Sunday, March 29, 2015

G-Shock #14: Red DW-5600E with Bull Bars

I wrote this article after I got a question from Ilari Kaario and thought this was a nice subject. As I bought today's G-Shock in a shop 14 years ago, I didn't get the original package. So instead of the usual unpacking photo's, I hid today's G in Bram's old cap, that was by chance left on the table. 
From the vintage pre-90's G-Shocks, the DW-5200C and DW-5600C were probably the best sold models. The DW-5600C was introduced in June 1987 as a direct successor of the iconic DW-5000C, or as casio says, it has the "G-Shock Origen DNA". This model was sold for 9 years worldwide, until it was succeeded by the current DW-5600E in June 1996. As this model is still sold, with a slightly improved module, it will easily celebrate it's 20th anniversary next year (Casio, I see potential in a 20th Anniversary Commemoration model). The success of this model lies in it's classic square design, it's moderate size, friendly price (specially in the US) and of course of it's tough reputation. It is hard to imagine this model was actually quite big when it was released. Of course Casio had already released the bigger DW-6600 and DW-6900, but the classic square's design did not differ much of the design of many '80s digital watches. Actually, those retro 80's models are totally back in street fashion since a few years, and if you compare the DW-5600E to these, the DW-5600E looks like a giant.
In August 1996 Casio released another 3 DW-5600E models as DW-5600ED. Not basic black this time, but a grey version, a yellow version and this red model. Back in the '90's the bright colored yellow and red models were a big hit. The release was not exclusive for Japan, but were available worldwide. They were produced in large numbers and so I found this cute red version early 2001 in a jeweler shop in Vlissingen (Flushing). They had a Winter Sale and it was priced quite friendly. As far as I remember it was f80,- (80 Dutch Guilders), which would be now less than €40,-, but then keep in mind you could buy with f80,- maybe more than I could buy with €80,- now.
The deep red color and the uncomplicated look of this G-Shock immediately draw my attention, between all other late '90s models. I left the shop not only with this red G-Shock, but also with a Tommy Guerrero 21st Century Boys and a black Baby-G for Bram, who was at that time 6 months old.
Almost perfect camouflaged on out newly painted stairs. 
Apart from the bright colors of the DW-5600ED, this model stands apart of the basic DW-5600E by the thin "G" logo in the backlight, which is different from the usual thick "G" in the backlight of the DW-6600's and DW-003's at that time. Although I never had problems with the big "G" logo, some people complain they cannot read time clearly, because they are distracted by the "G". I think the "G" on this model will give much less problems with reading time, as it hardly blocks any digit. And of course, I would almost forget, because it is so obvious, the DW-5600ED has a "screen protector", better known as "Bull Bars". It is a stiff metal wire construction, that fits tight over the bezel and, as the name already says, protects the display. Besides protecting the crystal to be scratched, it also gives, intended or not, the watch a much more sturdy and tough appeal than the basic DW-5600E.
The most important upgrade from the DW5600C to the DW-5600E model, was the Electroluminescent Backlight. Casio wouldn't be Casio if they didn't think out different names for this EL Backlight for the domestic market and for the overseas market. The Japanese models got the name FOX FIRE printed on the crystal, while the export models got "ILLUMINATOR". To mix up names, the extreme mass produced DW-6900H (with the spiderweb and the skull) was unaltered for the export market, so it showed "FOX FIRE", but this was an exception. Actually I like the name "FOX FIRE". It refers to a book and a movie, "Firefox", about an ultra modern jet fighter. It has a lot of illuminating instruments, lighting up the whole cockpit brightly (I never have seen the movie, though).
The red colors of this models matched the colors of street fashion in the mid '90s. When red became popular in 2005, Casio re-released this model again, but only for the Japanese Market.
The DW-5600E, and of course the 5600ED, are basic G-Shock models, so the functions on this watch are also pretty basic. I would say, basic, but sufficient. The 1545 module has an automatic calendar, so if you input the right date and year, it will always show the right day. When you are in Time Adjusting mode, you can also toggle between 12- and 24 hour time keeping by pressing the light button (lower right). Besides time keeping, I use my G-Shocks mostly for the Countdown Timer and the Stopwatch function. These are both on board in a 24 hour version, which is for far the most cases more than sufficient. The Alarm mode can be set as a Daily Alarm, but also as a Date Alarm. When a Date Alarm is possible on a G-Shock, this means that you can also leave the day or the month digit blanc. When you do this you get a 1-Month Alarm or respectively a Monthly Alarm. I never used this feature, but if you need one, it's all included. An extra feature is the "Flash" function. You can toggle this on and off by pressing and holding the upper right button for about 3 seconds. When the Flash function is activated, the EL Backlight will flash any time an Alarm sounds. This is of course when the Alarm goes off, but also when reaching the target time of the Countdown Timer and when the Hourly Signal sounds.
Compared with normal watches a DW-5600 is quite big, but as I tend to wear bigger G-Shock models, like the DW-6900, GA-110, Frogman, GD-400, etc. The DW-5600E looks a bit small, though it is more or less between my ears. When I have been wearing big Gs for a period, I sometimes wear 5600's, to get used to normal sizes. You might sometimes forget that the DW-5600 has the original design of G-Shock. It's a good way to relativize size.
DW5600ED models were made in huge numbers, specially the yellow and red version, though it was quite a few years ago. You can however still find them for a nice price. I recently bought a second red one from fellow Dutch G-Shocker Colin. I do not remember what I paid for it, but I think it was in the order of €50,- ($60.-). I like this model above the basic DW-5600E just because I love the look with the bull bars. If you might find a second hand model for a friendly price, be sure you get the bull bars too. It happened a lot in the past that the bull bars were removed, or used on another model. As the bull bars intend to leave a little dent in the bezel (which look somewhat gigantic in my macro shots), I never recommend to wear a DW-5600ED without them. They just look too good with them on.