Initial impressions of the Casio G-Shock GW-5000-1JF
** Description from the manufacturer (in Japanese) <http://product-search.casio.jp/wat/g...000-1JF&n=4187>
** Photos from Watch-Tanaka.com <http://watch-tanaka3.sub.jp/casio/GW-5000-1JF/>
** Manual (Japanese) is online at <http://ftp.casio.co.jp/pub/manual/ww/qw3159.pdf>
These are my initial impressions of the GW-5000. This is my first G-Shock and I would be interested in reading comments from those who have more experience with this brand. I was looking for a durable travel watch and prefer clean, legible and iconic designs.
I ordered the watch from Higuchi-inc.com and it arrived at my home in the United States four days later, inclusive of a bank holiday. I was very impressed with the speed of the correspondence and of the delivery. Domo arigato Higuchi-san!
The GW-5000 pays homage to the first G-Shock (DW-5000) that was launched in 1983 and is similar in shape. Sjors at 50-Gs has recently written an excellent summary of the evolution of this series <http://50-gs.blogspot.com/2009/05/20...shock-and.html>.
The case is 42mm in width and 13.5mm in thickness. To provide a widely known reference, this is similar in size to the Omega Speedmaster Professional which is 42mm in width and 14mm in thickness. Although the case is fairly thick, it conforms to the wrist and does not float high above the top of the wrist as with some mechanical watches.
The GW-5000 has a stainless steel case (resin was used in the most recent models of the series) with a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating that is a gunmetal grey in color. The DLC coating is reputed to be extremely hard and when I scratch the material with my fingernail it feels slicker than the uncoated stainless steel of the clasp. The four buttons on the case do not appear to be DLC coated and have a silver finish. The watch has a DLC coated stainless steel screw-back with a mirror finish.
The wearer will feel the weight of the watch (74 grams) on top of their wrist. The weight and the polished stainless steel provide a feeling of high quality that is discreet as it will likely be known only to the wearer.
The watch is capable of receiving radio signals from atomic clocks in Japan, the US, the UK, Germany and China (i.e., "Multiband 6". Japan has two atomic clock radio stations.). Some manufacturers such as Seiko only offer manual daylight saving time (DST) settings on some of their models. However, as the atomic clock radio signal time code formats in the US, the UK and Germany include DST information, I think Casio has taken the right approach by providing the option of automatic DST. I can always turn off the automatic DST function and adjust it manually but at least I have that option. Unfortunately, due to my current location, I am unable to test the atomic clock radio signal reception because I am well out of the range of all atomic clock radio transmissions.
The stated accuracy of the watch's 3159 module (i.e., caliber) is +/- 15 seconds per month without the benefit of synchronization with an atomic clock. While it is true that one could buy a Citizen Chronomaster (A660 caliber) with +/- 5 seconds per year accuracy for five to six times the price of a GW-5000, even for approximately the same price or less there are sapphire crystal high-end quartz watches with +/- 20 seconds per year accuracy. This suggests that Casio could have tightened their specifications for quartz accuracy. For radio-controlled watches, +/- 15 seconds per month seems to be the current norm across manufacturers, unfortunately. On the whole, I am not bothered by an accuracy of +/- 3 minutes per year. Here is a beautiful watch with a minimum time increment of 10 minutes where determining XX:X1 versus XX:09 might be difficult <http://www.botta-design.de/en_uno_24.html>.
I chose a positive display because I find Casio's negative displays to be hard to read. The negative display model is GW-5000B-1JR.
The watch looks like a serious tool. The colors on the watch face are tasteful and are comprised of black, grey and white with a very small wedge of red at the bottom center. I find the red stripe around the watch face in the original DW-5000C-1A design to be distracting and I am relieved that it was not incorporated in this model.
The double-horned corner guard next to each of the four buttons is much less noticeable in real-life than in photographs.
The watch crystal is mineral glass and not sapphire crystal. While I generally prefer sapphire crystal to mineral glass, I suppose an argument can be made that for a rugged watch it is preferable to have a mineral crystal that is less prone to shattering even if it is more prone to scratches. It is the same rationale for preferring the hesalite watch crystal in the Omega Speedmaster Professional for manned space missions.
One of the reasons why I've been dissuaded from buying G-Shocks in the past is the busy face. Does anyone really need to see "WR 20BAR", "MULTI BAND 6", "TOUGH SOLAR", "SHOCK RESIST", "G-SHOCK", "PROTECTION" on a watch face? No. However, it is possible that the numerous trademarks conceal what would otherwise be a lonely sea of black surrounding a disproportionately small LCD. As a conservative estimate, the LCD portion of the watch face only comprises approximately 28% of the area of the octagon watch face. The placement of the trademarks creates the visual impression of a larger "display" area. I would prefer a graphic design or some type of contrasting material to perform the same function rather than using text.
The left-most digit of the display (e.g., the "2" in 24:00) is narrower than the other three digits. This is not an original observation for G-Shocks but I confirm it for this watch. I initially thought this awkward asymmetry was a kludge because it looks as though the manufacturer ran out of space and decided to cram the remaining digit into the space allotted. However, its possible that like the seconds display, the left-most digit was compressed for reasons of design. The compression is only noticeable for 0X:XX and 2X:XX. If someone knows the reason for this compression, I would be interested in hearing the rationale.
The watch is solar powered. It is not entirely clear to me whether or not this watch can intelligently stop charging the battery so that it does not overcharge. Other manufacturers such as Seiko specifically mention that their solar watches are designed not to overcharge the battery.
This model has a 24-hour count-down timer which is useful as I routinely track the remaining time on long flights.
The volume of the alarm is too low. I am not confident that I would awake from a deep sleep even with the snooze function.
The backlight is bright, evenly illuminated across the LCD and short in duration.
It is very difficult to set an alarm in the dark. The operator cannot use the backlight button when setting the alarm time because it serves to change the time in that mode. The automatic backlight will work when setting the alarm time but the duration of the backlight is too short to be useful.
The resin band is a matte black, soft and silky smooth. The clasp is silver in color and, as mentioned earlier in passing, it does not appear to be DLC coated. The band and the watch conform very comfortably to the wrist.
Unlike the GW-M5600BC-1JF (negative display) that has a composite metal bracelet, the positive and negative display versions of the GW-5000 come with a G-Shock resin band. I have been told that it is unlikely that the composite metal bracelet would fit the GW-5000.
The watch came in an attractive black presentation box (10.5 x 10.5 x 8 cm) made of dense paper or synthetic material that was textured to look like leather with a silver G on top. The material was thick at 6mm and 3mm in the box base and top, respectively. The watch was wrapped around a large white synthetic leather pillow. Except for the materials used, the presentation box reminds me of those that come with mechanical watches.
Alternative Travel Watches
Prior to my purchase of the GW-5000, I considered the following solar radio watches with a world time function, particularly designs with time-zone / cities surrounding the edge of an analog face:
-- the Seiko Spirit SBPG001 (caliber S760), a retro-styled stainless steel solar radio digital watch designed by the Seiko Power Design Project. It has a snap-back and there were reportedly issues with the LCD when using the backlight.
-- the Seiko Brightz SAGZ007 (caliber 7B25), a sporty titanium solar radio analog watch with cities surrounding the face. It has a sapphire crystal, a screw-down crown and a screw-back.
-- the Seiko Dolce SADZ047 (caliber 7B25), a dress stainless steel solar radio analog watch with cities surrounding the face. This watch has a plain design.
-- the Citizen Attesa ATD53-2911 (caliber H115), a sporty titanium solar radio (Japan radio signal only regretfully) analog watch with a cities surrounding the face (oddly, the cities are laid-out with UTC differentials increasing in a counterclockwise direction) and a useful inner rotating time-zone ring on the face which facilitates determining the time in multiple time-zones.
-- the Casio Lineage LIW-T100TD-1AJF (module 4390), a dress titanium solar radio analog watch with cities surrounding the face. This watch has a plain design.
I chose the GW-5000 among these watches because it had the highest water resistance and I knew that I would be using the watch in the ocean. In addition, Casio's DLC coated stainless steel was theoretically more scratch resistant than titanium and other types of stainless steel coatings. Furthermore, a digital watch was more practical for travel as there are a number of time-zones with half-hour UTC differentials which were either not offered or were awkwardly executed on an analog face. Finally, the GW-5000 had a classic and subdued design for the G-Shock genre.
Of the six watches I considered, the GW-5000 was approximately US$40 lower than the median price.
This is my first G-Shock and I am very impressed. The watch is clearly a well-seasoned product. The operation of the watch is intuitive and the timing of button actuations is very good. The watch and the band are comfortable without adjustment and fit very well. The weight of the watch and the polished screw-back are wonderful. I think the watch is well worth the price.