The G-Street Facebook community has been flourishing lately, and we’ve just crossed the 100, 000 members milestone! Thank you to everyone who has given us a Like, discussed new watches and G-Shock news, and posted ‘wristies’ on our page over the last few years. To celebrate, we’re going to do a handful of special features over the coming week, starting with this monster edition of Collector’s Corner, which shines a light on one our favourite community contributors and true blue Australian font of G-Shock wisdom, Terry Soo. You may have read the articles he’s written for us, on how to spot a fake G-Shock and how to clean a G-Shock, so it will be no surprise to you to learn that he has a hella impressive collection of G-Shock and Casio products. He’s also a photographer, and has regularly combined his profession with pleasure to take stacks of G-Shock portraits. We spoke to the humble fella, who doesn’t like to boast about collection numbers, and also grabbed a boatload of his G-Shock shots, this is one for the true obsessives!
Name: Terry Soo
Instagram handle: @soulbridge_media
Number of G-Shocks in collection: Wild fluctuations between not enough and too many, bit like the wide-eyed optimism before and the crippling regret after Korean BBQ.
What made you first become interested in G-Shocks?
I wish I could say it was from an early age but there simply wasn’t much available locally back in the 80s/90s, and it didn’t help growing up in a little town either. My first encounter was with a 5600 of some kind thanks to my parents selling Casios in their shop when I was a kid but I didn’t want a bar of it while there was a calculator watch right next to it! Sadly it was sold when my birthday rolled around so I got the next best thing, a DB310 Databank which could hold 30 names and numbers! Yep, I was the coolest… just had to find some friends to add….
It wasn’t till 1997 I stumbled across a DW8300 aka Stargate (the slightly rarer yellow version too) in my local pawn shop that stirred something in my loins. After years of wearing a crappy Lorus, it was the biggest, meanest thing I had ever seen and I had to have it. It was already a steal at $50 but serendipity was on my side as I indirectly knew the guy that worked there so he gave it to me for $35! Pretty damn good considering they were only released the year before.
I wore that thing pretty much every day for about 8 years till the band snapped while out on the sauce one night so I popped into a 7 11 and borrowed a stapler, that held it together for quite some time later, till the rusting staples started making my arm itchy and a new band was sourced.
It was the 90s so having a big watch fitted in well with the big sneakers and big jeans. Its tough chunkiness was definitely its biggest appeal. Nowadays my jeans are a lot less baggy and I have far less high tops but the G’s are still the same, which I think says a lot about a product that’s come into a world of commodities that have become so “minimal”, cheaply made and disposal after a year or two.
2008, I semi retired it after a battery change (also proof of the outstanding battery life Gs have) with the rationale that over a decade of festivals, clubs, partying and moshpits was a long and proud inning for anything, let alone -just- a “plastic” watch.
Side story: around 2005, I came across a girl working at HMV wearing the same watch (worked out what Annie Lennox was singing about when she said “sweet dreams are made of these”), she said her boyfriend (…gah, always the way) was a Casio rep and had said they were discontinuing that model because the metal upper was peeling back under “severe incidents” and causing a lot more damage. Pretty sure if you’ve experienced something that severe, a cut on your arm is the least of your worries! Though I think it might’ve just been a pitch to get retailers to buy the newer models… ha!
What is your favourite G-Shock model generally and why?
You shut your mouth! Seriously, the other models might hear me. With the variety and features of G’s, I personally wouldn’t trust any G collector that only liked one model, haha. I’m a “variety is the spice of life” kinda guy, so a model will have to be pretty special or come in a very cool colour for me to have more than one…ok two. More than two.
Going by that quantity theory, it would be:
DW003 – I have always had more than a few at one time of these classics, cant get enough of that chunky look thanks to those double Velcro bands;
Gaussman – you know you really like a model when you start hunting doubles, easily one of the best vintage analogue silhouettes IMO;
GD120CM – went crazy when these came out since there hadn’t been camos in years, bought doubles of them all thinking I’d easily wear them to death quickly enough to warrant a second outing. Wear them I did but then came the GA, 8900, GDX etc camos; camo overload and the realisation that it would take years of daily wear to wear down one let alone several. Im now down to 2 and have modded the grey camo to form a toxic camo hybrid
From a hypothetically sad world perspective where I could only choose one model it would probably be the Mudman series. The original 9000s are as tough as their buttons are to push (G9000MC-8 has been a trusty festival beater for years) and the new 9300s are one of those watches that could easily be suited for a one-watch-man and is one of the most well rounded Gs in relation to features, looks, fit and bang for buck.
As far as one of my all time faves go, the blue GL120 has always been a stand out, it has it all, Velcro band, pop-off-the-screen dot matrix display, bullbars and one of my fave colourways of any G. I’ve only recently parted ways with its backup double to a friend, it was an emotional farewell but I know it will be well loved.
I’m also rather partial to protreks, don’t let the lack of a G insignia fool you, many have a build quality and chunky screw bars that are easily on par with any G.
Is there a G-Shock model from the past that you think should be re-issued and why?
Of course I gotta say the DW8300 (they can keep the TV show). While they’re at it they could bring back its DW6300 “Gundam” cousins too. Dual metal and plastic construction and a dot matrix display, simple yet oh so effective in looking badass without even trying.
I’d also like to see something in the vein of DW002/3/4’s but more so for the double Velcro bands or just something a bit more out there/wacky in general in the way of functions eg. some of the 90s Lover’s collection G’s had a databank for names and numbers and a separate section for blood type and credit card numbers along with a health monitoring code list for emergency rescue. Or maybe some crazy bands like the ones on the 9550 GMix’s, Velcro with a weird pulley system and a D clip for clipping the watch to things when you need to get your hands dirty. Genius! Sure it feels like you’re wearing a Pandora bracelet full of charms but I’ll be damned if it isn’t cooler than a penguin’s butt.
Would also love to see, as G-Shock moves forward with its smart watch forays next year, a rebirth of their Speedpass model but with some way of inserting or programming a Paywave or smart chip credit card.
What are the greatest lengths you’ve gone to in tracking down a G-Shock you wanted?
Going to great lengths usually means you’re just impatient. If you take your time and let the G’s come to you, on a long enough timeline almost anything is possible if you’re putting the good G vibes out there. It also helps with reducing impulse buys and getting sucked into bidding wars. Yea i know, boring rational logic, probably not want anyone wants to hear but a bit of rationalising goes a long way if you’re a lifer
With the dwindling of quality vintage ie. Ones that aren’t turning to dust, there’s nothing that I really want that can’t be had by simply loosening the purse strings, which of course is easier said than done if you’re a conscious shopper like me. Other than that, I guess the lengths I’ve gone to are literal lengths as in distances, the ol’ putting feet to pavement. Every overseas trip (usually once a year) consists of 50% sightseeing and 50% tracking down local spots, not necessarily for that special G but for one of many G’s for the right price, especially during trips to Japan. Price plays a big part, as many watches look a lot more attractive without a big price tag, amiright? The hardest part is remembering which store had what and whether or not its worth going back for. Yep, the first world struggle is real.
It used to be much more fruitful in the late 2000s when I nabbed a G5500-JC or Smoked out Gaussman for around $60AU in mint condition in little back alley shops in Shibuya and Ueno. Nowadays, the sellers and buyers have caught on to push the prices up and pick the place clean so alot more effort is usually required to hunt down a bargain.
Do you have a holy grail G-Shock that you want but don’t have?
With the all consuming, all knowing internet there aren’t really any grails, more just a matter of “do I default on my mortgage payment this week” or “looks like its noodles for the next few months” because its just a matter of how much you’re gagging for it and how much damage you’re willing to let your wallet sustain. So for me its more a matter of justifying the purchase or letting go of a couple to have a spot in my collection to house the new arrival. It’s a shallow reassurance but all part of the rationale and mind games we play with ourselves isn’t it? Haha
A recent grail of sorts for me was actually a 7900MS-1B, these were everywhere when they were released then they just vanished. I didn’t feel the thirst till a couple years later in 2012 when I spotted a guy in our tour group in Hawaii sporting one. Naturally I jumped on ebay first chance I got and found one in Germany but I wasn’t going to drop two bills plus shipping for essentially a plain ol 7900, even if it did have a hella cool band. Suddenly I wasn’t thirsty anymore and was distracted by a bunch of other things till the start of this year when one in good nick popped up for an even hundy. Don’t mind if i do! Good vibes out, good vibes in, people.
If you haven’t noticed my idea of a grail isn’t so much finding the watch I want but for the price I want to pay!
But you know what? All that bullplop got thrown out the window when I saw the pics of the Mudmaster from Baselworld at the start of the year. I don’t care how much it costs I just want one NOW. Gimme gimme gimme!
..and a G man
Anything else you want to say about your collection or G-Shock?
As you can probably tell I’m not really the average collector, I’m kind of more like a blue collar collector, my collecting style is very rational and purchases are made with my head, not my heart… most of the time. Mainly because I also collect sneakers, toys and camera gear, not to mention my most prized new edition in the form of a baby girl as of last year which IMO is by far the best. Limited edition, 1 of 1 ^_^ So its very difficult to justify forking out 2, 3, 4 times the price just for a slightly different colour. If I want something more original I rather knock up a custom mod so it really stands out from the crowd. I guess this is a tip for new collectors, you don’t have to drop the fat wads to have a collection of original pieces. GA/GD1xx models have so many variations you could easily have a different watch every couple days for a month with only 3 base models to start from.When I’m not shooting gigs, I love getting shots of G’s, usually teamed up sneakers. Haven’t gotten many lately but I’ll be working on a little series shortly that I’m sure you guys will enjoy
The group shot you see is from a few years back, I’m actually in the middle of a cull now and many of the G’s here I’ve enjoyed for years but have been moving them on over the last few months with the notion – I don’t want to own all the toys, I just play with them. Having a little one shifts priorities too so less on hand makes it easier to turn over and make room for new pieces. And lets face it, there’s ALWAYS something just around the corner vying for wrist time.
Finally, I’d like to give a huge shout out to the rad team at G-Shock Australia (Shriro) for absolutely killing it with the breaking of news, often worldwide exclusive, over the last couple years. Puts other markets to shame with up to date and future info as well as a solid social media presence. You know they’re doing something right when forums light up after they update their site. The same of course applies to the G Street gang for handling everything on the non-corporate side of things. The culture may still be growing here but that strong foundation and presence are really making us stand out on the world stage. Keep doing what you do guys!