Friday, May 18, 2018

Casio G-Shock GW-M5610BC-1JF JDM Multi Band 6 with Bracelet - A Cornerstone for Any Collector, A Review (plus Video)

Casio produces a number of G-Shock watches only for sale to the Japanese domestic market (JDM). This list of JDM G-Shocks focuses on the 5000-series such as the common DW-5600 and the GW-M5610 models.

I currently have only one G-Shock in the collection (although I listed two on this blog, the G5600-1DR is technically my son's). That is the extra-large GX-56BB-1DR which has some drawbacks due primarily to its size. Although it is a serious tool watch, it does not have the flexibility like its smaller brother, the 5600 series. Its brute bulk is its call to fame.

I need to get a 5600 series model into the collection to experience the additional flexibility of the much smaller and practical classic G-Shock. After doing my research, I decided to get one with a composite bracelet instead of the traditional resin band (like my son's). This particular model I chose has the same style of display like the big brother i.e. a reverse display - white display with black background.



I was able to find one from SeiyaJapan. The MSRP (including the local sales tax) is YEN25,920 (YEN24,000). SeiyaJapan listed it for USD199. This comes out to RM814.63. Additionally, I have to pay RM48.88 for GST.

The square face of the GW-M5610BC-1JF came from the original design of the DW-5000C back in 1983. Although it inherits the first G-Shock design, this latest iteration is equipped with the latest technology. It is also a JDM model.

The GW-M5610BC-1JF is a solar powered and atomic timed GW-M5610 with a composite metal & resin band with a traditional folding clasp. Additional features unique to this model compared to my earlier GX-56BB-1DR is the additional standard radio, multi-band 6 functionality as well as the composite bracelet. If this watch gets anywhere close to any of the six stations, namely in Japan (two stations), China, the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, it will automatically correct the time using the radio signal received. Unfortunately, where I am, it is too far to receive the Chinese station. However, if I bring the watch near the Malaysian-Thailand border, it will latched on to the signal.

The dimensions of the watch is 46.7 mm wide and 43.2 mm tall. It's thickness is 12.7 mm. Made out of resin and metal parts, it is slightly heavier than the all resin version weighing in at 51.7 gm. The bracelet can fit a maximum wrist size about 20 cm (or 8 inches).

Below are some of the other functionality provided with this watch:
  • Shock resistant
  • Water resistant of up to 20 ATM (or 200 meters)
  • Mineral crystal window
  • World time: 48 cities
  • Hourly time signal
  • Stopwatch with 1/100-second accuracy 
  • Countdown timer of up to 24 hours
  • Daily alarms of up to 5 independent daily settings
  • Battery power indicator
  • Power capacity of 10 months of use without the benefit of charging
  • Power saving mode of 26 months (if activated)
  • Auto-calendar 
  • Display option of either 12 or 24-hour format
  • daylight saving time setting function
  • UTC time display 
  • Electro-luminescent backlight
    The Unboxing

    As usual, I had to pick up the package at the customs to pay for GST. After making payment I took a few photos of the unboxing.

    I was extremely pleased to get a few gifts from SeiyaJapan. I got the latest product brochures from Casio as well as Seiko.

    I also received a polishing cloth signed by SeiyaJapan as well as a signed bracelet link remover tool.

    Surprisingly, I also got a green nylon strap with this purchase. Considering this watch comes with a bracelet, it can be replaced with a normal 20 mm strap. Additional lug springs were also provided.

    The Watch

    Size wise, this watch is in the sweet zone. It is a perfect size for a 'beater' sports watch, unlike the more tool-like G-Shock currently available such as the Mudman or Rangmen, this watch is relatively small.

    Made out of resin, the watch surface has some flexibility to resist scratches and bumps.

    The square casing sits nicely on the wrist. The dial, protected by a mineral crystal window, consists of an LCD screen framed by an efficient solar panel that can even convert energy from florescent lighting of just 500 lux to the rechargeable battery. At full charge, the battery will have enough power to enable the watch to operate continuously for 10 months without charging. If the power saving mode engaged, the duration goes up to 26 months. A power reserve indicator is provided which gives a simple power rating of "H" for high, "M" for medium and "L" for low; each corresponding to a third of the battery power. Additional warnings such as "LOW" and then "CHG" will come out in sequence when the battery power gets dangerously depleted.


    The dial has six display sections. The middle section is the biggest and this display the time. The next biggest section is the top section that consist of three display sections in various sizes. Here, the function chosen by the operator (world time or countdown timer or any other function available on the watch) will be highlighted. The smallest section is the bottom part which consists of two display sections namely a simple function indicator as well as a power reserve indicator.



    The dial is also covered with many small text to indicate the various functions typical on most Casio watches. Four of the key texts are "TOUGH SOLAR", "MULTI BAND 6", "SHOCK RESIST" and "WATER RESIST 20BAR". All the texts are in white to contract with the dark background. The only colour to be seen is a red triangle under the "SHOCK RESIST" text.

    The bezel of the watch is elevated approximately 2 mm above the mineral crystal window. It has a large indented texts on it; "PROTECTION" at the top and "G-SHOCK" at the bottom. This setup provides some protection to the glass from side or glancing impact.

    The watch casing has four control buttons, two on each side. These buttons allow users to choose the various functions available as well as adjust the information displayed. For more detail please refer to the manual below.


    It is also worth to note that the buttons are fairly small and recessed. Although this keeps them safe from damage or accidental activation, it also makes them difficult to use especially if it is on the wrist. I can just about manipulate the buttons with my nails while on the wrist. Some of you may not be as fortunate.


    The illuminator function does not have a good impact due to the reverse display LCD screen. It does allow you to see the information on the watch in the dark but barely. There is also an “Auto EL” feature that detects wrist movement and automatically lights up the watch when you raise and turn it towards your face. Although this is a good feature, the reverse display LCD screen negates its effectiveness somewhat. If you want to get the maximum benefit of this feature, get the model with the standard LCD screen. In that model, the whole LCD screen will glow green when the illuminator function is engaged.


    The case-back is a solid stainless steel plate attached via four screws. It is stamped with important information about the watch such as the serial number and more. This watch is made in Thailand and sold uniquely in Japan; hence the JDM classification.



    Underneath the case-back is the 3159 module. This module has all of the basic timekeeping functions you want in a digital watch; world time for 48 cities and 29 time-zones, stop-watch, timer, 5 alarms and many more make this an excellent 'do-all' timepiece. The atomic multi-band synchronisation makes it accurate all the time (subject to the watch be under the coverage of the six radio towers). Even if you are not able to utilise this function (unfortunately I am handicapped in this as well) the 3159 quartz module is accurate to +/- 15 seconds per month.

    Although this watch is solar powered, the rechargeable battery does not last forever. Eventually it will die and your need to replace it. If you do need to do a battery replacement, please send your watch to a qualified Casio technician. The exercise is not a simple unscrew the back and replace the battery but also involves a series of steps not usually known to the general public. Not all dealers can do it also. Often you would hear horror stories of a G-Shock not working after a battery change. Standard diagnosis is that it is 'spoiled'. More often than not, it wasn't coded properly after the battery change. 


    The Bracelet

    The composite bracelet has the similar metal bracelet design. However, it has metal and resin bits which makes for a rather light bracelet. The outer links are made of a strong raisin polymer while the centre links are made from stainless steel. Each link is held together by a set of small spring bars. Like the watch casing, the bracelet is also black in colour with the steel portion painted black using the PVD technique.



    Resizing the bracelet is rather easy as one only need to disengage the spring bars unlike the typical friction pin system of bracelets in the same price points. I had to take out 2 links to fit my wrist properly.



    The metal clasp is a double-lock clasp with push button release. It has four micro adjustment points for finer resizing. I especially like the elevated G-Shock logo on the clasp surface.




    The Wearing Experience

    Compared to the GX-56BB-1DR, the GW-M5610BC-1JF felt so much handier. The size makes it useable in all occasions, even with formal wear. The watch height is not excessive and it tucks under shirt cuffs easily. Moreover, the composite bracelet has a visual cue that is richly metallic and hence seems more valuable than it actually is.

    The reverse display also helps mask the "cheap digital quartz watch" impression that such watches generally give off. Due to the proliferation of cheap digital watches from countless factories in China as well as in many other cheap labour countries, a typical John will generally have such notion. Only true watch aficionados will appreciate a G-Shock. I know that this sounds very fashion conscious on my part but in reality, a lot of people do figure this as part of their value judgement. I need to highlight this possibility. Personally, I don't give a damn but if you do, you have to keep this in mind.

    Overall, the watch has the 'wear-and-forget' feel to it. As a 'beater' watch, the GW-M5610BC-1JF is so flexible for both male and female. Below is the watch on my wrist.



    Below is a video of the watch on my wrist.




    Conclusion

    In 1981 Kikuo Ibe, an engineer with Casio set out to design a resilient watch. Mr. Ibe wanted his watch design to be thin, able to withstand impacts, and water resistant to a respectable depth. The first model of Casio G-Shock to come out was the DW-5000, the first iconic square "G". The year was 1983.

    If you don’t have a Casio G-Shock, I can sincerely say that you don’t have a complete watch collection. The G-Shock evolutionary line is a distinctive horological branch that is as important as the Rolex Submariner branch or the Seiko 5 branch.

    Having something similar to the original DW-5000 in the collection completes that journey for a collector.


    The Series

    The GW-M5610 series was first established 2010. It is the modern version of the DW-5600 and comes with the Tough Solar, Radio Wave and some other functions. There are seven models in the series namely:


    GW-M5610-1 / -1JF
    GW-M5610BC-1JF
    GW-M5610-1BJF
    GW-M5610NV-2JF
    GW-M5610B-1 / -1JF
    GW-M5610BA-1JF
    GW-M5610R-1JF


    I think the green and blue versions are the nicest.


    Photo Gallery



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