This post is just a short update to a watch that was on the bench earlier this year, namely an Astron 35-9000 date.
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 quartz Heuer came in recently for a movement service. I see quite a few variants of these across the bench but rarely with a full glow dial, and rarely one in such cracking condition as this example. The rotating bezels on these usually are a lot more worn than this one is and dials can so easily become damaged by dead battery cells that have burst inside the watch. This one really is a rare survivor in such great condition! The dial is actually phosphorescent as opposed to lume and the advertising of the time marketed them as “Night diver” watches. The dial will glow for 10 minutes after a 10 second “charge” under a strong light. This model also came in a black case (980.031) and a ladies sized black case (980.030). Powered by the ESA 536.121 quartz movement, it makes it a rock solid reliable performer.
This Heuer 2000 quartz chronograph came in recently for a service, the watch ran with the chronograph running but spluttered to a halt with it disengaged. This particular Heuer is a modular chronograph meaning the movement powers a separate chronograph module fixed on where the dial would usually sit. Modular chrono’s are usually easily identifiable by the crown being below the line of the pushers. This one is powered by a slightly modified ETA 555.282 quartz movement and the chronograph module is a Dubios-Depraz 2000, these find their way into quite a number of manufacturers chronograph models.
This Seiko Sports 7546-6040 recently came in for some refurbishment, it belonged to the current owners father and hadn’t run for many years. The Sports range of Seikos look like dive watches but are only resistant to 100m and carry a different logo on the caseback, a more stylised wave than the tsunami of the divers watches. This example was in need of a bit of TLC, the crystal needed replacing as well as getting it going again and servicing the movement.
Seikos shrouded diver line started way back in in 1975 with the introduction of the Seiko 6159-7010 Professional. This watch came into being due to Seiko seeking to find a solution to the complaints from professional divers about watch failures at depth. Although the Japanese are famous for taking a design and applying their interpretation to it, the shrouded diver owed nothing to anyone, it was a truly unique design. It included several industry firsts, the first titanium case, the L-shaped single crystal gasket and of course the ceramic-coated titanium shroud. With a 600m depth rating, the 6159 dispenses with a helium release valve in part due to very consistent and tight manufacturing tolerances, but also due to the one piece case and screw down crystal retaining system. This means that the crystal cant blow out as atmospheric pressure drops in a decompression chamber as it’s physically restrained by a locking ring. It’s not hard to see how this watch earned the nickname ‘Tuna can”! The watch featured is a very early production 300m 7549-7010 from March 1978 and was released simultaneously with the 600m 7549-7009 ‘Professional’ titanium divers line. These were the first quartz divers to be seen from Seiko. This one came in for a movement service and a crystal change as it had acquired a non standard AR coated one at some point. Excuse all the reflections but these are buggers to photograph on the bench because of the domed crystal!
This Quartz powered Seiko Sports 100 came in recently to have a problem with the crown and seconds hand looked at, it also was in need of a service. Like many quartz calibres it’s probably never had one in it’s life and it certainly needed doing.