Sunday, November 1, 2015

Purple Sunrise

Sorry for my absence lately. First two jobs, then change of jobs, loads of other work, meeting a lot of interesting people and maybe a lack of interest in writing. Fact was that during the many years of writing for 50 Gs, I am almost out of Gs to write about. There were still some Gs I want to put on the article list, but I had no hurry to write, until I saw this purple pink beauty a few months ago popping up. I was hoping it would be a reasonably priced Frog, and not avery exclusive Titanium version. And luckily, it was. Because of my busy schedule, it took me three weeks to complete this article.
This Frogman is part of a new series of Men In Color series, a returning series of Master of G models in a specific color scheme, started with the Men In Black series in 1997. Since then, if I count correctly, Casio has released already 18 different Men In Color series, before this series in Sunrise Purple has been released. Quite an amazing color it is. I think everybody loves sunsets and sunrises. The unique colors shades of sunrise and sunset are caused by Rayleigh scattering. It’s a phenomenon caused by atmospheric particles that are smaller than the wavelength of light (roughly 380 - 780 nm). During daytime mostly blue colors are filtered out of the white sunlight, causing our blue skies. When the sun is low at the horizon, however, the distance that light travels through the atmosphere is much longer, causing a shift of the scattered light towards longer wavelengths as yellow and red. The last bits of light, seen after sunrise can sometimes turn pink or even purplish. This must have inspired the designers of Casio to make this series. It sounds nice of course, but it also could have been called Raspberry Purple, because the shade of color this series comes close to that of raspberry juice. A shade somewhere between pink and fuchsia.
The Men In Sunrise Purple series contain three models, a Mudman, a Riseman and this Frogman. The Mudmad and Riseman have both a negative display (a reversed display with white digits on a black background). In my opinion the Frogman looks the best. For me the other two models would have looked better with the same amber positive display as this Frogman.
Despite of the playful color, the GFW-1000SR-4JF is quite a serious watch. The Stainless Steel case has been DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) coated, protecting the case from scratches and salty sea water. The asymmetric design makes the watch comfortable to wear (when worn left). The shape prevents the case hammering in your hand if you bend your hand suddenly towards your wrist, a thing some big watches tend to do when not asymmetrical.
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The GWF-1000SR Frogman is quite a complete watch. It is solar powered and the rechargeable battery has quite a large capacity. In large parts of the world, you don’t have to worry about the time keeping, as the watch has Multiband 6 Waveceptor function. It can receive the time signal from 2 transmitters in Europe, also 2 in Japan, one in China and one in the USA.
The Frogman is primary designed for diving. The Tidegraph prominently shown on the display can be a very handy feature. Also for me, living close to the sea, it is a handy instrument, even though I am not a diver. A Moon Phase indicator is also included in the display. Like all Frogman models Casio had released in the past, there is a Dive Timer on board, so you can record your diving activities. The Dive Timer can be easily accessed by press and holding the MODE button for a few seconds. A total of 10 Dive Records can be recorded.
All other functions of the watch can be reached by short pressing the MODE button. Starting from Time Keeping Mode, you first enter the Diving Log call Mode, where you can view your last 10 dive activities. The next mode you enter is the Tide and Moon Data Mode. In this mode you can view the tide and moon phase at your home location. The Tidegraph can be easily programmed, by inputting the time of the current High Tide in your location.
The number reads July 20th, 2015. The 201st day of a year ending with a 5 (E is the 5th letter of the alphabeth)
The last four modes are pretty usual modes for modern G-Shocks. First is the World Time Mode with pre-programmed time of 48 cities in 31 time zones. I’m pretty happy that Casio not only pre-programs a few popular dive spots (or popular whale observation spots) in their Frogman models, but now cover about every time zone in the world. Next is the Alarm Mode with 4 regular alarms, a Snooze Alarm and of course the Hourly Time Signal. The last two modes are Stopwatch Mode and the Countdown Timer Mode, which both have a maximum capacity of 24 hours, which is in almost all cases more than enough. Frankly those are my most used Modes of G-Shocks in my daily life, besides Time Keeping Mode.
I normally love the button beep, but in some cases you don’t want to make any noise. It is possible to turn off the button tone in the Adjustment Mode. Also you can choose between a backlight illumination of 1.5 or 3 seconds.
The pinkish purple color might not be suitable for everyone, although I think this model will be quite popular in East Asia and Japan. I'm half Indonesian myself, and I think red, purple and pink colors suit me very well. When it was released, the first wave of this model was not easy to find in the shops. Luckily my friend Yupadee in Tokyo, found one in a shop for me, and another one for a good friend of me in Thailand. Quite a lot of people want to make fast money by buying the regular models in the shops and sell it for quite a high price on Yahoo Japan nowadays. I paid retail, ¥77000 plus tax and shipping, which is quite a price for a G-Shock, but not for a GWF-1000 Frogman. I tried to find the production notes, but I couldn’t find it. Somehow I think this model will be available for some time and the price might drop, like happened to the Burning Red model. However, the G-Shock market has changed a lot the past 5 years and the demand for this model might remain higher than the supply. Predicting prices of limited edition G-Shocks becomes quite harder nowadays. Although I can easily wear this watch, I love this color, I think also women will love this big watch, specially in East Asia. I learned from Casio this model will soon be limited available in the US too. This might also be a sign this watch will be produced for a longer period of time, usually about 3000 to 5000 pieces per month. For the Men In Sunrise Purple series, I think this model will be much more popular than the other two models, because of the display. I’ve got nothing against negative displays, but I think it match better with less bright and dark colors.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

G-Shock 27: My GSC Travel to Thailand part.. III: A big beer brewery and a nice custom G-Shock.

After the party on May 2nd, I had to go to bed on time, as the program for my last day in Thailand started early. That sunday I woke up actually early and saw that Riley of My G-Shock had tried to contact me. Due to the huge time difference between Philadelphia and Bangkok I was able to contact him via facetime. This was cool, though I had only short time to chat. Still it was cool to have a conversation with such a legendary person. After refreshing myself, it was time for an early breakfast. I travelled down the elevator at 7 as I already was picked up at 7:30. Of course, I got again the banana bread with marmalade.
Todd and Thiti arranged something very special. The weekend I was in Thailand was a long weekend, because of national holidays on Friday May 1st, May 4th and Tuesday May 5th. Due to the weekend and holidays, there was relatively not much traffic. Therefore we already arrived at one of the Boon Rawd Breweries after an interesting one and a half hour drive. Just in time as we had an appointment with one of the Master Brewers of this brewery.
After we were introduced by each other, the Master Brewer starts his presentation. Normally this presentation is done for bigger groups, but for this occasion the presentation is done in a relative big office. This brewery is the newest brewery of the Singha Corporation and only brews Leo Beer. Leo Beer is the newest beer of the Boon Rawd Breweries and actually also the most popular beer of the Singha brand in Thailand.
On the left the 1500 hl brewhouse, on the right the 1000 hl brewhouse.
Normally the brewery is in production 24/7, but because of the long weekend, the brewery was not brewing, so the brewer took the opportunity to CIP both brew houses (CIP = Clean In Place, meaning that the installation is cleaned automatically, without disassembly) and had time to give the presentation. The size of the brewery is enormous. There are two “brewhouses”. One of 1000 hl and one of 1500 hl, placed parallel to each other. Brewing is a continuous process in this brewery. Every 2 hours a brew is completed and a new one is started. This means every 2 hours this brewery produces 2500 hl. I am a volunteer brewing assistant in one of the largest micro craft breweries in my country. When in full production, we can make between 2000 hl and 2500 hl a year. This brewery produces per day 12 times our maximal year production. Wow!
The first kettle (left) is for making rice ready for mashing, 2nd kettle is for the mash, 3rd is the big brewing kettle, next the whirlpool and the last one is for the filtered and cooled young beer. 
For me the most interesting thing to see, is that this enormous brewery just works like my little home brew installation and the brewery where I work. Well, almost. I noticed a huge extra kettle placed before the mashing kettle. I learned this was an extra kettle to prepare rice, as Leo Beer is not only brew with malts, but also with rice. This gives the beer a richer flavor and a dryer mouth feel, perfectly for drinking a few bottles at a hot day (note that while I was in Thailand, it was around 35ºC every day). In comparison, Singha lager, which is brewed in two other breweries, is a 100% barley malt beer. Of course I couldn’t resist to ask what kind of hops are used. I noticed this was a bit uneasy question. Only a few people of the Boon Rawd breweries know what kind of hops are used. Actually the hops are brought in the brewery in unmarked bags or bags with the stickers removed.
After viewing the brew houses, we went to an over 2000 meter long hall, which connects all parts of the brewery facilities together. This is the place where normal visitors only can see the brewery. Next to the brewhouse. From a glass wall we can look into the laboratory. Although the brewery wasn’t in production, several analysts were still working at the lab. Quality control is needed 24 hours a day. We also pass a hall where water is purified for brewing, before we reach the enormous bottling hall and warehouse. Although the brewing houses were not in production, still one canning unit was still working. When walking back to the brewhouses, I noticed a funny sign “No Taking Pictures”. Although I had taken quite some photo’s, I respect the company secrets and place only the more general photo’s of the brewery.
The fermentation- and storage tanks outside the brewery. 
Kind of girly office. 
These are the rice storage tanks. Th much larger barley malt tanks are on th eright (not on this photo, but you cn see them in the first photo of the brewery, where we were still on the highway).
Outside, on the other side of the hall, there is a huge tank park with 52 fermentation tanks, 20 storage tanks and 10 Bright Beer (lagering) tanks, which are all cooled, as Leo is a cold fermentation beer (lager).
About an hour after we arrived, we drove back to the hotel where I arrived around noon and had some time for myself. I got some packages in the minibus from the Singha Brewery. First some nice polo shirts of Manchester United and Chelsea (both sponsored by Singha) and, very cool, a cycling jersey and bib in my size of Singha Drinking Water (which kept me hydrated during the long trips in the minibus).
Unfortunately... fake.
Thai people are not tall. I can't impossible walk under this construction.
Later that afternoon I went out walking down the road, do a little sight seeing and looking for something to eat. Within 100 meter I already bought my first T-Shirt. Curious as I am, I walked up and down some l alleys. While passing some kind of big office building I greeted to one of the guards, as I saw he was wearing something that appeared to be a G-Shock. I asked if I could take a picture, as I didn’t know this version, but when I looked at the photo a little later, I saw it was a fake G-Shock. Damn. In one of the side streets I discovered a kind of French bakery, which sounds always tasty. I had a delicious almond bread and blackberry juice.

After my late lunch, I decided to walk down the road, under the railroad, so I could take the Bangkok Skytrain back to the hotel. I should have done this earlier. I first had to struggle with the ticket mechanism, but if I knew there were also cheap day tickets, I should have travelled a lot more (reminder to myself If I might visit Bangkok again). First I could not resist to take photo’s and movies of the trains entering the station. You didn’t have to wait long, as the frequency of trains was about a train every 5 minutes. You might maybe not know, but as a child I was crazy about trains and I still like to travel by train. I had only walked the distance of two stations. The station in-between where I got on the train and my hotel was called Nana, which I find amusing. When I grew up, I lived in a street, where I had a friend called Nana. We had a big future before us. I would become a train driver, she would become a nurse, we would get married and have 4 children. Until I was about 15 years old and was going to Paris. So I told her and she replied: “Oh, that’s so cool. What language do they speak in Paris?”.
Back at the hotel I took a good shower and made myself ready for dinner with Todd Piti. He had noticed I loved the tuna salad in Est. 33, so the bus took me to a Japanese restaurant. We had a good conversation, as Todd was very curious how I live on my island (which is actually nowadays a peninsula), we talked about brewing and micro brewing and, of course, we talked a lot about G-Shock hunting. The food was very delicious. We tried various dishes. Californian rolls, all kind of fish and of course, tuna sashimi, one of my favorite foods.
While we were talking Todd brought something on the table. It was the customized Singha Soda Water G-Shock. Todd knew I loved this model and said there were made two, so it would not be a problem for the contest. Needless to say, I felt honored. Time was flying at the restaurant, and before we knew it, we had to say goodbye, as I had to get up real early to go to the airport the next day. My three days in Thailand was like a very good rollercoaster ride.
Singha Soda Water. Yes, the Singha Corporation does not only make beer. Mix drinks, white spirit, Rice crackers, seaweed snacks, rice, lifestyle drinks, sports drinks, mineral water, drinking water and finally Soda water. Like most international brands, the drinking water has a blue label and the soda water (carbonized water) has a red label.

Like the label of the bottle, this custom G-Shock is white with red accents and with a nice sparkling bubbles pattern on the straps. It’s a very nice striking combination. I actually do not know who made this custom G-Shock. Maybe this article will change that over time, but it comes with a nice cubic box with an insert to present the G-Shock properly. The base model for this custom is highly probable the white/red DW-6900SC-7 from the `”Crazy Colors: Metallic Stars” collection of July 2013.
The custom straps are full of details from the Singha Soda Water bottle. On the short strap with the buckle, you’ll find a snippet of the label. Near the case you’ll find the text โซดาน้ำสิงห์, which translates to Singha Soda Water (โซดา = Soda, น้ำ = water, สิงห์ = Singha). Singha Soda Water is not only for drinking pure, but it also advertised to use in mixes. The company uses the slogan:”Make a Mix”, but in adverts it is also seen as a bottle of Soda Water with a “+” next to it. Hence you find “Make a Mix” on the long strap (together with the head of a red Singha) and a “+” above the label on the short strap.
Most striking I think is the red metallic face plate. It has a kind of texturized matte finish. On top of the face plate you’ll find the Singha text logo, while the gold Singha logo is printed on the faceplate. I love it how the light plays with this faceplate, when you move the watch.
The back of the watch has a custom engraving, though it has a little flaw. In the middle there is the logo of the Boon Rawd Brewery Co. Ltd. Somehow the laser etching was not very deep top eft of the logo. The text around the backplate suggests the model number DW-6900SODA. There is no module number given, but I assume it is the regular 3230 module. It also says it is “Made in Japan”, which I actually do not believe. I checked my DW-6900SC-7 and found it was made in Thailand. And with this custom model, made for a typical Thai drink and customized by a Thai G-Shocker, I would have been proud of my country, if it said: Made in Thailand.
This is my last article about my short, but intense trip to Thailand in May. I hope you liked my adventures. I like to thank Todd Piti, Jarujin and Thiti for arranging this trip in every detail. If I knew who was the G-Shocker, who made this Singha Soda Water G-Shock Custom, I would like to compliment him with designing this great looking and very good detailed custom G-Shock and packaging. Somehow, I think I will know who made this G-Shock soon after I publish this article. And finally, of course I would like to thank all the G-Shockers of GSC I met in Bangkok. You all gave me a happy indelible experience. Thank You!!!