Original Posted on Watch U Seek: 11/10/2004, 05:05:55 by Hung Lo.
The pain in your legs is now way past a dull throb, and is too much to ignore. Dropping your pack momentarily for rest, you swear to yourself that you will never attempt an abseil like that again. Bitter cold, made worse by a (?V10) wind chill and the constant rain made that last step off the line the disaster that it was. The face full of mud, rain and indigenous insect life as you landed flat on your face will serve as a great reminder to watch that last step. As the saying goes, it was a doozey. Taking a much need swig of water from your canteen feel like nectar of the gods. It??s also time to think. The weather forecast was spot on so you have to make the hut in four hours before the storm sets in for good. A quick check of the kit and belays reveals everything is fine, however you left side is nothing but a muddy mess, which brings a smile to your dial. In four hours you know that you can make the hut, and then 8 hours later, your ride back to more comfortable digs. So time for a time check. That??s when the when you start thinking about your fall, and the fact that it was a heavy impact. You side is just caked with mud. Suddenly you smile to yourself, as your gloved hand wipes away the muck and easily toggles the big rubber buttons with easy. Giving the illuminator a little ??slap?? reveals that you are on schedule. As you sling the pack once again, covered in mud and soaking wet, you smile and realise that you need not have worried. After all, this was not only a Casio G-shock , famous for it??s rugged no nonsense toughness, but a DW-8400. Or as it??s more commonly called, the ??MUDMAN??. It was up to the job, if you were.
There have been many an iconic symbol taken from the decade of decadence, the 80??s. While some have gone by the way side, others have prospered and endured. Indeed the few have left an ineligible mark on the human psyche. Recognisable to most is the (quartz crystal regulated) digital watch made famous by Casio. Many of us will remember at one time having a ??cheap?? black digital watch of some kind. Most likely it was a Casio. Having made digital a valid member of the watch fraternity, wasn??t enough for the bright minds at Casio, hence the introduction of the G-shock concept first introduced to the world in 1983 with the DW-5000. Since that time there have a universe of different G-shock, with their varying aesthetics and modules. In 1995 Casio introduced one of its more ambitious models, the DW-8400, or as it was know in Japan, the MUDMAN. Part of the aptly named Master of G-series it??s stable mates included the FROGMAN and RAYSMAN. So whilst the adventure man scenario may be a flight of fantasy for most, it??s good to know that the people at Casio have made this watch more than up to the task.
MEET THE MUDMAN:
This wrist tank of a watch was yet another approach by Casio to make their watches even tougher. Packaged with a new technology called the ??Mud Resist?? and packaged around the perennial favourite 1289 module (three-eyed devil to some) this was dramatic take on the bare bones digital watch. This means that the module itself is not exposed save for the stainless steel plate back. You never directly operate the model. Implemented by Casio to ensure the watch would operate when totally covered in muck, as the outer rubber buttons would serve as a membrane that would still operate the inner modules buttons. You can push buttons underwater.
Featuring a resin band with a double tang clasp, makes this watch ideal for big hands and ensure it stays put even in most extreme cases. Again, hinting at it??s no nonsense toughness. The resin band itself is very sturdily mounted onto the watch, with allen head screws instead of usual Philips). Distinguishing this Master of G series is the increased width of the band at the case, with 20mm instead of the usual 16mm. This is yet a further hint at the special duty that this watch was designed for. Which is a good thing as the behemoth watch comes in at 54.5 x 45.5 x 18.3 mm (H x W x T) and weighs a hefty 70g. Not much by most metal watches, buy a huge watch by rubber digital watch standards. Clearly, there is no mistaking or forgetting when this bad boy is on your wrist. Although care must be taken as it is most likely the case that the watch will not fit under your shirt sleeve if more formal wear is required. So yes, it is a big watch, designed for outdoor adventure where attire is not so formal.
Whilst the band is long enough so as to allow the watch to be worn over wetsuits and large jackets, it still allows even smaller wrists to find some comfort. Truly an achievement.
Ofcourse, you can??t go past the very trick feature, that is the Slap Light for the illuminator on the face of the watch. No doubt one of the biggest (if not the) biggest such button Casio has produced. This serves the dual purpose of isolating the module from the elements, it has the added feature of further making this watch glove wearing friendly. As well, as this, and perhaps more importantly, this encasing of all buttons means that the watch could be made to function whilst submerged. A very handy way to activate the light to read the time, whilst diving (at least before the new Full Auto EL arrived on the scene).
This is all tied off very nicely by the special stainless steel case back. This features all the useful information (Made in Japan, 20 bar or 200m water resistance for snorkelling, module number etc) as well as the specially designed ambassador of MUDMAN the MUDMAN MOLE. This fellow is featured holding a drill and implies that you are ready to play in the dirt. So yes, another cute Japanese cartoon critter. Look out for upcoming collector cards, TV series and video games.
Ofcourse like all resin bands, it will deteriorate and lose suppleness over time. It also has that strange phenomena of resin bands from Casio whereby a white powdery substance will form on the band. According to Casio this normal and should be wiped off with a dry cloth. Unlike most of the resin bands on offer from Casio, this one tends towards the plastic feel side of things. It is still flexible and does not cause any irritation. The band has the internal model designation 438 H1 F16. That said, the manual does advise that clearly salt water including sweat will cause the bands to deteriorate. So clearly, there is nothing like fitting a nylon strap (as some have done) with solid stainless pins to provide superior resistance to moisture and hostile agents. Still, it must be said it is better than leather which is offered on some so called water resistant watches.
That told, this author found the watch to be very comfortable, if at times a little like being caught wearing daddy??s watch. On a personal scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being unbearable discomfort and 10 being a part of your arm, it score 9.0. It loses marks as it will make you question some of your wardrobe choices for fit if it is your sole watch. You are always aware of it??s presence which for some is desirable (myself included). Once again, this watch was comfortable for people with small wrists too, but size was an issue for personal tastes.
THE HEART OF THE BEAST:
Ofcourse I should mentioned a bit about the module. It??s the a 1289 module, a favourite for g-shock fans.
It features include
?h an electro luminescent illuminator, with backlight feature.
?h 1/100th stop watch, up to 24 hours with the ability to record two split times.
?h countdown timer from 1 second to 24 hours with auto repeat
?h an alarm which can be set to a certain day and month
?h 24 hour time keeping mode
?h a calender which keeps track automatically from 1995 to 2039
And ofcourse the watch displays itself, showing information pertaining to the name of the day, it??s date, respective month, whether you??re in 24hr format and if the hourly chime/alarm/backlight is in service.
It has a quoted accuracy of ?ӱ5 seconds a month at normal temps. What those temperatures are were not quoted. The whole show is powered by single Lithium CR2016. This is reported as good for 2 years of operation with 4 seconds of EL operation per day and 20 seconds of alarm. Naturally, this figure decreases dramatically with EL usage. Having said that there are many who have reported 3 years of operation, but with minimal EL operation.
The watch itself is encased and protected in typical G-shock style. Able to withstand a 10 storey drop and just about anything in between, the tough rubber case and mineral crystal face ensure that this watch and it??s internals, will only fail when you have most likely too. As is previous personal experience, G-shocks are built tough and can handle extreme abuse. They have been laboratory tested to do so and it seems that Casio got the variable right there too. This lead to a friend coining the term ??wrist tanks??, as he too is familiar with the G-shocks?? qualities. The MUDMAN is no exception to the rule. Which is as you??d expect from such a timepiece. Hence the charm of the Casio G-shock range, watches made for the rough stuff.
It must be said, that by today??s standards the 1289 is quite bare. Presently Casio are putting forth new technologies like Tough Solar (first seen on the groundbreaking RAYSMAN), Wave Ceptor, Full Auto EL (operates the light when you glance at the watch!) , various data base capacities, as well as some now featuring a snooze alarm! Perhaps Casio may yet re-release the MUDMAN with Tough Solar, presently it remains a basic digital watch, and the aforementioned idea just this authors idle fantasy. However as the following section will outline, this has done nothing to diminish it??s favour with G-shock lovers.
Whilst up until recently Casio have always put function over form, the old purpose oriented ethos does not mean that this watch is ugly. All told it is handsome watch, with a purposeful menace to it. As a matter of fact for a digital watch with basic features it is quite large watch still retaining the unassuming looks of a digital watch. Only it??s size hints at more to the untrained eye. Originally available in two colour variations the MUDMAN designations were:
In Casio speak this translates to Digital watch, (series number) then anything after that to distinguish case/module colours.
The DW-8400-1V has the usual standard black/anthracite colour combo, with a silver chrome highlight on the right most dial (ten of seconds) on the face of the watch. Ofcourse, the face also carries the MUDMAN name, and being the Japanese version, the word Japan on the case and face, as well as the tang buckle. Also, indicated is the 20 bar water resistance (as it??s made in Japan). The four buttons (anthracite) on the side are marked clearly as Mode, Adjust (etc) in white. The shorter band (with double tang) features the words ??Mud Resist?? whilst the longer band highlights the ??Slap Light?? feature. All tastefully done in white.
The DW-8400G-1V is commonly referred to the ??gold?? MUDMAN. However, there is a reference to this colour variation from Casio as the ??bronzed look??. This means that the chrome dial is now gold. As well as this, the face of the module has a yellow hue to it. The writing on the face (MUDMAN, Casio) is yellow as well as the writing for the functions of the buttons. Lastly the double tang and buckle is gold plated to complete the image.
For both versions the EL is a blue colour. My version is the DW-8400-1V, but given that the gold version is no longer made, it is just the DW-8400-1. So handsome in fact is this watch, that Casio choose to model the DW-9052 after it, as they did the G-2210 after the RAYSMAN. This is not new for Casio, as they are more than willing to allow technology and popular styles to filter through subsequent modules.
VARIATIONS ON A CLASSIC:
As has been intentionally mentioned, this author??s MUDMAN is made in Japan. With reference to the article ??Unbreakable, by Carlos Perez, 10/8/02??, only the few G-shocks are made in Japan today. The MUDMAN remains one of the few G-shocks that have been reproduced outside of Japan identically to their Japanese brethren, save for a few cosmetic changes. These versions were made in Malaysia, no doubt part of a trade agreement of some kind. The changes were the dropping of ??Japan?? anywhere on the watch (as expected) as well as more importantly the dropping of the name MUDMAN. The MUDMAN mole also gets the bench. This watch features instead, the word ??illuminator?? in lieu of MUDMAN. Illuminator is the name given to Casio??s backlight feature. Domestically (in Japan) the name Fox Fire is also used for some models. This naming game is in response to the fact that Timex (with Indiglo) did indeed beat Casio to the punch on EL lights.
That is about it for the standard models. However, this is far from the end of the tale where aesthetics are concerned. As mentioned, the MUDMAN became an instant classic and highly desirable. Since that time, the mud resit case for the module has been used for at least one other module (CODEMAN) and even more variations using the original module. The variations listed here are by no means exhaustive, as it seems that day by day, the list grows larger if one examines the Japanese market. The MUDMAN has been available in a multitude of different forms, as limited editions, helping to feed the hunger for collectors of G-shocks. Most notable was the Real Black Series MUDMAN (DW-8400BK-1MJF). This watch was totally black (no colour on the bezel at all) and had the 1289 module with a negative red display obviously, with a military application in mind (for light discipline). It also came with a titanium case back, a feature to be repeated on most other limited editions.
The second most recognisable series was the Men In series. Covering Men In:
?h Black (two variations)
These models had the added features of special figures which appeared under illumination. The figures are the famous MUDMAN Mole in new poses, but at least for one variant, does detract from the ??at a glance?? readability of the time. As expected the titanium back is included too. All watches are made in Japan.
Included in the above list are more obscure limited editions, highlighting various products. Among them was the numbered Coleman (named after the hurricane lamp), Nissan Skyline GTR, Honda and even a Snap On tools variant! All produced for the Japanese domestic market these more obscure models had special figures under illumination as well as custom colour combinations. Some of you who are keen movie buff will have also spotted a heavily modified MUDMAN in the movie Resident Evil.
So all told, for a watch which is quite basic in features, it has seen a lot of iterations and been around for, relatively speaking, a long while. Quite an achievement, and testament to the popularity of this classic. More than this though, it can be attributed to Casio getting the concept of go anywhere, no frills digital watches, right, whatever your taste for aesthetics is.
This authors model was is the DW-8400-1, part of the new rationalised one model range. Sourced, and made in Japan, the watch exuded quality fresh out of the box. The relevance of this point should not be overlooked, or understated. This is after all ??only?? a plastic digital watch.
Having recently purchased 3 other G-shocks, there is a distinction between just the ??newness?? and intrinsic exceptional quality. Few watches will be considered poor when new, but there is more to it with the MUDMAN. It exudes quality, from its lovely finish, right through to the way in which the buttons move with an authoritative click. Nothing noisy ofcourse, but there is a satisfying snick as buttons are pressed, still having that stiffness that comes with the new. It will be interesting to see how this changes overtime. Be that as it may, first impressions last, and this one was a good one.
The functions are easier to master as can be expected, and the face always easy to read. Cycling through functions is made easier too by the usual feature of G-shocks, chime. The main time keeping display has a higher pitch chime to it, so you can figure out where you are function wise, even when visibility is poor. This also saves you having to put a dent in battery life by unnecessarily operating the illuminator. Another feature which shows some thought by the boffins at Casio, is the function which means timekeeping is only one press away. If you cycle to, say, the alarm, activate it, then press mode, you will automatically be re-routed to timekeeping again. Another sign that Casio is about designing technology for humans, and not vice versa.
Looks wise, I found the watch to be attractive, however, do find the use of chrome, or any metal highlight, on a plastic watch, to not be to my liking. That said, I am not alone judging by the Men In Black series, or indeed the epitome of discretion that was the Real Black Series.
As yet this author??s MUDMAN has not seen a scenario like the one in the opening paragraph. However in my search for the MUDMAN, plenty of used and abused examples turned up. All still structurally sound. Those few that had no longer ceased to function were solely battery related issues. Activities undertaken thus far include activities such as operating a lawn mower, electric razor and other such prolonged vibration producing tasks. This has not surprisingly not affected accuracy of the watch. Still it is early days, but such is the confidence built up around in the G-shock name, that there is really no question mark concerning toughness. G-shock are a law enforcement/military favourite for good reason. They have also become the watch of choice for those who enjoy their water sports and other highly active sports, all for the same reason. So really there is nothing special to be mentioned about this watch, as the rugged toughness and stubborn need to survive has just become the status quo for G-shocks.
The band which was stiff at first, soon began to form a comfortable bracelet around my wrist. Still it was impossible to forget the watch was on your wrist. As mentioned the watch will not fit under tight sleeve collar shirts.
This is about the sum of it, mostly due to the fact that the MUDMAN has characteristics which have become expected from a digital watch from Casio. The face is clear and easily read, with no shadow cast by internal plastic over any of the display.
Previous experience with resin bands from Casio means that it is expected that the band will lose suppleness over time, however will remain strong and up to the task. The resin bands are quality items from Casio and can withstand a great deal of sweat and grit (and ofcourse mud) before showing any signs of duress. As mentioned, if military applications require, it may be a good idea to install a nylon strap, which will no doubt be more comfortable, adjustable and ofcourse resistant to hostile agents. I do like the double tang feature of the band, and like a friend suggested do wish that it would become a standard feature.
The backlight features a bright blue hue and translates to a vivid display at night. Whilst the features list is bar bones by today??s standards it remains a great watch which caters to the basics. Whether you use the countdown timer as a mission timer, or simply in day to day life as a way to monitor your car??s parking meter. It??s your choice and interaction with the watch is painless and a delight.
One other criticism, other than size (for some anyway) would be that it does not feature the classic screw back. Indeed the only member of the Master of G series to do so is the FROGMAN. Not that there is anything wrong with the current set up, but it would have been nice for the purist.
So all up a brilliant watch to own, and as it is early days yet, I can only expect the watch to be around as long as I will.
In the fickle world of watches where there is a never ending quest for the next best thing, the MUDMAN has been an enduring classic
It is the epitome of the classic bare bones watch. Purposely handsome and very much a man??s watch, the MUDMAN will forever be a landmark G-shock, securing it??s place as a classic G-shock and then some. Like the RAYSMAN, the MUDMAN served as flagship for new technology and methods which later cascaded down to mainstream models.
It has come to it??s end of run after almost 10 years. Which is personally quite sad, when you consider that this marks the end of an era for a classic. I was able to secure the watch earlier this year, as was told by that it was no longer being produced any more. Which is a shame as a watch like this deserves to be used, and not having to be stored away owing to scarcity. This leaves the evergreen FROGMAN as the last surviving member of the Master of G series in production. Itself one of the (if not most) collected G-shock in history.
The MUDMAN remained a perennial favourite for so long, joining the FROGMAN and technological tour de force that was the RAYSMAN as some of the sought after G-shocks watches.
Whilst it may have been surpassed for features by modern day g-shocks, deemed to large by today??s standards, it remains a classic wrist tank of a watch. So clearly, if one comes your way, and you are a fan of the range, then grab it. You won??t regret it, nor will you ever be in any doubt that this is a special watch. Quite a feat considering it??s shortfalls, but no surprise for those that have tried to tame the beast that is the DW-8400, MUDMAN.