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Authored by b-andersen


Casio G-Shock GW-200RB-1JF "Black Spots" LE Frogman 2004 (review)

Black Frogman Logo

The Casio G-Shock Frogman is perhaps the most collectible of all G-Shock model lines. The history of the line is fascinating and someday I want to do a report on this in English for my watch-collecting friends. But today, I simply wanted to write a little about the Summer 2004 Limited Edition models -- the Black Spots Frogman (and the Brazilian Frogman).

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Casio G-Shock "Black Spots" Limited Edition Frogman (2004)
Model No. GW-200RB-1JF

Casio takes an interesting approach to their limited edition releases. Instead of limiting the exact number of watches sold (say 500 units), they instead limit the length of time of the production run. Although they always announce when the watches will initially be released and go on sale (always on a Tuesday for some reason), to my knowledge they do not divulge when exactly a run will end. I believe they make a LE model for about two or three months. Both Frogs can be bought now for about $200, and are only available in Japan.

They are solar powered and feature a time mode, dive computer (dive time start, elapsed time, and surface time), world time for famous dive spots (Grand Caymans, Maldives, Hawaii, etc., these can be changed to any location you prefer), countdown timer, three alarms, and stop watch functions.

BLACK SPOTS

What does "Black Spots" mean? All the watches called Black Spots have detailing featuring some kind of amazingly shiny black coating baked on certain metal parts. It is apparently very scratch resistant, as I've been wearing a G-Shock "Black Spots" World Time model almost everyday for awhile now with no visible scratches on the detailing, not even hairline ones, so far. [I'm editing this to note: I have found a few hairline scratches on the "Black Spots" detailing on the underside of my Frogman. I think they were there since my purchase and I just didn't notice. Probably made in the store. They are extremely minor and can only be seen by very close inspection under proper lighting, but I just wanted to mention the "Black Spots" coating/material may not be as "scratch resistant" as I had originally thought.]

For comparison, look at this scan of last, last summer's sold-out LE release, the Black Helios Frogman (below). Visible around the bezel is a contrasting ring of highly-polished stainless steel.

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Black Helios LE Frogman (2002)
Model No. GW-200BC-1JF

Now look at this year's release (below). The bezel ring is this highly-polished looking black material baked on metal, probably stainless steel. It appears to be black rubber in low light conditions, but under bright light appears to be highly polished stainless steel! The effect is very hard to photograph. Casio says they created it to resemble "sun spots." They have some imaginative designers working for them.

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Black Spots LE Frogman (2004)
Photo: Seiya Kobayashi. Used with permission.

I had thought the "Black Spots" were simply highly polished stainless steel parts because Casio doesn't use titanium for my World Time model. So I thought those parts on that watch were a "black polish" of stainless steel. But now I believe it instead to be some kind of baked on coating. On this scan of the underside of the new Frogman you can see the "Black Spots" pretty clearly surrounding the screw down case back. I guess it is a coating on the titanium.

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Black Spots LE Frogman/caseback (2004)
Photo: Seiya Kobayashi.

Another thing about the Black Spots Frogman is that the liquid crystal is purple! It is very dark and easy to read and quite striking with the predominantly black case design. The only other color on the dial is orange, the words "Tough Solar." Last year's Black Helios version had red lettering on the dial instead, and the wording and layout was slightly different. The words "G-Shock," "FROGMAN," and so on, written on the rubber outer case cover and strap, are a light-gray color. Last year's Black Helios model didn't have any color added on the rubber parts. Both designs are good.

For those who have never seen a Frogman in person, they are a big watch at about 52mm in diameter but are extremely comfortable to wear and look great. They retail for just over $250, but can be found, NOW, for about 20% off retail. Few things are guaranteed in life, but one thing I'm certain of. At this time next year you will not be able to hunt down a NIB Black Spots or Brazilian Frogman for sale on either side of the pond. Not unless you are willing to pay double, that is.

Unlike the cheap G-Shocks that can be found at stores like Wal*Mart or Target in the USA (some with plastic case backs, most made in Korea, the Philippines, or Indonesia), the "Black Spots" Frogman is all "made in Japan" of the highest quality. It is a TRUE dive watch, and is ISO approved.

It is amazing to me if "dive watch guys" don't own one of these big Frogs. I know many don't really care for digital displays, but these watches are very big, comfortable, easy to wear, heavy, HIGH QUALITY, functional, reasonably priced, and ... COOL! Buy one!! (Next time I'll tell you how I really feel [img]http://www.larrybiggs.net/scwf/images/com/network54/23/aa/77/fc/531a2098fa776821e0338543.gif ...)

The "Brazilian Frogman" has also been released this summer and is, in some ways, the "one to get." It will be a favorite with collectors in the future and will command higher prices than the Black Spots version, as long as Casio doesn't release another one in this color/pattern again.



Brazilian Frogman LE (2004)
Model No. GW-200CF-7JF

With current world-trends, it is very stylish just now. It features a red "Frogman" logo that is visible on the display when the back light is activated.

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Red Frogman Logo

There is a lot more to say about these, but I just mainly wanted to introduce these two watches today and especially I wanted to explain what "Black Spots" means and also about the purple LED on the Black Spots Frogman.

(Bryan Andersen)
 
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