Custom MTG-M900
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  1. #1
    Member Mike K's Avatar
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    Custom MTG-M900

    (Alternate titles include "Multiband 6 MTG-910 on a Budget" and -- like many other threads here -- "Casio Wouldn't Build the Watch I Wanted So I Just Did It Myself!")



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    This is a relatively simple "mod" that can be done in several different ways, but the backstory is a little long and complicated.


    Part I -- The Backstory


    The MTG-900 was the first digital watch I bought in years, the one that introduced me to Watchuseek, and because of its shortcomings, launched my collection of Casio watches. It's got a great digital display -- it's relatively uncluttered, it's got the largest digits of any G-Shock, and it's solar/atomic (which are features that I love). On the other hand, I didn't care for the bracelet, couldn't stand the behavior of the early atomics which update every hour after midnight, EVEN AFTER a successful reception, and really missed the lack of a countdown timer. (MTG-9xx's and GW-5xx's of this era included a "Time Memo" feature instead -- for more on that feature, see footnote in post #4.) I discovered this forum while Googling for replacement straps, and discovered that the resin straps from the GW-500 series were a perfect fit!

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    From this forum, I also learned how the silver paint often wore off the case, exposing an ugly beige resin underneath. Overall, I really didn't like that watch very much, so it gathered dust on my dresser while I discovered and bought some other G-Shocks that better suited my needs. Eventually, Casio introduced the Multiband 6 MTG-M900 -- the only real differences being Multiband 6 reception, the "new" behavior among Casio atomics where they stop receiving for the night after the first successful reception, and the inclusion of a 24 hour countdown timer!

    I still didn't care for the bracelet, so I swapped the resin strap over from my "old" one -- but I really didn't like the "silver and chrome" color scheme, and thought the silver painted finish made it look kind of cheap. Pretty soon, I had TWO MTG-900's gathering dust on my dresser while I wore my other watches and bought a few others.

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    While mine were gathering dust, a few of us here at "f17" loudly complained about the flaws of the MTG- and MTG-M900 and probably scared a few potential buyers away. Most of the complainers agreed that while the external parts of the watch had flaws, the LCD itself was great, and the module would be great if it only had a countdown timer -- and when Casio released the Multiband 6 version, it DID include a countdown timer!

    Complaints included "the bracelet seems awfully narrow for the overall size of the watch," "the clasp itself just feels really cheap," and there were many comments, complaints and pictures of the silver paint wearing off, showing the "ugly beige resin case underneath." But as it turns out -- and as NOBODY apparently knew or bothered to mention -- it's not actually the watch case!
    Last edited by Mike K; January 25th, 2016 at 00:02.
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  2. #2
    Member Mike K's Avatar
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    Re: Custom MTG-M900

    Part II -- Building a better mousetrap, etc.

    Recently, a series of random events led me to this thread [ https://forums.watchuseek.com/f43/mtg...ly-885323.html ] where I learned that despite what most of here had previously thought, these watches are constructed like most digital G-Shocks, with removable resin bezels installed over the watch case! In the thread linked above, Sengyoku had water inside his watch and needed to remove the buttons in order to get to the inner crystal, but I thought it might be worth trying to see if the bezel could be pried off over the buttons like many other G-Shock models.

    Many of those other models have screws that attach the bezel to the watch case, but on this model, the bezel is held in place by the same screws that attach the strap or bracelet to the case. (At each end of the case is a screw and an internally threaded post -- to remove them requires two screwdrivers working against each other, or holding one end still while the other turns.) After the screws, posts and both halves of the strap are removed, it's relatively easy to pry the bezel away from the case with a thumbnail and lift it over the two buttons on one side.

    Once I figured that out, it was again relatively easy to put a black resin bezel (from a GW-500) on there along with the chrome inner bezel from the MTG-M900. I wanted to use the brushed metal bezel from the GW-500 but like most earlier models, the lettering at the right side buttons said "Time Memo" and "Receive." (Multiband 6 models say "Reverse" and "Forward.")

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    The metal inner bezel and the outer resin bezels interlock like some sort of puzzle -- once they're off the watch it's relatively easy to push the resin bezel down and away at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions, then pop it out of the holes in the metal bezel at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions. Casio uses a very thin, double-sided tape to hold the pieces together during assembly, but it's not actually needed once the two bezels are installed on the watch.

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    Reinstalling the bezel(s) is a little bit trickier than some other models I have worked on. The DW-5600 and GW-6900 have round metal buttons that protrude from the case, but this model has oval plastic button "pushers" at the end of an exposed metal "stalk" which makes the button assemblies look somewhat fragile and prone to bending. The biggest problem is that while reinstalling the bezel, the oval buttons try to "spin" and turn 90 degrees, which means that they won't line up with the oval holes. Care needs to be taken to make sure the buttons are turned the right way to fit into the holes properly.

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    To make matters worse, on my newer MTG-M900, each button has a recess in the back, at one end, and the case has four small tabs that line up with the button recesses. This makes things more complicated because not only do the oval buttons need to fit the oval holes, but now one END of each button needs to be in the proper place! I didn't think to check before installing the bezel -- and didn't want to install it with the buttons wrong on purpose -- but I'm guessing that if a button isn't lined up correctly that the tabs are going to prevent the button from working properly.

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    I'm slightly curious about the tabs and suspect that they're a new addition to the Multiband 6 models. On the other hand, maybe they're only on the MTG-9xx models. Why would Casio go back and make new molds for cases for a product line that obviously worked well already? If I really want to find out, I might take apart my older MTG-900 one of these days.
    Last edited by Mike K; January 24th, 2016 at 22:39.

  3. #3
    Member Mike K's Avatar
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    Re: Custom MTG-M900

    Part III -- endless possibilities!

    Once I determined that ALL of these GW-5xx and MTG-9xx bezels were interchangeable, it was time to go shopping and do some SERIOUS Googling! As it turns out, Casio made MANY variants of both the old GW- and MTG- watches, and several of the newer GW-M and MTG-M versions. The GW line came with black resin bezels and resin straps, while the MTG line came with bracelets, silver-painted bezels, a blue (painted?) bezel and (I suspect) black-painted bezels. The GW-(M)5xx versions sold in the US all had the 2689 module, which features three "eyes" similar to the DW-, G- and GW-6900 watches, and was later upgraded to the Multiband 6 3405 module. The MTG-(M)900 and 910 came with five different module numbers, but all featured the same relatively uncluttered, extra-large time display that people associate with that model number.

    Casio likes variety, though -- they also made the MTG-920 and MTG-930 with the "three eye" module with black and silver bracelets respectively, and bezels to match. They also made the GW-510 and GW-520 with black and blue bezels, matching resin straps, and the "extra large" display normally found on the MTG-900 models!

    I definitely liked the black bezel from the GW-500 and thought about buying a newer brushed stainless bezel from a GW-M500. The red "G-Shock" on the resin bezel would match the red-painted "G" in the light button, and it would have looked like a watch Casio should have built in the first place!

    Instead, since I was buying parts anyhow, I decided to build a better, less-expensive, Multiband 6 version of the stealthy MTG-910. (The MTG-910 was worn on the big screen and television by globe-trotting secret agents Ethan Hunt [Tom Cruise] in Mission: Impossible 3 and Chuck Bartowski [Zachary Levi] in Chuck and the watch, movie, and/or show are all discussed in several other threads here at WUS. Edit: actually, a lot of us just THOUGHT the MTG-910 was the watch from M:I-3, but that was actually the limited edition MTG-911 instead!)

    To "stealth" the bezel and cover up the red paint, I just used Testors Flat Black enamel paint and applied it in my usual way: with a cotton swab! I just filled in the recessed letters with paint, didn't worry about the excess paint on the surface and let it dry for a few minutes. To remove the excess, I tried a new method which was suggested in another recent thread and just "rolled" the raised and freshly painted section bezel across a piece of paper, much like you would roll a rubber stamp. A few "stamps" later when most of the excess paint was gone and the bezel wasn't leaving any more paint behind, I gently wiped that section of the bezel with a tissue just barely dampened with paint thinner. That got the last of the paint off the surface while leaving most of it behind in the recessed letters.

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    The black resin bezel was relatively easy to pick from the line of GW-(M)500 models -- many of the different versions used the same black resin with red lettering. I did NOT use the resin bezel from any of the original MTG-910 models because they didn't look quite as "jet black" on my computer monitor. I SUSPECT that they painted a metallic black finish on those bezels as well, in order to match them to the paint they used on the "cover/end pieces" that attach to the black IP-coated bracelets. (It would be great to find out from someone who owns one of those early watches, who could confirm or deny if those bezels are in fact painted!)

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    The "stealthed" black steel bezel was a little trickier because Casio made a few non-brushed stainless bezels AND because I wanted one with the proper lettering for a Multiband 6. I had the bezel from the GW-M530 in my "virtual shopping cart" before noticing that it had light gray lettering, which I didn't want. The bezel from the GW-M500B and two GW-M500F models has black lettering instead, so I purchased that one instead. (I'm not 100% sure, but I suspect and hope that the newer "stealth" bezels are black IP coated. Casio used IP coating on the MTG-910 bracelet and presumably THAT bezel as well, and since the black inner bezels were almost double the cost of the stainless versions, I'm hoping that's some sort of proof of IP coating and NOT just an expensive paint job!)

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    The last part that was needed (and the one that's still not attached at the time of this writing and these pictures) is the "decorative piece (12h)" that attaches to the bezel above the "G-Shock" logo. Without going though all of Pacparts' listings for the "decorative piece (12h)" they APPEAR to only come in two finishes -- a bright chrome as used on the ones with bright inner bezels and a darker "black chrome" finish used on the watches with darker inner bezels, so I bought the darker version.

    As far as putting that piece in place -- several of us here have been trying to find a source for the same heavy-duty, super-thin, double-sided 3M tape that Casio uses for their watches. It's definitely NOT 3M's "Scotch Permanent Clear Mounting Tape" which I just found at my local hardware store -- that turns out to be made from a THICK, clear and stretchy plastic. Since I can't find the "correct" tape, and since the bezel is thick and unlikely to bend much at that point, I'm thinking about just using cyanoacrylate gel, aka "Super Glue Gel."

    Obviously, the silver colored light button doesn't match the rest of the "stealthy black" look of the rest of the watch, but I REALLY don't want to open the watch and mess with the tiny "e-clip" just to change the button to one from another model. Besides, the silver matches the small "eye" around the charge level indicator, and the strap buckle is silver, so I'll just leave it alone for now. I DID manage to remove the red paint in the recessed "G" with a toothpick and paint thinner, and I have thought about painting the "G" black as well. To paint the letter "G" and then be able to remove any excess from the surface of the light button probably means I'll need to take the bezel off again, which means taking off the strap again, and then fighting with the buttons when I put the bezel on again... It's good enough for now!

    All in all, I'm pretty satisfied -- I now have a shock-resistant, water-resistant AND scuff-resistant watch that should age gracefully -- and one that can't suffer from a loss of chipped paint on the surface, because there is none! While I have seen pictures where some very battered MTG-900's have had the metallic plating chipping off the light button and the "decorative piece" at 12 o'clock, I'm hoping that mine won't suffer the same damages. I may need to "re-stealth" the bezel lettering one of these days, but that's a simple enough job.

    So in closing, or the tl;dr part for those whose eyes glazed over at the "wall of words" above:


    • The original MTG-900 had a potentially great module in a somewhat flawed external package.
    • The new MTG-M900 HAS a great module in the same somewhat flawed package.
    • The MTG-(M)900 series bracelet can easily be swapped for a resin strap.
    • If the original bezel on a MTG-(M)900 OR a GW-500 series watch is damaged, it CAN BE replaced, and fairly easily!
    • The various inner and outer bezel pieces from the GW-(M)500 series and MTG-(M)900 series, AND the few bracelets and straps, are all interchangeable -- which means that there are a lot of color combinations available for customization!


    For anybody else planning a similar "mod" some of the things to know or remember:


    • There are two different styles of inner bezels: one for the older models with the Time Memo feature and the one for the newer models without.
    • There are a LOT of different model numbers out there to look for besides MTG-900 and 910, and GW-500 and 530. I might try to go back and list them all but that's going to be a HUGE project.
    • IF I'm correct, both inner AND outer bezels come in more than one color and/or color scheme, so do plenty of research before ordering parts! (There are several colors of the MTG-910 alone, so the color choices can be complicated.)



    Details are often important, which is why I tried to share as much information as I could above.


    (I'm hoping to put some better pictures in this post one of these days -- a mostly black watch is hard to photograph with a flash, and taking advantage of the natural light outdoors in January in Ohio is a little cold.)

    Here's one where the metal bezel seems to look the correct shade of semi-glossy black:

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    Last edited by Mike K; February 13th, 2016 at 07:39.
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  5. #4
    Member Mike K's Avatar
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    Re: Custom MTG-M900

    Part IV -- random afterthoughts and footnotes

    Update: I decided to take the bezel off again and give the lettering another coat of paint, paint the "G" in the light button, and glue the "decorative piece" in place.

    The painting went well, the light button looks great, and I (again) need to take some more pictures! However -- gluing the decorative piece in place was annoying due to the VERY close tolerances between the two pieces of plastic. I used a TINY drop of superglue gel on a toothpick, since the decorative piece is only about 3mm x 11 mm, but when I pressed it into place glue STILL seeped out from the bottom and both sides of the piece! (Seriously -- I HAVE used superglue before. I used the tube's nozzle to put a small drop of glue on a piece of cardboard, used the toothpick to put a tiny drop -- about 2mm in diameter -- on the bezel, and it was still too much!) So that led to all kinds of fun cleaning off the excess glue with clean toothpicks and nail polish remover and "uh oh -- what's the nail polish remover going to do to the chrome plating?" and soap and water to remove the nail polish remover and more toothpicks. "I've got MOST of the excess glue off, so maybe I can get the last of it off with soap and friction?"

    That mostly worked but there's still a tiny bit of glue visible at the edge of the decorative piece. Most people wouldn't notice it, or think it's dirt lodged in the crack, but many of us here who worry about dust under watch crystals WOULD notice and it would drive us crazy. I pretended that it didn't bother me for a few hours, until I found myself back at Pacparts' website. "The resin bezel is only about $6, the decorative piece is only about $4. Is this minor annoyance really worth $15 with shipping?" (Obviously it was to me, or I wouldn't be writing this now....)

    So, back I went to Pacparts, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's ever bought extra stuff to justify shipping costs. "I might as well buy an EXTRA resin bezel and decorative piece in case this one gets too banged up after a few years -- I AM planning on wearing this one a lot!" From there it was a short hop, skip and a jump to window-shopping for the IP-coated bracelet and end pieces. "But I AM NOT spending $100 today on THAT!" I said -- and I didn't. But....

    "Weird. Cover/end pieces for the bracelet come in TWO black versions?"
    I both love AND hate Pacparts' parts cross-referencing links -- in this case, those links showed me that there are (I'm guessing) two versions of end links for the black IP bracelet -- one mostly for the MTG-910 versions and another one mostly for the MTG-920 versions! "Is this correct? ARE they two different colors? Are the BEZELS two slightly different colors? And oh, look, there's the M:I-3 MTG-911...."

    Click, click, back and forth and a few "open in new tab's" and some unexpected good news -- for some unknown and annoying reason, on all of the models I looked at last time the parts lists showed several different parts numbers for "Tape/Adhesive" -- but not where they fit. (I even called last time and asked, and the customer service rep couldn't figure it out either, since they didn't have an "exploded view" of the watch on file.) But for some reason, the parts list of the relatively uncommon MTG-911 shows each "tape/adhesive" with the corresponding location -- and then THOSE link back to most of the other models' parts lists!

    So -- I ordered a couple of the right pieces of super-sticky tape and should have them in a couple of weeks, and the point to all of that is "if Pacparts' database doesn't show exactly what you're looking for, keep looking! It might be under the listing for a similar model!" If I had known to just keep looking a month ago, I could have saved a little money and aggravation.

    IN OTHER NEWS, though -- when I went to replace my newly-decorated bezel, I noticed that there is a tiny spring in a hole to the left of the light button -- visible in the picture in the two "naked" pictures in post #2 above. Somehow, with repeated bezel replacements, that spring had come almost entirely out of the hole, was bent in two places, and was just laying next to the hole. I picked it up with a pair of tweezers, looked at it closely to see if I could perhaps bend it back, and promptly dropped it onto my lap and watched it bounce off into the carpet. Since it's only about 4mm long and probably less than 1mm in diameter, I'm sure I'm never going to find it again -- the good news is that Pacparts ALSO sells that spring for only $2!

    After establishing that the atomic synch still works VERY well without it, that it's almost surely not part of the charging circuit, that the watch still "beeps" as it's supposed to, and the auto-EL still works as intended, I found this thread: https://forums.watchuseek.com/f17/%5B...el-894900.html Best guesses are that that spring is there to help ground the watch (and metal bezel) against static electricity.

    I'm planning on using a little dab of silicone gasket lube to help hold the new tiny spring in place when I install the new bezel.



    Footnote:

    1) "Time Memo" was a feature on the early GW-5xx and MTG-9xx series watches and possibly others. The concept was simple, and in the days before computers it would have been a great feature for anybody who needed to precisely track when events happened while on the go, like police officers, firemen, EMT and ambulance personnel, delivery drivers, medical personnel, etc. The way it worked was that the user would push the "mode" button to go into "time memo mode" and then each time they would press a certain button, the watch would record the exact time and date of the button press. The watch could hold 30 such "time records" and then the user could go back and look up the times and dates at their convenience.

    It could have been great feature, for example, if someone was driving and got a radio call and could press a button on their watch to know exactly WHEN the call came through. Then they could press the button when they arrived at their destination, then press the button again when they left, then press it again when they arrived back at the station or office, and finally sit down at their desk and retrieve those EXACT four times and put them on their time sheet.

    It would have been a great feature to have in the days of paper records, before computerized records and GPS tracking and cell phones, and still might be useful for some people, but judging from feedback on this forum, MOST people wished those watches had included a countdown timer and would have used that feature more often.
    Last edited by Mike K; January 27th, 2016 at 23:23.
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  6. #5
    Member Phantasm's Avatar
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    Re: Custom MTG-M900

    Great write up! Congratulations on accomplishing your goal with this watch. It looks great and you got exactly what you wanted.

  7. #6
    Member Mike K's Avatar
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    Re: Custom MTG-M900

    Quote Originally Posted by Phantasm View Post
    Great write up! Congratulations on accomplishing your goal with this watch. It looks great and you got exactly what you wanted.
    Thank you! I think I got as close as I could to what I wanted, which would have been exactly "this" with an all metal, black IP-coated light button and trim piece. But since Casio doesn't make those parts (at least, not that I know of) I didn't have to mess with the module and "e-clips" -- so I think it's about 98 or 99 percent of exactly what I wanted, which is close enough!
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  8. #7
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    Re: Custom MTG-M900

    Wow, thats quite an extensive lot of information hunting and research that went into the modding, and the results have been outstanding!

  9. #8
    Member Mike K's Avatar
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    Re: Custom MTG-M900

    Quote Originally Posted by bbsrailfan View Post
    Wow, thats quite an extensive lot of information hunting and research that went into the modding, and the results have been outstanding!
    Thank you again! There are MANY different versions of what appear to be two basic models, and I'm still learning about some of them today. (I just edited the third post above -- it turns out that the M:I-3 watch was actually a limited edition MTG-911, not a 910.) Hopefully all of my research and "virtual legwork" can keep others from having to go through it too!
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    Re: Custom MTG-M900

    You're a little crazy, but my kinda crazy :)

    Great project, and kudos to you for making the watch exactly what you want. Beautifully written and documented.

    I'm also a fan of the M900...I have three...but I'm sure I'd mung them up royally if I undertook such a mod.

    I think I will live with their flaws...they seem willing to live with mine.

    Fantastic job and annotation.

    Best
    /Forrest

  11. #10
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    Re: Custom MTG-M900

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike K View Post
    ...The "stealthed" black steel bezel was a little trickier because Casio made a few non-brushed stainless bezels AND because I wanted one with the proper lettering for a Multiband 6. I had the bezel from the GW-M530 in my "virtual shopping cart" before noticing that it had light gray lettering. The bezel from the GW-M500B and two GW-M500F models has black lettering instead. (I'm not 100% sure, but I suspect and hope that the newer "stealth" bezels are black IP coated. Casio used IP coating on the MTG-910 bracelet and presumably THAT bezel as well, and since the black inner bezels were almost double the cost of the stainless versions, I'm hoping that's some sort of proof of IP coating and NOT just an expensive paint job!)

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    You did it, man! Nice mod work, plus back story and info!

    A little confused by your statement above. So I take it you didn't used the GWM530, did you get the 500B's or 500F's metal bezel instead? It looks a tiny bit brownish, may be just because of the lighting of your photo.
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