Monday, March 31, 2008

Vintage Hamilton "Selfwinding"

G-Shock Week-and-a-Half is over and I'm moving on, but I hope you enjoyed it and rest assured I have plenty more G-Shocks that will be on my wrist in the future. For today, however, let us turn the clock back to some number of years before my birth, say 1970 or so, for what I think is a quite nice looking Hamilton automatic. Honestly, I don't know much about this one. I saw it on eBay and decided it was for me. Based on the design and the claimed vintages of other similar watches I would say it's from right around 1970, give or take a few years. It is Swiss made, as indicated on the dial, and also "selfwinding", and seems to be all original, although the domed acrylic crystal is really perfect so it could be newer. I like the style of the dial, as well as the look of the gold electroplate cushion-shaped case. The case actually has a faint sunburst pattern to it (which seems to be more obvious on the non-gold plated version of this watch,) and it's in decent condition. While the old "gold filled" or "rolled gold plate" watches tended to be brass underneath, I'm pretty sure this one is stainless steel, and the increase in durability over the old technology is evident. Also, at about 1 3/8 inches wide (without the crown) I can actually wear it and not feel like it's lost on my wrist like many vintage watches I own. The screw-in stainless steel caseback has some scratches from being opened at some point, but I haven't opened it myself. The markings on the movemement might prove to be more helpful than the numbers on the caseback in finding out more about this watch. As I've said before, I still feel a connection to the Hamilton brand, even now that they have no real ties to the U.S.A. Even this watch from more than 35 years ago was made in Switzerland, and I guess could have been one of the latest models made by the original Hamilton company before it was sold to Swiss interests.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Day 8: Casio G-Shock DW-9600WC-7T W.C.C.S.

I'm wearing today one of my favorite G-Shocks which also seems to be one of the rarer models, a DW-9600WC-7T. I don't regularly see DW-9600s for sale on forums or eBay, and the special editions even less so. This is a special edition made for the World Coral-Reef Conservation Society (I could only find the Japanese website.) As you can see in the pictures it has profiles of sting rays or manta rays in the EL backlight, as well as the W.C.C.S. markings on the band and caseback. This is another G-Shock (like the Frogman) that has a full titanium case and titanium screw-in back (polished in the front with more of a natural finish on the sides and back)surrounded by the plastic protective case. To me, it's very much like a slightly smaller, more conventional looking Frogman. In addition to all the normal G-Shock features like countdown timer, stopwatch and 200m water resistance, this model also features a telephone number memory (30 pages of 8 letters and 12 numbers per page.) It also seems that the band on this one (which is actually easily removed by sliding it off the watch, and could easily be swapped out with a nylon band or the like) is quite long too more easily fit over a wetsuit for diving. I think this is a great watch, but I don't wear it often enough so I'll be letting it go to make room for some new ones.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Day 7: Casio G-Shock DW-8400Y-9T Mudman

Yet another model in the Masters of G series, today's watch is the Casio G-Shock DW-8400Y-9T "Men in Yellow" Mudman. There are five different "Men in Yellow" models: Mudman, Frogman, Riseman, Gaussman and Fisherman. I'm missing the last two one (I saw a new and unworn MIY Gaussman on eBay this evening and jumped on it), but eventually you'll see the rest here (see my Men in Yellow group photo at the bottom of the post.) The Mudman label has actually been applied to three different models, but most would call this the original. Some Gaussman models have for some reason been labelled as Mudmen, and there is a newer series of Mudmen which carry on the tradition (which I have a couple of and you'll see at some point.) All of the Mudmen feature buttons sealed to keep out mud and dirt as well as the typical G-Shock 200m water restistance. I believe that most modern G-Shocks are also mud-resistant, but this is a feature that started with the Mudman model. I never realized how large the Mudmen were before I got one, but it rivals the Frogmen for bulkiness at almost 2 inches wide and quite thick, as you can see in the pictures. You can also see that the EL backlight features the "Moleman" character from the caseback, similar to the Men in Khaki Wademan, but in this situation he's digging a tunnel which obviously ties in to the "Mud Resist" features of the watch. Since I needed to change the battery in this one today, you can see below some pics of the inside of the watch, both with and without the black rubber shock absorber that goes between the module and caseback. One thing to note when changing G-Shock batteries: They typically have a small spring connecting the module to the metal caseback and you want to make sure not to lose it or forget to replace it. I believe it has something to do with the electical resistance of the module, but I've found that if you forget it the EL backlight tends to not function properly, if at all. Overall, the Mudman is a great watch and I enjoy wearing it, but it is a little large for everyday wear, probably something to do more with the thickness and length than the width. Definitely hard to overlook though, especially in bright yellow.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Day 6: Casio G-Shock GW-200K-2JR Frogman

Today's watch is the Casio G-Shock GW-200K-2JR Frogman, the second Frogman to be featured here. This model is from 2001 and as Sjors writes: "G-Shock releases special limited editions when the International Cetacean Education and Research Centers (I.C.E.R.C.) organize their International Dolphin & Whale Eco-Research Network." If you read Japanese you can find out more about I.C.E.R.C., but I don't so I don't know a lot about them. Pretty much all that I know is that the I.C.E.R.C. G-Shocks are limited editions, tend to be hard to find and usually pretty pricey. Add that to the inherent scarcity and collectability of the Frogmen and you can see why these are definitely good models to pick up. They usually have some pretty unique features as well, like the whale in the EL backlight on this model (seen here in Ozzie's photos) and special color schemes (the case on this one even has a metallic finish to it.) Other than that and the special I.C.E.R.C. markings and caseback this model is the same as the Triple Crown of Surfing Frogmen, in fact they use the same digital module (2422) so they have exactly the same watch functions. Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention in my previous Frogman write-up: The reason the case is offset to the left is to make it more comfortable to wear on the left wrist. If the case was centered, the large size could make it dig into the back of your hand if you had your wrist flexed, but with the offset design that's never a problem (unless you try to wear it on your right wrist, which makes it quite uncomfortable.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Day 5: Casio G-Shock GW5600J-1V

On my wrist today is the Casio G-Shock GW5600J-1V. This watch shares its basic design with the first G-Shock, the iconic DW-5000C-1A from 1983 as well as dozens of similar models since then. I believe this is the most recognizable G-Shock design, which by the late 1980s was also copied by virtually every other digital watch company. This particular watch is one of the newer G-Shock models which includes solar power and radio-controlled atomic timekeeping (which syncs to US or Japanese atomic clocks,) two features that I'm sure were not even imagined back in 1983. It also includes all the typical G-Shock features, like EL backlight (including and Auto-EL function that turns on the light when you tilt your wrist to read the time,) 200m WR, countdown timer and stopwatch. It's much less bulky than some of my other G-Shocks (I might have to add some pics of the GW5600 next to the Raysman since the difference is staggering) but doesn't come off as a "small" watch. The display is very large and legible and it's one of the few watches that I own that I really do forget I'm even wearing. This model was released in late 2005 in Japan and generated quite a bit of excitement since it had the classic style with new technology. I bought mine in 2007 in the USA, and they're pretty common now (and there's even a newer model that can receive time signals in Europe as well) and can be found online and in stores for well under the $100 MSRP. For a "normal" person it could definitely be the only watch they ever need.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Day 4: Casio G-Shock DW-9300MS-8T Raysman

G-Shock Week-and-a-Half is back! Five solid days of G-Shocks starting today with the DW-9300MS-8T Raysman "Men in Smoke". Yet another from the "Masters of G" series (see also Day 3 and Day 2) the Raysman is the first "Tough Solar" G-Shock, a feature that can be found on many G-Shocks today, as well as many Casio Pathfinder watches. As far as I know, the "Men in Smoke" moniker only refers to the smoky-green translucent case and has no real significance. This watch features a 30 page Telememo memory in addition to all the G-Shock features we know and love, including 200m water resistance, stopwatch and countdown timer. Casio claims that a fully-charged Raysman will continue to keep time in complete darkness for two years and that seems quite reasonable to me. Mine was in complete darkness for at least a year and had a substantial charge when I got it out recently. While it seems like the bat logo on the caseback and EL backlight (see Sjors' photos here) are a strange choice for a solar-powered watch, I believe the ability for it to "survive" in darkness is the connection. And for laughs, allow me to quote that 1999 G-Shock brochure once again: "Solar power draws energy for the watch from any light source (spotlights, porchlights, headlights, fluorescents, incandescents, cue beams, tractor beams, and many more)." Obviously, somebody in Casio's advertising department has a sense of humor. I really like the design of the Raysman and its large size. It's a tough watch to overlook and equally tough to hide under a shirt cuff. I have another one but wouldn't mind adding more to my collection.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day 3: Casio G-Shock DW-9800NKJ-3JR Wademan

I'm wearing my Casio G-Shock DW-9800NKJ-3JR Wademan "Men in Khaki" watch today. This is another of the "Masters of G" series. While it's definitely unique and large, it's certainly not as stange looking as the Riseman. Before I started collecting G-Shocks I don't think I had any idea how diverse the range of watches was. This particular model includes a compass, thermometer and multiple time zones as well as all the usual G-Shock stuff like stopwatch and 200m water resistance. The Wademan is also the only G-Shock model to have a rotating bezel, and this "Men in Khaki" version is the only one with a black PVD bezel. It has compass directions on it so you can rotate it to match the digital compass bearing, which is taken by pushing the "Bearing" button and shows the direction in degrees as well as indicating north with three segments on the outer LCD ring. While the watch may look all black it's actually very dark green and black with text in silver and orange and a camouflage strap retainer. From what I've read, the "Men in Khaki" models were supposed to have a military look to them and I think this one does it quite well. This series also has the recurring "Moleman" character that shows up on the casebacks and in the EL backlight, in this case looking very outdoorsy with his axe and posing with the tree stump.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day 2: Casio G-Shock DW-9100B-2AV Riseman

Today's watch is one of the "Masters of G" series, the Casio G-Shock DW-9100B-2AV Riseman. Off the top of my head, I think the Riseman is the strangest looking watch model I own. Not just because it's large (over 2 inches wide!) and has a big sensor intake on the left side, but the strange shapes on the bezel, the multicolor leather and nylon on the band and funky textured buttons all add up to a very alien looking watch. Rather than have me run through all the features, allow me to quote a 1999 G-Shock catalog: "RISEMAN features Altimeter, Barometer, Thermometer, Auto Switch Backlight, Shock Resistant Housing, 200M Water Resistance, Auto Calendar, Daily Alarm, Hourly Time Signals, 12/24 Hour Formats, 1/100 Sec. Stopwatch, Low Temperature Resistance" as well as "A built in sensor measures barometer pressure, which is converted to relative altitude, from 0 to 19,680 feet in 20 feet intervals. Auto/manual memory measurements (up to 50 sets of data), reference altitude setting, altitude alarm and tendency graph." Whew! That's a lot of stuff. Remind me not to quote Casio promotional materials in the future. It's definitely an interesting watch, even if I'll only ever use the altimeter/barometer trend graph to see if I should expect better or worse weather. While Casio does have pictures of skydivers next to it in their catalog, I don't see myself wearing it to go skydiving. Nor do I see myself going skydiving. But it seems like it would be plenty tough for the job...

...although "Toughest Watch In The World" might be a bit of an overstatement. I'm pretty sure I have some stainless steel or titanium cased watches that would stand up to any number of sharp things a lot better than the plastic over plastic (ok, urethane over "strengthened composite fibre/plastic") construction of the Riseman. But hey, I didn't buy it to drop into a wood chipper, I bought it because it's big, funky and original.