G-Shocks, Resin Rot, and Avoiding an Obsession

Browsing a garage sale, I examined a plastic bag full of watches. It was mostly junky stuff, including a lightweight piece that said “Rolex” on it, but there was also one Casio G-Shock.

Before it all fell apart. Casio G-Shock DW6800. Source: TCM

Not that I needed another watch, but I had been casually looking at new Casio G-Shocks, which have a reputation for toughness at affordable prices. This one, however, had been sitting in the sun all morning and when I picked it up, the plasticky looking watch felt like it was melting. I ended up paying a dollar for it, the price helped by the fact that the bezel surrounding the watch face cracked in my hand while talking with the seller.

At home, any thought of glueing the broken piece together fell apart as quickly as the bezel itself, which continued to disintegrate in my hand. The watch face and the band, however, were fine, and after I put in a new battery the watch ran perfectly. Cleaned up, the now bezel-less G-Shock actually looked pretty good.

Slimy bezel fragments. Source: TCM

The model number on the back of the watch case was DW-6800.After a relatively quick internet search, I learned that this model was only produced in 1995. So it’s a rare watch from a collectible brand that runs perfectly. Maybe I should clean it up some more, find a replacement bezel, wear it proudly, and maybe even sell it later for a little profit.

Casio G-Shock DW6800, debezeled. Source: TCM

Except rare doesn’t always mean valuable. More searching through watch and G-Shock forums showed that while the DW-6800 model is uncommon, it’s not exactly popular. The few posts I found usually had collectors admitting they didn’t know much about that model.

Keanu wearing the more popular DW-5600 in Speed, which came out in 1994, the year before my watch was released. Source: Speed/www.g-central.com

I also learned the disintegrating bezel was not unique to my watch. The condition is common enough on older Casios that it has a name: resin rot. Since this watch was made almost 25 years ago, Casio does not make any replacement bezels for it. There aren’t very many used ones out there that could be cannibalized for parts, and even if there were, those bezels would be just as old, and at risk of rotting soon anyway.

There were hints of a solution – knockoff parts on eBay or Amazon, replacement bezels that could be purchased from shops in Southeast Asia (many with crystals or other bling on them), even a slightly mysterious source in Brazil who could only be contacted through Facebook. But all those were for different G-Shock models. The DW-6800 seemed to be unloved by the collectors and fashionistas.

Iced-out custom G-Shock 6900. Source: thedrop.com.

Here I was at a crossroads. I could continue the search, obsessively looking for a NOS (new old stock) bezel on Ebay, contacting sellers on Etsy, or buying a bezel for a different model and seeing if I could make it fit. Maybe I could even find someone to 3D-print a one-off bezel. But wait a minute. I had bought the watch on a whim. I had spent a few hours cleaning it and doing internet research. With the new battery, I was still only in for less than $10. Did I really want to spend a lot more time, and potentially a lot more money, trying to restore this thing?

I did not.

I enjoyed researching the Casio watches. I learned a bit about G-Shocks and the people who collect them. It was satisfying to clean up the watch and get it running (simply by replacing the battery). But I did not need to pursue this any further. I have other interests I would prefer to obsess about.

I may buy another (new) G-Shock watch some day. I may put this one on eBay, so someone who has a broken DW-6800 with a perfect bezel can buy it. Or I might just wear it as is. It’s functional and has a bit of a deconstructed look to it. Naked G-Shocks – is that a thing?

Louis Sullivan’s Jewel Box in Grinnell

The Jewel Box, Grinnell, Iowa. Source: TCM

The Merchants National Bank building in Grinnell, Iowa, also known as the Jewel Box, was designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan late in his career and built in 1914. Used as a bank for over 80 years, it now serves as the visitors’ center for the town. The building is a National Historic Landmark and part of the Grinnell Historic Commercial District.

Louis Sullivan designed eight “jewel box” banks. There are three in Iowa, two in Ohio, and one each in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Indiana.

Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM

Early Images of the Classical World: Daguerreotypes of the Monumental Journey

Olympieion, Athens, Viewed from the East, 1842. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art/Qatar Museum Collections (IM.314)

In the 1840s, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, a French photographer and architectural historian, took thousands of photographic images of monuments of Greece, Italy, Egypt, and other countries during a three-year long trip around the Mediterranean. The daguerrotypes he produced are the oldest known surviving photos of these locations.

Monumental Journey: Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey, recently closed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Many of the daguerreotypes, however, are available on the Met’s website.

Façade and North Colonnade, Parthenon, Athens, 1842. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ruins and Foreground, Acropolis, Athens, 1842. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Pompey’s Column, Alexandria, 1842. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ramesseum, Thebes, 1844. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mercer Cemetery

The Mercer Cemetery in Trenton, NJ, was created in the 1840s. There were few new internments after the 1930s. Unlike the Riverview Cemetery, which is still active, no one has been buried in Mercer since 1973. In the 1990s, the city spruced up the cemetery, but it became neglected, landscaping and maintenance was deferred, and conditions within the cemetery deteriorated. Fortunately, Trenton is now looking to rehabilitate the Mercer cemetery, beginning with a recent volunteer cleanup effort.

Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM

One-Take Woody: Behind the Scenes Photos of Classic Movies

Director W.S. Van Dyke had a reputation for getting things right the first time. Two movies he directed in the 1920s were shot on location in Tahiti. For Trader Horn (1931), he spent seven months filming in East Africa. His best known movies, however, are The Thin Man (he also directed three of the sequels), Tarzan the Ape Man (filmed in Hollywood, it used stock footage from Trader Horn), and several Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy films. ClassicMovieHub.com has several behind-the-scenes photos of Van Dyke at work.

Filming Trader Horn. Source: Horning into Africa, by W.S. Van Dyke, 1931/erbzine.com

W.S. Van Dyke with Myrna Loy & William Powell on the set of After the Thin Man  (1936). Source: classicmoviehub.com.
W.S. Van Dyke with Jeanette MacDonald and a lamb. Source: classicmoviehub.com