I had been wanting to add a G-Shock to my watch collection for some time and I only had eyes for one model – the Gulfman.
Unlike other watch purchases, this for me anyway, was a simple choice. I didn’t have an exhaustive criterion to adhere to – barring a few features I required – the obligatory tide graph and moon phase.
I just wanted a Gulfman!
Things are never that straightforward though. I originally planned on getting the Casio G-9100-1ER. This is best described as the entry level Gulfman, primarily because it lacks solar power and atomic timekeeping. This aside, its a perfect daily wearer without a budget busting price tag.
I was pretty much set on this model until I saw the GW-9110-1ER.
This was the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons dilemma. One minute I was set on the basic model, next my head was turned. Oh dear, looks like the credit card will be taking a beating again!
This would be my first atomic radio controlled watch (I’ve since added a Casio Protrek PRW-2500-1ER to my collection which I reviewed last month). This feature together with the solar power element really swayed my decision making. The price hike concerned me slightly, as at the time, it was four times the cost of the bog standard model.
No going back now. Added to basket and checkout complete, the flagship Gulfman was on its way!
The original Gulfman started life back in 1999 with the DW-9700 series. Numerous versions were released – differentiated by special edition colour schemes that Casio love so much (yellow, jelly, white, blue, as well as the standard black resin).
Casio relaunched the Gulfman range in 2007 with the G-9100 series and added a “W” suffix to the “G” to denote their atomic prowess. 2010 saw the release of GW-9110 – which at the time of writing is the current model designation for this range. As with the original DW-9700 series a multitude of colours, special editions, plus reverse/positive LCD’s have been released and are highly collectible.
The history dates back a bit further to 1985 when the “Master of G” series was dreamt up at Casio HQ and the current Gulfman proudly belongs to this exclusive group, along with its resin chums the Frogman, Riseman and Mudman (numerous other “man” models have since been discontinued, more’s the pity).
A day or so after purchasing the Gulfman arrived resplendent in its upmarket G-Shock screw caseback style tin. Its a great way to package a watch and a crying shame it sits in drawer, as its rather cool (much better than some of Casio’s gift boxes which are uninspiring cardboard and plastic creations).
Removing the watch from its foam slot and dispensing with the bag and tags I was surprised at how small and light (57g) the GW-9110-1ER is in the hand. It looked so much bigger in the photos! Don’t get me wrong, by “regular” watch standards its still a beast, but just not as massive as imagined (H 51mm x W 46mm x D 16mm).
The watch battery came on medium (M on the battery power display) so a few hours on the windowsill would be required to fully charge the battery before use. Its not totally necessary, but recommended in my opinion, as solar watches often sit for many months in the dark prior to sale.
Once charged I synced with radio signal to set the time.
The resin band (strap) used on the GW-9110-ER is the same as used on the GW-9200 Riseman and is a double prong buckle design as opposed the single prong used on the G-9100 model. Surprisingly for a Rust Resistant “full” titanium advertised watch, the buckle is in fact highly polished/brushed stainless steel as opposed titanium, probably to reduce production costs? Pity that.
The band is extremely comfortable though the resin keeper does have a tendency to move and requires continual adjustment. “Rust Resist” and “Tough Solar” are screen printed on the band in light grey lettering and it is attached to the case by four titanium cross head screws.
The watch case is composed of a resin including the bezel (which is replaceable), a titanium ring sits beneath the bezel and a full titanium case back is held down by four titanium cross headed screws. Under most circumstances there should be no need to remove the case back as its solar powered and requires no regular battery changes.
The matte finish titanium ring adds significant protection to the mineral crystal and from what I’ve read it is glued to the resin case. As can be seen from the photos the lower portions of the ring are painted red to tie in with the red accents on the face. Personally I would have preferred this to be left bare. If you are into “modding” watches I would assume that by removing the resin bezel (which is held on by the four band screws) this red paint could be readily removed with alcohol. On other versions the ring is black PVD or highly polished to a brilliant shine.
Functionality comprises of 12/24hr timekeeping, beep (on/off), DST auto/manual, tide and moon phase, day/month/date, 24hr chronograph, 24hr countdown timer, 5 alarms (including snooze, SNZ), hourly time signal and world time in 48 cities/31 time zones (with individual DST on/off). The electro-luminescent (EL) lighting system can be manually button operated or automatically (Auto EL or AEL) by the flick of the wrist (hold down the Light button for a few seconds to activate).
This is a straightforward four button watch and any regular Casio user will be able to get to grips with minimal manual referral – a PDF version is available to download at the end of this review.
The Gulfman hasn’t changed dramatically over the years and the display has remained relatively consistent albeit with a few tweaks. I recall the GW-9100-1 dispensed with the tide graph and moon phase – strange considering its a sea themed watch!
The current model’s face can be broken down into 5 segments. The moon phase to the left, bang in the middle is the tide graph and to the right of this, a “dial” (for want of a better word – Casio refer to this as the “Graphic Area“) which doubles as a seconds indicator in timekeeping/countdown modes and 1/10 sec in stopwatch mode. The lower segment is for main operations such as current time, stopwatch, timer etc, whereas the upper displays date/WT in timekeeping and additional info in other modes.
I sometimes wonder why the display wasn’t completely overhauled with the latest Gulfman. The right situated “Graphic Area” for example takes up a fair amount of space and purely replicates the exact same information displayed on the main screen (i.e. seconds, which are already visible in timekeeping). The GW-9100-1 uses this “dial” to display atomic time signal location which again seems wasteful, while the non atomic G-9100 uses the “Graphic Area” in the same way as the GW-9110-1ER. I find the “dial” a bit gimmicky to be honest and something more akin to digital watches back in the 80’s when stuff like that was “innovative”. The Seiko G757 Sports 100 “Octopussy” watch springs to mind!
Other than that I find the face pleasing. The indicators (SNZ, ALM, SIG, MUTE, AEL, P.SAVE, CHG, L, M, H) are tiny as are the screen markings but adequate for purpose.
As mentioned this is a four button operation watch, one of which being EL dedicated (though the Light button does have a secondary use in other modes). The pushers are not overly stiff to press and have a cross shape for grip. They are large enough to use with gloves and are clearly marked. For general operations, pressing the Mode button will scroll through functions in the following order: Timekeeping, Tide/Moon, World Time, Alarm, Stopwatch and Timer.
The Adjust button is used, funnily enough, for “adjustments” (i.e. time/date preferences, setting alarm time, in conjunction with the Light/Search buttons, alarm on/off, split timing and resetting the stopwatch/timer), whereas the Search button works like a secondary scroll button for moving through time zones or to start/stop stopwatch/timer. The manual will explain the rest!
Pressing the Search button (until it beeps), while in timekeeping mode, will activate manual atomic time signal receive or the GET function. This maybe necessary if you have moved location and failed to pick up an auto update.
Setting the correct tide height is simple and doesn’t require Lunitidal Interval data just one high tide time for your locale. The segment that flashes is the current tide. The tide graph displays 3 different ranges dependant upon the moon phase: Spring, Intermediate and Neap (the difference between high and low tide heights – Spring largest and Neap smallest).
I particularly appreciate (in timekeeping mode) the ability to swap the date with a world time of choice (simply press the Adjust button). Of course you’ll need to set the world time first via the WT menu. I usually have mine on UTC which is useful when DST comes into play. Talking of which, there is a dedicated time zone for London (LON) as well as UTC which is useful.
I wish, like many other Casio fans, that a little more versatility was built into Casio modules. For example being able to see a countdown timer or stopwatch progress via the timekeeping display (or the other way around). Alas this isn’t possible so when using the timer or stopwatch you end up going back and forth to see the time. You can however see the current time during Alarm setting.
For a slightly different take on the Gulfman, consideration should be given to the Casio GW-7900 which uses the same module (3217). Its lacking the titanium touches and Gulfman name, but its still a G-Shock and can be found with a negative display (if you like that sort of thing) for considerably less cash than a comparable Gulfman.
I think the GW-9110-1ER is an attractive watch. Often G-Shock watches are bit in your face and flirty – look at me I’m a G-Shock! But not here. This is a modern hard as nails watch with a bag of functionality and the added bonus of Tough Solar power and Multi Band 6 atomic accuracy. Its got broad appeal and personality.
The Casio GW-9110-1ER Gulfman is a solid watch with pedigree – after all its a Master of G!
Specification and functionality
An electro-luminescent panel causes the entire face to glow for easy reading. Auto Light automatically turns on the EL backlight when the watch is tilted towards your face for reading.
Shock-resistant construction protects against impact and vibration.
Rust resistant case
All visible metal components and screws are made of titanium and are therefore resistant against rust and corrosion.
A solar cell provides power for operation.
Radio signal reception (EU, USA, Japan, China)
Whether in Europe, North America and Japan or in the outer reaches of Canada, Central America and China – once the watch has been set to the local time, it receives the relevant signal and shows the correct time wherever you are. In many countries, it also sets itself automatically to summer and winter time.
Moon data display
The phase of the moon is shown on the display based on your current latitude and longitude.
Tide graph display
Tidal movements are displayed graphically based on your local high tide time.
World time function
Displays the current time in major cities and specific areas around the world.
Stopwatch function – 1/100 sec. – 24 hours
Elapsed time, split time and final time are measured with 1/100-sec accuracy. The watch can measure times of up to 24 hours.
Timer – 1/1 min. – 24 hours
For fans of precision: the countdown timers help you to remember specific or recurring events by giving off an audible signal at a preset time. The time can be set to the nearest minute and up to 24 hours in advance. Ideal for people who need to take medicines every day or those who do interval training.
5 daily alarms
The daily alarm reminds you about recurring events with an acoustic signal at the time you have set. You can also activate hourly time signal that indicates each full hour. This model has 5 independent alarms for flexible reminders of important appointments.
Each time you stop the alarm, it sounds again after a few minutes.
Button tones on/off
The button tones for using the mode button can be turned off. This means that the watch no longer beeps when switching from one function to another. Preset alarm or countdown timers remain active when the button tones are deactivated.
Once set, the automatic calendar always displays the correct date.
Times can be displayed in either a 12-hour or 24-hour format.
The tough, scratch-resistant mineral glass protects the watch against unsightly damage.
Titanium resin case
Natural resin is the ideal material for wrist straps thanks to its extremely durable and flexible properties.
Battery level indicator
An indicator shows the current battery level.
Water resistance classification (20 bar)
Perfect for free diving without scuba gear: the watch is water resistant to 20 bar / 200 metres. The metres value does not relate to a diving depth but to the air pressure used in the course of the water resistance test. (ISO 2281)
Type of battery
approx. 51,00mm x 46,10mm x 16,40mm (H x W x D)
approx. 57,00 g