Mode, you reach the World Time mode, a function you won’t find on the DW-6900LA. You can find time of 48 cities in 29 time zones. Still you have o perform the DST manually on the different time zones, but it might be a handy feature when you have overseas contacts or travel a lot.
Where the DW-6900LA has a simple 24 hour Stopwatch, the BG-6901LA has a Stopwatch with Auto Start. When this feature is toggled on, the watch performs a 5 second countdown, before it starts. In the last three seconds, three beeps count down to the start.
 Like the DW-6900LA, the BG-6901LA has a 24 hour Countdown Timer with Auto Repeat. The Baby-G however also has a Progress Beeper, that beeps at several marks during the countdown. If the Countdown time is set longer than 6 minutes, the watch will beep the last 10 seconds before the 5 minute mark has reached, short beeps at 4, 3, 2, and 1 minute and at 30 seconds. The last 10 seconds the Progress Beeper marks every second and a different beep is heard for one second as the countdown is finished. If the Progress Beeper is turned off, the watch will beep for 10 seconds as the countdown is over.
Instead of the single Alarm on the DW-6900LA, the B-6901LA has 3 Alarms. The third Alarm is a Snooze Alarm. It repeats the Alarm 7 times with 5 minute intervals. On both watches the Alarm can be not only set to a certain time, but also to a date. With leaving the day or the month blank, you also can get a 1-Month Alarm or a Monthly Alarm.
You can silence the button tone on the Baby-G. You need to press and hold the MODE button to toggle the Mute mode on or off. Personally I like the button tones, as they tell you you have pressed the buttons right, but if yo don’t want to be heard, you can use this function. Normal alarm operations (hourly time signal, alarms, etc) will still work.
Like the DW-6900LA, the BG-6901LA also has a “Flash” function. If the Flash function is toggled on, the EL backlight lights up when an alarm sounds (not with the button tones).
Both watches have a very nice Lovers Collection logo etched on the back, featuring the devil and the angel holding a “2012” banner. The back also reveals that this set was made in China.
The Lovers Collection 2012 was released November 2012 in Japan and East Asia. The retail price of this set was ¥27000 (around €260 around that time), but I got it for a more attractive price. I bought mine at Higuchi-inc in Oita. It’s always a pleasure to deal with Katsu-san, from who I have bought many G-Shocks. Maybe this set is not for every one. It was a bit pity that the Dutch Postal service messed up my shipment and managed it to get lost for weeks. Well, in the end it arrived flawless at my door and that’s most important to me. If I had it in mind as a Christmas present, well, then it was weeks too late, though it was sent in time from Japan. This set might not be fro everyone. Collectors probably only collect G-Shocks and no Baby-Gs, but this might be a nice exception. I pretty much like the deep shiny black look, but I would have liked it if there was a little graphic of an devil or an angel at the band tip. Now it’s pretty hard to see it’s a Lovers Collection model when it is worn. It can only be noticed by looking at the back. So what will the set for 2013 be? Finally a shiny red 6900 set? That would be nice. Wouldn’t the color of love not simply be the best for such a set? Let’s wait and see.