Sunday, December 1, 2013

G-Shock #47: New Era x G-Shock

Summer 1997. That year I travelled with a friend through the North East of the US, with a short visit to Canada. After our visit to New York, we took a late Greyhound bus with Niagara as next destination. The bus from New York rode to the bus station of Buffalo, where we had to wait for the connection. I remember the orange pleasant warm morning sun, shining through the waiting hall on my face. As we had to wait quite a while I took a puzzle book out of my backpack. It was a kind of crossword puzzle, where numbers represents letters and you have to find out which number corresponds with a letter. I like these kind of puzzles. I was probably half way, when a girl sat next to me. I was too deep into my puzzle to notice her. Apparently my puzzle was interesting to her. Without me noticing it, she was looking over my shoulder to the, to her, strange words appeared on the grid. At a certain moment I found a long word with many letters. Maybe the word was something like “handschoen”, at least it was something unpronounceable in English (Countless times I had to explain my “Bobby is op” T-shirt, showing Tintin with a bone in his hair, because American people thought it was English). While I was trying to solve my puzzle further, suddenly “What’s a handshoon?” I looked up and saw this good looking girl. Her name was Elisabetta, an Italian student who was traveling throughout the US. So she travelled with us to Niagara and Toronto, before our roads split (she went to Boston and San Francisco, while we went to Detroit and Chicago).
So, what does this lengthy introduction have to do with this (3rd) New Era x G-Shock Collaboration? It’s where it all started. New Era was founded in 1920 by Ehrhart Koch as E. Koch Cap Co, renamed in 1922 to New Era Cap Company. The New Era 59FIFTY caps are very popular fitted baseball caps and many US and Japanese baseball teams wear New Era caps. The 59FIFTY is also very popular cap in the Hip Hop scene and worldwide in street fashion. Although these caps are great, I do not think it matches everybody. Somehow I always think I look silly with a baseball cap, like I suddenly got memory expansion (Bram however, has a nice face for baseball caps). I had been on the edge of buying a cool fitted The Hundreds x New Era camo cap a few years ago, but unfortunately it seemed to be sold out. Luckily 5 panels suit me better.
New Era Collaboration model on display at Shock The World New York  2013
The New Era fitted caps are well known for their black/gold sticker on the visor. New Era started using these stickers to replace labels since it was possible to produce these with a glue that left no residue on the cap. The fitted caps have no holes to attach a label on, so there is no way a cap can be damaged. Somehow it became a custom to leave the sticker on them, like a kind of extra proof of authenticity, although the sticker only shows the type of cap and size. Although you see people wearing New Era and other brands caps with the stickers left on it, somehow if you look at discussion fora about this topic, it seems the vast majority thinks you need to remove the sticker before wearing (like on-field baseball players do). Leaving the sticker on, is like wearing your clothes with the labels still on it. On the other hand, the harder the people say you need to remove your sticker, the more obstinate I would be to leave it on, ha ha. Actually on black caps the gold on the sticker looks pretty cool. As we could have seen on the Garish Black models, the combination black and gold is pretty nice. My advise? Do what you like most. I don’t care.
New Era on display at the G-Shock Soho store.
New Era on display at a Macy's Department Store. 
This New Era isn’t the first collaboration model with G-Shock, but it is the first official. Earlier a DW-6900 was released in November 2011 and in August 2013 also a DW-5600 was silently introduced. These DW-6900 and DW-5600 were only available through New Era Flagship Stores. That’s why you can’t find these on G-Shock Perfect Search (GPS) or other official Casio channels. This GA-110NE-9A is the first New Era Collab which is sold through the official Casio retailers. Unfortunately, in The Netherlands, and probably throughout whole Europe, collabs are not available at every Casio dealer. Casio now distributes these limited editions only via their “Trend Stores”, which are mostly street wear- and sneaker shops. You won’t find this watch at a jeweler store or a department store. In the US however, you can buy this model at Macy’s department stores.

The New Era is packed in a nice small “New Era Cap” box. The surprise isn’t over then, because you won’t find the regular tin inside, but a “real” miniature size 4½ 59FIFTY cap. It’s of course to small to wear, but it’s very original and cool. Actually the cap is a kind of pouch. At the under side there is a zipper. The GA-110NE-9A is hold nicely in a foam ring, which also keeps the mini cap in shape.

It’s not completely illogical why New Era and Casio chose the GA-110 as base for this collaboration. As there were already the DW-5600 and DW-6900 collaboration model, the GA-110 is a next popular model, specially among the youth. It’s X-Large case make it a nice eye catcher.
Comparison with the Garish Black (left)
Comparison Gold Defender Frogman (right)
The gold and black color scheme is taken from the popular 59FIFTY sticker on the visor. We have already seen on the Garish Black GA-110GB-1A that this combination is great. This time the resin of the bezel is in a gold tone. It’s not that shiny as on the Gold Defender Frogman, but it is still pretty cool. It looks like there is a thin jelly protection layer put over the gold resin. I think that’s a smart move, as metallic prints had the tendency to scratch off the straps and bezel after prolonged use. I was pretty disappointed when someone discovered a chip had been scrapped of my Gold Defender Frogman a few years ago, although it is hardly visible, even in my macro’s. The straps are glossy black and have on both sides the New Era flag logo. Funny detail, the strap keeper is dark translucent (like the resin of the recent Bape x Stussy Frogman). No idea why, as you hardly will see it when worn or even when taken off. The dial is almost similar as the Garish Black GA-110GB. There are only a few more black accents which make the dial, in my opinion, even look better. The watch has black hands with white tips, which makes reading (analog) time a lot better than on the Garish Black. i have worn this watch under dim light conditions and I was even surprised it was pretty easy to read time. with the Garish Black I have quite different experiences.
Funny detail is that, like every G-Shock in Europe, this watch comes with a CE sticker on the back. The sticker is proof this low voltage electronic product is safe for use, doesn’t harm your health and is environment friendly. I recently read a discussion about removing CE stickers from the back of European Market G-Shocks. It’s quite funny to see that the discussion about sticker removal expended even in the G-Shockers community. I always remove them. These stickers are plain ugly and also hide special back engravings, which I pretty much like on G-Shocks.
The GA-110NE comes with the usual 5146 module. I will not describe this module thoroughly this time, as I spend quite a lot text on the intro and background. In August I already did review this module thoroughly on the “Superman” GA-110FC-1. If you are interested in this watch and to know more details about the functioning, I can recommend to read that story, as it has the same module. On this watch you find, besides Time Keeping, a 100 hour Stopwatch mode, with Tachymeter function, a 24 hour Countdown Mode with Auto-Repeat function, a World Time mode with 48 Home Cities in 29 Time Zones, and an Alarm mode with 5 independent Alarms (1 is a Snooze Alarm) and of course a Hourly Signal. A pity that this model doesn't have "button beeps". Most newer G-Shocks have mutable button beeps, but here they stay muted.
The GA-110 has a LED that illuminates the dial. Unfortunately you can only read the Analog Time in the dark. The two LCD displays are not, or hardly, readable with the LED backlight. I wish Casio would come ever with a system that light the Dial, but also back lights the LCD displays. With the bright LED’s used nowadays, it must not be too hard to construct something with translucent materials. I think that would be really cool, specially with these negative displays (Casio, are you listening?). The light duration can be set between 1.5 seconds and 3 seconds. Personally I prefer the last one, specially on this type of dial. They are just a little harder to read, as there is much distraction.
The GA-110NE-9A was released in October 2013 in Japan. The retail price was ¥21000 yen, about €160.- at the moment. It also was released around that time in East Asia. In November this model was released worldwide. Retail prices were in Europe €169.- and in the US $180.-.
I have two of these New Era’s (one to wear, one for the collection). I’m very happy I got one of these via One Sec Please a few weeks before the official Dutch release, so I could already write about this model. One Sec Please is the new Dutch website for news about Fashion and Life Style. My second New Era was bought from Sneaker District in Amsterdam, where I also bought my Undefeated G-Shock this summer. If you are looking for this New Era model in or near my country, I also know that the Etnies Store Amsterdam has them too.
This watch is probably not for everybody’s choice. I would say it has quite a “Swag” factor, which in normal words means, it goes well with the younger kids. For photographing I brought the cap and watch to my school, because of the big white table we have in one of the labs. Specially the younger students (second and third grade) could not take their eyes from the cool mini New Era cap. I even caught my son wearing this 4¼ cap on his head for fun. If you like the gold tone, it’s of course also wearable for older people, like me, specially if you like the black and gold color scheme. Personally I like the black bezel of the GA-110GB more, but the dial and hands look better on this one. This watch should be easily to find at the moment and selected fashion, street wear and sneaker stores. It is a worldwide release and the amount made is not quite what you could call limited, but on the other hand, if you like this model, buy it now, while stocks last. I can see this model change into a wanted model in the near future. It would be a pity if you have to pay twice retail if you can have it now for a normal price.


SkyForce6 said...

Awesome article Sjors!

I will for sure be getting this as a Christmas present! I think it is one of my fave releases this year and one of my faves amongst the GA-110 line up. Love it...

As for stickers on or off, I do not care either but for me it is stickers off. Sjors you are so cool I think you can wear anything and get away with it hehe :)
The CE stickers I never remove directly, instead I have a little fun with them. I just leave them on and wear the watch and then eventually the sticker will come off
by itself, I always try to make them last at least 10 wear cycles. That is when I consider the watch properly initiated is when the sticker comes loose :)

The packaging is also great for this model. But it is very strange that they did not release a full size version of that cap, after all NE is a cap company first.
I saw a clue that give me a little hope and that is a competition going in Japan were one of the prices for January seem to be a full size version. So maybe it will come out? I hope so!

Speaking of caps, I have never seen that black G-Shock cap with red trim version you had in your picture. Where did you get that? I very much would like to have a cap such as
that, looks great! :)

The one who discovered that black chip mark on your Gold Defender froggie was me, when you posted a wrist shot of it in your Japanese blogg! Hope I did not cause to much
stress when I revealed it ! I saw some spare resin for sale on eBay ( a very rare event) but by the time I was about to send you a message about it someone already bought it :(

I agree about the dial being easier to read than the GB version and many other GA-110 versions. As for the muted buttons, I read that the designers wanted to enhance the
mechanical aspect of the watch so they excluded button beeps because genuine mechanical pieces do not have button beeps. Me personally are not bothered by the lack of
button tones.

You are correct this is still easy to find online. The exact limitation of this model is not known, the strange thing is that not even New era themselves know how many pieces
exist. They are only aware of that they had access to 110 pieces in the New Era EU shop. The release pattern have also been unusual and strange, they are playing cat and mouse
with us collectors. Other than the NE shop only a select few retailers that are considered "hip enough" are allowed to carry it and only a very few pieces each like 2-5 pieces.
My guesstimation is that about 2000 pieces was made available worldwide so if that is the case then by Casio standard that is quite limited. Not very limited but limited!

Unknown said...

Great photos, history, and unboxing!