An "Old School" Obsession
In the spring of 1982, at the age of 11, I passed the entrance exam for the local Grammar School. My parents were overjoyed. They wanted to express their happiness and pride with a gift. We quickly agreed on a watch, as this would be something worn and appreciated every day. It would be something to look upon many years later and remember this occasion.
Being a young teenager I naturally wanted to buy the biggest watch in the local shop. I had grown up in the 70s when Japanese quartz was king and Swiss mechanical was archaic. So Rolex, Omega, et al, were simply not of interest to me. I was looking for a Casio !
Browsing through the display cabinates I immediately spotted the watch for me. It looked huge. In fact, on my skinny 11 year old wrist it WAS huge. It was a Casio digital divers watch, waterproof to 200m !! Until that day all the digital watches I had seen were slim, sleek affairs with metal bracelets. This watch was big, with a chunky rubber strap and a plastic bezel protecting the face. To my eyes it looked like the watch an adventurer or action hero might wear.
I wore the watch everyday through 7 more years of school and on to University. It didn't leave my wrist for any reason other than contact sports ( well, people tend to object if you wear a watch onto a Rugby field ). Every bash, bump and scrape that my body suffered, was more-often-than-not shared by the Casio.
By the summer of 1993 the watch was pretty beaten up and scratched. It even had a cracked bezel. The strap had long since perished and been replaced by a succession of brightly coloured nylon ones. I adoured the looks of the watch. To me it was simply acquiring character.
Later that same summer I was in the French Alps, climbing Alfred Mummery's classic route "The Grepon". This infamous mixed rock and snow route takes a full day to complete; or rather it should take a full day. My climbing partner and I had what is known in climbing circles as an "Epic". We became be-nighted on route and ended up taking a day and a half to get back down to the valley. Late on the first day I looked under my glove and noticed one of the spring bars had broken on my Casio. I took it off and put it in my pocket ... intending to get it fixed when I got back down into Chamonix.
That was the last I ever saw it ! By the time we were safely sitting in a cafe drinking fruit juice ( we felt far too exhausted to contemplate beer ) my pocked was sadly empty.
For a while I wore an analogue Casio dive watch, before inheriting a vintage 1973 Omega Seamaster f300hz. Once I became accustomed to the low level buzzing of it's tuning fork movement ( audible throughout the quiet of the night ) it became my daily wear. Over the next decade I occassionally thought of, and missed, my old Casio. Sadly I had no idea what it's name or model number might be.
In 2002 I discovered eBay and a yearning to replace my beloved Casio began to grow. Unfortunately, I was clueless to search criteria. When I typed any combination of "Casio", "Digital", "Dive" or "Vintage" into Google it returned approx 1.5 million sites ! Over the next 6 months I would periodically return to the search and trawl through a few hundred web sites looking for that image I was sure I would still recognise.
Finally I stumbled upon CasioNerd's ( sadly now defunct ) website. There I saw a beautiful and instantly recognisable picture of ... a DW-1000 !
I had found my watch and I now knew its model number. CasioNerd endearingly called it "The Grandfather of G-Shock". Personally I have always preferred the "Genesis of G-Shock".
I spent another 6 months contstantly checking eBay. During that time I was infuriatingly outbid twice. Finally I won and received in the post a wonderful, if battered, DW-1000. I instantly bought a replacement bezel from www.casiosalesandservice.com. I had a new daily beater.
CasioNerd's website also had some great shots of the DW-5000C-1A; the Original G-Shock. My interest was peeked and I wanted to learn more.
Whilst searching for further information on the development of the original DW-5000C-1A G-Shock I happened upon Carlos Perez's artical "Unbreakable" on www.timezone.com. This is a wonderful article and even as I write these words, many years later, a copy of Carlos' article hangs on the notice board next to my desk.
I learned of the DW-5200, the DW-5600C, the DW-5600E ( possibly the most widely produced G-Shock of all ) and the G-5600. So many fantastic watches ... so many subtle changes in case, face and module describing a clear evolution of the 'triple ten' ethos of 10yr battery, 10bar water resistance and 10m drop.
A G-Shock "Old School" obsession was born.