As a die-hard Casio fan, I’ve been wanting to get myself into the vintage G-Shock game for a while, but the right piece never quite seemed to come along at the right time. That is, until a few weeks ago, when I bought a forlorn-looking, naked, 25-year-old steel screwback G-Shock for a good price from a friendly WUS seller:
The DW-5600C, Japan “H”, Module 691.
Well, when it arrived, the thing was better than pictured -- and actually really, really nice. It looked like it could be 25 weeks, not years, old. Here’s some “before” pics from when it arrived, with some comments:
- To me, the most important element when restoring an old G, is the crystal glass. Scratches or defects are possible to be polished out, but it is difficult. So I was very pleased that the glass on this watch is just about mint and perfect. No blemishes or flaws are apparent on the glass - Excellent!
- The heavy stainless steel case is similarly nice. The rough appearance you can see on the steel case is not wear and tear -- it is the actually the way Casio produced these “H”-marked watches back in the day (i.e., they basically left the machining of the steel raw and unfinished.)
- I was pleased that all four case screws are present and intact (good, because they are now unobtainable).
- Finally, as I expected, the caseback does have some minor scuffing consistent with having been worn. I buffed it by hand with some Simichrome on a microfiber cloth and it shined up nicely; the scuffing is not removed entirely, but it does look better. If I took a Dremel to it with a buffing wheel, I could most likely completely restore the mirror finish of brand new. But I am leaving it as-is for now, with a little vintage patina, for character.
- The strap was badly deteriorated from age and had become stiff and shiny – I threw it away (but saved the buckle, stamped "CASIO JAPAN").
- And the bezel was missing.
OEM straps and bezels for the original screwback G-Shocks went out of production in 2010. But this need has been addressed by the new reproduction resin parts from the Brazilian vendor “watches.br” on eBay. These “Brazilian Resin” parts have earned a good reputation on the forums for fit, quality, and appearance. They are reasonably priced -- $40 shipped to the USA for a bezel, strap, and gasket combo. These parts allow our vintage watches to continue to serve as the tough, useful, attractive pieces they deserve to be:
The Brazilian resin isn’t an identical reproduction, (the font is slightly different than the original), but the fit is indeed perfect, the quality and feel seem excellent, and it’s really the only reasonable choice if you want to wear one of these old watches. I actually kinda like the Brazilian font as a change of pace, even though many do not.
- Here’s a helpful review of the Brazilian resin by WUS super-member & G-guru “Kung-Fusion”
- And here’s another good example of a 5600C restored with Brazilian resin
Those new resin pieces, along with ordering up a new CR2320 battery, and I was all set. All that needed to be done was to install everything . I got excited, knowing that this watch is gonna be NICE!
- New battery and caseback gasket – check.
- Put the old buckle on the new resin strap, and install the strap on the watch – check.
- Install the new resin bezel – check.
And "check" out the finished product:
Here is the modern youngster (GW-5000) next to the grizzled granddaddy:
I love how you can “see some steel” when you look down your arm while wearing the watch:
The quality of these old watches is very evident. They are rugged, robust, and clearly built to last:
- The hefty, thick steel and screwback case gives the watch a certain gravitas and presence on the wrist that makes it very pleasurable to wear.
- The buttons press smooth as silk, the crystal-clear LCD display is super crisp, vivid, and contrasty, and the beeper is nice & loud.
- Even the light bulb works (about as well as they did back in the day -- i.e. modestly....)
- As expected, the flow of functions is just classic Casio -- logical and easy, with dual time, alarm (settable to the month and/or day if you want), 24-hour countdown timer, 24-hour count-up stopwatch, the “REM” blinking reminder mark -- plus the time of day shows in the other modes, for your convenience.
- I do like that the “Light” button is in the upper right, where it’s “supposed” to be on a Casio – I wish the modern DW-5600E had it there. Wonder why they ever changed that?
I also think it’s cool that the DW-5600C occupies the very short list of watches that are “Flight-Qualified by NASA for Space Missions.” Hey, Omega X-33 . . . you’ve got company!
(Mission Commander Ken Bowersox, aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-73, October 1995)
(Mission Pilot Kent Rominger, aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-73, October 1995)
I'm really happy with the watch. It is useful and practical, yet has that “special something” that is enjoyable. This piece fits into my collecting philosophy of preferring pieces that are special or unique in some way, but that the general public would not recognize as such. The GW-5000 is a great example of this attribute. A Grand Seiko; another example. These are understated, stealthy, watches of substance -- but with an external image that is extremely subtle. When I wear it, no one but me knows that this DW-5600C is a valuable and interesting vintage piece with a real place in watch history – it looks to a casual observer like a $50 watch bought at Target. I like that quiet stealthiness – that encoded desirability – very much.
It feels good to restore this vintage survivor, and give it a second lifetime of useful service as a totally functional, attractive, practical, watch.
PS -- The phrase “Brazilian resin” sure sounds like it oughta be more exciting than it really is, eh?