Something colorful for the Digital Saturday.
For the first time, Seiko had released their first cross training watch in 1992. A full plastic watch, available in two colors, black and red, appeared in the dealer's catalog. Priced aggressively at only 9800 yen.
This watch features a very large LCD screen with 3 rolls of digits, that could show more than one record particularly in timer mode simultaneously, to a maximum of 30 laps memory. Detail features are yet to be studied after I can locate the original user/technical manual.
Note this is the version that shows 'Cross Training' on the casing. Another version with the same module inside, however with the name 'Interval Timer' is also available, the reference is different which is S610-4010. Which I believe is the international version of the same watch. This is yet to be confirmed.
There's one topic that on and off being discussed by Seiko enthusiasts in different forums and interest groups. Seiko 5 Quartz, did Seiko ever produced such a watch or series.
Will go into detail about the mystery of Seiko 5 Quartz later on, but for now, a brief description of this myth can be summarized into a few sentences. Seiko 5, when introduced in mid '60s, were talking about 5 major rules to put in this 'FIVE' series. One of the rules is, the caliber has to be an automatic. However, over the time in the first half of the '80s, Seiko had released a limited run on quartz powered watches with the signature of Seiko 5. Some enthusiasts and collectors didn't think these are made by Seiko but fakes. But some, claimed that these are real. Some of these samples were acquired, and had been carefully examined by these peoples. Unlike the typical fake Seiko, from a lot of details, these examples were mostly believed to be legit.
And the most solid proof was, one of my friends who had actually asked Seiko by mail and asked if these watches were made by Seiko. And their official reply by mail was, yes, they did made some.
So, here's one of those, manufactured by the Daini factory, a quartz five, in 1980. I also have another quartz 5, made in the mid '80s, however, it is from the other factory of Seiko, Suwa. I will show that later as well.
Very interesting and controversial piece of Seiko timepiece, which I think I found the answer, by having two of them physically in front of me.
My rare purchase of a new modern Seiko, the Marinimaster SBDX014. Picked this up during a trip to Osaka, it's an awesome piece of work that once I put it on and can't let go.
A tribute to the first tuna watch released in 1975, the SBDX014 was launched in 2015 for this reason. It has a monobloc titanium inner casing with a ceramic shroud as the outer casing, to protect the case from shocks. Although it is officially rated to be 1000m under water, it has in fact been tested to sustain 3000m deep down, with it mounted externally to a remotely operated undersea research vehicle.
The movement inside is the 8L35, which is an automatic and beats at 28800vph, have seconds hacking and manual winding as well. It has about 50 hours of power reserve. This movement is actually the same movement used by Grand Seiko, the 9S55, but unregulated and non-decorated.
Came with a soft vented rubber strap as standard, now replaced with the Strapcode military nylon strap for a more comfortable wearing. A very robust and beautiful modern timepiece it is.
A legendary model, the first World Time Digital offered by Seiko in 1977, commonly known as the 'Pan Am', the M158-5000.
Very easily distinguished by it's lemon face and the face plate with selected regions of different time zones, the main purpose of the Pan Am is for frequent travelers easily adjust the time for different time zones with just simple presses of buttons. It is built very differently comparing with other digital, the module is mounted on to the caseback instead of drop-in to the top case. The yellow tone was created by the top glass of the LCD instead of the crystal.
Came with the original bracelet, this watch is not light. It weighs considerably heavier than other digital of the same era. One can tell after disassembled the unit and check how think the stainless steel casing and the caseback is.
A very iconic Seiko Digital, a must have for Seiko collectors.
In the late '70s, Hong Kong made a lot of these watches and ship it worldwide. They all marked a very important role in the history of Hong Kong.
These are not high quality watches like those made in Japan by Seiko and Citizen. Back then, Hong Kong was a rising star in making a lot of lower cost electronics, for examples, resistor radios, simple home appliances, electronic toys, and digital watches. Some small factories will import the chip and manufacture their own module. Some factories made only the metal casing, some did the acrylic crystal and did the printing for the face plate, and some only manufacture the bracelets. They will all then put semi-finished product together and sell it under different brands, at a lower price comparing with those Japanese and Swiss products. Targeting just the entry-level market.
Some of these components, were manufactured in a very classic way, that is by hand. And being put together by the workers at home as told, then deliver the finished goods back to the factory for final checking. Those were the days how these mini factories worked, and how the people made their living. Of course, this is no longer the case in Hong Kong nowadays, and digital watch manufacturing no long takes an important role.
Lambda was a reputable local brand at that time, and this is believed to be one of their watches made in the late '70s, before the plastic watch era. You can see how raw the module is, almost all connections inside were hand soldered, and pretty sure it was being put together by hand individually. It was found from a street seller and was sold to me as junk at a cost of close to nothing. Taken it all apart with the LCD screen off completely, cleaned all the contacts and lubricate the case and tunnels as usual. After reassembling it from scratch, it powers up flawlessly. The cracked crystal, however, is almost impossible to be replaced nor repaired, but I don't really mind.
I am very happy to have this. This is a piece of Hong Kong history, that we all should not forget.
Another Vintage Solar Digital for a Digital Saturday!
A while ago I had shown my collection of the two A156 Solar, which were launched for the Japanese market. One with a black dial, the other with a white dial. Here's another one, using the same module, but under a different design for the global market, branded under SQ (Seiko Quartz) and in the Sports 100 series.
Same as the module used on the Japanese models, this digital has a small solar panel to charge up the proprietary capacitor inside. The charging circuit still works, however, the capacitor is dead and no suitable replacement is available in the market nowadays. The watch can still be used with a regular button cell, just like most other digital watch. However, a slight mod of disabling the charging circuit is a must.
This particular piece, I picked it up as an abandoned piece, which cost me just around US$5, with a non-running but clean module. Now it is using the module from the other A156 I have, and will have the it's module either rescued or replaced.
When Seiko released the 7548 in the late '80s, only two models were introduced, the black 7000 and the Pepsi 700B. Later the years they brought out two extra model with different dial colors, the orange and the green, or sometimes people says it's teal.
For all four colors they offered, I managed to have three. The orange one shown here is my latest acquisition. It's from 1981 and was very well kept and maintained. Different from the other four models, the bezel of the orange have golden color fonts. I believe the green model might also have the same bezel, but I cannot confirm as it's not in the catalog, and I don't have that yet as well. The green is the rarest and the most expensive in fact, which easy cost more than some other divers like the 6105, go figure.
The 6458 was the earliest midsize quartz diver Seiko brought out in the late '70s. Just a bit later than they launched the bigger brother 7548.
It came in 4 different models, with mostly the dial color difference. The black as shown, the orange, the white, and the green. The are all of the same specifications and were rated 150m Water Resistant. The one in the photo, which is quite beat up, is a running watch now. When it first came in, the condition was even worse than it is shown now, and non-moving. After a very thorough clean on the case inside out, and have the movement serviced by lubricating and rust taken off, it is now running like a beauty, in heart.
Just leaving it the way it looks, it sure did have an exciting history before, then let it keep the scars.
Digital watches are still available nowadays, but not the way they used to look like.
Digitals from the past, the watch casing usually carry a square or rectangular shape, this design is usually lead by the shape of the LCD window, which is also rectangular. Since the introduction of the alarm feature, the watch must need a front mount outlet to let the sound out. Thus most of them do have a grill sitting in front, either above the crystal, or down below it.
As the design of these watches are somewhat limited to the form factor, they had put some effort in designing the grill. The one seen above is a typical twist on designing the grill. Behind the metallic checkered grill, there's a metal mesh to prevent things or dirt getting in. And behind the mesh, it's the buzzer or speaker.
This minimal design had big help in making the digital more appealing, and sometimes, certain designs are only available in limited supply, that made them quite collectible nowadays, and gives a very distinguished retro look.
After Seiko launched the world first Quartz watch in December 1969, the accuracy standard on horology had been pushed forward to the next level.
Due to the hefty price these introductory pieces had, quartz watches were not popular at all. Some of these pieces could cost as much as a home. Until a few years later, prices had come down resulted by mass production. However, still cost quite a bit, and typically still more expensive then most with traditional automatic calibers. In 1974, they came out with this model, the V.F.A., which stands for "Very Fine Adjusted". This term were used before on their earlier Grand Seiko 6186, with this stamp, it means the pieces is tuned specifically to meet certain accuracy standard, which was not met by most other watches at the time.
The Quartz 3823 V.F.A., has a very outstanding performance in terms of accuracy. It has a rating of +/-10 seconds per year, which surpass most many other watches available in the market. Yet, it's not the top performer from Seiko. The selling price in 1974 of this beauty, was 141,000 yen. With that money, one could get a new Toyota in Japan already. The dial is also another highlight. All minute and hour markers are separately applied, not painted. Topped with a coated sapphire crystal. Very nicely made it is.
Until today, it is still running very accurately with about +/-2 to 3 seconds a month, where it still wins a lot of watches out there nowadays hands down.
自1969年推出全球首枚石英手錶Seiko ASTRON，手錶的準確度已向前邁進一大步。為求達至更高水平，精工再於74年研發出每年誤差只有10秒的V.F.A.(Very Fine Adjustment)。成為當時全球誤差最小，而又公開發售的手錶，當年價格位14萬1千日圓。直至今天，這誤差規格仍屬頂級，絕大部份高價手錶機芯仍然未能達至這精準水平。