The G-9000 Mudman was initially released in Japan, about 18 months ago. This was no silent addition to the market. Casio had press releases galore, and this watch was highly anticipated. Photographs and drawings appeared, that looked spectacular. For months before the watch was finally made available, its features were a constant subject of speculation. I personally have not seen this much hype over a new model of G-Shock in the time that I’ve been collecting them. The hype of the recently released Gulfman frankly pales in comparison to the marketing machine of the Mudman. The Mudman was all that G-Shock fans could talk about.
When the first few days of sales ensued, it was a feeding frenzy. After all, this was the first newly designed “Master of G” in many years. It had to be better than your ordinary G. As soon as Casio would release a batch, they’d quickly be bought up. For those of us in the US, we had a long wait until they would first appear in a local store. I took the early initiative, and ordered from a Japanese reseller, paying quite a bit more than the final price of Mudmen now available in the US. I was happy to pay it though, announcing to my wife that I had found the last watch I’d ever need.
When my G-9000-1V first arrived in the mail, I opened the box as if it contained the Holy Grail itself. I heard angels singing and a bright glow came from beneath the styrofoam peanuts. I firmly grasped the watch with both hands and raised it for all to see!!! I gazed upon the new Mudman, and my face contorted away from a gaping smile, into a rather scary quizzical expression. This is a “Master of G”? It definitely had some powerful looking styling to it, but it was assuredly not masterful in size. The pictures made the watch look so much…… bigger. It was like seeing a picture of a prize on a cereal box, and then finding a tiny trinket after seemingly hours of digging your way through Capt’n Crunch. The Mudman was certainly not what I’d been expecting.
Then began the endless comparisons between the new G-9000 and the venerable DW-8400 Mudman. Many insisted that the G-9000 was not worthy of the “Master of G” moniker, while others praised the G-9000 as an upgrade over the old and tired workhorse. For what it was worth, at least we had something called a “Master of G” that was still in production.
Well, the G-9000 was comfortable enough, at least. Up until that point, I was not a fan of resin straps. The other resin strapped G-Shocks in my collection were uncomfortable, to say the least. This Mudman however, had an entirely different feel to it. I could actually wear it for hours on end, without the strap imprinted deep marks in my skin, or making my wrist itch like crazy.
The strap really is a work of art. Casio got the angle just right, where the strap leaves the head of the watch. The Mudman sticks in place on my wrist, as if it was glued, but provides no discomfort for me whatsoever. The tire tread design on the inside of the strap is shear genius, from a comfort perspective. There is also a ton of strap ventilation, to keep the skin nice and cool. The double buckle design has proven to be very secure.
People’s initial reaction to the strap length was quite mixed. The titans of the world were able to wear it, but with very little strap left for the keeper. The pencil-wristed nerds complained that the strap was too long. I happened to be one of the pencil-wristed nerds. I eventually cut the strap down to a more manageable size. Looking back now, the strap length is pretty good. It’s not perfect for everybody, but does make the watch wearable for a large range of wrist sizes. And we little guys can actually wear the full sized strap on the outside of our coats during outdoor activities.
The strap keeper is another issue entirely. I really don’t know what Casio was thinking. If the strap is even remotely too large for your wrist, the keeper sails about with a mind of its own, sliding off of the strap’s tag end every minute or two. I can assure you though, that once the strap is trimmed down to size, the keeper issues almost completely disappear. If you just can’t bear to cut your strap, take a look at Holger’s excellent “DIY strap keeper hold-in-placer”. It’s really quite ingenious and easy to make.
One should also note that the Mudman strap does not attach via the spring bars that are commonly found on watches. The head secures to the strap with screws. This method of attachment has its good side and bad side. The obvious plus is that the strap is much more secure than your average two-piece strap. The bummer is that you have no option other than the proprietary Casio strap. I should also mention that Casio went the extra mile with the strap screws, and gave them not only a Philips head, but a hex driver head in case you accidentally strip out the Philips slot.
Another reason for the exceptional comfort of the Mudman is the resin case back cover. The cover is mainly designed for mud resistance, but it is also integral to the luxurious feel of the watch. Six little bumps with a tire tread design, on the case back cover, lift the watch from your wrist, letting much needed air underneath to cool your wrist. The case back cover almost completely prevents the case back from sweat-sticking to your wrist; a problem that I find to be especially annoying.
I should mention that some people find the tire tread bumps to be irritating to the back of their wrist. I haven’t had this problem myself, but it sounds like it could easily be cured, by sanding down the bumps a bit, thus rounding the tire treads.
Like most every other G-Shock now made, the case is made of some form of impact resistant composite material. The Mudman’s case back is made of stainless steel, and attaches via four screws. The screws are shouldered in a way that they run through the case back cover, and then through the case back and thread into the case. So the screws actually hold on the case back cover also. The case back cover itself is typical of a “Master of G”, giving us an engraved mascot. This time it is a mole driving….. himself. His legs have turned into wheels, and he holds a disembodied steering wheel. Unusual, but very humorous.
The resin bezel carries on in the tradition of the original DW-8400 Mudman. The fifth light button cover is actually integrated into the resin bezel. The four side buttons covers are now separate pieces of resin, but they have somehow been fused to the bezel itself. The bezel in no way imparts any real amount of water resistance, but should be quite effective in keeping mud from sinking into the button gaskets.
The thick resin bezel also leaves the mineral glass crystal deeply recessed. This raises the height of the watch, but leaves the crystal very well protected. Casio has learned from the original DW-5600 design, where cracked crystals were quite commonplace.
The last part of the watch is purely cosmetic. What appears to be a steel inner bezel is actually a few pieces of odd-shaped stainless steel, glued to the composite case. I guess that Casio’s design team thought that the new Mudman needed a touch of class added in. This hardly seems in character with the Mudman’s job description, but I don’t think that the inner bezel greatly detracts from the overall look.
So now, after a year and half of ownership, I still run hot and cold on the aesthetics of the Mudman. There are times when the asymmetry of the case makes my head spin. On some days, the red buttons drive me mad. But then there are times like the last few weeks, where the watch as a whole seems just fine, and I can’t pry it off of my wrist.
I’ve come to enjoy the fact that the watchdoesn’t stick out as far from my wrist as a Frogman. I can actually wear the Mudman quite comfortably, without it getting caught on the sleeves of my coat. Yet, I still yearn for a giant “Master of G”. I do still consider the G-9000 to be the most comfortable watch in my collection, of any type. From a functional perspective, the Mudman is just about perfect. The buttons are a bit hard to press, but nothing that bothers me too much. I hear that boiling the resin does soften the buttons, but I have never tried this. The sheer amount of resin, coupled with the styling of the watch, leads me to believe that this could be the toughest G-Shock yet made. Maybe that’ll be a future project. A destructive test of a Mudman, just to see what it will survive.
Tune in tomorrow…… or maybe the next day, for an closer examination of the G-9000 Mudman module.