I completed this unusual job (all will be revealed later) over a year ago and have been meaning to post about it ever since, stumbling across the photographs on my hard drive the other day means I’ve now finally got it done! The watch, a Panerai PAM90 was bought for the owner by his wife as a wedding present 11 years ago. It came brand new from a dealer and as such was box fresh! After the intervening years he found he wasn’t wearing the watch as much as he’d like to, so as it was a watch that would never be sold he set about giving it a little makeover. The watch arrived here for me to strip the case and return it to the owner then service the movement. Meanwhile the owner was planning something special with the case! 🙂
This Electronic Seiko from October 1969 came in for some tender loving care recently. Electronic watches had been around for quite a while by the time Seiko released their first Electronic watch, Hamilton, LIP and Bulova were a few of the other major manufacturers from that period. However, Citizen’s X-8 Cosmotron of 1966 is generally accepted as the first commercially successful electronic movement that was regulated by a balance wheel. Seiko responded with the calibre 31xx in 1967 followed by the calibre 37xx in 1969, the 32xx and 33xx in 1972, and the calibre 07 Elnix series in 1973/4. Japanese electronic watch production was short lived due to the rapid development and falling costs of quartz production of which Seiko was first to market with in 1969 with the calibre 35 Astron. The 3102-7000 “Electronic” featured here came in with problems to the running and quick setting of the movement, you can see in the opening photograph the minute and hour hand are out of sync.
This post is just a short update to a watch that was on the bench earlier this year, namely an Astron 35-9000 date.
Apologies for the lack of updates (I seem to be saying this everytime I post something!), this is solely due to the volume of work that keeps coming in. I have a huge backlog of work that I think you’d find interesting so I’m making a concerted effort to pull my finger out and get posting again starting with this gorgeous Laurel from (we think) 1915. I say we think because I’m assuming Seikosha was using the same dating system back then as they do today which would mean this was produced in August 1915. This may not be correct but it would fit with what we know about the history of the model, the Laurel was the first wristwatch Seikosha ever produced and production began in 1913 pretty much straight after they had started producing enamel dials in house. The first Seikosha wristwatch with Seiko branding on the dial came in 1924 and was smaller in diameter at 24.5mm. The Laurel is 29.5mm in diameter with a 12 ligne movement which is small by today’s standards but back in those days it was a generous size for a gents watch.
I know updates have taken a back seat this year solely due to the volume of work that keeps coming in but I couldn’t let this pair pass by without a post about them. As most people with an interest in horological history will know, the world’s first quartz wristwatch was introduced on Dec 25th 1969 by Seiko. Called the “Astron” it was powered by Seiko’s 35a quartz movement which had been 10 years in development and was truly a revolution in wristwatch manufacture, in fact the quartz movement changed the face of wristwatch production forever and caused years of change and lets face it some very hard times for watch manufacturers around the rest of the world. The 35a movement’s frequency was 8192 Hz, a quarter of the frequency of quartz oscillators today although the accuracy was still an impressive ±0.2 seconds per day or ±5 seconds per month. One of the major features was its hybrid integrated circuit innovation which consumed far less power than transistors of the time. Another breakthrough was the step motion seconds hand made possible by developing a miniature open step motor, this innovation was adopted by other manufactures of quartz watches later on. This was only possible because Seiko did not pursue monopolization on patent rights of those unique technologies and opened them up to all the world. At the time of release the Astron cost 450,000 yen ($1,250) which at the time was equivalent to the price of a medium-sized car. Even at this high price after the first week Seiko had sold 100 units. The case was made from 18k gold and had a distinctive textured finish, the dial also had a textured finish and the hands were of the simple baton/stick type.
To get to work one one of these historical pieces is a joy but to get two in at the same time, one date and the other non date, really was an honour. The owner is a huge Seiko collector with one of the most comprehensive collections of vintage Seikos on the planet. The watches came in with the non date version in a non running state and the date version running. Both required servicing because there was no baseline established as the history of both pieces was unknown. Obviously we were hoping the non running examples problems were caused by either something mechanical or a dirty connection. Below is the quintessential no date Astron.
This lovely Lemania HS9 came in as a non runner recently for a spot of fettling and a service. These models are known as the HS9 after the engraving on the caseback. HS stands for Hydrographic Supplies (or Services), a government organisation tasked with the procurement of timepieces (and other devices) for the Navy. The 9 is the number of the specification that this watch was made to meet which was a wrist chronograph. Specifications 1 to 8 included normal wristwatches, deck chronometers, pocket watches and so forth. So this model is made for the UK government for issue to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. This one is a silver dialled example but they did come issued with a white dial (with no luminous compound) for use on nuclear submarines and black dialed ones were issued to the RAF. These Lemania models were supplied to many armed forces the world over and are one of the nicest issued military watches in my opinion. It’s powered by the beautiful manual wind, 18,000bpm Lemania 15CHT movement. The dial has everything going for it, it’s Lemania signed with the company logo above, below that is the T – circle logo indicating the luminous compound is tritium based (rather than earlier radium), it has the broad arrow above the 6 denoting it was government property and it doesn’t have the long dash of luminous compound at the six o’clock marker which is sometimes seen. The crown isn’t the original but the style does suit the watch so it’s not too big a deal.