Monday, May 15, 2017

Casio G-Shock Black Out Basic Series GX-56BB-1DR – A Brute with Limited Flexibility, A Review (plus Video)

The Casio G-Shock series have been around since 1983 and have a very strong cult following due to its ability to withstand battering. Despite being a watch collector that tends to collect watches with significant contribution to the world of horology, I have yet gotten a G-Shock in collection thus far. However, today a new chapter has dawned and the collection has a new member in the form of the Casio G-Shock Black Out Basic Series GX-56BB-1DR.

The GX series are typically called the “King of G-Shock" models. These are the biggest G-Shocks ever produced by Casio. The company launched the first back in 2010. It has the classic 5600 G-Shock design but in a size that is close to twice the size. The over-sized design is its call to fame. Unfortunately, for some people, the size could be a bit overwhelming.

I got the watch from the Watch Style of Mid Valley Megamall. The MSRP was RM809 (with GST). I was able to get it for RM680. Although I believe I could get it cheaper elsewhere, I still decided to get it from this brick and mortar shop due to the personal service rendered.



The GX-56BB-1DR is the latest iteration of the “King of G-Shock" models. Released from the second half of last year, the 1DR is a black out military design with a negative-film style display. It has the familiar TV case design with dimensions of 55.5 mm (N-S), 53.6 mm (E-W) and 17.5 mm tall. It is a light watch of just 88 gm due to the extensive use of resin as the main material for the watch.

Unlike the standard “King of G-Shock" models, the dial on the GX-56BB-1DR is devoid of any colours except black, grey and thin lines of white. It is also rather sparse when it comes to notations. Below is a side to side comparison between the 1DR (Left) and a 1ADR (Right).

 

Functionality is as expected of a standard G-Shock. Details can be found at the end of this review (See Watch Specifications).

 

Unlike the more commonly seen 5600 series G-Shock model, the four pushers are housed in a prominent housing and capped with a substantial resin cap. These caps are mud-resistant i.e. you can engage the buttons even when immersed in mud or water. Water rating is 200 meters, similar to its other brethren.



The straps are 30 mm at the lugs and tapers down to 22 mm at the buckle. The heavy-duty buckle has a double hook and secured firmly to the end of the strap via a screwed tube pin.

Below is a photo of the case-back.



Below is the photo of the electro-luminescent (EL) back-light in action. As you can see, the EL generates a nice blue-green afterglow.



I won’t go further into describing the watch as there are already a number of reviews done on the watch and series. What I plan to do is go through my views about the usability and practicality of owning and using the “King of G-Shock" model as a daily wear.



The most obvious question to ask is the size issue. Let’s face it; this watch is big which limits its usage in formal functions. As it was advertised, the GX-56BB-1DR is truly a sport watch to be used in active situations. However, it may not be as practical as many would think. Having a chunk of plastic over your wrist may not necessarily be advantages, unless you crave attention. For an adventurer, anything that limits movement without the added payoff benefits is not useful. For that size, I would choose instead the Casio Protrek series as it would at least give me compass bearing, barometric and altitude functionality. If I need more, I would even get the Suunto Traverse Alpha series of watch that could give an additional GPS functionality (if we want to keep to Casio, perhaps the Protrek WSD-F20BK Android Smart Watch would be another option).

As it stands, this watch has wrist presence that would make any wearer proud. The only feedback I have on this is perhaps an extension strap be included in the package. This watch would look good being worn over jacket sleeves. Having an extension strap will give the added length needed to do this.




The second issue is visibility. The blackout option with the negative display is great when viewed through the military context. Therefore, you should need to know its limitations otherwise you would be complaining without reason. If you need a watch that is bright, this is not the one for you. It is never meant to be anyway.

The watch has more than sufficient volume to add a radio wave antenna for time keeping accuracy. I would love it if such functionality is made available (previous JDM version of the GX used to have this function). Although I would not be able to take advantage due to my location, other users may be in the position to gain from that option.

The watch is comfortable to wear, provided you have the necessary wrist size to carry it. I have not had the opportunity to wear the watch in a wet and humid environment but I suspect it would not be an issue. If you happen to wear a long sleeve shirt, do ensure the cuffs is wide enough.

Below is a video of the watch on my wrist.



The limited flexibility could be why it has never been put in volume production like the more useful 5600. Although Casio was correct in interpreting the practical value of the watch, the demand from the fan base is overwhelmingly more than the supply. Hence the high secondhand value of this series due to demand.

In conclusion, this is a serious watch that does not have the flexibility like its smaller brother, the 5600 series. Its brute bulk is its call to fame.



Watch Specifications
  • Case / bezel / Band material: Resin
  • Shock Resistant
  • Mineral Glass
  • Mud Resistant
  • 200-meter water resistance
  • Electro-luminescent (EL) backlight with full auto EL light, selectable illumination duration and afterglow. The EL is blue green
  • Solar powered
  • World time with 31 time zones (48 cities + coordinated universal time) and daylight saving (DST) function
  • 1/100-second stopwatch with measuring capacity: 23:59'59.99''. Measuring modes: Elapsed time, split time, 1st-2nd place times
  • Countdown timer with measuring unit of 1 second with countdown range of 24 hours. Countdown start time setting range: 1 minute to 24 hours (1-minute increments and 1-hour increments)
  • 5 daily alarms (with 1 snooze alarm)
  • Hourly time signal
  • Battery level indicator
  • Power Saving (display goes blank to save power when the watch is left in the dark)
  • Full auto-calendar (to year 2099)
  • 12/24-hour format
  • Button operation tone on/off
  • Regular timekeeping: Hour, minute, second, pm, month, date, day
  • Accuracy: ±15 seconds per month
  • Approximate battery operating time is 11 months on rechargeable battery (operation period with normal use without exposure to light after charge); 27 months on rechargeable battery (operation period when stored in total darkness with the power save function on after full charge)
  • Size of case: 55.5 × 53.6 × 17.5 mm
  • Total weight: 88 gm 
  • Operation Guide/Module Number: 3221





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