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Casio G-Shock GW9200 RISEMAN

This entry was posted by on Sunday, 22 April, 2012 at

I am not much into watches, they should tell the time and just work. Turns out that is still a pretty hard task for a watch, because “telling the time” has to be accurate. The display should be clear, even illuminated in the dark. “Just work” is a whole next level of performance requirements, hard to achieve by a watch if you throw tough conditions at it.

And this is where Seiko’s G-Shock series comes in.

After several battery-operated analogue watches I bought one of the first solar-powered watches around 2000. I expected it would not suffer the trouble of finding replacement batteries, which had to be replaced at expensive jewelrystores. The solarpanel worked, however the battery would die every night. This was an analogue watch and I can imagine moving the hands around takes more energy than simply activating a field in an LCD matrix. Fed up with this I got myself a Seiko Kinetic, it charges a battery by using the energy of your movements. I was happy with this for a while, but at some time the mechanical part died; and sadly buying a new watch was cheaper than repairing it.

Summer 2009, I was in Tokyo’s Electronics district – Akihabara – where I picked up various components I’d been looking for, including a Seiko G-Shock GW9200J RISEMAN.

It comes in two varieties, the 9200 (module 3147) and 9200J (module 3145). The only difference is that the 9200 features Imperial units, whereas the J does everything in Metric units. Since I don’t live in the 1800’s anymore I bought the J version.

Casio has been developing its G-Shock series since 1983, improving ever since.

There are plenty of good technical specs and reviews out there (see References below) so I’ll just mention some – in my opinion – key features.

Appearance
On first glance, the G-Shock series looks like any other Japanese LCD watch. It’s black and it’s plastic. That’s where the similarities end.

Construction
The construction is tough. Designed to be able to survive impact from free-fall, electricity, vibrations, immersion in water, or any other insult you can throw at it.

This black plastic I mentioned, is not just any plastic. It is a particularly tough Urethane resin which serves me well – I have a long history of breaking stuff. I once owned a titanium watch, and though light and indestructible, any metal watch is bound to either make noise or scratches when it hits something, plastic in this case makes for better stealth.

The mineral glass is shock and scratch resistant (after three years of intensive use not a scratch) and the buttons are recessed so you do not accidentally push them. It is waterproof to 200m, which outperforms any of my other gear (including myself) so at least I can’t blame the watch 🙂

The wrist strap secures around your wrist and a keeper keeps it in place. A raised area at the end of the straps ensures it does not slide out of the keeper.

Overall, I am happy that in this world of fashion-driven development (where products seldom last longer than their warranty period) Casio is able to prove otherwise.

Features
The watch features synchronisation with atomic clocks using one of six zones, which together cover the entire world. It has a thermometer, a barometer and altimeter. It has five alarms, a stopwatch and probably many other features I forgot.

A really handy feature is the backlight, which turns on at the touch of the “G” button, or when the watch is positioned towards your face in the dark (yes, it has a gravity-sensor). It illuminates soft green, which is great because it does not ruin your natural night vision or give away your position with heaps of light.

Solar Power
The reason why this solar powered watch appealed to me, is that solar power is both free and infinite – within the limits of my own lifetime anyway. A good solar panel combined with a good battery can drive a low-power device such as a watch almost indefinitely.

Especially with good powersave features. The battery lasts about 6 months on a full charge, and about 20 months in powersave mode (when it shuts down the LCD). When the g-sensor senses it is being moved the display will turn back on.

My experience with my previous solar-powered watch was that a sleeve covering it for the better part of the day reduced its usefulness significantly. I have not had that problem with the G-Shock.

Pricing
As with any quality product, you get what you pay for. Looking around on the web, this model sells at prices between 180 and 360 dollars, depending where you look. Now I know the dollar is a weak currency, but I remember paying something like 35 Euro’s worth of Japanese Yen for it in Akihabara.

Modifications
Only few items I use are without modifications. The only customisation I did to this piece of gear is the addition of a compass which slides over the wrist strap. Together they make for some essential travel gear.

The one thing left on my wishlist is inclusion of a GPS module, but these consume a lot of power so I doubt it possible. But having Lat-Long on a watch may help in search-and-rescue situations. Of course you may disagree with me on the utility of such a feature, but keep in mind these watches are designed to go places – sometimes even unpleasant places.

Conclusions
This is a tough and durable watch. Synchronisation with atomic clocks ensures accuracy, solar power and adequately designed battery and powersave features ensure many years of operation, and the tough construction protects the internals. I hope it will last many years so I do not have to worry about finding a new watch any time soon. And if I do need to buy a new one, Casio made the decision rather easy for me, it is going to be another G-Shock.

Then, the proverbial problem is choice: Casio has about 40 different models in its G-Shock series!

References

GW9200J at Creation Watches, at CreationWatches blog.

GW9200 on WatchUSeek.com

User manuals can be found on the Casio website.


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