Fancy possessing a little piece of horological history? All things considered, you could make a beeline for Geneva’s Patek Philippe Museum exhibition hall with your jemmy, a striped shirt and a ‘swag’ pack and discreetly eliminate their Rieussec Seconds Chronograph. Feeling significantly more valiant? How about the most punctual chronograph yet found? The Louis Moinet , in St. Blaise in Switzerland? Sadly, there are just two different ways to get hold of watches like these – robbery, – or complex 12 PM dealings with a guy with horns and a pitchfork at a far off country intersection. Like essentially every other mile marker along the street of horological progress, neither the Rieussec nor the Moinet are for sale.
There is, nonetheless, a simpler way if you’re arranged to be somewhat less picky. You actually get a timekeeping achievement, yet not at the expense of time in a correctional facility or forever some place warm. How about the absolute first simple quartz chronograph…
It’s 1982. The Commodore 64 8-cycle home computer is dispatched in the USA. Heuer are as yet making watches like the advanced Chronosplit and the Swiss watch industry is being wounded to death with quartz precious stones. But, despite the fact that a few group think it is adequate to wear a watch that is likewise a number cruncher, a compass, an indicator and a TV combined, there is a feeling that advanced watches aren’t very where it is at any longer. What’s more, that’s where Seiko – as they so frequently do – come in.
Now, I know some watchie individuals are sniffy about Seiko. But it’s difficult to be convincingly inconsiderate about a brand that makes perhaps the most precise movements on the planet (the 9F arrangement – that’s +/ – 10 sec dad) and that develops its own quartz precious stones, yet ages them for a quarter of a year to amplify strength. If that ain’t a production movement, I don’t know what is.
Back in the early ’80s, Seiko concluded that this LCD innovation was magnificent, however what about building a simple quartz chronograph? One that didn’t go ‘beep’ and glimmer a ton of looking over numbers at you. So, being Seiko, that’s what they did. This, fine people, is the absolute first simple quartz chronograph.
They weren’t timid by the same token. Contemporary advertisements broadcasted “Watch history being made” and with the watch captured against the dashboards of Porsche 911s and Ur Quattros, it was clear Seiko were pitching it high. And they didn’t wreck about. The 7a arrangement does that awesome Seiko thing of appearing to be straightforward yet really being eye-wateringly amazing. Let’s start with the movement…
Seiko wanted to take on the Swiss unexpectedly. So instead of a particular, dispensable plastic movement, the 7a arrangement had a legitimate, semi improved 15 gem metal movement that could be directed, dismantled and fixed. It even has a conventional finger damper spring on the middle seconds pinion. Seiko truly tossed speculation, thinking and exertion into this one. This clarifies why, in spite of frequently great maltreatment, so numerous survive.
Notice those little rectangular plates over pieces of the movement? Each of those ensures a small stepper engine – one for every one of the chronograph capacities. Also, that’s what is the issue here. Press the catch at 2 o’clock and the chrono begins. Instead of a snowstorm of gleaming digits, the middle seconds ticks off the seconds each in turn while the 1/10ths dial dashes round. Truth be told, it’s moving at 1/20th second spans. The minutes total up over at the 9 o’clock subdial and there’s a running seconds at 6 o’clock.
Today, that’s all beautiful average. But back in the mid 1980s, when most watches had minimal dim, computerized screens, this was not kidding stuff. And it improved. Hit the catch at 10 o’clock and the chrono continues to run, yet the hands stop. So in addition to the fact that you have a chrono, you have a part timer.
If you appreciate playing, you’ll find something different about the 7a series… in the event that you push and hold the 4 o’clock pusher, the two chrono subdials and focus seconds whizz round and reset themselves. And this for around $250 back in the early ’80s – that’s a blinding measure of watch innovation for a simple $650 in today’s money.
The movement even discovered its way into watches conveying rather more upmarket logos, including the Ferrari ‘Cal. 531’.
But the exquisite thing with the 7a arrangement watches is that they have something for everyone…
If you like your complications, you’ll discover something in the 7a arrangement that suits you. There are tide clocks, moon-stages, Sports Quartz, fishing models (the 7A48-7050 Fishing Master with a moon stage and tide pointer), military adaptations (as provided to the RAF and the South African Airforce – see the awesome Mr Brandon Cripps’ article on the military variations of the 7 here: Time Spec: Seiko 7A28 RAF Gen 1 Chronograph . if you extravagant a military 7a however, you’ll need profound pockets. Several years prior, you’d see these for around £300. Now, they’re being posted up for sale destinations at up to £995.
Movie fan? You can pursue the 7A28-7001 Giugiaro-planned chrono that springs up (alongside a couple of awful critters) in Alien. Indeed, even Bond got in on the activity and wore a 7A28-7020 in View to a Kill.
Like horological folklore? You can cheerfully invest energy pursuing the ‘Vulcan Flightcrew’, yellow-confronted variation, the 7A38-701B. The story goes that RAF aircrews on the Vulcan long-range atomic plane were given these. The yellow dial obviously made them simpler to peruse in the Vulcan’s obscured cockpit. One of these went for almost £600 back in 2011 notwithstanding there being nothing but bad proof for the entire Vulcan thing being really, you know, valid. They may never have been given watches (the casebacks positively don’t convey military markings), yet they’re still unquestionably handsome.
And in light of the fact that there were so many made – and made well – there is as yet the opportunity of turning one up at a boot deal, in a garbage shop or on a sale site for pocket cash. Even if it’s not running too well, the appropriate, metal movement is totally useful and you can in any case get parts. There’s a committed (and brilliant) gathering for the 7a arrangement over at http://www.seiko7a38.com with a lot of help and information.
So, a piece of genuine horological history, a lot of variety, film and military cred and powerful enough for a (altogether repairable) day by day wearer. And change – on the off chance that you purchase well – from £100. That’s had the chance to be a genuine deal. And a ton less expensive than going through the following twenty years in a Swiss jail.
In my view, the costs on these are going only one way. Get one while you still can.