The Ultimate Seiko Alpinist Collectors Guide

 

THE SEIKO ALPINIST

Seiko Alpinist history

Seiko introduced the Alpinist wristwatch in 1961 with the intention of it becoming a reliable timepiece for Japanese mountain climbers and other sports enthusiasts alike. The production of this watch was important because it was the first real attempt at making a sports watch by Seiko. Seiko Alpinist watches started being produced in 1961 and were inspired by Yama-otoko which is Japanese for mountain men. Mountains cover much of the Japanese landscape and the mountain men that worked or spent time in the mountains during their free time were supposedly the inspiration of this line of Seiko watches. These men required excellent gear that could handle the rugged terrain and that they could depend on for accuracy. The Laurel Alpinist was the first of seven generations which was followed by the second generation known as the Champion 850 series, partly named for the 850 movement used.

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Seiko Alpinist Timeline

There was a 30-year span before the Alpinist name was used again by Seiko but in 1995 a third-generation model with an automatic hand-winding 4S15 calibre version was introduced, and popularly called the “Red Alpinist”. The fourth-generation Alpinist of 2003 is also known as the GMT, and is titanium cased, having a perpetual calendar and a quartz face; all of which had never been used in the Alpinist line before.  The Seiko Alpinist GMT Titanium Prospex HAQ Quartz is exceptionally rare and used the 8F56 movement.   It also has Alpinist in red on the dial. In 2006 the fifth generation Alpinist watches incorporated many features from previous generations with exception to the fourth generation. These watches all use the 6R15 movement which is an in-house movement created by Seiko. The SARB013 (Cream Dial), SARB015 (Black Dial) and SARB017 (Green Dial) immediately became popular and are still sought after by collectors. Out of the three models, the Green Dialed Alpinist is the most popular because of its unique colour. The sixth-generation model of the Alpinist also used the 6R15B movement and was introduced in August 2009.  The case shape changed from earlier models and is a variant of the SKX-series divers watch with the protected crown at the 4 o’clock position. Seiko Alpinist watches are exceptional for several reasons but most notably their craftsmanship and the rich history that goes along with the Alpinist line.

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HISTORY OF THE SEIKO ALPINIST

When it comes to the creme de la creme of Seiko, there is little debate over which is the summit of Seiko branding. The Laurel sub-brand is the oldest of the Seiko sub brands, and the 1913 Laurel watch did not even feature the word Seiko.  The brand Seiko itself first featured on watches in 1924.

Laurel 1913

The Alpinist is the third oldest Seiko sub brand.

Seiko Alpinist Laurel

SERIES INTRODUCTION: LAUREL ALPINIST

The watch that started it all is known as the “Laurel Alpinist,” which operated on a 17 jewel hand-wound movement and came in two colours, black and cream. The Laurel also came with a sturdy leather Bund strap, these straps are hard to come by because of the wear and tear that owners put them through. Other than the two dial colours, there is no difference between the two. Introduced in 1961 the Alpinist Laurel is the very first Seiko to bear the name Alpinist, and the distinctive type face has been used on all Seiko Alpinist models. The Laurel Alpinist has a sturdy stainless steel case topped with an acrylic crystal. The Laurel Alpinist comes in a guise of a rather non-sporty watch, and anyone familiar with the Laurel watches will immediately see the strong resemblance to the Laurel brand, yet there is something quite distinctive about this Alpinist. The circular 3-piece case has a waterproof screw-back with plain engravings. The case has a decent size of 35 mm, most of which is taken by the dial as the bezel around it is narrow. The dial comes in two 2 different colour schemes, black and cream, complemented by the minute markers in an unusual alternating pattern that forms an inner ring on the dial. The index markers at 3,6,9 and 12 are detailed triangular markers and were perhaps intended to reflect mountains.  The dial is marked Diashock 17j. The movement is marked Seikosha 17 Jewels and beats at a relaxed 18,000 bph, and is shock protected and complemented with the normal loud Seiko rattle as the wheels wind. The Dauphine style hands and index markers are inserted with lume. The legibility of this watch is excellent, thanks to the luminous large hour indexes that appear to be embossed rather than applied, but due to the passage of time, its efficacy has diminished more than somewhat. The case back is engraved SEIKO LAUREL ALPINIST 14041 STAINLESS STEEL.

The Seiko Marvel (introduced as a sub-brand in 1956, the first Seiko watch whose Diashock movement was designed “fully in-house from scratch”) had an almost identical movement, similar indices, and 14041 case, engraved Water Protected, and a Seiko Champion, 14041 case, engraved Shock Proof Dust and Water Protected.

There was also a Seiko Laurel J13029 with virtually identical movement, labelled as a Rainproof case.

seiko Laurel J13029 and 14041

Seiko Laurel J13029 and 14041

Seiko Laurel Alpinist

Laurel Alpinist , 14041 with one piece case back.

SEIKO ALPINIST CHAMPION

The second Seiko Alpinist model after the Laurel Alpinist was created under the Champion Series two years later, in 1963. This move is presumed, by collectors, to have been made in order to make the Champion model more competitive. There is a simple “Alpinist” engraving on the back of the case accompanied by “RAINPROOF” which made it appropriate for any mountain climber. The first Champion version sported a stainless steel case, and had a very unique face; the dial had a spun of silver-satin finish, with the hour markers embedded on a thick black radial ring around the minute chapter while the minute markers were pushed to the outer periphery of the dial. The 12 o’clock marker was the numeral 4 in style. Despite its fancy looking dial, this watch came with a plain case back stamped print as “RAIN PROOF”, and model number J13033. The movement was the 17J Seikosha movement used in the original Laurel Alpinist, and the dial is still marked Diashock 17j beneath the word Alpinist. The second hand has a D shaped lollipop tip.

Seiko Champion Alpinist , J13033Champion Alpinist , J13033

A rare “RAIN PROOF” Champion Alpinist with trapezoidal lumed indexes was also produced at this time.

Champion alpinist

Seiko Champion Alpinists, J13033

Rare Champion Alpinists , J13033

The next Alpinist also came under the Champion series. In quick succession there were three Stainless Steel model types, the J13043, the J13049 and the J13079, all marked WATERPROOF on the dial, and case back.  The case back has the now-iconic mountain symbol with Alpinist engraved beneath for the J13043 and J13049 models and Alpinist 850 engraved beneath for the J13049 model.  The 17J Seikosha movement continued in the J13043 and J13049 models, but an automatic caliber 850 and later 851 rated at 18,000bph with Diashock protection was used in the J13079 model. Commonly all 3 models are called Champion 850 Alpinists.

Seiko Champion Alpinist J13043

Champion Alpinist, J13043

Seiko Champion Alpinist J13049
Seiko Champion Alpinist, J13049

One key feature was the continued use of the iconic dauphine hands which were used in all watches in the Champion series. Not only did the Champion series provide watch wearers and collectors a number of variations but the iconic mountain symbol on the back of the case originated here. From this point on, the vast majority of Alpinist watches have the mountain logo on the case ensuring authenticity.

Seiko Champion Catalogue

From page 54 of “Museum of Japanese made watches” shows an Alpinist Champion 850 with caliber 850/851

The  J13079 Champion 850 Alpinist had 14,16,18,20 and 22-hour markers on the inside of the chapter ring, and 850 beneath Seiko Champion on the dial.  The case back is engraved Alpinist 850, and the inside of the case back is stamped CH85. The chronology of release of the variants is a blur so it assumed that the latest version is the one that is almost identical to the first version, only with these 24 hr markings inside of the minute chapter.

Seiko Champion 850 Alpinist J13079

Champion 850 Alpinist, J13079

The transition in models led to 85899 models, marked STP on case back.

Seiko alpinist 850 85899back 85899

Stainless Steel Champion 850 Alpinist, 85899

A rare Stainless Steel version similar to the 85899 model also existed, with a J13079 case back.

Seiko Alpinist Stainless Steel Champion 850, J13079

Stainless Steel Champion 850 Alpinist, J13079

And below is a chrome plated version.

85899 Seiko Champion 851 Alpinist

Caliber 851.  Case back reads STP 858990

A gold version similar to the above was released in 1964 and used the 851 movement and is also known as the “85899” because Seiko used the older 5-digit numbering system; this is, in fact, the model number of the Champion 850s. The third release comes in a special gold-plated case with a relatively different dial. This variant inherited the traditional look of the related non-alpinist Champion models. The dial is plain cream with gold-plated indexes and gold-plated lumed hands.  Rare black and grey dial versions exist.  On top of the indexes are tiny lumed spheres that give better legibility under low light conditions. This version used an etched case back, marked EGP or Electro Gold Plated inside and outside. As shown above, chrome-plated rather than gold-plated 85899 models also exist, with the etched case back marked STP both inside and outside.

Seiko Alpinist Champion 850 85899

1964 third release Alpinist Champion 850, 85899, gold (EGP) and chrome plated (STP) (bottom right).

The Dauphine style hands inserted with lume continued to be present on all the variants to keep the theme of the previous Alpinist generation.

Seiko Alpinist Black Dial

A rare black dialed 85899

SEIKO RED ALPINIST

The next Alpinist was produced 30 years later under the Prospex line, which used the 4S15 caliber.   This caliber marked a renaissance in mechanical watches for Seiko which commenced in 1992.  The watch had a Sapplex crystal with a cyclops date window magnification lens. There were also two more distinct new features of the 1995 Prospex Alpinist, specifically the four o’clock crown and a unique inner bezel compass. These two new features were so popular they have been used from that point on in all Alpinist watches. Prospex Alpinists were only manufactured for two years but the popularity has only increased over the years and remains one of the “must haves” for collectors. They are commonly called the “Red Alpinist” because of the red wording on the dial. The 4S15 movement is “Hi-Beat” at 28,800 bph (8 bps). It is hackable and also supports handwinding.  This model was released with three choices of dial color – black, cream and emerald green. The signed crown at 3 is used for setting time and date. The crown at 4 is used to rotate the compass ring. There’s a mountain picture with the word “Alpinist” on the back case. Model numbers are SCVF005  Black  SCVF007 Cream and SCVF009 Green.

Seiko Alpinist red alpinist

A catalogue showing the dial variations of the “Red Alpinist”

 

 

The SCVF007 Cream model is shown below.

Red alpinist

ALPINIST 8F56

In 2003, a new Alpinist hit the market sporting the classic black and cream colored face and used the same inner bezel compass as the 1995 Prospex. The 2003 Alpinist is more commonly known as the 8F56. In fact, the Seiko Alpinist GMT Titanium Prospex High Accuracy Quartz (HAQ) Quartz SBCJ019 is one of the rarest models ever made. If you have the opportunity to buy this watch and you have the budget, do not hesitate because you will not be disappointed. It is a discontinued model and uses a highly revered 8F56 super-accurate quartz movement. The GMT, as it is also known by, has the ability adjust from one time zone to another by way of the hour hand that moves separately from the other hands. Other features include a 10-year lithium battery, a dual-direction rotating inner bezel compass, perpetual calendar and 10 bar water resistance. The GMT is not only a collector’s item; it is a more affordable watch in comparison to other Seiko collectibles which increases its popularity. Model numbers include, SBCJ019, SBCJ021, and SBCJ031. There are four different Alpinist-models which feature the cal.8F56: – There is a cream dial version with numeral dial that comes on a brown leather strap, the hands and markers are in gold colour covered with lume (ref. SBCJ031). – Or you can have two models on the titanium bracelet, one with cream dial that is completely covered with lume and has black hands and stick/triangle markers (ref. SBCJ021). Or one with black dial and silver hands and stick/triangle markers covered with lume (ref. SBCJ019). – There is also a limited edition Alpinist with a blue-ish dial, especially made for the SSASS (ref. SBCJ023) and limited to 500 pieces.

Seiko Alpinist prospex

SBCJ019 Alpinist

The rare SBCJ019

Image courtesy watchuseek forum user : ThomasH

SSASS LIMITED EDITION ALPINIST

There was a special edition released called the SSASS and there were only 500 of them made. This watch was created to pay tribute to Japanese-American mountaineer Ken Noguchi and the foundation he created known as Seven Summits Actions for Sustainable Society (SSASS). Noguchi created this project in order to raise awareness of the growing heaps of garbage that were being accumulated on the mountains that professional climbers and their teams were leaving behind. Since Noguchi and his team had climbed the seven highest peaks in the world, the foundation was well respected and an estimated 7-8 tons of garbage were collected from Mt. Everest and properly disposed of. This was a major breakthrough and continues to provide much-needed help in this growing problem. More recently, Noguchi donated 100,000 dollars to the families of the Sherpas whom were killed in avalanches or other accidents that happened on Everest. It is no wonder why the SSASS Alpinist is so highly revered among collectors; it is both wonderfully crafted and reminds people of the respect and admiration that is involved in mountaineering. Probably the most noticeable aspect of the SSASS is the aqua shade of blue used, which represents both the sea and the sky. Both the traditional 8F56 and the SSASS have the Alpinist mountain logo on the back of the case but the SSASS uses a limited edition numbering system.

 

SSASS alpinist

Special edition Alpinist Prospex made for SSASS

SARB SERIES

A few years later, in 2006, the SARB013, SARB015 and SARB017 were introduced and became an instant success; especially the SARB017. Each identification number represents a different colour, cream, black and green. The SARB017 (green) model became by far the most popular because it is unique and can be worn in literally any situation, business or casual. The other two variations (especially the creme SARB013) are now much harder to find, possibly making them more valuable today. All of the 2006 models use an 6R15 Automatic Diashock 23 Jewel movement, provide 20 Bar water resistance and have gold plated hands and numbers. These three models are the longest-running models and continue to gain popularity because of their elegance and versatility. There are only a few subtle differences between the three watches. For example, both the cream and green versions use a more traditional hand system with a cathedral hour hand while the black version uses a more modern look which compliments the intense colouring.

SARB alpinist models

Below is the SARB015 also known as the sharks tooth Alpinist.  The instructions for rotating the inner bezel using the crown at 4 o’clock are shown.     This is merely a more complicated way of finding direction by bisecting the angle between the hour hand pointing at the sun, and the 12 o’clock marker.

SARB 0015

The most recent collectibles were introduced in 2009 and are known as the SARB059 (dark green dial, silver bezel) and SARB061(black dial and bezel). Although they have several classic looking characteristics, they have a slightly bigger watch face with a compass dial, sword style hands, and a new variation of emergency symbols located on the dial. The diameter has increased to 42mm. On these two variations, there is no “Alpinist” logo on the watch face, however the classic mountain stamp on the rear of the case. Instead, the two watches are labelled with Automatic, 23 Jewel, 20 Bar and use the 6R15 caliber movement.

SARB059 with silver bezel and bracelet

The black dial ASARB061 below with emergency signals on the raised chapter ring.

 

SARB061
SARB061 case back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SARB063 is another model introduced in July 2009.   This was the all-black Seiko Alpinist Takeshi Mizukoshi 500 limited model (named after the famous photographer) , and the model below is numbered 280/500.  It has Alpinist on the case back, but not the dial.  PVD finish.

This watch uses the same case as the SKX007, 009, 011 and other variants, collectively known as the SKX divers. The Alpinist is powered by the 6R15 movement whereas the SKX divers are powered by the 7S26 movement.

THE BLUE ALPINIST

SEIKO SPB089 6R15-04K0

In 2019 another Alpinist was released to the US market, the SPB089.

To commemorate the original Seiko Alpinist, which was first produced in 1959, Seiko in early 2019 released just 1,959 of a new blue Alpinist as a U.S. Limited Edition, with a dark blue sunburst dial.

It has a 39.5mm stainless steel case with a sapphire crystal and 200 meters of water resistance, and a vintage-style leather strap.

The movement is the  6R15 automatic movement.

The case back still features the Alpinist logo, and apart from the dial change and movement it is a faithful reproduction of  the SARB series.

 

2020 ALPINIST RELEASE

In 2020 another range of Alpinists will be released.  The prime model will hve a green dial.  The movement will be the 6R35 movement, and the power reserve has been upgraded to 70 hours,15 hours more than the 6R15 movement which had a 50 hour power reserve.

SBDC091/SPB121

 

SBDC089/SPB119

There is also a black dial stainless steel bracelet model SBDC087.

SBDC087/SPB117

SEIKO ALPINIST RECOMMENDATIONS

This section will provide readers with an intensely detailed description of four Alpinist watches that vary in generation, rarity, condition and price. There will be a must-have watch, extremely rare, vintage and the holy grail. There are some things that you need to keep in mind like price points that may vary depending on the condition of the watch and that prices may differ depending on the seller.

THE ALPINIST LAUREL

Most watch enthusiasts that collect Alpinists are purists, meaning they always go back to the watch that started it all. With that being said, the Laurel Alpinist was the same exact design as the Seiko Laurel watches being produced during the same year except it was the first watch that was labeled with Alpinist logos that came with a special bund strap. These straps are rarely fully intact because of the number of years they have been used. It came in black and cream dials and used a simple 17 jewel hand wind movement and would easily be mistaken as a normal Laurel if it wasn’t for the Alpinist logo on the front of the dial.

Seiko Alpinist laurel

Since this is the first Alpinist it is regarded as the holy grail of this line however, that term is rather subjective and a matter of opinion. The condition of these watches can be low grade considering they were manufactured in the early ’60s but they are dependable and still keep good time. Some of the more common models if fare condition can cost around 150-250 dollars whilst models in mint condition can fetch around 500 dollars.

THE ALPINIST CHAMPION 850

This watch would fall under the vintage label of recommendations because it is by far the most famous and well known of all Alpinist watches. It came with a 35mm gold or silver case and used an original Seikosha 17 jewel manual wind 850 movement. It is covered by a plastic crystal and has a brilliant silver dial with shiny gold hands and features. The two colors compliment each other very well. This model came with a GP back case with the Alpinist logo and serial number. It is important to keep in mind that from 1962 and 1963 a few different Champion Alpinist watches were created and had subtle differences. There were 17 jewel and 19 jewel models and also 850 or 851 movements used. This particular model uses the 17 jewels and 850 movement which indicates that it is one of the, if not the, earliest Champion Alpinist models.

Seiko Alpinist third generation

Obviously these watches are rather rare and have to be purchased used, which is why it is extremely important to verify all of the information to ensure the quality and condition of the watch. Ask the previous owner for plenty of pictures and ask if it has been graded by a dealer. Minor condition issues will be present but this is what builds character. Minor scratching on the crystal should be present but make sure there is no major damage to the crystal. The gold case will most likely be faded with minor scratches but in some rare cases, you can find mint condition cases. The sword hands should be slightly worn yet functional. Make sure that it keeps accurate time and that it is rated by a professional. If you see one of these watches for sale, you can get them for fairly cheap, however, if the condition of the watch is pristine, be prepared to pay up to 500 dollars for it. The average price, however, is about 150 to 300 dollars because these watches are never seen in mint condition.

 ALPINIST “RED ALPINIST”

After a 30-year hiatus, the Alpinist was revived in 1995. This incarnation is the Alpinist 4S15-6000 or what is popularly known as the “Red Alpinist” because of the colour of the wording on the dial.. Despite being a sought after watch, it remained in production for only 2 years. This particular generation is powered by a chronometer-grade Cal. 4S15, an integrating auto-winding movement, hackable and with a manual winding mechanism. The 4S15 calibre is a redesignated 52 calibre, the 5246 previously used in the 1971 King Seiko chronometer produced in the Daini Seikosha factory.  It was redesignated in 1992 when a renaissance in mechanical watches commenced. The 4S15-6000 has a 38mm stainless steel case with a bulky case protector which adds a reasonably hefty look to the watch. Seiko brought a contemporary look to the new Alpinist, leaving the vintage face behind. The dial comes in three colour variations, the SCVF005 with a black dial, the SCVF007 in cream, and the SCVF009 in green.

Seiko Alpinist 4S15A dial variation

The first thing that catches your eye is the red “Alpinist” marking on the dial. The second is the cyclops magnification lens used on the date display, and the third is the luminous cathedral hands which are only present in this generation.  The hour markers in numerals and triangles are always neatly executed in the Seiko tradition. On top of the hour markers are luminous spheres, in this case, the dial legible is under all light conditions. The crown is recessed at 3 o’clock while the crown for the inner compass rests at 4 o’clock, in a similar fashion to the two succeeding generations.  The rear of the case is imprinted with the Alpinist logo and declares a 200m water resistance.

Seiko Alpinist sports 200

4S15 Sports 200 version, from 1996. This version is identical bar the word ‘Alpinist’ on the dial and has a Seiko Tsunami case back.  It was produced for South-East Asian markets in the mid-1990’s and is rarer than the Alpinist version.

ALPINIST PROSPEX

This is one of the most desirable Alpinist watches. It has all bells and whistles and has a sophisticated but elegant look to it that makes it a versatile watch that can be worn on any occasion. Combine all of this to its rarity and you have a collector’s dream which comes at a price. The case and double lock bracelet are titanium that uses the rare 8F56 caliber movement. The case dimensions consist of a 38.5mm width and a 11.5mm thickness. The GMT is water-resistant, has a lithium battery with 10-year longevity and a crystal oscillator. Make sure that the watch comes with its original box, leather strap, manuals and tags. This watch is rarely seen on the market so if you get the chance to buy this watch and all of the parts are functioning buy it. The only downfall to this model is that it can cost you a pretty penny. This watch can fetch at least 1000 dollars.

Seiko Alpinist 8F56 dial variation

Ref. SBCJ019 with black dial, Ref. SBCJ031 with luminous cream dial, Ref. SBCJ023 with blue dial limited edition made for SASS and Ref. SBCJ031 with cream dial

ALPINIST DIASHOCK

The Seiko Alpinist 6R15-00E0, released in 2006, is a men’s automatic watch with a 38mm by 11mm stainless steel case that also proclaims water resistance to 200m depth. It is protected by a sapphire crystal that will look pristine years down the line when the rest of the watch may be showing its age. The watch wears bigger than its actual size, thanks to its relative thickness and protruding crown protector. It features a screw-down crown with a deeply machined “S” marks the main crown, and a pressed-in intrusion marks the compass crown at the bottom, which smoothly operates the internal chapter ring. Ticking away inside is the 6R15 caliber self-winding mechanical movement that can be manually wound and hacked and ticks 6 times per second which gives the second hand a smoother movement.  The watch carries a solid case back with the mountain Alpinist logo machined into it. In particular, the brushed finished on the rear of the case contrasts with the polished screw-in case back. The 6R15-00E0 was an instant hit upon its release, owing it to its classic elegance. Amongst the three variants, the SARB017 possesses the most striking feature. It is important to note that the SARB013 has almost identical features with the SARB017, but what sets these two variants apart is the iridescent sunburst green dial on the SARB017; the shade of the dial changes subtly as the light catches it, coupled with its similarly reflective applied gold numerals and triangles. In addition, on top of each numeral is a highly luminous sphere of quality Seiko lume, making the watch readable under low light and pitch black conditions. One of the distinguishing traits of the SARB017, similar to the  SARB013, is the luminous cathedral hands which suite the dial watch well and contributes to the overall old-world-explorer look to it.

SARB013 alpinist seiko

 

SARB017 Seiko alpinist

The SARB015 had a very short production run making it quite rare compared to other Seiko watches of this era. This variation has a black dial with the date window seated at 4 o’clock, in contrast to the 3 o’clock date placement of the other two watches giving it a very distinctive character. Much less, this watch has inherited traits from the earlier Alpinist models. Namely the dauphine hands together with its triangle markers. As can be seen, the SARB015 gives off an elegant look enough to accompany you to most casual occasions whilst retaining its sporty nature.

sarb015 seiko alpinist

The Alpinist brand possesses a history. It has been developed over the years and throughout has retained its identity without straying too far from the first iterations to mid-2000s. However, in 2009, Seiko decided to more vividly differentiate its newest innovations from the previous ones, and as a result: SARB059, SARB061 and SARB063 were added to the Alpinist realm. The watch is powered by the 6R15 housed inside a 42mm case which is said to be the same of the iconic SKX007, thus giving the watch a durable look. The case is finely polished on all sides, rated at 200m water resistance, and has a robust case back. The dial elements of the watch do not have reflective properties present on the 2006 models. However, the black matte base has an attractive emerald undertone as the light strikes it. The bezel is also dissimilar from the traditional Alpinist, as it features beveled edges giving the watch two-scale rings: the flat top of the bezel insert is embossed with an elapsed-time scale, and on the banks is a smaller compass scale. To complete the overall hybrid nature, it features a chapter ring on the dial which is quite unobtrusive as it is printed with very small ground to air emergency codes. The three variants have identical components; the silver-outlined hands, minute bars, and black-framed hands, all of which are luminous.

Seiko Alpinist 2009 dial comparison

If you are buying it used, there is no reason to purchase anything other than a mint condition watch because there are plenty out there on the market. The 6R15-00E models should cost around 350 to 450 dollars depending on condition and the year that it was crafted. Also keep in mind that you should locate a nearby watch service to make repairs and provide routine maintenance, unless you are capable of doing this yourself.

MOVEMENTS

CONCLUSION

The great thing about the Alpinist brand is that there is something for every collector. There are seven generations that all look very different from one another but have similar features. These watches can be used by adventurers and businessmen alike and can be worn to casual or professional outings. Be warned that the moment you purchase your first Alpinist, you may find yourself looking for the next Alpinist to add to your collection.

References:

  1. Yeoman, Seiko Alpinist – Tradition, Concept, Innovation, Blog post 2006
  2. Hakalugi, Seiko SBCJ021 Alpinist, Blog post 2006
  3. timekeeper.co.nz user Don, Yamaotoko in Aotearoa: Seiko 4S15 Alpinist, Forum post 2010
  4. thewatchsite user lexcaliber, Alpinists unite – showcase yours, Forum post 2013
  5. thewatchsite user funkster, Calling all Alpinists, Forum post 2013
  6. himawari.sakura.net, Champion 850 Alpinist, Online retailer
  7. timezone user Henk Hoving, Review: Seiko Alpinist ref. SBCJ019, Forum post 2006
  8. timekeeper user peter44, Seiko Champion 850, Forum post 2010
  9. Tito Ogami, Laurel Seiko Alpinist, Blog post 2015
  10. wristwatch, Seiko Alpinist SARB013, SARB015 and SARB017, Forum post 2007
  11. watchusseek user flawless51, Seiko Alpinist SARB017 review, Forum post 2009
  12. watch-tanaka, Seiko watches, Online retailer
  13. Musingsofawatchaddict, Opening a Cream 4S15 Alpinist (4S15-6000), Blog post 2015
  14. lionseek, Seiko Alpinist 4S15 Model SCVF005 (Black Dial), Online retailer
  15. jam&watch, Seiko Alpinist SCVF007 (Hi-Beat), Blog post 2014
  16. network54 user cobrajet25, Check out this new alpinist…..wow, Blog post 2003
  17. horarium, Seiko SCVF005 Mechanical Sports, Online retailer
  18. wristsushi user Thomas, WRUW, Blog post 2015
  19. e-bigmoon, SEIKO Seiko Alpinist-automatic SCVF005, Online retailer
  20. thewatchsite user Librarian1, Seiko Branding Dictionary, Blog post 2010
  21. network54 user jayhawk, Got a new Marvel and some Laurel musings, Blog post 2007
  22. hinomatico, SEIKO (Seiko) LAUREL Alpinist ( Laurel alpinist ) 17 stone white dial
  23. seikoholics user Ninja01, Seiko – Champion [hand-wind],  Blog post 2011
  24. thewatchsite user reckness, FS: Rare Seiko Red Alpinist 4S15-6000 Black Dial SCVF005 Hi-Beat Org Bracelet Re $399, Blog post 2015
  25. rakuten, セイコー アルピニスト 4S15 SEKO Alpinist, Online retailer

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms: Mil Spec Watches

 

The year 1953 saw innovations in the dive watch industry that would resound and set the standards for future generations. This was the year when Blancpain released the Fifty Fathoms dive watch intended for the use of combat divers. To this day, the name Fifty Fathoms is synonymous with prestige in the dive watch industry. “Fifty Fathoms” comes from the unit of marine depth measurement and a fathom is equivalent to 1.829 meters. So, 50 fathoms is equivalent to 91.45 meters, which is the maximum depth that divers could achieve at the time given their equipment.

The 1953 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

The 1953 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

Originally intended for French combat divers, Blancpain went on to produce other pieces for different countries and their navy branches for the next few decades. Production of the Fifty Fathoms temporarily stopped in the late 1970s but was revived in 1997 when the series was reintroduced by Blancpain as part of a land, sea, and air trilogy of watches. Since then, Blancpain has released many new editions, such as the “Tribute to Fifty Fathoms” and the new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape.

New Generation Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Trilogy

New generation of Fifty Fathoms: Fifty Fathoms Trilogy, Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad and Aqualung, Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape

HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?

The concept for the Fifty Fathoms was conceived in 1952 due to members of the Free French Forces needing a dive watch for their elite team of combat divers called the “Frogmen”. Initially, after testing several dive watches at the time, officers Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud, could not find one suitable for the needs of their team. The team was tasked with intelligence gathering, sabotaging seaports and ships, often done at night.  The team needed a watch that was highly water-resistant and still visible underwater even at night. Capt. Maloubier drew up the specifications needed and shopped them around watchmakers, but there were no takers. Most of the watchmaking companies at the time were focused on making aviation watches. Finally, Capt. Maloubier (photo below) and Lt. Riffaud met with Jean-Jacques Fiechter, who was Blancpain’s CEO from 1950 to 1980.

Being a diver himself, Fiechter took to the idea and agreed to develop the timepiece for “Les Nageurs de Combat” or “the combat divers”. Fiechter not only agreed to produce the pieces but did them one better and added to the design features. The resulting product adhered to the specifications set by the French Navy and featured innovations for the dive watch industry.

Aside from being known as a navy dive watch, the Fifty Fathoms also had its share of the spotlight as it was used by Jacques Cousteau during his sea explorations which were documented in the Oscar-winning film “Le monde du silence” or “The Silent World” in 1956. The piece was also utilized in the 1964 Gouffre Berger cave exploration in France. Taking part in these conquests only further cemented the fame of the Fifty Fathoms in the dive watch industry.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in The Silent World, 1956

A 50 Fathoms worn by André Laban in the film The Silent World 1956

THE MIL SPEC WATCHES

The innovations found in the initial piece intended for the French Navy seemed to entice the military in several other countries. Blancpain received orders from other militaries, such as the German, Israeli, British, Spanish, and the US Navy. The resulting pieces came to be known as Mil Spec watches as it followed certain military specifications. For this guide, these are the incarnations that we will focus on, namely the 1953 model and the Tornek-Rayville model from the 1960s. The vintage Mil Spec incarnations of the series have developed a cult following and are the most sought after pieces.

THE FRENCH NAVY

One of the most sought after versions of the vintage Mil Spec Fifty Fathoms would be the initial model intended for the French combat divers, born out of the partnership between the French Forces officers, Riffaud and Maloubier, and Fiechter. The 1953 model featured innovations such as the unidirectional rotating bezel (URB), the double “O” ring system, and protection from magnetic fields. It’s most telling characteristics though are seen on its dial which featured the markings “Rotomatic Incabloc”. Due to its history, it one of the most wanted pieces for dive watch collectors. Other versions were also produced for the French Navy during the latter part of the 1950s, but the 1953 version will always have a special place and came to be termed as “the initial” or “the original” Fifty Fathom.

Maloubier wearing an early Fifty Fathoms watch

Bob Maloubier wearing a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

THE US NAVY

In the 1960s, the US Navy was looking for a watch for their Navy trained divers who would be part of the “Explosive Ordinance Disposal Units”. There were several companies that competed for the contract but eventually all but one dropped out due to the complex requirements.  Allen Tornek, who was then importing pieces from the Rayville Watch Company and manufacturing watches under the Blancpain name, took over the contract.

There were some challenges that Tornek faced, such as making the piece anti-magnetic to follow the MIL-W-22176A specifications for the US Navy. The contract also required that the jewels used be from a company in Missouri. To overcome these challenges, Tornek decided to buy the jewels from the US but did not use them in the actual piece. He instead bought Swiss jewels to be used in the development of the watch. A special steel and hardened brass was also used to replace parts in the cases and movement to achieve the requirements of the contract.

Tornek Rayville diagram and instructions

Diagram included in MIL-W-22176A requirements and Tornek-Rayville instruction manual

The pieces developed are commonly referred to as “Tornek-Rayville”, “TR-900” or sometimes just as “Tornek”, as these are the markings seen on the dial and on the movement. The initial order delivered to the US Navy was for 780 pieces in 1964 and another in 1965 for 300 pieces giving a total of just over a thousand for this model. Unfortunately, these were the only ones ever produced as no more orders were placed. Due to its rarity and history, the Tornek-Rayville is one of the most collectible pieces today.

President Kennedy with the US Navy

Pres. Kennedy with US Navy personnel wearing Tornek-Rayville watches

The initial/original 1953 model and the Tornek-Rayville are a decade apart, but one can still see the similarities between the two.

TR-900

TR-900 above, and case back below.

TR-900 case back

 

 

UNIDIRECTIONAL ROTATING BEZEL (URB)

One innovation in the initial 1953 Fifty Fathom design is the URB which was still present a decade later in the Tornek-Rayville. The unidirectional rotating bezel is one of the innovations added by Fiechter to the original specifications by Maloubier.  The bezel is intended to help time the dive. For safety reasons, it is designed to rotate only in a single direction, so that any mistakes made or accidental turning of the bezel would result in the diver shortening the dive rather than lengthening it.

It is accepted that the 1953 Fifty Fathoms watch was the first dive watch with a unidirectional rotating bezel, barely beating the Rolex Submariner.

The initial model of the Fifty Fathoms had a black lumed bezel with indices and numerical markers. There were two types of bezels used for this model. The first one has a lozenge for the 12 o’clock mark and is typically partnered with the dial with numerical markers. The second one has a triangle for the 12 o’clock mark instead of a lozenge. Both types of bezels have numerical markers for every fifteen minutes and indices for every five minutes.

Initial model’s bezels with the losange marker and triangle marker

Initial model’s bezels with the losange marker and triangle marker

The TR-900 also has a black lumed bezel with a triangle for the 12 o’clock mark. The bezel also has numerical markers for every fifteen minutes and indices for every five minutes. Only a single variant was released for the Tornek-Rayville watches.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tornek-Rayville TR 900 dial

The Tornek-Rayville TR 900

THE DIALS

Most of the dials for the vintage Fifty Fathoms are quite similar in that they all have black faces and lumed hands and indices. However, this is where the similarities end. For the initial 1953 model, there are several variations that can be seen with regard to the style of the hands used and the markings.

The first type of dial has numerical markers for every fifteen minutes or what is termed as the 3/6/9/12 dial.  This type of dial has the markings “Blancpain Fifty Fathoms” on its upper half. Aside from these, if one looks closely, there are also tiny numeric markers every five minutes just underneath the indices on the dial. The dial also has radium lumed triangles beside the numerical fifteen-minute markers.

Radium triangle markers

Radium triangle markers

On the bottom half of the dial, above the 6 o’clock mark, there is also the marking “Rotomatic Incabloc”. There are several variations that surfaced with regard to these markings on the bottom half of the dial. More commonly seen is the version of the dial wherein the markings “Rotomatic Incabloc” are not aligned, with the word “Rotomatic” being wider.

1953 Fifty Fathoms Rotomatic Incabloc numerical dial

1953 Fifty Fathoms Rotomatic Incabloc numerical dial

However, there are also some pieces that surfaced with a different format for the markings “Rotomatic Incabloc”. There are those that surfaced where the words are aligned.

1953 numerical dial with aligned “Rotomatic Incabloc” markings

1953 numerical dial with aligned “Rotomatic Incabloc” markings

There is also a version of the dial wherein the words are not aligned, but this time, it is the word “Incabloc” that’s wider.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 1953 RI dial with small Rotomatic font and vintage ad

1953 Rotomatic Incabloc dial with small “Rotomatic” font and vintage ad featuring the same version
Image by reficul_x via timezone.com

The second type of dial does not have any numerical markers but has big rectangular indices as fifteen-minute markers. It would also have circle markers for every five minutes instead of numbers. This type of dial also has the shape of an arrow for the 12 o’clock mark.

1953 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms with non-numerical dial

Rotomatic Incabloc non-numerical dial

For the Tornek-Rayville, there is only one variation for the dial. There are no numerical markers. An inverted triangle is on the 12 o’clock mark and rectangular indices are used for the 15 minute marks. The markings “Tornek-Rayville US” dominate the upper half of the dial. The lower half of the dial has the humidity indicator for the piece. Most of the pieces today have faded indicators with a pinkish hue. Originally, the indicators had a blue part that would change to pink once moisture seeped into the watch. On the bottom part of the dial, there are also  the markings “Swiss” and “PM 147” indicating the type of material used for the lume.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms TR 900 dial

TR 900 dial with humidity indicator and “PM 147” markings

THE LUME

Even though there are similarities in their aesthetic features, one of the major differences between the initial Fifty Fathom and the Tornek-Rayville is the lume. In the 1950s, it was commonplace for watchmakers to use radium for the luminescent markers on the dial of the piece. This was the radioactive material used in the initial 1953 model. Radium has a half-life that is measured in centuries. Basically, it would take a long, long while before the glow on its lume would diminish. In the 1960s, the dangers of the use of radium were discovered and it was replaced with tritium. This is another reason why the Tornek-Rayville was different, since it did not follow this change. Instead, the piece uses Promethium 147, which would glow brighter and longer underwater but only has a half-life of about 2.5 years compared to radium which would last for centuries.

THE CASE

Both of the models have three-piece case backs. The three pieces are composed of the screw down ring, the case back itself, and the dust cover. The cases for the two models also both measure 41mm, but this is where the similarities end. The markings on the back of the 1953 models are very different from the TR-900 models.

For the 1953 model, the case back itself has the markings “Waterproof Shock Protected Automatic AntiMagnetic” forming a circle on its outer edge. On the upper half of the inside of the circle, it has the “Blancpain” signature. On the lower half, it features the serial number, the markings “Stainless Steel”, and the words “Swiss made”. Aside from the case back, the piece also has a dust cover. The dust cover has the markings in French “En cas d’ouverture de cette boite faire controler l’étanchéité par un dépositaire BLANCPAIN FIFTY FATHOMS” which in the English version reads “In case of opening the watertightness of this watch must be re-checked by an official Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Dealer”.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 1953 case back

1953 model case back and dust cover

There are several markings on the case back of the Tornek-Rayville. On the top edge of the case back are the markings “IF FOUND RETURN TO NEAREST MILITARY FACILITY”. Below these words, there are the markings “Rec License” number and then the word “DANGER”. On the bottom part of the case back are the markings “NON MAGNETIC”. At the bottom edge of the case back are the military specifications reference “MIL-W-22176” and “SERIAL XXXX” to signify the serial number for the piece. In the middle of the case back, the markings “RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL 2mc Pm 147 11/64” form a tiny circle. These indicate the material used for the lume, Promethium 147, and the date of production. In the middle of these markings, a tiny trefoil/ radiation warning symbol is placed. The Tornek-Rayville also comes with a dust cover but does not have any markings.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms TR 900 case back and dust cover

The case back of a Tornek-Rayville with dust cover

THE STRAP

Both the straps for the two models were chosen to withstand frequent use underwater. The 1953 models were said to use a black Apollo Tropic strap, which is made of rubber. The Tornek-Rayville, on the other hand, uses a black nylon band. The nylon band may discolor through time and may turn a lighter color due to frequent wear.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 1953 and Tornek strap

Apollo Tropic strap used in the early 1950s versions and black nylon band used in the TR 900
Image on left by reficul_x via timezone.com and watchuseek

THE MOVEMENT

The movements used for both of the pieces are by Anton Schild. The one used for the 1953 model was the 1361 whereas the one used for the Tornek-Rayville is the 1361N. The main difference lies with the materials used to satisfy the requirements of the contract with the US Navy.

Movement AS 1361 AS 1361 N
Picture
AS 1363 movement
AS 1361N movement for TR 900
Model used 1953 Fifty Fathoms Tornek-Rayville TR 900
Markings Blancpain
Seventeen 17 Jewels
Unadjusted Swiss
Tornek-Rayville
No TR-900
No. of functional jewels 17 17
Movement diameter 26mm 26mm
Mainspring dimensions Breadth 1.45mm
Length 265mm
Thickness .10mm
Breadth 1.45mm
Length 265mm
Thickness .10mm
Hacking No Yes
Shock Protection Yes Yes

 

The escapement for the 1361N is made from hardened brass and has a hacking second. Aside from these, there are no major differences with the two movements.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

There are still some pieces of these two models that can be acquired. However, it takes quite a while before one goes up for sale. There are very few of these pieces that still exist with original parts and many collectors seek them. The key is to always be on the lookout and ensure that you have the cash at hand as they come with a hefty price tag.

THE 1953 FIFTY FATHOMS

It is hard to find a piece with all original parts. Due to this, prices for the initial Fifty Fathoms have gone up in recent years. There are some pieces that were sold for around $15,000, but one that was recently put up for sale had a price tag of around $30,000.

Blancpain 1953 Rotomatic Incabloc sold at an auction

Many of the pieces that are for sale have certificates sold with them. These certificates are acquired through sending the piece to Blancpain to be authenticated. However, this is not foolproof as these certificates can be faked. It is best if you can also acquire pictures of the piece and correlate it to the known features of the initial 1953 model. Another way would be to have it checked by a watchmaker or another collector for authenticity. There are several forums dedicated to the Fifty Fathoms and members are usually more than happy to help when it comes to authenticating vintage pieces.

THE TORNEK-RAYVILLE

The Tornek-Rayville is definitely hard to come by. Aside from there being only over a thousand ever produced, there were only a few pieces that survived after it was withdrawn from service in the 1970s. Being labelled as containing radioactive material, they were treated as atomic wastes and were sent to be buried in containers deep underground. Most that can be acquired today are from retired military personnel or were pieces passed on as heirlooms.

Tornek Rayville sold at an auction

When looking for a Tornek-Rayville, a good place to start would be auction sites that sell antique or vintage watches. Another avenue that you could try would be watch forums where private collectors sometimes post their vintage timepieces for sale. With its history and rarity, pieces that were sold a few years back cost around $35,000.

It may take a while to acquire these pieces, but patience is the key. A vintage Fifty Fathoms is worth the wait.

From The Spring Bar Store:

References:

  1. Blancpain, History, Website article, n.d.
  2. Brian Dumais, com, Website, n.d.
  3. Christian Dannemann, Technical Instructions / service manuals, Blog post, 2012
  4. David Bredan, The History Of Dive Watches, Blog post, 2014
  5. Eric Wind, Found: An Original Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Box on eBay, Online magazine article, 2011
  6. EverySpec, MIL-W-22176A, Downloadable document, 1961
  7. Hans Friedrich, Watches & Wine – Blancpain/english, Website, n.d.
  8. Hodinkee, A Historical Look At The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms + Live Photos Of Some Early Classics, Online magazine article, 2011
  9. Jeffrey S. Kingston, Blancpain One Man’s Navy, Online magazine article, 2011
  10. Jeffrey S. Kingston, The History and the Legend of the Fifty Fathoms, Magazine article, 2013
  11. Jeffrey S. Kingston, The History of the Fifty Fathoms, Magazine article, 2007
  12. Joe Thompson, The Hunt for the Fifty Fathoms from WatchTime Spotlight: Blancpain – A Test & History Of The Fifty Fathoms, Magazine article, 2013
  13. Meehna Goldsmith, Tornek-Rayville: The Military Dive Watch Bulova was Supposed to Make, Blog post, 2012
  14. Mike Disher, The Birth of the Modern Dive Watch A Conversation with Cpt. Robert Maloubier, Online magazine article, 2011
  15. Montre24 Watch Portal, Religion of Time and watch idols. Cult watch “Fifty Fathoms” – Blancpain (Part 2), Online magazine article, n.d.
  16. MWR user Billy, Reply to Blancpain FF questions thread, Forum post, 2008
  17. MWR user Johnny B, Question about Blancpain 50 fathoms Movements, Forum post, 2007
  18. MWR user reficul_x, Possibly the first gen Blancpain Fifty Fathoms with very rare small ROTOMATIC dial, Forum post, 2013
  19. PuristSPro user amanico, Blancpain collector and PuristSPro moderator , PuristSPro Message Interview, 2014
  20. PuristSPro user amanico, Autopsy of a Cult Watch: The Tornek Rayville., Forum post, 2010
  21. PuristSPro user amanico, Vintage Fifty Fathoms: The difficult quest for information, Forum post, 2010
  22. PuristSPro user amanico, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 2010 Exhibition., Forum post, 2010
  23. PuristSPro user amanico, The FF Mil Spec, A Quick View and Thoughts , Forum post, 2008
  24. PuristSPro user f, My vintage BP collection. Part 1: Fifty Fathoms, Forum post, 2010
  25. PuristSPro user small-luxury-world, 1953-2013: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 60th anniversary – Bathyscaphe, Forum post, 2013
  26. Stephen J. Pulvirent, A Week On The Wrist: The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, Online magazine article, 2013
  27. com user billy, A bit of Blancpain history … interview w/ Allen Tornek ! >>, Forum post, 2007
  28. com user James Dowling (MrRolex), The history of the Military Dive Watch, Forum post, 2010
  29. com user Jessica, Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms Collectors Exhibition, Forum post, 2011
  30. TZ-UK user Andyg, ITS ARRIVED, Forum post, 2011
  31. Vintage Time Collectors author rockster, DIVE WATCHES A HISTORY, Blog post, 2014
  32. Watch World, Diver’s Mate, Online magazine article, 2013
  33. Watch Freeks admin TVDinner, What is a hacking vs non-hacking movement?, Forum post, 2010
  34. Watch Collecting Lifestyle, BASELWORLD: BLANCPAIN. THE ICONIC FIFTY FATHOMS ON DISPLAY, Online magazine article, 2013
  35. watchuseek user Altair, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Pictorial Review, Forum post, 2010
  36. Watchtime, Watchtime Wednesday: the history of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, Online magazine article, 2014
  37. Watchtime, FIFTY-FATHOMS-TO-RICHES, Blog Post, 2013

The Seiko 6139 – 600X Collectors Guide

 

Col. William R. Pogue

The 1960s saw many in the watch industry looking to capitalise on increased demand for automatic watches. In 1969, Seiko delivered by introducing what was arguably the world’s first automatic chronograph, the Seiko 6139. This article focuses on its earliest incarnations, the 6139-600X. A watch often called the “Speed-Timer”. Seiko printed the term “Speed-Timer” on many of its early chronographs destined for the Japanese market, indicating the more advanced features, such as a thirty-minute chronograph recorder, a day and date indicator, and a tachymeter scale. Production of the Seiko 6139 line up ended sometime in 1978, but are still readily available today. The 6139-600X series is quickly becoming very collectable pieces thanks to a combination of great design and storied history. The 600X has two big claims to fame, as both a contender for the world’s first automatic chronograph and as the first chronograph worn in space.

THE WORLD’S FIRST AUTOMATIC CHRONOGRAPH

There is still debate in terms of which watch holds claim to the title of world’s first automatic chronograph, but really, it all boils down to which type of “first” you would consider most appropriate. Back in 1969, several big names were competing for the title of the world’s first automatic chronograph. The first watch company to lay claim to the title was Zenith, who introduced their first prototypes on January 10, 1969. The company even named their automatic chronograph the “El Primero” or “The First” in Spanish. The second contender was a collective of watchmakers, which could be termed the Chronomatic group, namely Heuer, Breitling, and Hamilton-Buren. The companies created a mutually beneficial partnership and worked together in developing their automatic chronograph. The group laid claim to the title by introducing the Chronomatic prototypes on March 3, 1969, in a much-highlighted press event. The Chronomatic group was also the first to show several models of pre-production samples during the Basel Fair in April of 1969, a more impressive showing when compared to Zenith, who had fewer samples during the same event. Last but not least, Seiko lays claim to the title by being the first to start serial production of their 6139 “Speed Timer” in May 1969. These early watches were to be released to the Japanese market only. On the other hand, the Chronomatic group started production and release to the world’s retail markets in June or July of 1969, and Zenith’s chronograph was released into the wider world market in October 1969. Some serial numbers of the earliest Seiko 6139s indicate a production date of March 1969 or even as early as February 1969, but it is unclear if these are samples or were the first ones intended for the Japanese market.

To sum it up, Zenith may have been the first to announce the development of the first automatic chronograph, but Heuer, Breitling, and Hamilton-Buren were the first to release their automatic chronograph to major retail markets. However, when it comes to who first achieved serial production of the automatic chronograph, Seiko may have quietly beaten both, by releasing to the Japanese market in May 1969.

Chronograph watch vintage ads (Zenith, Heuer and Seiko Pogue)

From left to right: Zenith ad from 1969; Heuer vintage ad; Seiko 1969 catalog

THE FIRST CHRONOGRAPH IN SPACE

Col. Pogue wearing his Seiko 6139

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Col. Pogue wearing his Pogue Seiko
Image by Heritage Auctions

Aside from being the first automatic chronograph to achieve serial production, the Seiko 6139 was also the first automatic chronograph in space. This honor used to be bestowed upon Sinn 140 worn by a German astronaut named Reinhard Furrer during the Spacelab D1 mission in 1985. It was only in 2007 that it was established that Col. Pogue wore a 6139-6002 during the NASA Skylab 4 mission which took place in 1973. The official watch to be used for the Skylab 4 Mission was the Omega Speedmaster Professional, but it was only issued shortly before the actual launch. Needing a watch to use during his pre-flight training, Col. Pogue bought a 6139-6002 from PX at Ellington AFB Exchange. He utilized it to time engine burns during the course of his training, which lasted for more than six months. Due to his familiarity with the 6002, Col. Pogue launched into space on Nov. 16, 1973, with the piece tucked in his suit leg pocket. For the length of the mission, he wore it on his left arm alongside the NASA certified Omega Speedmaster on his other arm. As Col. Pogue had been using the 6002 during the course of his training and found it very handy, he did not attempt to get official approval from NASA to carry it with him into space. The astronaut, however, stated that he did not wear the piece during the EVA Spacewalk. The 6002 came back with Col. Pogue on February 8, 1974, when the mission ended. Since this fact was discovered, the yellow dial with the yellow indicator ring variation of the 6002 has been commonly termed as a “Pogue”.

THE BEZELS

Aside from being the first automatic chronograph in space, the 6139-600X series also has another popular identifying factor, it’s outer bezel. Because of its red and blue color, the fixed outer bezel has been commonly referred to as the “Pepsi” bezel. The “Pepsi” bezel displays the tachymeter scale and has remained a consistent feature throughout the years of production of the 600X series.. The 600X also has a rotating indicator ring, or what is sometimes called an inner bezel. It is made of plastic with markings for 60 minutes. The most common colors can be seen in the Seiko catalog scan below. These are the blue indicator rings for the blue dials and yellow indicator rings for the yellow dials. Two other variations pop up from time to time. They are the white and black indicator rings.

Seiko Pogue blue and yellow dial on catalogue

1969 Seiko Catalog

In some instances, pieces can be found with white indicator rings; however, it is likely that these are simply yellow indicator rings that have discolored over time due to UV exposure. There is little evidence these white indicator rings are a genuine release and should probably be avoided. There is also a far less common black indicator ring, which can be usually found with a silver dial. There are some who doubt the authenticity of the black indicator ring, but enough evidence is present to suggest these were an official release.

Seiko Pogue Silver and Yellow dial

A 6139-6000 silver dial 1969 and a 6139-6002 with yellow dial and black indicator ring
Left image by LINCE via RPTcom; Right image by hal0eight via Wrist Sushi and Vintage Time Australia

THE DIALS

There are three different colours for the dials, yellow, blue, and silver with three variations for each colour. The markings on the dial, or lack thereof, depend on the year of its release. Since the series’ introduction, the label on the dial by the 12 o’clock mark has always been “Chronograph Automatic” or just “Automatic”, for non-JDM(Japanese domestic market) models. As for the words on the 9 o’clock mark, it reads “Water 70M Proof” from its release until the earlier part of 1970. These are commonly referred to as “proof models” or “proof dials” and tend to be more desirable to collectors.

After this time, the markings changed to “Water 70M Resist”. This shift was due to a law passed in 1968 that required manufacturers to change the markings on the watches they produce to water-resistant. The change across all manufacturers was not instantaneous. Seiko started employing this from 1970 and finished changing the markings on most of their models by 1971. Sometime during the latter part of 1972, the company also removed the marking stating “Water 70M Resist” but retained the marking “Water Resistant” on the case back.

Seiko Pogue dial variations

From left to right: “Proof” dial, “Resist” dial, and dial with no markings

The silver dialed variation is by far the rarest dial and is even more seldomly seen with a “proof” variation. There are only a few instances of photographed silver “proof” dials.

Seiko Pogue dial variations: Proof and Resist dials

A silver “Proof”dial from 1969 and a silver “Resist” dial from 1971
Left image by LINCE via RPTcom

All in all, there are three dial colors with three variations, the “proof”, “resist”, and those with no markings,  amounting to nine verified dial combinations.

Seiko Pogue nine dial variations

Nine dial variations for the Seiko 613-600X throughout its production

JDM DIAL VARIATIONS

In addition to the standard models listed above, watches that were intended for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) only had a few additional markings. The markings on the dial would say “Speed-Timer” at the 12 o’clock mark, and “5 Sports Water 70 Proof” at the 9 o’clock mark for those produced between 1969 and 1975. After this period, the JDM dials produced would bear the markings “5 Sports” on the 12 o’clock mark and “Speed-Timer” on the 9 o’clock mark.

Seiko Pogue Early and New JDM models

Early JDM 6139-6000 dial and New JDM 6139-600X dial

THE CASE

The 6139-600X series comes in a stainless steel Screwback case with square corners that measures 40mm in diameter. The case back houses the model number and serial number for the piece. If you would like to determine the date of production, you only need to check the first two digits of the serial number which tells you the year and month of production respectively. (Quartzimodo’s Time Journal has a very helpful article about determining the date of production of a Seiko watch.)

The case back also features the markings “Waterproof” and “Water Resistant”, which is also a good indicator of its date of production. Those that contain the markings “Waterproof” were produced from 1969 to February of 1970. The pieces produced after this time would contain the markings “Water Resist” or “Water Resistant” due to Seiko complying with the mandate that watches manufacturers change their markings to reflect water resistant. It is estimated that the “Water Resist” case backs were used until April or May of 1970 before the company shifted to using “Water Resistant” markings on their case backs.

Seiko Pogue case back variations

Left to right: “Waterproof” from ‘69, “Water Resistant” from ‘72, and a later version of the “Water Resistant” from ‘77.

Another variation that the case for the series went through is the notch on the side by the crown. The notched case was used for the series from 1969 to, it seems, the latter part of 1970 or early 1971. From then on until the end of its production, 6139s have featured the non-notched case. This is the reason why notched cases tend to be more desirable to most collectors.

Seiko Pogue notched and non-notched cases

Notched 6139-6000 from April 1969 and non-notched 6139-6005 from 1978

It is hard to pinpoint the exact date when the company transitioned to using the non-notched case as during the year of 1970, there were some pieces that had a notched case but featured the markings “Water Resist” on its case back.

Seiko Pogue 1970

Ad from 1970 (left photo), Water Resist notched case from March 1970 (middle and right photo)
Middle and right image by SeikoPsycho2 via SCWF

The working theory is that the company used the leftover notched cases from the time they stopped producing until finally running out in late 1970 or early 1971.  A notched case “Waterproof” model from April 1970 also indicates that the left over case backs were also utilised.

THE 6139 BRACELET

There are four known variations for the bracelets of the 6139-600X series.  The first one being the H-link bracelet with straight ends, which was used on the 6139-600X series from its introduction until 1973. After this period, the H-link bracelet with tapered ends was used until the end of production. Another variation is what is commonly termed as the Stelux bracelet. It is unsure when this particular type was used, but is usually seen combined with the silver dial. The last variation is those seen for the versions intended for the Japanese market, or what is commonly referred to as “JDM bracelets”. This variation was used for the JDM models all throughout its production.

Seiko Pogue bracelet variations

Straight H-link; Tapered H-link; Stelux bracelet; JDM bracelet

THE MOVEMENT

There were two types of movement used for the 6139s and are not specific to the 6139-600X series. The first one is the 6139A, which was used from 1969 to sometime in 1970 to 1971.he second one is the 6139B, which replaced the 6139A and was used until the end of production. Most of the differences can be found on the parts used for the 6139B series, such as the center chronograph wheel, which was made to be more robust. The “B” movement was also said to have a simplified chronograph bridge.

Manufacturer: Seiko Seiko
Movement: 6139A 6139B
Picture Seiko Pogue movements
Production Run: 1969 -1970 / 1971 1970 / 1971 -end of production
Casing Diameter: 27 mm 27 mm
Maximum Height: 6.65 mm 7.1 mm
No. of Functional Jewels: 17J / 21J 17J / 21J
Vibrations per hour: 21, 600 21, 600
Mainspring dimensions: L 43.5 mm
H 1.01mm
Thickness .10mm
L 43.5 mm
H 1.01mm
Thickness .10mm
Markings: 6139A 21 JEWELS /
6139A 17 JEWELS
6139B 21 JEWELS /
6139B 17 JEWELS
Shock Resistant (Diashock): Yes Yes
Automatic winding: Yes Yes
Instant setting  for day & date: Yes Yes
Bilingual for day of week: Yes Yes

 

There are 2 versions for each of the movements, 21J and 17J, signifying the number of jewels used for each one. The 21J movements can be only be found in the JDM version of the series, and the 17J movements can be found in the non-JDM versions.

The series has had several incarnations and variations throughout its years of production.

Seiko Pogue timeline

THE EXECUTIONS

There are six possible references for the 600X series. These are: 6139-6000, 6139-6001, 6139-6002, 6139-6005, 6139-6007, and the 6139-6009. The differences in the last digit of the model numbers only signify its intended region of release. The 6139-6000 seem to correspond to those intended for the Japanese market. The 6139-6005 and 6139-6009 are those intended for North America.

All in all, with the six possible references, 15 possible dial variations for both JDM and non-JDM versions, 3 colors of inner rings, 2 cases, 3 case backs, 2 types of movements, and 4 possible bracelets, there is a huge array of possible combinations. However, bear in mind that only the JDM versions have the “Speed-Timer” dial, 21J movements, and the fourth type of bracelet, or what is commonly known as the “JDM bracelet”.

For the 6139-600X series, there could well over be 70 variations for the non-JDM versions and 18 for the JDM versions. Unfortunately, this figure cannot be ascertained as it is yet unclear which incarnations were available for each region the series was released.

RECOMMENDED SEIKO 6139-600X

When trying to acquire a 6139-600X, it is typically best to look for models in as good a condition as possible. Good examples will hopefully require little or no restoration. It is best to always look for the signs of early productions, such as notched cases, the 6139A movement, and “Proof” or “Resist” markings. When looking at a piece, especially ones being sold online, it’s best to always look for pictures bearing the serial number to determine the year of production.

To help you get started, here are some popular variations of the series that you may want to ruminate on:

THE PLACE TO START

When looking for a 6139-600X, try to look for one with a “proof” dial and a notched case. These are sure signs of early production and are more desirable for collectors. However, since these features are only available on early models, it is harder to find pieces that are in good condition. A great place to look is Ebay.com and sales corners on watch forum websites.

Seiko Pogue Proof dial

A Seiko 6139-6000 with “proof” dial and notched case from April 1969

Prices for those with notched cases and “proof” dials start at around $200 but vary greatly depending on its condition. Pieces that are in near mint condition can be had for $350 and up.

Tip: Try to also look for poorly advertised Seikos. Some posts are not very descriptive or may not even contain a model number as those who sell them may not be familiar with the series. The best clue would be the posted pictures. Like they say, patience is a virtue.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Another variation that is sought after is the elusive silver-dialed 6139-600X. This particular incarnation is only usually found with a “Resist” dial or a dial with no markings. These silver dialed versions can also be found online and priced around $350.

Seiko 6139-6002 silver dial with “resist” markings

6139-6002 silver dial with “resist” markings

THE HIGH END

One of the rarest 6139-600X pieces that can be found are the early JDM or “Speed-Timer” models with the markings “5 Sports Water 70 Proof” on the dial by the 9 o’clock mark. These are very desirable pieces for collectors since these are the first ones produced by Seiko intended for the Japanese market. The early JDM versions are also very hard to acquire, and some are said to have serial numbers that indicate a production date of February or March 1969. Prices for this version start at $320 but can go up to $550, or maybe even more, depending on its condition.

Early Seiko Pogue JDM from 1969

6139-6000 Early JDM from 1969

THE GRAIL

Everyone has their own grail, but for us, it would be a mint example of the 6139-6002 worn by Col. Pogue during the NASA Mission, the first automatic chronograph in space. Col. Pogue bought the piece for $71 on June 13, 1972, and was auctioned off in 2008 for $5,975. The proceeds from the auction went to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Seiko Pogue worn by Col. William Pogue

6139-6002 worn by William Pogue during NASA Skylab 4 mission
Image by Heritage Auctions

Good examples of this watch are still readily available. As a collector you can can still find your own “Pogue” 6139-6002 without much trouble. A yellow dialled non-notched 6002 can still be bought today, some even in mint condition, but can fetch quite a price as it is very in demand.

Seiko Pogue in yellow dial and with yellow indicator ring

6139-6002 with yellow dial and yellow indicator ring

Prices range from $450 up to $1000 for those in near mint. Nice examples but with small defects, such as discoloured rings and replaced bands, can be had for significantly less.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR AND WHAT TO AVOID?

When looking for a 6139-600X, remember that the series are decades old, and as such there are plenty of pieces out there that are franken or may have been modified. In the section below, we will outline common issues or aspects to look at when purchasing your own 6139-600X:

Dial and Bezels: Check for any sign of corrosion, modifications, and replacement parts.

*Remember that there are only a number of known combinations for the dials and indicator rings. Other colors may just be products of restorations or might be aftermarket parts. Specifically, watch out for pieces that have the white indicator ring as this is a sign that it is heavily faded or might have been repainted.

Seiko Pogue aftermarket white indicator ring

Aftermarket white indicator ring

*The outer bezel only comes in blue and red for these series and is fixed. There are sticker versions of the outer bezel available, so watch out for these when looking for a 600X to purchase.

*Watch out for any corrosion on the dial, especially on the sub-dial of the piece, as this is where it usually starts.

*Be careful of aftermarket dials when purchasing your piece. Some signs to watch out for are the marks on the sub dial register. These should touch the very edge of the sub register ring. Also, the lume on the dial should have a sharp edge and not a rounded one.

Seiko Pogue dial comparison

Left: Sub-dial marks do not come to the age and lume has rounded edges.
Right: The original dial’s markings/indicators for the sub-dial come to the very edge. The lume also has a sharper edge.

 Bracelets: Watch out for any missing links on the bracelet of the 600X that you aim to purchase. Also, remember that these series usually come with the H-link straight/tapered style, the Stelux bracelet, and the JDM bracelet. Be wary of replacement bracelets, especially if you are keen on originality.

Seiko Pogue aftermarket bracelet

An aftermarket bracelet sold online

Case and Movement: Be on the lookout for corrosion in the case and movement of the 600X you intend to purchase. Also, ensure that the markings, model, and serial number of the case are consistent with the other parts of the piece.

Stem, Crown, and Gaskets: Be wary of aftermarket or reproduction stems as this can cause damage to the movement of the piece. The gaskets (black rubber rings) may also need to be replaced. These can become sticky through time and might also affect the water-resistance of the piece.

Seiko Pogue crown comparison (original and aftermarket)

A genuine stem and crown for a 6139-600X (Left) and an aftermarket stem and crown with gasket (Right)
Left image by hal0eight via Wrist Sushi and Vintage Time Australia

For more information regarding the variations and buying Seiko 6139s, please also visitHOW TO BUY A SEIKO 6139-600x CHRONOGRAPH – A Collector’s Buying Guide by Ty Maitland, 1970’s Seiko 6139-600X Chronograph Variations Review by SeikoPsycho2 from watchuseek, and The Definitive 6139-600x Buyer’s Guide thread from the Wrist Sushi forum.

 

From The Spring Bar Store:

 

References:

  1. Jeffrey Stein, “Project 99-The Race to Develop the World’s First Automatic Chronograph”, Online guide article, 2008
  2. The Seikoholics Forums users Ninja01 and StartSomething, “JDM Speedtimer 6138/6139 Variant Question“, Forum post, 2012
  3. Network54 user Kelly M. Rayburn, “My 6139-6005 on Stelux bracelet. . .”, Forum post, 2009
  4. SCWF users SeikoPsycho2, aladin_sane, and haloeight, “Need some 6139 expertise!”, Forum post, 2012
  5. Wrist Sushi users seikoholic and hal0eight, “Nothing like some documentation – look for the 6139-6000“, Forum post, 2014
  6. Ranfft Watches, “ Seiko 6139A” and “Seiko 6139B”,Auction site,(n.d)
  7. SCWF user haloeight, “Re: Pogue inner bezel question”, Forum post, 2011
  8. Network54 user Isthmus, “unresolved mystery about 6139 resist dial ?“, Forum post, 2008
  9. Evan Yeung, “Revisiting An Icon – The Seiko Speedtimer”, Online magazine article, 2012
  10. Reddit user Seikoholic, “[Seiko 6139-6005 “Resist”] – aka “Pogue” – 80+ days in orbit, first automatic chronograph in space, and the reason that I started collecting Seikos“, Reddit post, 2013
  11. Felix Scholz, “IN-DEPTH: Your Vintage Seiko Chronograph Buying Guide”, Online magazine article, 2012
  12. Watchuseek user SeikoPsycho2, “1970’s Seiko 6139-600X Chronograph Variations Review”, Forum post, 2009
  13. Watchuseek user SeikoPsycho2 “6139-60XX How to spot an Aftermarket Dial”, Forum post, 2014
  14. Quartzimodo Admin, “How to tell when your Seiko watch was made (Part 1)“, Blog post, 2010
  15. Arne Rasmussen, “Seiko 6139 (Skylab 4 in 1973)“, Blog post, 2013
  16. Timezone.com user rileyn p “I don’t know how else it can be said…”, Forum post, 2008
  17. James Lamdin, “The “Colonel Pogue” Seiko 6139“. DREAMCHRONO, Blog post, 2013
  18. Chris Lang “My First Mechanical Chronograph is the World’s First Automatic Chronograph: Seiko 6139“, Blog post, 2014
  19. SCWF user Librarian2, “Seiko Calibers Technical/Repair Manuals”, Forum post, 2010
  20. Watchuseek user Isthmus. “Difference Between “Water Proof” & “Water Resist”….”, Forum post, 2008
  21. Ty Maitland reposted by Watchuseek user Isthmus, “HOW TO BUY A SEIKO 6139-600x CHRONOGRAPH – A Collector’s Buying Guide”, Forum post, 2008
  22. SCWF user Isthmus, “SEIKO VINTAGE CATALOGS – 1960s – 1980s”, Forum post, 2011
  23. Matt Boston, “Top 10 Technically Important Mechanical Wrist Watches“, Blog post, 2013
  24. Blake Buettner, “Just Because: Seiko 6139, The Other First Automatic Chronograph“, Online magazine article, 2011
  25. Don, “The Rarest Chronograph Movement of Seiko ca.60s/70s“, Blog post, 2010
  26. Watch wiki, “Seiko 6139“, Web encyclopedia, 2014
  27. WristSushi user hal0eight, “The Definitive 6139-600x Buyer’s Guide“, Forum post, 2014
  28. SCWF user Spencer PK, “Re: History of the 6139 – Photo Database Accurate?“, Forum post, 2012
  29. Network54 user Cobrajet25, “According to Seiko at least, there is no difference between these watches.>“, Forum post, 2004
  30. SCWF users cobrajet25 and LINCE, “6139-600x silver-dialed models…“, Forum post, 2011
  31. Network54 user Cobrajet25, “Yes, it is. The really early ones>”, Forum post, 2005
  32. SCWF users martback and SeikoPsycho2, “6139-600X dating and identification clues ?“, Forum post, 2013
  33. Network54 user swedefreak and Cobrajet25, “6139-600X variations“, Forum post, 2009
  34. SCWF user Spencer PK, “Re: 6139- Movement: 17 vs 21 Jewels”, Forum post, 2013
  35. SCWF user Spencer PK, “Re: 6139A vs 6139B parts interchange”, Forum post, 2010
  36. SCWF user Spencer PK, “Re: A question for the 6139-600X experts….”, Forum post, 2013
  37. Watchuseek user SeikoPsycho2, “Re: Does this Speedtimer look original?”, Forum post, 2011
  38. SCWF user cobrajet25, “Re: The gold-dialed 6139-600x with a black indicator ring… any proof, ever?”, Forum post, 2012
  39. SCWF user Daver, “Seiko 6139B mainspring“, Forum post, 2014
  40. Network 54 user Don, “Right there in the search engine. For example:”, Forum post, 2008
  41. SCWF users cobrajet25 and Technoman, “6139 dial variations – relative rarities?“, Forum post, 2010
  42. Network54 user Cobrajet25, “Not qute…from what I have seen.>“, Forum post, 2009
  43. Network 54 users Cobrajet25 and tyes, “Earliest 6139 found #93509X = Mar 1969”, Forum post, 2008
  44. Network54 user Cobrajet25, “Your dial is fine…>>“, Forum post, 2008

Enicar Sherpa Pilot (2 Crown Models)

INTRODUCTION

An earlier article focusing on the development of the Enicar Sherpa brand covered single crown models culminating in the two models with bezels, the Sherpa GMT and Sherpa World Time of the early 1960s.

The AR1126 caliber allowed two crown functionality and restyling of these watches.

At about this time Enicar Sherpa changed the Saturn logo, from ENICAR embedded within Saturn to Saturn above ENICAR, and one of the first two crown models produced was the Guide.

Enicar Sherpa guide ad

THE SHERPA GUIDE

Enicar Sherpa Guide models

The development of the Guide model is indicative of the development of the other two crown Pilot style models and will be covered first in this article.  Style features of the Guide were evident in other Enicar Sherpa models of the period.

The smaller single crown GMT on the right in the advertisement above had Dauphine hands, folded indexes, and the earlier embedded ENICAR logo. This model was discussed in an earlier article on Enicar Sherpa single crown watches that you can read by clicking here.

fake rolex reddit fundamental advantage is without question water-proof and also automated forex trading signals.

On the left, the new Enicar Sherpa Guide was a larger watch with Supertest calibre AR 1126, with 30 jewels. Enicar registered the name Guide on 2 May 1960.  At 44mm diameter, but again with Dauphine hands, this model has different indexes, a crescent moon 24h hand, and both the old embedded ENICAR logo (on early production models) and the new Saturn above ENICAR logo on the watch. The different logos can be seen in the drawing on the left, and the watch on the right in the advertisement above. Model number is 100/205.

The first Guide models came to the market in the early 1960s. They came in a dark and a cream dial version. The Guide was probably the top model of an entire Pilot watch or Fliegeruhr model range (initially Stewardess, Steward, GMT, Guide, and later Jet, Super Jet, Jet Graph / Pilote). Essential features of these early versions were: Dauphine hands, crescent moon 24h pointer shape, stepped index markers, and thin crowns.

The single crown Sherpa World Time discussed in the prior article has a bezel similar to the two crown Enicar Sherpa Guide as shown in the photographs below.

Enicar Sherpa Guide two-crown
A single crown Sherpa World Time with rotating bezel. Photo by uhrforum user: EnabranTain

 

THE MARK I GUIDE

The larger size of the Enicar Sherpa Guide allows for a wider bezel, with fewer cities and division markings inside the city names. There is now a black and white internal rotating 24 hour bezel as well. The hands are still Dauphine style, but the feature is a half moon style 24h hand.

The model below has the old ENICAR embedded within Saturn logo.

Enicar Sherpa Guide with old Saturn logo
An early Sherpa Guide bearing the old-style Saturn logo (image by watchtime forum user: Quadrilette172)
A rare Enicar Sherpa embedded in Saturn model
Another rare ENICAR embedded in Saturn model.  Image courtesy of Omega Forums user Kentlinardi.

Below is a 30 jewel model, unfortunately missing the red rotating ring.

Sherpa guide

 

 

 

Then there was a transition in branding to the logo with ENICAR below Saturn. The watch below is branded as a 30 jewel model.

Enicar Sherpa Guide 30 jewels white dial
A rare Sherpa Guide 30 jewels in white dial

This black dial variant has an original luminous dot on the red rotating ring which is almost unique for surviving versions of this model. The word automatic is written below ENICAR.

Enicar Sherpa Guide black with dotted ring
Image by watchtime forum user: Quadrilette172

 

enicar guide
A white dial version of the black dial Guide above.  Image courtesy Omega forums user : stigmata

 

Enicar Sherpa Guide Black dial dotted ring
Another black dial version without automatic on the dial. Image by uhrforum user: Käfer

 

Enicar Sherpa Guide GMT
A Sherpa Guide with dial marked 25 jewels (image by uhrforum user: EnabranTain)

 

A 25 jewel, 1962 Guide is shown above. The red rotating ring originally contained a luminous dot in the triangular marker, but this has been lost in most surviving models. The case is a supercompressor bayonet case unique to Enicar, and is discussed in other articles dealing with Enicar Sherpa diver models in this series.

Below is a July 1962 dated Guide, with a cream dial, unfortunately missing the rotating red ring between the bezel and the crystal.

1962 Enicar Sherpa Guide with cream dial
Images by watchuseek user: Ploprof928

 

In addition to the Mark I Guide models shown above, another of the very early Guides is the 1962 model shown in the photographs below.  These models are the Mark I Guide characterised by Dauphine hands.

Mark I Enicar Sherpa Guide

The Mark I Guide used an AR1126 cal movement (images by uhrforum user: EnabranTain) The supercompressor case is engraved :

STAINLESS STEEL ULTRASONIC AUTOMATIC INCABLOC Seapearl SWISS 100/205 BaACNTS

Sherpa Guide Mark I supercompressor case

A Guide 33 is shown below.

Sherpa Guide 33

Some advertising referred to the World Time Rubyrotor as the emerging Guide model. The Rubyrotor calibre was introduced by Enicar in 1962.  A gold dial Rubyrotor 30 jewel model is shown below.

Sherpa Guide Worldtime Rubyrotor catalog
A Sherpa catalog highlighting the 1964 Sherpa Guide Worldtime Rubyrotor (Image by watchuseek user: sinner777)

 

This has a 43 mm case, all stainless steel, calibre AR1126, Enicar Watch Co Swiss, Supertest, pink gold plated, 30 jewels.   The original rice grain bracelet is shown.

Enicar Sherpa Rubyrotor white dial
Images by watchuseek user: sinner777

 

Here is a 1962 Rubyrotor version with a black dial and a red and white inner rotating 24-hour bezel.

Enicar Sherpa WorldTime Rubyrotor with black dial

A black-dialed Rubyrotor Guide from June 1962, above and a white dial version below.

 

white dial Rubyrotor Guide from June 1962
Image courtesy Klocksnack.se forum user : theargonaut

 

THE MARK II GUIDE

This second version of the Guide no longer has the crescent moon 24h hand. This model has baton hands with lumes at the end, but now features a thin 24h hand, and a second hand with a round lollipop dot.  Black and yellow coloured inner rotating 24h bezels are more common than black and white as in the earlier model. The index markers are now wider and have Tritium dot lumes at 6, 9 and 12 and rectangular lumes elsewhere. The crowns are becoming wider than in earlier models.

The early Mark II guide had a Seapearl oyster back engraved 146/001 referring to the AR1146 movement.  Some had T Swiss on the dial rather than Swiss Made, and the word Automatic appeared in various positions on the dial.

White and black dial versions of Mark II Guide, Seapearl back 146/001 are shown above.

Later models featured a EnicarSherpa 600 caseback engraved 148.35.01.

 

Sherpa Mark IIB catalog
A catalog featuring the Sherpa Guide ref. 148.35.01, or the Sherpa Mark II Guide

 

1965 Enicar Sherpa Mark IIB Guide
1965 Sherpa Mark II Guide in cream dial

 

1965 Enicar Sherpa Mark IIB Guide
A black-dialed 1965 Enicar Sherpa Guide Mark II

 

1967 Sherpa Guide, Mark IIB
A 1967 Sherpa Guide with baton hands and lollipop dot second hand (image by uhrforum user: LeCorb)

 

THE MARK II GUIDE 33

An early September 1964 automatic Mark II Guide 33 is shown below. This has narrow fluted indexes at 6,9 and 12 with applied lume. The hands are baton with lume inserts on a black tip. The 24h pointer has an orange tip.   Movement is AR 1146 33 jewel.  Tritium level on dial marked T < 25 mc.   Seapearl caseback 146/001.

Enicar Sherpa Mark II Guide 33

Below is a model with a retouched inner rotating bezel, but it has the dot lume intact in the outer rotating pointer.

Enicar Sherpa Guide 33, Mark II
Image by uhrforum user: MegsCTHR

 

This model had broader fluted index markers at 6, 9, and 12 without lume dots.

Enicar Sherpa Guide 33 Mark II
A Sherpa Guide 33 Mark II, no lume dots, with the Seapearl caseback

This model below has rectangular lumes at indexes, and paddle or lollipop hands.

Enicar Sherpa Guide 33 Mark II

Enicar Sherpa Guide 33 Mark II

Below is a transition model, rarely seen. The dial has the broader indexes of the Guide 33 above, but the 33 on the dial is missing, and the 24h pointer is crescent moon (Mark I style), while the second hand has a red lollipop dot (Mark III style below).

Rare Enicar Sherpa Mark II Guide 33
A rare transition Sherpa Mark II Guide 33 model (image by watchtime forum user: Quadrilette172)

 

MARK III GUIDE

Enicar Sherpa Guide & Sherpa Graph ad
An old ad/catalog for Guide and Graph models

 

This Mark III model dates from about 1968, and a 1969 model is shown below.

This model has either a thin triangle shaped second hand or a lollipop second hand, a rallye style 24h hand, baton hands with a long pencil lume in the center of the minute hand and a broader lozenge shaped lume in the hour hand, and variously coloured inner bezels. The crowns are all thick.

The indexes are still wide with dot lumes, but the dots are reversed from the previous model.   The saturn logo is applied.

1967 Enicar Sherpa Guide Mark III
Image by watchtime forum user: Quadrilette172

 

Enicar Sherpa Guide Mark III
Image by watchtime forum user: Quadrilette172

 

1968 Enicar Sherpa Guide Mark III
A 1968 Sherpa Mark III Guide with Pepsi (red and blue) rotating inner bezel

 

Enicar Sherpa Guide Mark III white dial
A Sherpa Guide in white satin dial (image by uhrforum user: apriprod)
Enicar Sherpa Guide Mark III with black dial
Sherpa Guide Mark III in black dial (image by watchuseek user: Dogen)
Enicar Sherpa Guide ad
Image by watchtime forum user: Quadrilette172

 

The advertising above predates the switch of the dots on the lumes which have the Mark II style.   The advertisement calls the model 148 35 01 but 148 35 01A  is sometimes used.

Enicar Sherpa Guide Mark III
A Sherpa Guide showing evidence of switched lume dots (image by watchuseek forum user: Bidle)

 

Enicar Sherpa guide bands
Sherpa Guides on different bands: beads of rice bracelets and on a Nato strap (from watchuseek forum user: Stigmata)

Some versions have a checker chapter ring pattern inside the inner rotating 24h bezel as shown on the models on the left and right above.   The second hand was either a lollipop dot or a tapered red triangle.

The model below has a 2 tone yellow/white bezel and dates from March 1968.

guide mk 3 enicar sherpa
Inside case back 3 – 1968 below
sherpa guide march 1968
Another  Sherpa Guide with a checkered chapter ring design and yellow/black bezel.

 

Enicar Sherpa Guide Mark III, yellow and black inner bezel
A Mark III Guide with black and yellow inner rotating bezel (image by watchuseek forum user: Stigmata)

Below on the left and centre are Mark III Guides with the 6,12,18 and 24 hour markers on the 24h bezel in a contrasting colour, black and red, soon to be seen on the Mark IV Guide.

Enicar Sherpa Mark III Guides
Mark III Guides in different inner bezel colour variations (image by uhrforum user: JimJupiter)

THE MARK III GUIDE 33

As for the Mark II Guide 33 there are no lumes on the fluted broader index markers at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock on the Mark III Guide.

 

Mark III
Image by Chronocentric member DavidS

 

Enicar Sherpa Guide 33 Mark III
The Mark III Guide characterized by the absence of lumes at the 6,9, and 12 o’clock markers (image by watchuseek forum user: Chopperharris)

 

MARK IV GUIDE

The next version of the Guide from 1969 has the cushion, pillowcase or short lug body shape and the caliber AR166.   Model 166-35-04. Enicar Sherpa 600 oyster case back.

Multi-colored inner rotating 24h bezels are utilised, and the rotating ring between the crystal and the outer bezel is now orange rather than red.   The 6,12,18 and 24-hour markers on the 24h bezel are black.

1973 Enicar Sherpa Ad
A 1973 advertisement for the Mark IV Guide, Sherpa Graph, and Sherpa Jet

 

Below is a NOS model

Sherpa 600 case back
Sherpa 600 case back, model 166-35-04   Images www.watchpool.com

 

Enicar Sherpa Mark IV Guide watches
Mark IV Guides with multi coloured inner rotating bezels (#1 and #3 images by watchuseek forum user: Dogen, image #4 from uhrforum user: Käfer)

 

Sherpa AR166 movement
AR166 movement

MARK IVA GUIDE

The next version had different lumes at the indexes and a new Saturn logo with 2 rings on Saturn. The lumes at 3,6,9 and 12 are trapezoidal, and rectangular elsewhere. The checkered chapter ring from the Mark IV Guide has been dispensed with. Both short and long lugged cases were available.   Features the Cal, 166 movement, model number 166-35-04.

Enicar Sherpa Guide Mark IVA
The Sherpa Mark IVA Guide

 

Enicar Sherpa Guide Mark IVAs
Other multi coloured inner bezel variants

 

1970 Enicar Sherpa red and white bezel

Long lugged case 1970 Sherpa Mark IVA guides with 2 ringed Saturn also exist.  The 6,12,18 and 24 hour markers on the 24h bezel are sometimes not contrasting as on the pillowcase models.

Guide MkIVAEnicar Sherpa Graph

Left image courtesy : mylocaltime

THE JET

Enicar Sherpa Jet versions

MARK I JET

The other models in the two crown Pilot Watch range are the Jet and the Super Jet. The outer rotating bezel was removed.

The early Jet models coincided with the Mark IIB Guide models and had baton hands with inverted T lumes at the tip, a second hand with a yellow lollipop dot, and indexes with dot lumes on 6, 9, and 12 and rectangular lumes on the 5 minute indexes.  The GMT hand was a thin yellow tipped pointer. Early models had an applied Saturn logo and T or Swiss T on the dial.

The diameter is 36.5mm and 44mm lug to lug.  The movement is AR1145/6 automatic.

The early models were engraved 126/002 and had a Seapearl oyster back, but later models had 148-35-02 as the model number.

 

Enicar Sherpa Jet GMT

Image by watchuseek forum user: auctionwatchman

Enicar Sherpa Jet

Image courtesy of Vintage Watch Classics

Later models had automatic lower on the dial with T < 25 mc and T Swiss Made T on the dial.

The image above has automatic under Sherpa Jet, while in the image below, it is immediately above.

 

MARK II JET

About 1969 a new model Jet was released coinciding with the Mark III Guide.

The baton hands have a thin pencil central lume on the minute hand and a lozenge lume on the hour hand, and the 24h hand is rallye style. The lume dots are reversed from the prior version. Thicker crowns were used.  The case became a Supercompressor Sherpa 600, with model number 148.35.02 engraved.

The model below has a black and yellow rallye 24h hand.

Enicar Sherpa Jet Mark II
Image by malaysiawatchforum user: Rainbowfix

 

Enicar Sherpa Jet GMT Mark II
Image by uhrforum user: helmet

 

Enicar Sherpa Jet Mark II yellow & black bezel
A Mark II Jet with yellow and black bezel

 

The next model variant was a checkered chapter ring at the minute markers as seen in the advertisement below.

Enicar Sherpa Jet Ad
An old Enicar advertisement providing instructions for the Sherpa Jet

 

Enicar Sherpa Jet Mark II
Images from watchuseek forum user: malus65

 

Enicar Sherpa Jet GMT
Image by watchuseek user: Dogen

 

Enicar Sherpa MKII Jet
Image by uhrforum user: Käfer

 

Enicar Sherpa Jet Mark II
Image courtesy of watchestobuy.com

 

A yellow rallye 24h hand is used on the model below.

Enicar Sherpa Jet GMT
A Sherpa Jet with yellow rallye 24 hand, in silver sunburst dial

 

Enicar Sherpa Jet Silver

Enicar Sherpa Jet Silver
Sherpa Jet in silver dial (images by uhrforum user: helmet)

 

Enicar Sherpa Jet 148-35-02 models from about 1973 feature a thin triangular pointer second hand.

Both white and black dials were available.

Enicar jet 144-35-02

Then Enicar released the pillow cushion case, with a multicoloured 24h bezel and a thin triangular second hand. Again, the earlier models did not feature the checkered chapter ring.

Enicar Sherpa Jet with pillow cushion case
An earlier Sherpa Jet pillow cushion case version without the checkered chapter ring

 

Enicar Sherpa Jet checkered chapter ring
A multi coloured Sherpa Jet with checkered chapter ring

 

Enicar Sherpa cushion case Jet
Image by uhrforum user: Käfer

 

THE JET  33

The Jet 33 model featured both baton hands of the Mark I Jet and paddle lollipop hands.   The indexes are thinner and the broader indexes at 6, 9 and 12 are grooved. It featured a Seapearl oyster back, engraved model number 126/002 and the movement is AR1126 33 jewel Supertest.    The word Automatic did not often feature on the dial.

Right hand image courtesy : meticultist.net

This model had T < 25 mc (25 milli Curies) and SWISS MADE on the dial.

Tritium was used for lumes from the 1960s until the late 1990s. Like radium which it replaced in 1960, it is also radio-active.

The half-life is approximately 12.3 years and after that, Tritium (in most cases) will not glow anymore.

 

jet 33 sherpa
This model has automatic on the dial.

 

The early Jet 33 also existed with lollipop hands.    The model above has an orange-tipped 24h pointer but the earlier model below has a red crescent moon pointer first seen in the very early Guide model.

Below is another Jet 33 with a red crescent moon 24 hour pointer.  Second hand is a thin pointer with a bulb on the rear end.

The red crescent moon 24h pointer was also seen on the baton hand model.

THE SUPER JET

MARK I SUPER JET

The Super Jet was a larger version of the Jet, released at the same time and was 40mm diameter with a calibre AR166 movement.

The earliest version was 1964 and the indexes and lumes are similar to the 1965 Mark II Guide shown above.   Baton hands,  and lollipop dot second hand.

Enicar Sherpa Super Jet Mark I
The Mark I Sherpa Super Jet

 

Below is an October 1964 model.  Caseback 126/003    AR1126.    Later case backs were 146/003.

Enicar Super Jet Mark I 1964

A 1965 version below

Enicar Super Jet 1965
Images by watchuseek forum user: Mihai P.
Enicar Sherpa Super Jet
Image by watchuseek forum user: o.v.e

MARK I SUPER JET 33

This version of the model has fluted wide indices at 6, 9 and 12 and dot lumes at the 5 minute indexes.   A unique lollipop paddle hand model is shown below.  Thin second hand without a lollipop dot.  Model 126/003 and 33 jewel SuperTest movement.

MARK I SUPER JET 33
Image courtesy Omega Forums user TexOmega

 

This is similar to the Jet 33 described above.   AR1146 movement.     Automatic not written on the dial.

MARK I Enicar Super Jet 33
The Mark I Super Jet 33 (image by uhrforum user: Käfer)

 

The dial on this watch reads Super Jet Automatic 33 T<25mc.   Model reference 146/003

MARK II SUPER JET

A transition model is shown below, with rectangular baton hands, and a 24 hour pointer in yellow rallye style.   Lollipop second hand, and minute hand with longitudinal stripe. Sherpa 600 case back, engraved model number 146.35.08.

Enicar Sherpa
Image courtesy Romain Rea.

 

This model has the rallye style 24h pointer and different hour and minute hands. These are still baton hands, but are round tipped, and the hour hand has a broad lozenge lume, and the minute hand a thin central stripe. A red triangular tapered second hand is more common than the previous lollipop dot.  The index lumes are from the prior model as shown below, and similar to the 1969 Guide described above. Enicar Sherpa 600 case back. Model 148-35-01 or 148-35-03.

MARK II Enicar Sherpa Super Jet 1967

A 1967 model with calibre 1146B movement, 24 jewels, and Incabloc shock protection

Another 1967 model. This has lumes in reverse at the indexes.   Model 148-35-03.

Enicar Sherpa Super Jet
Image courtesy of watcholdtimes.de

A version with a light coloured face and applied Enicar saturn logo.

Enicar Sherpa Super Jet MKII
Image by uhrforum user: Käfer

 

Enicar Sherpa Super Jet with white dial
Images courtesy of IG user: g.barone_ (https://www.instagram.com/g.barone_/)

1969 version with triangular second hand.   Model number 148-35-01A.

MARK II Enicar Sherpa Super Jet 1969
Images by watchuseek forum user: kazrich

 

Super jet enicar sherpa

Above is a lollipop dot second hand model, with yellow and black rallye 24-hour hand.  Image courtesy Omega forums user : calalum

SUPER JET MARK II 33

This model has the broader fluted indexes at 6,9, and 12 as for earlier 33 models.

Enicar Sherpa Super Jet Mark II 33

SUPER JET MARK III

This is now a cushion, pillowcase or short lugged style, with a multicoloured 24h bezel, and the date window is at 6 o’clock. This model now has 2 rings on the Saturn logo.

Enicar Sherpa Super Jet Mark III
The Super Jet Mark III in various bands (Image by watchuseek forum user: Dogen)
Enicar Sherpa Super Jet Mark III
Close-up shots of the Mark III Super Jet

 

DIALS

The dials in this series feature the transition through various styles of Enicar hands.

Firstly, Dauphine which was common in many late 1950’s and early 1960’s watches, but coupled with a unique crescent moon 24-hour pointer:

Enicar Sherpa Dauphine hands

Then, baton with inverted T  lumes at the tip:

Enicar Sherpa Baton hands

More rarely, paddle or rectangular lollipop hands although these are more common in three-crown models:

Enicar Sherpa paddle or rectangular lollipop hands

And finally, baton with thin pencil lume in the minute hand, lozenge lume in the hour hand, triangular second hand and Rallye style 24h hand:

Enicar Sherpa baton with lumes hands

These styles can also be seen in the single crown models and in the three-crown models.

CALIBRES

Enicar Sherpa movements

(Left to right: AR1126, AR166, AR1145/6)

The Enicar calibres of the two crown models of the early 1960s were part of the 112x series.  The 1126 was automatic, 24h, date, and had either 25, 30 or 33 jewels.   The (1)14x series was used from 1965 to 1975 and the initial 1 is dropped on the movement marking.  The 166 series was used from 1975 onwards.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In this article, we have traced the history of what some might call the Sherpa two crown pilot or flying watches from the Guide to the Super Jet.

The later short lugged or pillowcase style models are very colourful and are often in better condition as they are younger, but they still command a hefty price.

Enicar Sherpa Guide and Sherpa Super Jet
Short-lugged/pillowcase Sherpa Guide and Sherpa Jet

 

The early model Guide with a rotating bezel is difficult to find in good condition and is currently priced at about $1200 to $1500 for models in good condition.

The grail would be a model with the rare paddle-shaped hands or one with the Dauphine hands of the early Guide. Expect to pay over $2000 for a model in reasonable condition.

From The Spring Bar Store:

Enicar Graph Collector’s Guide

INTRODUCTION

Enicar Graph timeline

A separate article has documented the development of the Sherpa brand which you can read here, and the further development of various models of 36mm to 40mm diameter, single and two crown, pilot and dive watches. This article covers the 3 crown Enicar Sherpa Graph chronometer and its derivatives.

Some wearers, particularly divers, do not like the extra size of a 42mm watch often found in chronometers. However, pilots and other sportsmen, coaches and racing drivers liked the convenience of a big dial. The Enicar Sherpa Graph provided both the size and functionality.

Early Enicar models
Two of the very first Graph models. Image courtesy of Gianvittorio Molteni

The earlier single and two crown articles demonstrated the marketing link between Enicar and active sportsmen who needed reliable watches, and the 1958 Enicar Sherpa advertisements featured the racing car driver, Stirling Moss.

1958 ad
A 1958 Enicar advertisement featuring racer Stirling Moss

In 1960 Enicar introduced a revolutionary model, the Sherpa Graph, based on a Valjoux 72 calibre movement, and again Stirling Moss was used to promoting the watch, saying in the advertisement below, “The ENICAR Sherpa is definitely the watch I have always wanted.”

Stirling Moss Graph endorsement
Stirling Moss Graph endorsement: Image courtesy of Gianvittorio Molteni

 

The Sherpa Graph model in the advertisement above is the Mark I model with gladium hands.

Sherpa Graph Mark I
Sherpa Graph Mark I:  Image courtesy Raul Taje   (Steel Time)

The racing car driver Jim Clark was also a user of the Sherpa Graph and his name is linked to the first edition of the  Sherpa Graph, in what has since become a collector’s favourite.  Below is a May 1960 model.

Sherpa Graph 1950s
A May 1960 model of the Enicar Sherpa Graph (image by omegaforums user io8194)

The pilot advertisement of the Sherpa Graph at the time also featured a racing car and the connection to the use of a chronometer in any cockpit is shown below.

Sherpa Graph French Ad

As well as the Graph model, the 3 crown Valjoux 72 calibre was also used in other Enicar Graph watches; the diving AquaGraph, the Super Graph and the GMT Jet Graph.

Aqua, Sherpa and Jet Graph
Image by chronocentric forum user: Gianvittorio Molteni

This article covers the development of the 3 crown Enicar Sherpa Graph chronometers with the Valjoux 72 calibre movement.

ENICAR GRAPH’S VALJOUX 72 CALIBER

Valjoux 72 Calibre
Image from sometimeago.com

Please see www.sometimeago.com for the most comprehensive resource on Enicar’s use of the Valjoux 72 that we are aware of.

THE BAYONET CASE

All Graph watches used the Super Compressor bayonet case made by case manufacturer Ervin Piquerez S.A. (EPSA) exclusively for Enicar. This was subject to brevet or patent #314962. This can be seen engraved on the back of the case, and stamped inside the case back is a diving helmet. The Super Compressor cases also have a cross hatched crown.

Enicar Bayonet Case patent document

THE ENICAR GRAPH MODELS

MARK I GRAPH

The early Enicar Graph models featured Roman or gladium hands or lollypop hands. All Mark I Graph models had an applied logo with ENICAR embedded in the Saturn image.

Below is a very rare 1960 model with gladium hands produced in May 1960.

This first model, Mark I, has leaf style hands on the subdials, and a high quality copper colour Valjoux 72 calibre movement. The back of the supercompressor case featured the Enicar clover symbol. The early models had “TACHYMETRE BASE 1000”  engraved on the tachymeter bezel, and the scale went to 300.

 

1960 with gladium hands
Image credits: 1st image from chronocentric forum user Gianvittorio Molteni, 2nd and 3rd images by omegaforums user io8194
Sherpa Graph
Image credit :  Raul Taje  (Steel Time)

 

The gladium hands were difficult to produce and maintain as evidenced by the skeleton hands above.   Only a handful of the gladium hand models are thought to exist.

A so called “Jim Clark” gladium hand model is shown below.  Jim Clark wore the Enicar Sherpa Graph and gave several to his racing team after winning the World F1 Championship in 1963.

Jim Clark Sherpa Graph

This watch is engraved “In Appreciation,  World Championship,  1963,  Jim Clark” on the cloverleaf case back which also reads both Seapearl and Sherpa, and model number 1608.

Jim Clark Sherpa graph back case

The Mark 1B model has easier to manufacture, and maintain, paddle or lollypop hands which are more common in the Graph, and feature in the advertising material at the time, as in the cockpit advertisement above and the advertisement below for Model 1308.

Enicar

The hands on the 3 subdials remain leaf pattern. The case remained as the Enicar Graph supercompressor with the clover symbol.  A black dial,  May 1960 model is shown below. It is thought that only 11 Mark I models with “TACHYMETRE BASE 1000” engraved on the tachymeter bezel exist today.

Enicar Mark IB
Images by omegaforum user io8194
Enicar May 1960 model
Another May 1960 model, with skeleton hands.  Image credit :  Jaime Garchitorena

 

In 1963 Jim Clark gave his chief engineer Dick Scammell a Enicar Sherpa Graph in appreciation for his help in winning the F1 World Championship. This watch is similar to the model above, and has lollipop hands and leaf hands on the subdials, and the back case reads Enicar with the clover symbol.   The watch is featured at 1:06 in the video below.

The Mark 1C Graph featured arrow and pencil subdial hands, but now there were sometimes no words on the tachymeter bezel,  just the numbers from 60 to 300.  Again, the Enicar in Saturn logo was applied.   Model number 1308 continued.

Enicar Mark IC Graph
Image from omegaforums user: io8194

 

This model below with a black dial was in production in November 1961.

Enicar Sherpa Graph dial and caseback
Image courtesy of kaplans.se

 

Graph mk1B

This model above has a thin pointer second hand, and does not have TACHYMETRE on the bezel.   With the cloverleaf case back, and original stainless steel Enicar strap.

Enicar Sherpa Graph
Image by klocksnack user: Viking

 

The model above has a red lollipop second hand and does not have TACHYMETRE on the bezel.

Another model of November 1961 with a thin pointer second hand, and TACHYMETRE on the bezel.

Enicar Sherpa Graph White Dial
Image courtesy of Amer Sibai

 

Enicar Graph: Sherpa Graph Panda
Panda dial model with Tachymetre on bezel. April 1962 model.

 

Below is a special cinematographer’s model made in about 1961.  The bezel is marked in both frames and feet of film used in a time period.

Sherpa Graph, cinematographer model.
Image : https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=O_GuksDi1kc

 

Film 35 mm wide with four perforations per frame (4-perf) became accepted as the international standard gauge in 1909, and remained the dominant film gauge for image capture and projection until the advent of digital photography and cinematography, despite challenges from smaller and larger gauges.

2-perf or Techniscope is a 35mm motion picture camera film format introduced by Technicolor Italia in 1960. The Techniscope format used a two film-perforation negative pulldown per frame, instead of the standard four-perforation frame.  It had several advantages and was attractive for several reasons, mostly as 2-perf doubles the number of minutes per 1000ft can of film.

2-perf was used with great effect by James Cameron to shoot the actual Titanic wreck for the movie Titanic in 1997.  (It was later digitally converted to 4-perf Super-35).   The advantage was the longer running time possible on the camera loads while submerged for such a long time diving down to the wreck.

During its period of heavy use, between 1960–1980, more than 350 films were photographed in Techniscope, the first of which was The Pharaoh’s Woman, released in December 1960.  Given the considerable savings in production cost, but lesser image quality, Techniscope was primarily an alternative format used by low-budget horror and western filmmakers. Since the format originated in Italy, most Techniscope format films were European productions, including the so called spaghetti westerns, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

So the cinematographer using this Enicar Sherpa Graph stopwatch (vintage about 1961) could easily see how many frames he had shot at 24 frames per second, and how many feet of film he had used at 45.0 feet per minute.

MARK II GRAPH

The Mark II  models had the revised logo with a little Saturn with Enicar below and were released in 1962. This model just had TACHYMETRE engraved on the bezel, or again the word was missing, and the scale went to 300. The case back was still a supercompressor bayonet back, but now with Sea Pearl and an oyster in the centre.  Model number was still 1308.

Enicar Graph Mark II
Image courtesy of omegafroums user io8194

Below is a white dialed version.

Enicar Graph Mark II White Dial

These models sometimes did not have TACHYMETRE on the bezel. Below is such a model, still with arrow hands on “pie tin” subdials, and a Seapearl oyster back.

Enicar Graph: Sherpa Graph
Image by watchuseek user: twleve199 (@aaroncynthia on IG)

A similar Mark II model with TACHYMETRE on the bezel.  Image courtesy Omega Forums member Kidkimura.

The Mark IIB was similar to the previous model but had a yellow plated movement, but pencil subdial hands replaced the arrow hands.   The second hand had a small bulb on the rear end.

Enicar Graph Mark IIB
Images by watchuseek forum user: Dogen

 

Mark III Graph

The Mark III model was released as Enicar model number 2343 but now had a Sherpa 300 bayonet Seapearl back (circa 1965).  The second hand had a round lollipop red dot, and the subdials all had stick pointers.   The case back also featured 072/001 as a model designation.

The tachymetre scale usually went to 300 but also to 1000.

Sherpa Graph Mark III
Image from vegaban.blogspot.com.au

 

Enicar Sherpa Graph 300 Ref 2343 copy
Image by chronocentric forum user: Fabrizio Caso

 

The model below has the original ricegrain bracelet and silver “pie-tin”subdials.

Enicar Graph white dial
Image courtesy of http://www.thewatchgallery.com.au/

 

Enicar Graph Mark III
Image by chronomatic user Nic Green

 

This model with a white dial has a white lollipop dot second hand.

Enicar Graph MkIII
There was also a model with a thin pencil second hand.
Enicar Graph Ad scan
Image by watchuseek forum user: Kazrich

 

Enicar Graph: Sherpa Graph
Image by watchuseek forum user: Kazrich

 

Black Enicar Graph
An all black dial with lollipop dot second hand. Image by watchuseek user: gr8sw

 

At the same time, Enicar released a non-Sherpa model number 2303 with a less cluttered dial (the words Enicar Sherpa Graph are missing), and a thinner crown. Some people mistakenly consider this to be pre-Sherpa, but the logo is early 1960’s Saturn over Enicar. This has been called the Enicar Garnix.   Case back is plain, engraved 072/003.   Below is a gold-filled model.

Enical Garnix 2303 072/003
The Enicar Garnix

 

Enicar Chronograph

MARK IV GRAPH

The Mark IV model had baton hands and a Sherpa 300 Seapearl case back and was introduced in 1966/7. The word tachymeter is sometimes used instead of tachymetre for the 500 scale, and the scale went to 300 or 500, and rarely 1000. The baton hands are those of the corresponding Mark III Sherpa Guide.  The second hand varied and was either red triangular tapered or red lollipop dot in style.   A red subdial hand was sometimes used.

The model number was 072-02-01 with the 072 signifying the Valjoux movement, but the Mark III lollipop hands were also used in this case as a runout.

The new dial often had a white or black chapter ring at the minute markers, and lumes were not applied at the 5-minute indexes as in prior models.

The model below has a 500 scale which reads TACHYMETER.

Enicar Graph Mark IV
Image by chronocentric user: Haroon Sarwar

 

The Enicar Graph model in the illustration below shows the new model hands, but without the coloured chapter ring.

Enicar Graph: Sherpa Graph Ad

A few transitional models with the previous dial, without the coloured chapter ring, continued to be produced, and a September 1967 model is shown below.

Enicar Graph transitional model

Two similar white pie tin models, NOS, are shown below.

Enicar Graph NOS 072-02-01

 

And, another.

 

Enicar Graph: Sherpa Graph

This watch has TACHYMETRE on the bezel, which goes to 500, and the watch has no coloured chapter ring as in the model in the advertisement above. Image by IG user @aaroncynthia

This 1967 model has a tapered triangle second hand, but the tachymetre scale stops at 300.

Enicar Graph 1967
Image by timezone forum user: Fazmaster

This white dial model has “pie-tin” subdials, one with a red hand,  and a black chapter ring at the minute markers.

Enicar Graph: Sherpa Graph in white dial
This model has a red dot lollipop second hand.

 

And below a white faced model with only black hands on the subdials, and a pencil second hand.

Enicar Graph: Sherpa Graph in white dial
This model has a red dot lollipop second hand.

 

Enicar Graph: Sherpa Graph
Image by watchuseek forum user: Kazrich

 

Enicar Graph
Image credit Chronocentric user: AR

 

This November 1968 model above is numbered 2342 and features the wording TACHYMETER on the bezel with a scale to 500.   It has pie tin subdials with a red subdial hand.

Enicar Graph with a red strap
Image credit Chronocentric user : Rene Dracha

Another November 1968 model numbered 2342, but features the wording TACHYMETRE on the bezel with a scale to 300, with a white chapter ring.   It has white subdials with a red subdial hand.

A navy blue dial model, below

Graph MkIV

Below is a 2342 model with a tachymetre scale which goes to 1000 without the word tachymetre imprinted on the bezel.

2342 Enicar Sherpa Graph tachymetre 1000

The tachymeter dial below has a “BASE 1 MILE” scale to 1000.

This watch has a Mark IV style chapter ring at the minute markers, and Mark IV index markers, but Mark II model hands including those on the subdials. The second hand has a unique reverse arrow at the base of the pivot.

Enicar Graph grey dial
Image by uhrforum user: Käfer

 

The Enicar Garnix model 2303 continued with baton hands as in the Mark IV model line as well, still with caliber Valjoux 72.    Red thin triangle second hand, case back 072/003.

The guarantee is dated December 1969.

Enicar Garnix 2303

THE AQUAGRAPH, SUPER GRAPH AND JET GRAPH

Developed later than the Graph in 1960, in the late sixties (about 1967) the Graph gained a rotating bezel and other Graph models were produced.

The case was the Sherpa 300 supercompressor model.

This advertisement is from the Chronosport catalogue of 1969.

Enicar Graph catalog

AQUAGRAPH

The advertisement below says :

“ENICAR – Instrument suppliers to the US Navy, major European airlines and governments have designed …..The ENICAR AQUAGRAPH For men whose lives depend on it.”

Enicar Graph: Aquagraph ad

Enicar Graph: Aquagraph
Two panda dialled Aquagraph models. 2nd image courtesy of IG user @watchdave

The early AquaGraph of 1966 approximately had the earlier Enicar paddle or rectangular lollipop hands. This watch has an arrow hand subdial similar to the 1961 Mark I Graph model. The rotating bezel is similar to the two crown Sherpa Dive with no numerals at the 5-minute intervals, nor the 30-minute mark.

Enicar Graph: Aquagraph 1967
Image by uhforum user: Käfer

 

An advertisement for the 072-02-02 model is shown below.

Early Aquagraph, Mark II, with bezel marked 10,20,40 and 50 only, arrow second hand and arrow sub-register at 6 o’clock.  This watch is missing the red rotating triangular pointer ring.

Enicar Graph
Image courtesy: watchuseek forum user pwriterman.

 

Enicar Aqua Graph

A white faced model above.

June 1966 model
A June 1966 model with more commonly seen bezel. (Image credit: Aaron King)

 

The red triangular indicator ring is missing on the April 1967 model below, but this has an interesting rotating bezel with full height tick marks, and numerals of the same size at every 5 minutes, and hours 1 to 11 in small numerals beneath.

Enicar Graph: Aquagraph
Image courtesy of watchmeandyou.com

 

The next models retained the bezel with numerals every 5 minutes but these alternated in size and changed to baton hands.

Dials varied, as for the Graph models above. Second hands were tapered triangular or red lollipop dot, and faces were white or black, with and without a contrasting chapter ring.  Some models were marked SWISS on the 12-hour sub-register at 6 o’clock, but most were SWISS MADE either side of the 12-hour sub-register.

Enicar Graph: Aquagraph
Image courtesy of boldwatches.wordpress.com

 

The AquaGraph had a rotating bezel for divers, with either one or two lumes marking the hour on the bezel.  The AquaGraph was in a Sherpa oyster 300 case, model 072-02-02, waterproof to 100m.

The AquaGraph is shown below on the right, along with the much rarer Super Graph on the left. The Jet Graph is in the centre.

Enicar Graph watches
Image courtesy of watchuseek forum user: Dogen

 

The 1967 model has a triangular second hand and the baton hands of the Mark IV Graph model. The rotating bezel has 2 tritium dots at the 1 and 59 marks.

Enicar Graph: Aquagraph
Image credits: chronocentric user Christopher J. Lichauco (1st image), boldwatches.wordpress.com (2nd image)

 

The 1968 model is shown on the left below. Just as the Mark IV Graph model had triangular and lollipop second hands, this variant has a lollipop second hand. It also has a tritium dot at 0/60 on the rotating bezel.

Enicar Graph: 1968 Aquagraph
Image courtesy of boldwatches.wordpress.com

 

A May 1969 model with ivory dial is shown below.

Below is a NOS tapered second-hand model, with red pointer on the sub-dial at 3 o’clock, and marked SWISS on the 6 o’clock sub-register.

Enicar Graph
Image credit: Jaime Garchitorena

 

Below is an August 1969 model with a Sherpa 300 case marked 072-02-02A, with the dial just signed Enicar.

Sherpa graph not aqua

SUPER GRAPH

The advertisement for this model is on the left below.

Enicar Graph: Sherpa Graph manual

One known example is shown below. This has the paddle or rectangular lollipop hands used by Enicar in the early 1960’s.

For this model, the rotating bezel counts down in reverse, from 60 to 0 rather than 0 to 60 as on a dive watch.

Enicar Graph: Super Graph
Image by watchuseek forum user: Dogen

 

Enicar Graph: Super Graph
A later model panda dial Super Graph with baton hands. Image courtesy of IG user: @aaroncynthia

 

JET GRAPH

The Jet Graph has already been seen at the centre of the Super Graph and Aquagraph in the photograph above, with a rotating bezel marked 1 to 24 hours.   It is quite large, 40mm outside pushers, and 13mm thick.   Early models were released in 1965 as 072/002 and later 072.02.02 and 072.02.02A

Below is a comparison compilation with the Graph and AquaGraph.

Enicar Graph and AquaGraph watches
Image courtesy of boldwatches.wordpress.com

 

 

Black dial Sherpa Jet Graph
Image courtesy: David Scobling

 

The early Jet Graph had paddle lollipop hands and a thin second hand and 24-hour pointer, which were yellow-tipped.   The above model has a rare all-black dial.  The second hand and 24-hour pointer were easily confused, and the design changed quickly, with baton hands and a triangular second hand as a replacement.

Jet Graph
Image courtesy Kaplans Auktioner.

 

A pie tin model below.

Jet Graph

This model 072/002 has the revised baton hands and thin triangle second hand.

The model below is a 1968 Jet Graph with Valjoux 724 movement, with a rallye 24-hour hand, and a thin pointer second hand. The 724 movement allowed the 24-hour function.  The hand on the right subdial is red. The watch is 40mm diameter and 49mm overall.

Enicar Graph: 1968 Jet Graph
Image by watchuseek forum user: primabaleron

 

The watch below is a May 1969 model with Sherpa 300 case.  2342 engraved inside case back.

Enicar Graph: Jet Graph
Image by watchuseek user: twleve199 (@aaroncynthia on IG)

 

This watch is model 172-02-02 with a thin triangular second hand

172-02-02 Sherpa Jet Graph enicar

 

This watch has a yellow and black Rallye pointer, and a lollipop style second hand. The rice grain strap is featured in the advertisement below.

Image courtesy of watchmeandyou.com
Image courtesy of watchmeandyou.com

 

Pilot watches ad

 

Jet Graph Sherpa
Image Courtesy Omega Forums user : Mick Tock

 

The above model 072-02-02A has a thin pointer second hand.

Sherpa black dial jet graph
Above is a rare all-black model with lollipop second hand.

 

PILOTE

The Pilote is an extremely rare version of the Jet Graph. The advertising above refers to various aviation uses, including assisting in navigation as the watch was issued to SAS and Swissair pilots.

Below is a June 1966 Pilote with paddle lollipop hands, a lollipop second hand, Valjoux 72 movement and Sherpa 300 oyster case, model 072-02-02.

Pilote

A later model with the revised lozenge lumed baton hands is pictured below. The left subdial now has a red hand, but not the right subdial.

Pilote
Image by uhrforum user: Käfer

 

ENICAR GRAPH’S RECOMMENDATIONS

PLACE TO START

The place to start would be to collect one of the Graph models which ran from 1960 onwards. The early lollipop or paddle hand models are eagerly sought after, so the later versions with baton hands would be a place to start.  Any would look great on the wrist.

THE BEATER

Try an AquaGraph or Jet Graph

An 1967/8 Aquagraph recently sold for $3400. This was in poor condition. Looking for an Aquagraph in good condition would take some considerable time.

AquaGraph late 60's

A Jet Graph with Valjoux 724 not working well also recently reached nearly $4000.

Jet Graph model

THE KEEPER

The keeper would be one of the early Graphs with paddle or lollipop hands. The model with the Roman sword or gladium hands is virtually unique.  Failing this, a later model with paddle hands would be a goal. Current prices would be in the $20,000 range for an excellent model.

THE GRAIL

The ultimate Graph watch is the super rare, super cool, Super Graph. So few change hands the price cannot be estimated, but one changed hands recently.

 Super Graph
Image by watchuseek forum user: Dogen

 

 

From The Spring Bar Store:

 

Grand Seiko Collector’s Guide

GRAND SEIKO THE WORLD’S BEST

The original Grand Seiko watch and the line of watches that followed would be a game-changer for the Japanese watchmaker. The Grand Seiko range would prove that Seiko was capable of producing quality watches that could compete with and even exceed those produced by Swiss watch manufacturers.

Before the introduction of Grand Seiko, high-end watch consumers did not think highly of the company despite Seiko producing quality watches and bagging awards.[1] The Seiko  Crown and Chronos movements both were at the peak of Japanese technology, but the Grand Seiko turned it from an inferior watch manufacturer to a major player in the luxury watch market.

The “grand” moniker would be significant for this change. It mirrored the company’s goal of creating “the best luxury watch in the world.” In 1960, the company’s Suwa division was tasked to create the best watch it could possibly make at that time.[1]

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GRAND SEIKO AT THE OLYMPICS

The timing of the Grand Seiko’s introduction to the market also proved crucial to its success. The Grand Seiko Chronometer Cal. 5722 was introduced in 1964, the year Tokyo hosted the 18th Olympiad.[2]

Seiko served as the event’s official timer. The company brought simple countdown chronographs with Cal 5718A movements and mono-pusher chronographs with Cal 5717 and Cal 5719 movements.[3]

Because of its successful participation at the Olympics, Seiko finally gained international respect and credibility.

Seiko as the official timer of the 1964 Olympics

Seiko is the official timer of the 1964 Olympics

VYING FOR HIGHEST ACCURACY

The 1964 Olympic Games was only the beginning of Seiko’s quest to leave a permanent mark on the high-end watch market. The company entered the Grand Seiko into the Neuchatel chronometer testing from the year the watch was released until the trials ended.[1] The Neuchatel observatory rated and ranked the movements that it tested, making it possible to see which ones were most accurate.

When Seiko first joined the international competition, it placed 144th. Three years later, in 1967, Seiko moved into the top 10. When the testing stopped in 1968, Seiko was running for first place. Rumor has it the testing ended so Neuchatel could avoid declaring Seiko as the winner in the Swiss chronometer competition. [1]

Undeterred, Seiko joined the equivalent Geneva competition in its quest to win first place. This time around, it wasn’t disappointed. Its Grand Seiko watches ranked 4th to 10th places, making the line’s movements among the most accurate in the world.[1]

GRAND SEIKO PRODUCTION  

Production of the Grand Seiko line ran for 12 years.  The first Grand Seiko was produced on December 18th 1960 while the last one was made in 1972.[4]

The Suwa Seikosha division produced most of the Grand Seiko watches, except for the 44GS, 45GS, and 45GS VFA movements, which were created by its Daini Seikosha division. The two companies were Seiko’s subsidiaries which produced one brand to improve technology and hedge risk amid tough competition. If one experienced problems in production, the other would simply increase production. Suwa Seikosha became Seiko Epson Corporation, while Daini Seikosha became Seiko Instruments Inc.[5]

Seiko started manufacturing its first-generation Grand Seiko 3180 model in December 1960 at the company’s Suwa factory in Nagano prefecture in central Japan.[4] A total of 36,000 units of the first generation watch were created.

The 57GS movement followed in 1963 with 81,000 units manufactured.[5]

Afterwards, Seiko produced the 44GS and 62GS movements. Released in December 1967, Seiko created 36,000 units of the 61GS line.[6] This was followed by the 45GS, 45GS VFA, 19GS, and 19GS VFA movements from 1968 toward 1970. Finally, Seiko released the last model in this line, a mechanical 56GS, in 1972. [4]

DESIGN

Seiko’s design concept for the Grand Seiko was to create the “ideal watch,” which meant “nothing less than the best luxury watch in the world.”[7, 8] For the company, this meant the Grand Seiko should have its own unique style that would resonate with the high-end market. Specifically, Seiko wanted the Grand Seiko’s style to suit both casual and formal attires.[9]

When the original Grand Seiko watch was created in 1960 by the company’s Suwa Seikosha division, its focus was on quality mechanics. [10] It wasn’t until 1967 when the 44GS movement was released that the “Grand Seiko Style” by designer Taro Tanaka would from then on define the style of the series as well as all future Seiko products.[10]

The Grand Seiko range is also highly valued for its craftsmanship, particularly the traditional way in which the watches are created.[11] Every Grand Seiko watch was polished by hand using the“Zaratsu” technique. This is a traditional way of polishing that Japanese watchmakers use to create watches that have a mirror finish with no distortion. [9, 12]

CLASSICS REVIVED IN LIMITED EDITIONS

The 1967 44GS movement, or “The Grammar of Design”, was so iconic that in 2013, Seiko released a limited edition watch based on it, the Grand Seiko 44GS. The replica or remake was powered by a manual 9S64 movement that closely mimics the original.[3] The limited-edition model had two variants, one was the same as the original (700 units stainless steel) and the other came in white, yellow, and rose gold (70 units each).[13]

The Grand Seiko Historical Collection 62GS was another classic revival. The collection included four limited editions: stainless steel with 600 units produced and three gold variants – yellow gold, rose gold, and white gold – with 100 units each.[14]

The original Grand Seiko 3180 was produced in replica, model number  SBGW033, and  1300 units were produced.

 

VARIATIONS

Although “Grand Seiko” is the name given to the entire range, it could also refer to the original Cal. 3180 model when speaking of particular variations within the range.

THE FIRST GRAND SEIKO  

THE 3180 MODEL

Grand Seiko 3180

L to R: Seiko’s first GS, the 3180; Cal. 3180 movement; an early GS with carved characters on the dial; GS 3180 back case with the lion logo

The 3180 model was based on the “Crown” movement, which featured 25 functional jewels at 18,000 bph and was hand wound.[18]  It was the first chronometer grade watch manufactured in Japan and was based on an internal Seiko standard and certification. As such, it had the “Chronometer” label on the dial and a lion logo on the case back.  The model number was J14070.

The initial accuracy rate of the 3180 model and the first Grand Seiko standard (-3 to +12 sec/day) was that of the Basel Observatory Chronometer standard at the time, and when this was changed to -1 to +10 sec/day in 1961, the second Grand Seiko standard changed to a slightly different 11 second range (-3 to +8 sec/day). [53,54]

Most of the cases were made from 18k gold-plated (80 microns), although platinum cases were also produced.[5, 52] Rarely, stainless steel cases existed, with the lion symbol on the case back, but with chronometer under, rather than Grand Seiko above.[51,56] It had a snap-type back lid and was non-waterproof. The crown of this model was coarse knurled.

This below is a relatively rare first model 3180 with a carved dial.

Grand Seiko: Early Grand seiko with carved dial

The first Grand Seiko with a carved dial

The initial characters on the dial were either printed black or the carved characters as in the image above. This was later changed in 1961 to applied characters in relief as engraving was error-prone and inconsistent. This is the most commonly found dial.[50]

The case back featured an embossed lion with the words Grand Seiko, and the inside case back was engraved 14K Gold Filled J14070  GS.

Above is a Stainless Steel model [56]

Inside case back was engraved Stainless Steel J14070  GS.

THE 57GS MODEL

Grand Seiko 57GS

The 57GS “Self-Dater” variations (from left to right): 5722-9990 with AD Logo, 5722-9990 without AD logo, 5722-9991 also known as the “Calendar Model”, and 5722-9011 in gold

The 57GS “Self-Dater” introduced in 1963 was the only other model that featured “Chronometer” on the dial. After its introduction, Seiko stopped using the label and started implementing the Grand Seiko Standard.[23]

Grand Seiko Timeline

A timeline diagram will show the overlap between models, with an overlap in production between all models.

The 57GS “Self-Dater” was so called because it had a quick set date mechanism. It was the first watch to use a date complication.[3]

The 57GS had four variations: 5722-9990, 5722-9010, 5722-9011, and 5722-9991.  The most common variations are the 5722-9990 and the 5722-9991 models which succeed one another. The 5722-9010 and 5722-9011 are successive gold cap models.

The range’s first model, however, was the Grand Seiko Taiyo 43999 with the 430 movement. The watch features a matte pearl silver sunburst dial, steel baton markers, and steel dauphine hands. The model also has a distinct aperture for the date – a silver steel window frame – at the 3 o’clock mark.[45]

Sunburst dial, and AD symbol

The crown is coarse knurled, although this changed to fine knurled later in the production run.  The image above (and first image on the header) shows a three-pointed star inside a triangle, which is the Applique Dial (AD) symbol. It indicates that Seiko used an applique for the logo rather than printing it on the dial, a technique which wasn’t exclusive to Grand Seiko watches.[45]

Earlier models had the SD symbol, overlapping 4 pointed stars, which indicated a Special dial with gold hour markers.

 

Grand Seiko Movement

Seiko 57GS’s 430 movement and case back with the lion medallion.

The 430 movement was a step up from the 3180 movement in the first Grand Seiko model.

All models of the 43999 have the Chronometer inscription on the dial and have the lion medallion on the case, a Seiko symbol of chronometer grade.

As can be seen above, the Cal. 430 movement 43999 was cased in a heavily lugged stainless steel case with threaded case back and is waterproof to 50 meters.

As the Cal. 430-43999 model was phased out it overlapped with the Cal. 5722 model. The 5722A was the first generation of 5722 which was produced in 1965. The movement operated at 19800 bph. The watch featured the Chronometer label on the dial, while the 5722B had a fine-knurled crown. Both featured the “W SEIKO” imprint on their crowns.[45]

Later in the production run, when the word “Chronometer” was removed from the dial, the case back also changed. The lion medallion was removed, and the case just featured GS. This did not necessarily mean the Grand Seiko model but that the Grand Seiko Standard of movement had been utilised.  There is overlap between the dials with and without Chronometer, and case backs with and without the lion medallion or GS medallion.

Later versions of 5722 did not retain the Chronometer dial legend due to the lack of independent Commission Internationale des Controles Chronometriaues (CICC) certification facilities in Japan.   The model initially used the second Grand Seiko standard of -3 to +8 sec/day introduced in 1961 [53].

By 1966, the GS Standard was implemented on all Grand Seiko watches, setting a higher level of precision and reliability than any yet achieved by Seiko and even higher than the International Chronometer standards.

Today, the Grand Seiko standard remains higher than today’s chronometer standards involving more tests in more positions and more temperatures.

The model is more commonly called the 5722-9990 model (pictured above – 2nd image) and can have a coarse knurled crown or fine knurled crown. It mostly has a lion medallion case back.

Grand Seiko Movement - 5722A

This 5722-9990  model does not have the AD logo, and the movement was engraved 5722A. Both the 430 and 5722A movements were called “tadpole” movements.

Grand Seiko Toshiba 25th Anniv model

A rare Toshiba 25th anniversary with 5722B movement, the lion medallion and a fine knurled crown.  Model 5722-9970.  Case back in Kanji with 1965.  Later versions have GS on the dial, the GS medallion on the back, and 1968.

5722-9970 gs5722-9970 back gs

The 5722B model (third image on heading) generally dispenses with the word “Chronometer” and is known as the Calendar model.  The model number is 5722-9991. The caseback is the GS medallion.  It had GS Standard official approval and operated at 19,800 bph. It also featured coarse knurled and fine knurled crowns.

Grand Seiko 5722B

This has rack and pinion regulation, not tadpole regulation.

Grand Seiko: An Early GS model

An early GS which was a crossover from a KS, GS on the face but with a KS back

The 5722-9010 model was a gold cap version of the 5722-9991. This model is rare and the case back reads GC.

Grand Seiko 5722-9010

The 5722-9010 gold cap model with the lion medallion back

The 5722-9010 pictured above was a more heavily gold plated model. The variant below is another gold cap version with white dial and gold markings. This has the GS back and reads CAP GOLD.

Grand Seiko 5722-9011

THE 44GS MODEL

Grand Seiko 44GS

King Seiko Chronometer (4420A) 44GS Grand Seiko (4420B) and the 4420 – 9990 Gold Cap.  The Gold Cap model remains similar to the 57 GS series.

Daini Seikosha released the 44GS in 1964 as a King Seiko Chronometer initially, but because of its appeal and growing reputation as an accurate chronometer in 1966, it became the 44GS Grand Seiko.

Taro Tanaka, Seiko’s first hired graduate of a College Design Program came up with design rules which eventually came to be known as the “Grammar of Design” at Seiko. He wanted Seiko watches to sparkle brilliantly when on display and without any distortions.

The rules were:

  1. Perfectly flat surfaces and angles for cases, dials, hands, indexes
  2. Two Dimensional faceted curves for the bezel
  3. All distortion should be eliminated from the dial, hands, indexes and case, the finishing of the dial and case should be a mirror finish so it shines and sparkles
  4. No more round cases, a unique case design

Grand Seiko: King Seiko

Only Grand and King Seiko watches benefited from this design as the new case design required very expensive and labour intensive polishing and finishing. This is what makes the 44GS so special along with it being the first Grand Seiko made by the Daini factory and the first time the GS logo appeared at 6 on the dial.

The first models had DIASHOCK on the dial, and did not have the Daini logo.

4420-9000 diashock GS

Later models just had the Daini logo.

The difference in Movement between 44GS Grand Seiko (4420B) and the King Seiko Chronometer (4420A) is the control device for the second hand. The case design was changed to emphasize the beauty of a straight line. This formed the basis of later models, 45GS and 61GS.

4420-9000 case GS

Production was limited and models are rare.

The back lid is a screwback type and it guaranteed 50 m depth waterproof.

Short lug or pillowcase style and only stainless steel models of this type were produced. No date facility.

Grand Seiko 44GS Movement

The 4420A movement for the King Chronometer (left) and the 4420B for the 44GS Grand Seiko (right)

THE 62GS MODEL

Grand Seiko 62GS

The 62GS and its four variations (from left to right): 6245 – 9000 and 6245 – 9001 both with day complications; 6246 – 9000 and 6246 – 9001 with day/date complications

By early 1966, the Grand Seiko line would have two manual-wound chronometers, the Self-Date 5722 and the no-date 44GS as seen above. With the Japanese’s exclusion from eligibility for a COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) certification, Seiko would, later on, have to rebrand this model that would become the 62GS.

This Grand Seiko model was originally called the Seikomatic Chronometer and housed an automatic movement, the calibre 6200, introduced in 1966. Seiko was forced to drop the word “chronometer” as a result of the Swiss COSC’s appeal to the watch manufacturer’s self-certification of chronometer ratings.  These Seikomatic Chronometer models were the 6245 – 9000 model which is pictured above on the left with a  day complication and the 6246 – 9000 model which is day/date.

These had Chronometer and Seikomatic Diashock 35 Jewels on the dial and Chronometer 35 Jewels engraved on the movement rotor.

Both of the  Seikomatic chronometers had a back case reading Seiko within a lion medallion, and these models are commonly referred to as Lion Medallion models to distinguish them from the 62GS.

The rebranded Seikomatic Chronometers were then launched in July 1966 as the 62GS and came in two models: the 6245-9001 and the 6246-9001.

The 6245-9001 had a 35 jewel automatic movement and featured a date complication while the 6246-9001 had 39 jewels with both date and day complications. Both models oscillated at 19,800 bph. In terms of design, these new models were considered to be on the high-end side with its bezel-free case construction, a mirrored, multi-faceted case, and Grand Seiko’s highly-regarded “Zaratsu” polishing. It is distinguished by a flush-mounted crown at 4 and a contoured case.  The crown position was at 4 and “hidden” to emphasise that the watch was automatic and did not need a winding crown.

Grand Seiko 62GS

This is the 6245 – 9001 model with a faceted case

This line had four variations: 6245-9000, 6245-9001, 6246-9000, and 6246-9001.   The models 6245-9000 and 6246-9000 are not Grand Seiko models, but are closely related, and are known as Lion Medallion models.

Grand Seiko 62GS

The 6245 – 9001  dispenses with Chronometer and Seikomatic and  has GS and Grand Seiko badging.

Grand Seiko 6245-9001 movement

The engraving Chronometer has been removed from the rotor.

The 6245 -9001 has the GS caseback but some lion case backs may exist as part of the transition from the 9000 model.

Grand Seiko 6246 - 9000 back

The 6246 – 9000 model (see the third image on the header) is again branded Chronometer and for this model, Seikomatic was written in script. Also, the word “Chronometer” is inscribed in its rotor. The model has the lion medallion caseback.

Grand Seiko 6246 - 9001

This has Chronometer on the rotor.

The 6246 – 9001(pictured above, fourth image) has GS and Grand Seiko badging, but some models carry the lion medallion on the back, despite the dial clearly being Grand Seiko.

A gold cap model below with GOLD CAP and the GS medallion on the case back.

THE 61GS MODEL

Seiko 61GS

Seiko 61GS basic models: 1) 6145A, 2) 6146A, 3) 6185A, 4)6155A, 5) 6156A, 6) 6185B, and 7) 6186B

Another line of automatic watches, the 61GS family, featured higher alterations and were called “Automatic Hi-Beat.” These watches came out in the late 1960s and had the Seiko 6100 movement at 21,000 bph. The 61GS has 20 variations: 6145-8000, 6145-8020, 6145-8050, 6146-8000, 6146-8010, 6146-8020, 6146-8030, 6146-8040, 6146-8050, 6185-8010, 6185-8020, 6185-8021, 6185-7000, 6155-8000, 6156-8000, 6156-8001, 6156-8010, 6156-8020, 6156-8040, and 6186-8000.

V.F.A (Very Fine Adjusted) models boasted accuracy of one minute per month for the first two years of ownership

There were 36,000 watches produced for these two models, in line with the 36,000 bph engineering in the movement.

The seven basic 61GS models were as follows:

6145A (1968-1970) – GS standard official approval, date only
6146A (1968-1970) – GS standard official approval, day/date

Ordinary 61GS models have a 4 in the third digit, and are 614x movements, regulated to the Grand Seiko standard of -3/+5 sec/day.

6155A (1970-1973) – GS Special standard official approval, date only
6156A (1970-1973) – GS Special standard official approval, day/date

The Special 61GS models, have a 5 in the third digit, utilising either the 6155A or 6156A movements, and were introduced in late 1970 for a 10,000 Yen premium.  These movements were regulated to the Grand Seiko Special standard of -/+3 sec/day.  Special features on the dial.

6185A (1969-1972) – V.F.A., date only
6185B (circa 1972-1975) – V.F.A., date only
6186B (1972-1975) – V.F.A., day/date

The VFA (Very Fine Adjusted) movements have an 8 in the third digit and achieve -/+2 sec/day accuracy.

The movement is one of Seikos finest, a 25 jewel automatic hi-beat that operates at 36,000bph, made at their Suwa factory. It can also be wound manually and has a hacking feature. It is finished to a high level, with a nicely decorated rotor. The 61GS movement achieved the Seiko internal GS standard approval, which was adjusted to be within -3/+5 sec/day when it left the factory. The Special standard watches, on the other hand, achieved -/+ 3 sec/day.  It is based on the 61 SeikoMatic 5 movement and was engineered with technology developed from data from the Astronomical Observatory Concours competitions that Seiko did extremely well in during the late 1960s.

6145-8000

The early 6145-8000 model had Grand Seiko written on the silver dial which was marked 8000TAD at 6 o’clock.   The movement was marked 6154A and both GS (sometimes) and Grand Seiko on the rotor.    There was a gold cap version of this model also.   The chapter ring is dotted and is outside the indexes.

Later models had automatic under Seiko and also dispensed with Grand Seiko and had Hi Beat 36000 instead, and 8010TAD at the bottom of the dial.  The rotor was marked Seiko.

 

Grand Seiko 6145 - 8000

The 6145 – 8000 was a date only model. The stainless steel model had 8010TAD on the dial and 8000 on the case.

Grand Seiko 6145 - 8000
6145 – 8000 versions, from left to right: Gold cap version which had 8010TAD on the dial and either STAINLESS STEEL or CAP GOLD and a medallion on the case; Gold plated version which had 8015TKT on the dial and 18K on the case back which was flat and had no medallion; and cross-patterned version with different raised index markers and 8030TAD on the dial.  On this model the chapter ring is between the indexes with alternate long and short tick marks.
Grand Seiko 61GS
Another cross-patterned version of the 6145-8000
A grey dial version with 8040T on the dial and with baton hands and raised index markers and chapter ring inside the indexes, similar to the 6145-8020 model below was also produced.
6145-8040 Seiko

6145-8020

The 6145 – 8020 was a pillowcase style with curious rectangular or baton hands. The case was similar to the Astron, but with a more rectangular style. (On December 25, 1969, Seiko marketed the world’s first quartz watch, the Seiko Quartz Astron).

Black and grey dial versions also were produced.

The case back has a medallion and is marked STAINLESS STEEL 6145-8020.

Grand Seiko 6145 - 8020

6145-8020 in different dial colours

 

6145-8030

An Astron type case model with hammered or bark 18K yellow gold and linen dial marked 8050TKT was also available in limited quantities. The case back is marked 18K 6145-8030, without a medallion.  The dial is either silver or gold.  Silver case models are rare.

6145-8050

Grand Seiko 6145-8050

The 6145 -8050 model had a hardened stainless steel folded case and had only the words Hi-beat on the dial, not the 36000 (bph).  The case back is engraved STAINLESS STEEL 6145-8050 and features the GS medallion.

This was the only calibre 61 Grand Seiko to feature a green dial. The hardlex crystal could be faceted.    Black and grey dial versions also were produced.

6146-8000

The 6146 – 8000 was the day-date version of the 6145 – 8000.

The early 6146-8000 model is similar to the corresponding 6145 – 8000 model and had Grand Seiko written on the silver dial which was marked 8000TAD at 6 o’clock.

 

Later models have Automatic, Hi-Beat and 36000 on the silver dial which reads 6146-8020TAD

Grand Seiko 6146-8000

Grand Seiko with box

Grand Seiko 6146-8000 Gold Cap version Gold cap version above with GOLD CAP on the case back.

Below is the cross dial version, with different raised indexes, and the dial reads 8030TAD

Grand Seiko 6146 - 8010

6146 – 8010

The 6146-8010 has a sapphire faceted crystal, and “flower carvings” around the GS marking on the dial.   The case came as gold, and stainless steel.

6146 – 8020

The 6146 – 8020 is shown below with rectangular case and was produced a variety of dials, including a tea-stained colour.  Hands were baton-style on some models with raised indices, and line minute divisions on a chapter ring inside the indexes.

Grand Seiko 6146-8020 Rectangular

6146 – 8030

The 6146-8030 below is an Astron style golf ball dimpled or bark finish version with an 18K yellow gold case, and starlight dial.    Silver cases with a gold finis bezel were also available.

Grand Seiko 6146-8010 Astron style

6146 – 8040

The 6146 – 8040 has a polished stainless steel case and a rare starlight dial.

6146 – 8050

This model had a hard steel folded casing and faceted crystal and various dial colours. These models have different raised indexes, a chapter ring inside the indexes, more baton-like hands and do not carry the 36,000 on the dial, but do have hi-beat engraved.   The case is shared with the VFA model.

Grand Seiko 6146-8050

6146-8050 and its dial colour variations (White, black, and blue)

6185 – 8010

6185 vfa grand seiko ad

VFA movement.  These models were put together by master watchmakers using selected parts and were accurate to +/- 2 sec/day.

Considered the best 61GS, the V.F.A. model had a Mean Monthly rate of +/- 60 seconds over the first two years. This translates to an accuracy of +/-2 sec/day compared to an ordinary 61GS at -3/+6 sec/day.

Characteristic of this model is: no VFA on the dial, a palladium case (hammered finish), no GS on the case back and thin pencil hands.

Grand Seiko

6185-8020

Grand Seiko 6185 - 8020

6185-8020 (pictured above): The first model has VFA on the dial, thin indexes and long thin hands. The second model has high raised indexes, and shorter hands as the hands are level with the indexes. Maybe this represents the transition to the 6185B movement from the 6185A movement, but both movements are used in this model, and VFA appears on the earlier model dials. Also shown in the image above is the watch’s VFA movement which is red gold plated.

Grand Seiko 6185 - 8020

A 6185-8020 model without the VFA wording on the dial

6185 – 8021

The hard stainless steel model, with raised indexes and 6185B movement. Grand Seiko 6185 - 8021

Grand Seiko 6185-8021

6185 – 7000

A 18K VFA gold model, with champagne or cream linen cloth finish to the dial.  Thin indexes and long hands.  Marking on the dial is 7000TKT, and the caseback has no medallion.

 

6155 – 8000

Rated accurate to +/- 3 sec/day, and has “Special” written in gold on the dial. The 6155 is a day model, with the 6155A movement.

It has thin elongated bar indices and thin hands like VFA model above, which makes this a very elegant watch.

Grand Seiko 6155 - 8000

6156 – 8000

The 6156-8000 is the day/date version of the 6155-8000

Grand Seiko 6156-8000

6156 – 8001

Grand Seiko 6156-8001

6156 – 8010

The 6156-8010 SPECIAL is made of HSS (Hard Stainless Steel) and has a 3 sided faceted sapphire crystal as shown in the images below:

Grand Seiko 6156-8010

6156 – 8020

This was a GOLD CAP version marked SPECIAL in gold.

6156 – 8040

No lugged case, with a brushed finish.   Medallion case back.

Grand Seiko 6156 - 8020

 

6186-8000

This model had the 6186B movement and is very rare selling for $10,000 to $20,000.

The feature of the watch, apart from the movement, is the deeply recessed dial, with tall indices.

 

 

The watch also features highly distinctive dial, markers, hands and case. The tall dark slate grey applied markers stand tall. To make room for these high markers, the hour, minute and seconds hands are kept short – rather than float over the markers, they pass short of them. The dial is a fine sunburst silver.

 

Grand Seiko Parts

THE 45GS MODEL

Grand Seiko 45GS

Another line with the “Hi-Beat”  branding  followed the 61GS line featured the hand-wound Seiko 4500 movement. The late 1960’s manual timepieces had improved to 36,000 bph and thus were called “Manual Hi-Beat”.  Eleven variations are included in this line: 4520-7000, 4520-7010, 4520-8000, 4520-8010, 4520-8020, 4522-7000, 4522-7010, 4522-8000, 4522-8010, 4580-7000, and 4580-7010. The 4520-8020 is the only watch in the series to be Astronomical Observatory Chronometer Officially Certified.

The 45GS is one of the Grand Seiko models that housed the movement developed by Daini Seikosha at the astronomical observatory Concours. The other GS models that benefited from the technology were the King Seiko Chronometer and the King Seiko.

In 1968, Daini Sheikosha submitted 103 entries of its cal. 4520 to the Neuchâtel Observatory for chronometer certification. Swiss observatory chronometry trials were considered important and prestigious events in the watch industry at that time. These high beat movements ran at 36,000 bph as with the other prize-winning chronometers. Of these 103 watches, 73 passed as observatory chronometer-certified and the 4520-8020 is one of these 73.

In 1969 and 1970, a further 180 cal. 4580 movements were submitted and 153 passed as observatory chronometer certified.

All 226 certified models were made available to the public.[55]

 

The calibre variants were:

4500   KS
4502   KS
4520A – GS standard official approval, No date
4522A – GS standard official approval, Date
4580 – V.F.A., Date
4520A – Astronomical Observatory Chronometer official approval, No date

4520 – 7000

The first model in the series is the 4520 – 7000.

The 4520A series did not have a date, and this model had a “folded” case.

It came in both Gold Cap and stainless steel with navy, and white linen look dials.

The stainless steel model is shown below.

Grand Seiko 4520-7000

Other variants include navy – dialled versions and a gold-capped version with linen dial.

Grand Seiko 4520-7000 Black and Gold variants

4520 – 7010

This is again the no date 4520A movement in a more oval shaped, rounded case, with a brushed finish.  The dial was either plain or had 36000 on the dial.

Grand Seiko 4520-7010

4520 – 8000

Short lugged steel case following the grammar of design, which also came in Gold Cap.

Grand Seiko 4520-8000

 

4520 – 8010

Unique linen case 18 k pure gold model with a white dial.

Grand Seiko 4520-8010

This model is shown on the right below.

45 GS Seiko

4522 – 7000

The next model in the 45GS  date series is the 4522 – 7000

The 4522A calibre models had a date complication.

This came in stainless steel and gold cap with a variety of dials, white satin, black, and a cream linen look.

The case was a turtle shape with a “fold” at the lugs.

Grand Seiko 4522-7000

Grand Seiko 4522A (from left to right): Stainless steel cap variant, Gold cap version with linen dial, Stainless steel cap version with black dial

 

Stainless model with linen dial

4522 – 7010

This has a more rounded brushed steel case and is a rarer model.

It was called the  “Linear Beauty”, and has very thin hands.

It was the first GS with sapphire glass, and like the 4520-7010 model was either with, or without, 36000 0n the dial.

Grand Seiko 4522-7010

 

4522 – 8000

A more traditional short lugged case, as for the 4520-8000 version.

Grand Seiko 4522-8000

4522-8000 in stainless steel and gold cap versions.  A comemmorative Toshiba employee model was made and is rarely found.

4522-800 toshiba gs

4522 – 8010

Grand Seiko 4522-8010This model has a linen surface in 18K yellow gold, with a white dial.

 

The case is the same as that used in the legendary 4520-8020 Astronomical Observatory Chronometer (“AOC”), below.

4520 – 8020

This is a Chronometer certified model with a silver linen woven dial.  Very rare as only 123 were produced. Many of those which passed the Neuchatel standard and then was sold to the public had daily deviation of +/- 0.175 sec/day[55].

Grand Seiko 4520 - 8020

4580 – 7000

The model is shown below on the right, with a 6185 VFA model on the left.

4580 vfa grand seiko

This model is an extremely rare VFA watch and very difficult to produce, and kept an accuracy of +/- 2 sec/day and +/- 60 sec/month for 2 years.   Between 1969 and 1970 Seiko sold only 153 Cal 4580 watches as 4580-7000 or 4580-7010.[55}

Grand Seiko 4580-7000

The 4580-7000 with black dial and the Daini symbol

4580 – 7010

Grand Seiko 4580 - 7010

Grand Seiko: King Seiko 4580 VFA

A very rare 4580-7010 VFA

The movement shown below.

 

THE 19GS MODEL

Grand Seiko 19GS

Another line of GS watches, the 19GS, is dubbed as the “Grand Seiko for Women”. Produced in the late 1960s to the early 1970s, the 19GS has three variations: Cal. 1984 VFA grade L4A, Cal. 1964 grade L3A, and Cal. 1944 grade L2A. The last 4 in the model number indicates no date.

Grand Seiko 19GS

The Cal 19 Hi-Beat was the first ladies size mechanical watch worldwide to run at 36,000 bph. It is shown below beside the Lord Marvel, the first Seiko watch to run at 36,000 bph.

Grand Seiko Cal 19 Hi-Beat

The 1944 – 0012 model does not carry Grand Seiko and is sometimes dubbed a Queen Seiko.

Grand Seiko 1944-0012

1944 – 0020

This model was produced in 1969 and carries the CHRONOMETER designation, the first Japanese ladies model to do so.

 

1964 – 0010

This model has dauphine hands similar to the 62GS, and carries GS on the dial and caseback. Other models with pencil hands were produced.

Grand Seiko 1964-0010

1984 – 3000

Grand Seiko 1984-3000

Below is a ladies GS model found on the Grand Seiko website but without a model number, somewhat similar to the 6245 GS :

Grand Seiko Hi Beat

THE 56GS MODEL

Grand Seiko 56GS

Finally, the last line, 56GS, was often referred to as “Ultra Thin”. It includes 18 variations: 5641-5000, 5641-7005, 5641-7000, 5645-5000, 5645-7005, 5645-8000, 5645-5010, 5645-7000, 5645-7010, 5646-5010, 5646-7010, 5646-7000, 5646-7005, 5646-7011, 5646-7020, 5646-7030, 5646-7040, and 5646-8000.

Suwa Seikosha Co: 25jewels: Automatic

  • 5641 A — GS standard official approval. 28,800bph. 25j NO DATE
  • 5645 A — GS standard official approval. 28,800bph. 25j DATE
  • 5646 A — GS standard official approval. 28,800bph. 25j DAY/DATE

Most of the 56GS production process was automated beginning in the 1970s. The precision level suffered as a result of this transition, with a decrease in movement speed from 36,000 bph to 28,800 bph. The reliability level, on the other hand, increased and some people even consider the 28,800 bph to be the best speed for a watch movement, with its balance of maintenance, reliability and precision. As these were mass produced, it is easy to get maintenance parts for the 56GS even now, 40 years after its production, making it the most reliable of all the Grand Seiko models produced in the past.  A slightly less finely tuned calibre 56 movement was also used in King Seiko and Lordmatics.

5641-5000

Hammered 18K yellow gold  tonneau case with gold dial above and champagne dial below in brushed or bark pattern.

 

5645 – 5000

This was the date model of the model above, same style, and both gold and champagne dials.

Grand Seiko 5645-5000

5641-7000

A turtle shaped brushed case was used for this model.

All these 7000  and 7005 models had the Seiko GS medallion in gold on the back.

Dials are various, silver white, black, dark blue.

Grand Seiko 5641-7000

with 5645-7000 and 5646-7000 being the day and day/date versions.

Another Toshiba comemmorative model dated 1973 was made 5641-7000.

5641-7000 toshiba gs

5645-7000

Grand Seiko 5645-7000

Grand Seiko 56GS

5646-7000

Grand Seiko 5646-7000

5641-7005

Model  5641-7005 is the gold version with a linen dial, no date.

Grand Seiko 5641-7005

5645-7005

5645-7005 is the date version.    Plain dials also exist.

 

5646-7005

5646-7005 the day/date version (pictured below). The case is marked 18K, gold filled.

Grand Seiko 5646-7005

5645-5010

A square or tonneau case, with either stick indices or Roman numerals with a mottled dial.

Grand Seiko 5645-5010

5646-5010

The day/date 5646-5010 is similar to the above model.

Grand Seiko 5646-5010

Black face and Gold Cap version, Roman Numeral Version, and the 5456-5010 caseback with the GS logo

5645-7010

This is a more classical shape, with thin bar indices, thin hands, one of the most prolific GS models.   Dials varied, silver, white, black and navy.   Gold cap models existed.

 

Grand Seiko 5645-7010

5646-7010

Day/date version of the model above.   Similar dial variations.

Grand Seiko 5646-7010

A gold cap version with white dial

5646-7011

Silver, and more rarely white dials

Grand Seiko 5646-7011

5645-8000

Date model, but now a pillowcase style with straight ends, no lugs.

This photograph shows clearly one of the design features of the 56GS.  The hour hand has a thin black line down the center, and the second hand does not have a hole for mounting.   Grey, blue, silver and white dials are seen.

Grand Seiko 5645-8000

5646-8000

Day/date model with pillowcase style, 35mm diameter.   The bezel and the sides of the case are polished but the lug sides of the pillowcase have a brushed finish.    A grey linen dial model is shown in the centre below. Off white dials also existed.  The strap is made of small cubes.

Grand Seiko 5646-8000

An 18K Gold model above which did not have the GS medallion.  Dial marked 8000TKT.

5646-7020

A pillowcase model with tall indices.  The case is polished with a central fold line.  Only in a green dial.


Grand Seiko 5646-7020

The crystal has a 9 facet cut.

5646-7030

Grand Seiko 5646-7030

The 5646-7030 has pencil thin hands and also had a Gold Cap version.  The dial is sand finished and has 5646-7040T written on it at 6 o’clock.

5646-7040

A Stainless steel watch with Arabic numerals.  The bezel not polished and has a sand finish, while the dial has a variegated finish and reads 5646-7050T.

Grand Seiko 5646-7040

In all, the Grand Seiko series has 58 main variations. These feature different cases, case shapes, case-back and medallion, movement, dial, dial badge, crown imprint, and crown placement.

MOVEMENTS OF GRAND SEIKO

Seiko started with a manual movement for the Grand Seiko before releasing the series first automatic watch. The series used both mechanical and quartz movements.[15] The Grand Seiko had a total of 22 movements.

The first Grand Seiko featured a hand-winding movement CAL. 3180 at 18,000 bph, 25 functional jewels, and a hairspring that was developed in-house.[16]

The hand-winding movement continued with the Self Dater line which has 35 jewels. The line featured two movements, CAL. 5722 A and 5722 B. The former is 18,000 bph based on Seiko’s internal chronometer declaration, while the latter is 19,800 bph with GS standard official approval.

In The Grammar of Design, Daini added a hand-winding movement, CAL. 4420 B, set at 18,000 bph. [3] The movement was also used for Daini’s first King Seiko.

The 62GS or Self Winding was the first Grand Seiko manual chronograph. It had two movements (CAL. 6245 A and 6246 A), 26 jewels, and was set at 18,000 bph.

The 6200 movement was replaced by the much-faster Automatic Hi-Beat (36,000 bph), featuring a self-winding Seiko 6100 movement (CAL. 6145 A, 6146 A, 6185 A, 6185 B, 6155 A, 6156 A, and 6186 B) which had a power reserve of 46 hours or almost two days. However, creating the movement entailed too much labor so the company mechanized it the following year. The movement was used again in the 1975 Seiko 6159A movement and 6159B for a 600m diver. [3]

The Seiko 4500 movement (CAL. 4522 A, 4580/VFA, 4520 A) that powered the 45GS line was created to replace Daini’s 4440. [3] It is also the same movement in King Seiko 45KS. [3]

The 19GS family had a hand-winding movement (CAL. 1984 VFA grade L4A, CAL. 1964 grade L3A, and CAL. 1944 grade L2A), but the 56GS line (CAL. 5641, 5645 A, and 5646 A) that followed featured a self-winding Seiko 5600 movement.

Finally, the last GS line 56GS (CAL. 5641 A, 5645 A, and 5646 A) had a self-winding Seiko 5600 movement that first appeared in the 1968 Lord Marvel. Backed with 47 hours of power reserve, it was the movement of other watches until 1976, including the King Seiko 56KS, Seiko Duotime, Seiko Chronometer, and Lord Matic timepieces. [3]

[table id=10 /]

COMPLICATIONS

Some watches of the Grand Seiko series have complications, but the original GS launched with none. So did The Grammar of Design, the Grand Seiko for Women, Manual Hi-Beat CAL 4580/VFA and CAL. 4520, and the Ultra Thin CAL. 5641 A.

The first complication was introduced in the Self Dater line, with CAL. 5722A or “Taiyo”. The Self Daters, and the rest that followed featured a date indicator, except CAL. 6246 A, 6146 A, 6156 A, 6156 B, and 5646 A which had Day/Date indicators.

DIALS[17-40]

The many variations in the Grand Seiko series can be characterized by their dial colors, dial badge, stick markers[41], and case-back medallion, among other things. The series, however, lacks lume[42] and subdials[4].

DIAL COLORS

The original Grand Seiko CAL. 3180 came in two dial colors, plain white and silver sunburst. The latter is prominent from in the 57GS, 44GS, and 62GS lines.

Watch collectors should note that model 6145-8050 has a green dial color which is rare. Models 6146-8020 and 4522-7000 with a black dial, 6146-8040 with a starlight dial, and 6146-8050 with a blue dial are also rare specimens of this series.

HANDS

Grand Seiko watches consistently had dauphine hand style, but later on, Seiko added obelisque and index/fils. The latter two were introduced in the Automatic Hi-Beat GS watches and lasted until Seiko ended production of the vintage GS line.

Model 6146-8030 is also said to have gold-plated hands.

DIAL BADGE

The dial badge features a specific set of words and special logos, some of which are distinct to a specific line, movement, or model. Here are the highlights.

The “Grand Seiko” moniker can only be seen in the Grand Seiko CAL. 3180, in 62GS CAL. 6245 A, 61GS CAL. 6185 A and CAL. 6185 B, and in models 6186-8000, 4580-7000, and 5722-9990.

Meanwhile, the “Chronometer” marking is only sported by four  models: Grand Seiko CAL. 3180, 5722-9990, and 6245-9000 and 6246-9000 in transition.

“Diashock” is featured in the dial badge of the first GS through the 62GS line.

The 61GS and the 56GS lines have the Suwa logo, while the 45GS line has the Daini logo. Also in the 61GS movement, Seiko started to use “Hi beat” on the dial, which signified that the watches had higher frequency of beats than the average watches available during that time.[14]

Manual Hi-Beat model 4520-8020 is the only watch in the entire series to have the inscription “Astronomical Observatory Chronometer Officially Certified” in its dial badge. The Daini logo and “Seiko” also appear in the watch’s face.

The entire 56GS line is characterized by a dial badge that has the Suwa logo and the words “Seiko,” “Automatic,” “GS,” and “Hi beat.”

CASES[17-40]

The Grand Seiko series cases measured 31-38mm x 40-44mm, excluding crown. They are screwback and have “water-resistance to 50m depth” or “water-proof” (44GS and 19GS) inscribed on them.

Seiko started out making the cases round, but introduced cushion in model 6145-8020. It also used tonneau in models 5641-5000 and 5645-5000, while models 5645-5010 and 5646-5010 had square cases.

MATERIAL

Seiko initially started using a stainless steel case for its watches and only added gold details later on. From the first Grand Seiko to the 62GS line, Seiko used a pure stainless steel case. It also used stainless steel for its 19GS and 19GS VFA.

Toward the end of the series’ production, Seiko started to feature gold cap or gold plating. A total of eight variations of the 61GS, 45GS, and 56GS families included either of these features, including 18-karat gold for models 6185-7000, 4520-8010, 4520-8020, 5641-5000, 5641-7005, 5645-5000, 5645-7005, and 5646-700. Three models, 6146-8000, 6156-8020, and 4520-7000, feature a gold cap. Meanwhile, 6145-8000 is available in gold and stainless steel.

CASE-BACK MEDALLION

The original Grand Seiko CAL. 3180 and the three models that followed (5722-9990, 5722-9010, and 5722-9011), as well as 6246-9000, all featured a lion emblem. Seiko used the emblem to denote “chronometer-grade.”[43]

All the rest featured “GS”, except CAL. 6185 A, CAL. 6185 B, CAL. 4580/VFA, and in models 4520-8010, 5641-5000, 5641-7005, 5645-5000, 5645-7005, 5645-5010, and 5646-7005.

GRAND SEIKO’S CROWN IMPRINT

Although most models were unsigned, a number of watches in the Grand Seiko range had crown imprints.

The original Grand Seiko CAL. 3180 had “S”, while the 57GS movement had “w seiko”. The 44GS, 61GS, and most of 45GS and 56GS movements had Original signed “GS”. Model 4520-7000 featured “G”, while models 4520-8020 and 5646-8000 were unsigned. Meanwhile, model 5645-5000 featured “GS” and the Japanese flag.

Also notable is the crown placement in model 6245-9000, which is set at 4 o’clock.

CRYSTAL AND BEZELS

Only three models have crystals and bezels in the entire Grand Seiko range. Both belong to the 61GS line. Two models, 6146-8030 and 6185-7000, sport gold-plated bezels. The former also features a plexi glass crystal instead of acrylic, which Seiko mainly used for its watch glass. Another model, 6146-8010, comes with a sapphire crystal.[44]

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

Watch collectors have to understand that the Grand Seiko range is a luxury line with only limited quantities produced. It is considered to be Seiko’s signature watch. As such, prices of these watches today typically run near or in the thousands of dollar range, depending on condition.[45,46]

START WITH

The Grand Seiko range is noted for its accurate movement. The least accurate among the GS watches has a higher rating than “almost every other brand’s best”,[11] which is great for collectors. Watch enthusiasts who want to start their own Grand Seiko collection can basically pick any of the many variations available. They would still end up with a very accurate watch.

However, for those unsure which model to pick, the original Grand Seiko (Cal. 3180) and the Hi-Beat watches (Cal. 6145A, 6146A, 6155A, 6156A, 5641A, 5645A, and 5646A) are great places to start.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Those looking for something more unique should go for those models with the rare dial colors, case-back medallion, shape, or crown imprint.

As a refresher, GS model 6145-8050, 6146-8020, 4522-7000, 6146-8040, and 6146-8050 all feature rare dial colors. Meanwhile, models 5722-9990, 5722-9010, 5722-9011, and 6246-9000 are the only Grand Seiko watches with the lion emblem. Model 5645-5000 is the only one to feature the Japanese flag in its crown imprint, while models 5641-5000 and 5645-5000 have tonneau cases and models 5645-5010 and 5646-5010 have square cases.

THE GRAIL

Those looking for the most valuable GS watch should look no further than “The Grammar of Design” (44GS Cal. 4420B). This is the model that’s most remembered when talking about the Grand Seiko line. The watch’s design is even called the “Grand Seiko Style”, and Tanaka’s design is so iconic that all Seiko products that were released afterward emulated it. This is a certified must-have for any watch collector.

In design, construction, finish and quality, the 61GS easily compares and stands tall with any of its contemporaries. While the Omega Constellation, Rolex Oyster Perpetual and Longines Flagship might garner more attention, the Grand Seikos are just as good in all aspects if not better. Vintage Grand Seikos represent an amazing value for a hi-end dress watch. Because they were not marketed to the US in the 1960s, they can be more difficult to find these days than their Swiss counterparts. That said, they can be had with patience and perseverance. A nice example of a 61GS can be found anywhere from $800 to $1500 depending on condition and seller/market. I know that many people dismiss the notion of a hi-end Seiko, but once you hold one of these in your hands, you can instantly recognize the inherent quality. They are a classy, well designed, engineered and executed watch, true high art horology.

From The Spring Bar Store:

 

References:

  1. http://www.ablogtowatch.com/love-grand-seiko-timeless-luxury-watches-explains/
  2. http://vintageseikoblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Grand%20Seiko
  3. http://www.watch-wiki.net/
  4. http://www.grand-seiko.com/about/history.php
  5. http://www.seiyajapan.com/pages/the-history-of-grand-seiko
  6. https://monochrome-watches.com/seikos-affinity-to-hi-beat-movement-part-one/
  7. http://seikousa.com/collections/grand%20seiko/
  8. http://forum.watch.ru/attachment.php?attachmentid=125438&d=1304617320
  9. http://www.grand-seiko.com/sp/collection/62gs/
  10. http://www.watch-wiki.net/index.php?title=Grand_Seiko
  11. http://www.ablogtowatch.com/love-grand-seiko-timeless-luxury-watches-explains/
  12. http://www.grand-seiko.com/about/
  13. http://wristreview.com/?p=3194
  14. http://www.timeandwatches.com/2015/04/grand-seiko-62gs-historical-collection.html
  15. http://www.timelessluxwatches.com/reviews/quick-guide-all-grand-seiko
  16. http://museum.seiko.co.jp/en/history/milestone/heritage/index.html
  17. http://seikoholics.yuku.com/sreply/170/Seiko-Grand-Seiko-automatic-Ad-scans#.VnI3nUp9600
  18. http://www.seiyajapan.com/pages/the-history-of-grand-seiko
  19. http://watchopenia.blogspot.com/2010/09/grand-seiko-5646-7000.html
  20. http://timekeeper.co.nz/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=333
  21. https://www.reddit.com/r/Watches/comments/33vxtx/seiko_1967_grand_seiko_44209000_the_first_watch/
  22. https://www.reddit.com/r/Watches/comments/1asyvm/grand_seiko_61458000_my_first_vintage_watch/
  23. http://forums.watchuseek.com/f21/king-seiko-45-caliber-4500-a-332836.html
  24. http://www.roachman.com/private.html
  25. http://seikoholics.yuku.com/sreply/174/Seiko-Grand-Seiko-handwind#.VnN6Dfl9600
  26. http://www.ebay.ph/itm/Vintage-1965-JAPAN-GRAND-SEIKO-5722-9990-35Jewels-Hand-winding-/262190915823?hash=item3d0bcbe0ef:g:H9EAAOSwNphWWwwr
  27. http://antiquewatchat.blogspot.com/2014/01/grand-seiko-diashock-6245-9000-gs17-rare.html
  28. https://adventuresinamateurwatchfettling.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/the-first-automatic-grand-seiko-the-6245-9001/
  29. http://forums.timezone.com/index.php?t=msg&goto=3944043&rid=16535
  30. http://www.tempusdomains.com/index.php?cat=82&page=3
  31. http://www.iishop.co.jp/seikovfa27292largeinen.htm
  32. http://wristsushi.proboards.com/thread/6859/rare-seiko-gs-fine-adjusted
  33. http://forums.timezone.com/index.php?t=msg&goto=3944043&rid=16535
  34. http://www.relojistas.com/threads/16392-Grand-Seiko-6146-8020-pon-una-compresa-de-lujo-en-tu-vida
  35. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rare-Vintage-Seiko-Hi-Beat-Automatic-Grand-Seiko-Mens-Steel-Gold-Watch-6146-8030-/371479543932?hash=item567de8007c%3Ag%3Ake0AAOSwAYtWOI0+2&nma=true&si=AprNjcNIohGxZJ8juTSRi%252BUS1g0%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
  36. http://ninanet.net/watches/others15/Mediums/mseiko5722.html
  37. http://brunoandhancock.blogspot.com/2014/07/vintage-grand-seiko-6145-8000-automatic.html
  38. http://sorethum.blogspot.com/2014/11/cross-hair-grand-seiko-6146-8000-from.html
  39. http://wristsushi.proboards.com/thread/5534/grand-seiko-6146-8020-hibeat
  40. http://jewel-jp.com/?pid=1260828
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  42. http://forums.watchuseek.com/f2/whats-up-lack-lume-grand-seiko-1020708.html
  43. http://www.grand-seiko.com/collection/limited.php
  44. http://wornandwound.com/2014/08/01/affordable-vintage-1970-grand-seiko-61gs-6145-8000/
  45. http://watchopenia.blogspot.com/2013/12/grand-seiko-with-chronometer-certified.html
  46. http://www.ebay.com/bhp/vintage-grand-seiko
  47. http://www.azfinetime.com/seiko-grand-seiko-watch-history/
  48. http://forums.watchuseek.com/f21/three-kings-grand-seiko-919759.html
  49. http://seikoholics.yuku.com/forums/69/Japanese-Watch-Info-Database#.V1E77ZN97BI
  50. https://thewatchbloke.co.uk/2015/12/29/grand-seiko-calibre-3180
  51. http://forums.watchuseek.com/f642/new-arrival-nos-grand-seiko-3180-stainless-steel-2853058.html
  52. http://forums.watchuseek.com/f21/unboxing-platinum-first-model-grand-seiko-2043346.html
  53. http://seikoholics.yuku.com/sreply/170/SEIKO-Brand-Master-Entry-with-marketing-scans
  54. http://vintageseikoblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/reflections-on-1964-cal-43043999-grand.html
  55. http://www.watchprosite.com/page-wf.forumpost/fi-17/ti-756433/pi-5006838/
  56. https://thewatchbloke.co.uk/2016/06/06/grand-seiko-j14070-in-stainless-steel/

 


 

Modern Grand Seiko

In 2011, to mark its 130 anniversary as a company, Seiko created a limited edition reissue of the first Grand Seiko model.

 

In 2013 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its first wristwatch, Seiko remanufactured the 44GS model, the 44GS Historical Collection.  The true reproduction, Grand Seiko SBGW047 is a limited edition of 700 pieces in stainless steel.  

 

Daini Seikosha released the 44GS in 1964 as a King Seiko Chronometer initially, but because of its appeal and growing reputation as an accurate chronometer, in 1966 it became the 44GS Grand Seiko.

Taro Tanaka, designed the watch and his design rules eventually came to be known as the “Grammar of Design” at Seiko.

Only Grand and King Seiko watches benefited from this design as the new case design required very expensive and labour intensive polishing and finishing.

The most attractive element of the 44GS is the angular case, with its broad polished flanks, and a brushed plane in between the lugs.  This watch dial marked the first time the GS logo appeared at 6 on the dial.

SBGW047

The SBGW047 limited edition is faithful to the original, with a 37.9mm case, but because of the new manually wound Grand Seiko 9S64 movement, the 1966 model thickness was 10mm and the SBGW047 is 11.5mm.

 

The Grand Seiko seal on the case back was gold filled in the 1966 model and is stainless steel embossed in the SBGW47 model

 

The 1966 model had acrylic glass and SBGW047 has sapphire crystal.

SBGW047 case back
SBGW047 case back

Additionally, this reissue is also available in white, yellow and rose gold, each limited to 70 pieces. The model references are SBGW043, SBGW044 and SBGW046 respectively. 

SBGW043
SBGW043 in white gold

The white gold SBGW043 model differs from the stainless steel SBGW047 because of its blue accented second hand and GS logo.

The line up is shown below.

4 examples of the 44GS Grand Seiiko linup from 2013
44GS Historical Collection from 2013

 

While there have been many versions of the Grand Seiko since our article on the initial series of watches prior to production ceasing due to the Quartz Crisis, we will cover in this section reinterpretations of the original watches.

The introduction of the 9S55 calibre in 1998 has allowed the development of a whole range of Grand Seiko watches, but we cannot cover them all.

The J14070 with the Cal 3180 movement has been reinterpreted several times.

The earliest versions of the J14070 had Grand Seiko printed in black or carved into the dial, but in 1961 this changed to an applied signature.  These models had Chronometer printed under the signature.   Most of the models were gold filled, but platinum, and now more rarely found stainless steel versions were made.

In 2001 to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Seiko, a 300 piece limited edition of the Grand Seiko, SGBW004 was released in the JDM.   (Grand Seiko models were sold exclusively to the JDM until 2010).

This was a yellow gold model.  The dial has an applied signature and does not have Chronometer printed.  Earlier models of the J14070 had the SD symbol, overlapping 4 pointed stars, which indicated a Special Dial with gold hour markers, and this model continues this tradition.

 

SGBW004 from 2001 limited edition of 300

The movement was the 9s54 from 1998, with 50+ hour reserve.

Then to celebrate the 130th Anniversary, Seiko reinterpreted the J14070 in all the original materials, gold (SBGW040), platinum (SBGW039) and stainless steel (SBGW033).

120th anniversary limited edition case back
120th anniversary limited edition case back

The gold version was a limited edition of 130 watches.

The 9S64 movement was developed for this release and is a 24 jewel movement that uses Spron 510 (an in house developed alloy proprietary to Seiko) mainspring which gives the movement a 72 hour power reserve.

The SBGW040 has what Seiko calls a box-shaped sapphire crystal, while the original had a domed plexiglass as was common for the 1960s.   The 2011 model differs in that the SD symbol is missing, and also has a narrower lug bevel, but a bigger crown.

The platinum version SBGW039 also comes in a 130 piece limited edition.

SBGW040 from 2011 limited edition of 130

This has a silvered second hand.

Stainless steel SBGW033

The SBGW033 was in stainless steel, and 1300 pieces were produced.

The Grand Seiko Rebrand

In 2017 Seiko rebranded Grand Seiko as a brand in its own right.

To celebrate this occasion, Grand Seiko have again released reinterpretations of the first Grand Seiko from 1960, the J14070 with the Cal 3180 movement.

SBGW252 in gold had 353 pieces in limited edition.   The SD symbol has reappered on the dial, indicating gold indices.

sbgw252

The watch is bigger than the original J14070 and the above 2 reeditions, moving from 36mm to 38mm.

Grand Seiko’s own in-house caliber 9S64 manually wound movement is used, delivering 72 hours of timekeeping when fully wound.

There are 1,960 examples in steel, 353 in gold, with subtle design

SBGW251 platinum SBGW252 yellow gold SBGW253 stainless steel

The details that set the platinum SBGW251 apart go beyond the case metal. The dial is made of 18k gold and finished with a radial brushing, while the hour markers are similarly 18k gold.

The Grand Seiko signature is engraved onto the gold dial. The engraved signature is found only on the platinum model, as is the specially regulated movement. The calibre 9S64 inside the platinum version is rated to -1 to +5 seconds day, compared to -3 to +5 seconds for the other two models.

This is the most limited of the limited series, at 136 pieces – in honour of Seiko’s 136th anniversary.

The SBGW033 is similar to its precious metal peers, but the hour markers are steel, explaining the absent SD logo. A blued steel seconds hand is used.

The Grand Seiko lion emblem on the back of the steel watch is a solid gold medallion.

differences between them. But each is a winner. At $5,700, the steel SBGW253 is also one of the year’s best bargains.

Breguet Type 20 Generation 1 Military Issue

 

INTRODUCTION

Breguet Type 20 timeline
Timeline aboBreguet Type 20 ve includes both Civilian and Military models

 

Montres Breguet was founded in 1775 by the great inventor and clockmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823), and had its headquarters in Paris until it moved to Switzerland in the 1970s.

After WWII the French military Ministry of Defence issued a specification, Breguet Type 20, for aviator watches, and asked manufacturers to respond to the tender.

Breguet was on such responder and won the tender for a large number of the watches.

Six manufacturers were selected to supply these watches with four still making and selling watches: Breguet, Dodane, Auricoste and Vixa.   Vixa used a Hanhart calibre 4054 movement, as they took the capability for these calibres as part of war reparations, but manufactured in Germany and assembled in France.  Dodane provided the most of these watches, about 4000 in two batches of about 2000 and used the Valjoux 222, movement as did Breguet. The brands Airain and Boullier have not survived.[1,2,3,6]

Some models were signed Type 20 on the dial, e.g. the Vixa, Airain, Chronofixe and the coin-edged Auricoste below.  The Auricoste was produced in a batch of 2000 and housed the best Type 20 movement, the Lémania 15TL (Auricoste 2040) calibre.

Auricoste type 20
The Breguet Type 20 Generation I military series was born in 1954.

 

This article covers the first generation of the model and its use in the French Military. Another article will cover its civilian twin, and the evolution to later generations.

THE TYPE 20 SPECIFICATION

No accurate edition of the Type 20 specification exists, but the consensus is that the watch should have the following.[1,2,3,7]

A black dial adorned with easily readable Arabic numerals and luminescent hands and indexes;

a seconds chapter ring;

a screwback case of about 38mm and less than 14mm thick;

a bi-directional rotating bezel;

a mechanical self-winding chronograph movement with a power reserve of 35 hours;

accuracy to within eight seconds per day;

a flyback mechanism;

and evidence that the watch is able to support more than 300 times starting, stopping and resetting the chronograph.

The crucial feature the French government requested was the flyback for the chronographs. The flyback function of the chronograph allowed pilots to reset or retour-en-vol timing by pressing the lower push piece.

The need for improved reliability and maintenance gave birth to the Type 21 model in 1956.[12]

Breguet Document
Type 21 specification dated April 1956.

 

Breguet had produced chronographs from the early 1930’s and these supplied design ideas and style to the Type 20 model. However, the French military as part of war reparations were already using German supplied Hanhart and Stowa watches, and were familiar with design features, which would have fed into the Type 20 specification.

Hanhart had earlier supplied pilots in the Luftwaffe, and there are strong design similarities between the 1950 Hanhart and the Type 20 Breguet.  The Tutima Glashutte supplied to the Luftwaffe is also very similar.

1950 Hanhart, similar to the Breguet Type 20 watch

Hanhart 417 ES flyback chronograph series produced by the brand in the 1950s

The model below was sold to Société d’Aviation Louis Breguet on February 3, 1953 for 27,000 old French Francs.   The dial is signed 1164 which is also engraved on the caseback.   The sub-registers have pie tin dials, and the hands were the characteristic syringe style, and an arrow sweep second hand.

Breguet type 20 1952 case 1164

The Breguet 4174 case type below was also a precursor to the Type 20 model.

Breguet 4174

 BREGUET TYPE 20 5101/54 MODEL – AIR FORCE

In 1954, Breguet was commissioned to produce 2000 Type 20 watches, and the casebacks were engraved “Breguet, Type 20, 5101/54” for the contract number and year. As Breguet needed to produce a large number of watches in a short amount of time, production of the watches was contracted out.  Breguet used the Valjoux 222 movement, and the watches were assembled by Mathey-Tissot[3].

At the same time, Breguet produced their own civilian version, with their name on the dial and slight variations, including both two and three registers on the dial.

The standard model for the French Air Force is shown below. It was a 2 register model, with a 30 minute sub-register, and almost universally was fitted with an unsigned dial, characterized by a gorgeous onion crown.

Breguet Type 20 5101/54 model
Breguet Type 20 with case No. 7181 Image by kronos forum user: doctor steel (@doctorsteelitaly on IG)

 

The Type 20 5101/54 model had a Valjoux Cal. 222 mechanical movement, 17 jewels, black matte dial, luminous Arabic numerals, outer second/minute divisions with Arabic numerals, luminous skeleton baton hands, skeleton propellor sweep second hand, two subsidiary dials, one a 30 minute register and the other showing constant seconds, circular stainless steel case, stainless steel bezel with reeded edge and arrowhead indicator, two round chronograph buttons in the band, onion crown, downturned lugs, and a screw back case.

Breguet Type 20 5101/54

Delivered to the  French Air Force  on 1 October 1956 this watch above has syringe hands with long thin pointers at the tip. The numerals 4 and 7 have a unique style. This model does not have an onion crown, which may have been replaced during service.   Note the tiny BREGUET logo at 12 o’clock, perhaps an attempt to carry branding on the dial, despite the Type 20 specification.

Breguet Type 20 case 7513

Case number 7513 is shown above.  This model has baton hands and a particularly thin minute hand without the long thin pointers, no model identification on the dial, and an onion crown. Image courtesy of casowatches.com

 

Case number 7397 above with onion crown and syringe pointers.

Case number 7546 above with luminescent skeleton syringe hands and detailed minute and second markings on the sub-register dials.  Oversized non-onion crown from the second series.   Delivered to the Air Force on 16 November 1955.

Breguet Type 20, ref. 5101/54, case no. 7590

Breguet Type 20, ref. 5101/54, case no. 7590, 1957. The hands are syringe without the thin pointer tip.   Fewer markings on the sub-registers.  This has an onion crown.

 

Breguet type 20Breguet type 20 back

 

Above case number 7710 sold to the “Ministère de l’Air” (French Airforces Ministry) on June 17, 1955.   The second hand is a thin pointer and the 30 second sub-register has an arrow pointer.

The caseback is engraved with Breguet, Type 20, 5101/54 and then further engraved with FG and a date. The caseback of this watch bears a large number of these inscriptions.  FG stands for “Fin de Garantie” or end of guarantee.

Breguet Type 20, 5101/54, No. 7562

This version had different style 4, and 7 hour markers, and the open 6 marker.

Breguet Type 20 Case number 7688

This model has a differently maked 30 minute sub-register. Case number 7688. Delivered to the Air Force on November 16, 1955.

The Breguet-produced watches for the French military were given to the Armée de l’air (French Air Force), 2000 pieces from 1954, Aeronautique Navale (Aeronavale, French Naval Airforce), 500 pieces ordered in 1958 but delivered from 1959 onwards [3], and Centre d’essais en vol (French Flight Tests Center), also known as CEV .

The Type 20 delivered to the Air Force differed from the version for the Naval Aviation. This version has an internal protective anti-magnetic housing and a 15 minute sub-dial.

CEV had two different versions (a two register (500 pieces 1960),  and three register (50 pieces 1960) ) both equipped with  a 15 minute sub-dial.

Breguet Type 20 Military Timeline
A quick look at the Breguet Type 20 Military issues produced from 1954-1960

 

These watches needed to be inspected for accuracy and after each inspection, the date of the next scheduled examination was engraved on the back with the letters “FG” – Fin de Garantie, end of warranty.   The FG dates can be seen engraved on the case above. [3]

All these chronographs were  overhauled and their precision controlled by the Dodane company at the Service Officiel de Contrôle de la Marche des montres de Besançon (CETEHOR).

The servicing was done in the workshops of Besançon and Paris (mainly Dodane and Pechoin). Dodane was probably the largest supplier of Type 20 models to the French military. [12]

The Type 20 watches were used by the French military through the 1980s and were often replaced by quartz models.

In parallel to these official orders, Breguet also offers civilian versions of its Type 20 and some 2,000 chronographs were  sold between 1954 and 1970 to civilians.

Breguet Type XX Case number 7139
Arrowhead second hands were used as well as the thin skeleton propeller. This has an onion crown, and servicing dates on case. Case number 7139. Image by Zaf Basha of www.classicwatch.com
Breguet Type 20
Case number 7168 Delivered 31 July 1957

 

1958 model

Breguet Type 20 Ref. 7518

Different 30 minute subregister with index marks at 3,6,9 Image courtesy of robertmaron.com

Breguet Type 20 Ref. 7518 2
Case back number 6123 Image courtesy of robertmaron.com

 

Image courtesy of robertmaron.com
Valjoux 222 movement. Image courtesy of robertmaron.com

All the above watches have thin pointer 30-minute sub-register hands, but arrow sub-register hands were also used on these models. Open 6 style numerals.

7921 breguet 20

This is a military version with 5101/54 engraved case back, and many records of prior service dates, although the dial is signed Breguet.

Breguet Type XX Military Chronograph 2

Case back 7921 and Type 5101/54 engraving.

Another arrow sub-register model below.

Breguet 22 Armée de l'Air
Case back 7197
Breguet Type 20
Note caseback 7211, 16 Nov 1955
Breguet 20
Red arrowhead Valjoux 222 circa 1954. Image courtesy Vesper & Co

TYPE 20 AERONAUTIQUE NAVALE

All the 5101/54 models above had 30-minute sub-registers.   The dial was generally unsigned.

When issued to la Marine Nationale et l’Aéronautique Navale, shortened to the Aeronautique Navale, this Navy watch was identical to the 5101/54 model but was signed Breguet on the dial and had a “Big-eye”15 minute sub-register, generally with a propeller hand. Case backs were engraved BREGUET MARINE NATIONALE AERONAUTIQUE NAVALE, together with an issue number.   500 pieces were ordered.

Breguet Type 20 Aeronautique Navale
Issue number 341, above with an arrowhead sweep second hand.

 

Breguet Type 20 Aeronautique Navale 4100
First image courtesy of www.thewatchobserver.fr

The model had a signed dial, with a propeller hand on the 15 minute sub-register, which is broken into 3 minute sectors.  Issue number 5 above was ordered in 1958 and delivered in 1960.  This still has the onion crown, which was often replaced as it tended to catch on clothing.  Case number 4100.

 

Breguet Type XX, Marine Nationale - Aéronautique Navale, No. 400.
Issue number 400

 

Breguet Flyback Chronograph
Issue number 402

 

Breguet Type XX

Some models had propellor hands on both sub-registers, still with the “big-eye” 15 minute sub-register hand being larger. This is issue number 9.

Breguet Type XX, No. 3943

Case back engraved Breguet Marine Nationale Aeronautique Navale. Thin crown. Issue Number 20, case number 3943.

Breguet Marine Nationale Aeronautique Navale, issue number 397
Image by svetsatova user: skydrummer

 

The watch on the right has an engraved bezel, but the caseback indicates that it was a BREGUET MARINE NATIONALE AERONAUTIQUE NAVALE model Issue Number 397, case number 4195. [7 ] Perhaps the case back or bezel was from another model and changed during repair or servicing, which was carried out centrally for the military.

Breguet Type XX Cal 222

Valjoux Cal 222 movement

Bigger 2 below, and thin crown.

Breguet Aero-Navale

Breguet, Marine Nationale – Aero-Navale, Issue No. 29, 1950’s.

 

breguet type 20 Navy 88

Issue number 88, case number 4109.

Breguet Issue Number 164

Breguet Issue Number 164, which was sold to Aeronavale January 13 1960, sold by Sotheby’s for CHF18,750 on Nov 16 2008.   Case back 4247.

Breguet Type XX 4113

Model number 4113 on case Issue number 26. Image by Zaf Basha of classicwatch.com

Breguet Type XX Issue number 39x case number 419x
Issue number 39x case number 419x.  This again is probably a replacement bezel. Image by timezoneforum user: fusco

Breguet Type XX Issue number 157, case number 3967

Issue number 157, case number 3967.

Breguet Type XX, issue no. 242
Issue number 242  delivered on January 13 1960. Image from mensup.fr

Breguet type 20 navy

Also delivered on 13 January 1960 this issue number 24x has a replacement bezel and crown.   Case number 42xx.

The model below is issue number 423, case number 4358.   Sold in 1991 for CHF 71,300

Breguet type 20 issue 423

The last of the 500 watches delivered by Breguet, case number 4401, but issue number 500 is shown below.  The rotating bezel is missing, and the sage leaf 15 minutes (Big-eye) sub-register hand has been red radium coloured during servicing at the request of the pilot.

Breguet also supplied 3 register models to the  MARINE NATIONALE AERONAUTIQUE NAVAL, and below is one such model with Dauphine hands.

Breguet Type XX, issue no. 439
Issue number 439 with an engraved bezel. Image by kronos forums user: doctor steel (@doctorsteelitaly on IG)

 

Breguet Type 20 Issue number 439
Image by kronos forums user: doctor steel (@doctorsteelitaly on IG)

 

Below is a 3 register model, with case back 4199, but issue number 80.   Manufactured September 1958.  The sage leaf (propeller) 15 minute sub-register hand has been replaced.

 

Breguet type 20 case 451

Above is one of the later watches supplied in the 500 series.  Issue Number 451, case number 4005.  Delivered to Aeronavale January 1960.

TYPE 20 CEV 2 REGISTER

The Centre d’essais en vol (French Flight Tests Center), also known as CEV, purchased civilian type 20 watches prior to receiving their own design. These had a 30 minute sub – register, and a plain reeded bezel.

CEV 9 Breguet
Above is Breguet CEV “Centre d’essai en vol”, issue number 9 (CEV 9), and case number 3215 with thin pointer sweep second hand and 30-minute sub-register with propeller hand.

CEV 10 has case number 3105 and is a 2 register model with arrow sub-register hand with a reeded bezel.   The sweep second hand is different, and the minutes sub-register is marked differently.

CEV 10 Breguet type 20

The later CEV commissioned models were either 2 register or 3 register models developed for the Centre from the BREGUET MARINE NATIONALE AERONAUTIQUE NAVALE model, with an engraved dial with a milled edge.

Breguet still featured on the dial, which was either brown or black, but the bezel was engraved with the numbers 1 to 11.   500 2 register pieces were ordered.[17]

Breguet Type XX no 5096

Note the thin skeleton propeller sweep second hand with lume, and twin-propeller hands on the sub-registers.

Breguet Type XX SFATAT

Not actually a CEV model, the above model sold to SFATAT (Service of aviation training, aerial work and transport) on 7 January 1960 for 410 Francs

This model has a case number 631 and maybe part of the civilian series.

Breguet Type XX CEV 22
Image by watchprosite user: amanico

 

Breguet CEV21 type20

Breguet 20 type CEV

Breguet CEV21

Breguet type 20 Valjoux 222 movement

Onion crown 1956 Breguet CEV 21 in the 4 images above.  Sold for $26,000 in 2016.

Breguet Type XX Engraved CEV 22 Small Breguet logo

Engraved CEV 22 with small Breguet logo.

 

Model CEV 56 is below

 

CEV 56 breguet

Another plain, reeded bezel model  below, with brown dial and long thin pointers on the syringe hands.

cev breguet christies

Case back unmarked externally, inside case number 3107, sold to CEV on 2 May 1957 for 28,500 old francs. Sold by Christie’s for CHF 23,750 in 2016.

TYPE 20 CEV 3 REGISTER

This watch is the most complicated of all the French Military wristwatches: the ” three register” Breguet chronograph was developed from the Navy model, with both 15 minutes and 12 hours registers, as well as a continuous auxiliary seconds. The mechanism was Valjoux 72 flyback, cal 225. An additional feature was the adjustable bezel graduated for 12 hours.  50 pieces were ordered.

Breguet Type XX Cev 1
Images from www.thewatchobserver.fr

 

The initial watch in the CEV series was the property of the CEV’s director, Louis Bonte. Sold 12 December 1956 for 278 new francs. [11] It is now owned by the Breguet Museum.

Another image of CEV 1 is below:

Breguet Type XX Cev 1
Image from Bernard W. Newton

The numbering of the CEV model series is interchanged with the two register models, early models which were with reeded bezels, and later models with 0 to 11 bezels.

CEV 5 has case number 2520, and is virtually identical to the watch above, except for the length of the pointer on the syringe hands.

CEV 5 Breguet type 20

However, CEV 7 has Dauphine hands, shown below,  case number 2508, and like CEV 1 was sold to the CEV, Bretigny, on 12 December 1956, for the sum of 27,800 old French Francs

.CEV 7

CEV 8, case number 2340 is shown below, and has a mix of pointer lengths on the syringe hands, and has a differently marked hour sub – register.

 

CEV8 breguet type 20

Below is CEV 11, with case number 3175.

Breguet Type XX CEV 1

CEV 11
Image by kronos forum user: doctor steel (@doctorsteelitaly on IG)

Breguet Type XX CEV 61

Above is CEV 61, calibre 225 with reed finish on the bezel which is not engraved. CEV 61 engraved on the case back.

Breguet 20
Image courtesy MWR forum member : JohnK
By comparison with the above, CEV issue 71, case number 3102 has an arrowhead pointer sweep second hand and a leaf or propeller pointer on the 30-minute sub-register.

Breguet Type XX Case back 3495

A similar model, case back 3495.  The pointer on the sweep second hand is longer than previous models.
Image from openers.jp

Breguet Type XX 3-register models
3-register models developed from the Navy model

 

 

1959 Breguet Type XX for Aerotechnique

A 1959 model sold to the Societe Aerotechnique in Algiers

MATHEY – TISSOT

Mathey-Tissot assembled the 5101/54 model for Breguet and later produced both 2 and 3 register civilian models under their own name. The 2 register model is more prevalent. The sub-register is 15 minutes.

The images below are representative of the Mathey – Tissot  civilian production and many similarities with the Breguet Type 20 can be seen. Arrowhead sweep second hand, baton hands with long thin pointers, propellor hand on 15-minute sub-register, broken into 3-minute sections.

Breguet Type XX Mathey – Tissot
First image by Zaf Basha of classwicwatch.com, third image from mathewbaininc.com

 

Breguet Type XX Mathey Tissot
Image courtesy of DRSD.com

 

 

MOVEMENTS

RECOMMENDATIONS

THE STARTER

The starting point would be the model which started it all, the model 5101/54 for the French Airforce, with reeded dial and the wonderful onion crown.   The case back will be engraved 5101/54 and the dial will not be signed Breguet.   Although this is the most common Type 20  with military engraving,  expect to pay over $15,000 for a good model.   Other Type 20 models from Dodane, Auricoste, Airain and Vixa are less desirable, and cheaper. A Mathey-Tissot, almost identical, would be les than half price.

Breguet Flyback Chrono
Case number 8113

 

THE KEEPER

A rarer model is the BREGUET model engraved MARINE NATIONALE AERONAUTIQUE NAVALE on the rear case, of which only 500 were produced.   The model with the thin pointers at the end of the baton hands could easily cost $20,000 in good condition.

Breguet Naval airforce issue no 391
Naval airforce issue no. 391

 

THE GRAIL

The grail is a brown faced 3 register CEV model, of which less than 50 were made. A price approaching $30,000 could be expected for a good model.

Breguet Type 20 CEV type

From The Spring Bar Store:

 

References:

1       http://www.classicwatch.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?t=43
2       http://www.calibremagazine.com/node/479
3       http://www.donindiano.net/watches/breguet/type_xx/#type_20
4       http://www.thewatchobserver.fr/dossiers-montres/dossiers-thematiques/breguet-type-xx-histoire-dune-montre-daviateur-legendaire-71#.VsxozPl9600
5       http://kronos.freeforums.org/type-20-i-leggendari-cronografi-dell-armee-de-l-air-t256-15.html
6       http://www.db1983.com/our-archive/breguet-type-xx-marine-nationale-1950s
7       http://www.svetsatova.com/forum/content/423-satovi-francuskih-oružanih-snaga-pilotski-satovi-type-20-i-type-21.html
8       http://www.watchalyzer.com/magazine/news-events/breguet-watchmaker-aviator-innovator-exhibition/
9       http://luxwatch.ua/position-details/breguet/type-xx–type-xxi/3810-type-xxi-flyback-chronograph/print
10     http://www.ablogtowatch.com/vintage-breguet-type-xx-watches-hands-on/
11     http://www.mensup.fr/montres/news/a,84768,l-ecriture-etamp-le-temps-s-invitent-a-l-hotel-drouot-le-26-avril-2010.html
12     http://www.mensup.fr/montres/news/a,84823,chronographes-type-20-et-type-21-un-peu-d-histoire.html
13     http://archives.chronomania.net/messages/04/49537.htm
14     http://forumamontres.forumactif.com/t17-types-20-les-porter-ou-pas
15     http://yabuuchi1872.blog95.fc2.com/blog-entry-247.html
16     https://monochrome-watches.com/weekly-watch-photo-breguet-type-20/
17     https://monochrome-watches.com/breguet-type-xx-5-years-wrist/
18     http://www.breguet.com/en/timepieces/type-xx-xxi-xxii/3800
19    http://dondellinger.com/mipiace/index.php?post/2009/10/24/Type-20-22

Breguet Type 20 Civilian, Generation 1 , 2 and 3

INTRODUCTION

An earlier article looked at the development of the Type 20 watch specification and the development of the Breguet Type 20 model which you can read here.

At the same time as the military model was being developed, and produced, civilian pilots, and other professionals required similar watches, and these were produced and sold to the civilian market.

Breguet has had a long association with civilian aviation over more than 100 years.

Breguet Type 20 Poster

This article covers civilian Breguet Type 20 models, starting with Generation 1, moving to Generation 2 and then Type XX, the third Generation, which is still continuing.

The Generation 3 + models are not covered in detail, as these are currently available and can be easily found on the web.

CIVIL MARKET GENERATION 1 VERSIONS

2 REGISTER MODELS

Breguet started producing type 20 models for the civilian market at the same time as it was working on the Military version. Some 2000 pieces were sold between 1953 and 1970. [4]

Breguet Type 20 civilian models from the 1950s and 60s come in many variations: engraved or blank bezel, different calibres (such as Valjoux 22, 222, 225, 235 720 or Lemania 1377), and two or three sub-registers.

The model below was sold to Société d’Aviation Louis Breguet on February 3, 1953 for 27,000 old French Francs.   The dial is signed 1164 which is also engraved on the caseback.   The sub-registers have pie tin dials, and the hands were to become the characteristic syringe style, and an arrow sweep second hand.

Breguet type 20 1952 case 1164

 

Another of the earliest is this model sold on 23 February 1953, which also has many similar features to the Type 20,  5101/54 model produced for the Air Force. Since these models predate production of the Air Force model, they may well have been prototypes forming part of the discussions with the Military about the Type 20 specification.

Breguet Type XX Civilian 1953
This 1953 model above has an unsigned case back, and small pushers. Image by timezone forum user Dracha (@rene_jk on Instagram)

 

The civilian models came in a variety of styles, and a Breguet signed watch similar to the Type 20, 5101/54 is shown below, but with a large 30 minute sub-register with a propeller hand marked at 3,6,9 with thick, long lume indexes. Syringe hands with long thin pointers.  The nick name “Big eye” is sometimes applied to this model due to the larger 30 minute sub-register.  Case number 8114.  Unmarked bezel.

 

Breguet Type XX 5101/54

Below is Breguet Case number 1695, sold on February 4, 1955.  Big eye dial. The bezel is marked with 12 hours.  Arrow second hand and slightly different Big eye sub-register.
Breguet Type 20, case no. 1695
Below is a rare 18k gold type 20 civilian model, sold on June 8, 1956 for 115,000 old French Francs to Mr. Sambon  It is thought to be only one of 3 made.  Big eye dial with no numerals and lume indexes on the chapter ring, and 12 hour bezel.  Case number 1745.
Breguet type 20 Gold
Breguet Type 20 Flyback, no. 2085
Case number 2085 above.  This model is similar to the gold model above, but with longer pointers on the syringe hands, and an arrow sweep second hand. There are also no numerals on the chapter ring as for the gold model above.
Creme dials also existed.
Breguet Type 20, case no. 2452
Above, Breguet, Case No 2452, sold in 1957 for 27,000 old Francs. Cream dial and dauphine hands, with numerals only at 6 and 12. The 6 is an open 6. There are no numerals on the chapter ring. 30 minute Big eye subregister with numerals at every 5 minutes.  Reeded bezel. Possibly only six of these were made.

This model below has a rare small Breguet logo, and the graduated bezel of the CEV type 20 model, but has a 30-minute register with a propeller hand and with 3,6,9 marked with longer index markers and lume dots at every 3 minutes. A thin skeleton propeller sweep hand is used.

This model has case number 3558 and was sold to P Rolland for 44000 old French Francs in February 1958.

3 REGISTER MODELS

Three register civilian models also existed, all with an engraved bidirectional rotating bezel.  An early model is shown below.

Breguet Type 20 Civilian Stainless Steel

 

This model has a different type of face for the 4 and 7 numerals, seen in the early military models. A thirty-minute sub-dial is used.

The model below is similar to the CEV Type 20 model with no numerals on the 15 minute register, and thin subregister hands. There are no numerals on the chapter ring either.

Breguet Type 20 CEV
Case number 1074 Images from forumamontres user: christian06
Below is case number 2993, a rare model with a tachymeter scale on the chapter ring, sold on July 16, 1965 for 538 French Francs to  M. Ducharne.  Pie tin sub-registers.

3 register breguet type 20 tachymetre

The model below is a 3 register version with a very rare count down bezel and an internal tachymeter scale. It has a 15 minute, unmarked sub-register.

Breguet Type 20, no. 3012
This is case number 3012, and is extremely rare.
Another rare Dauphine hand model is shown below, as seen earlier above in the 2 register model. There are no numerals on the chapter ring, but applied lume at the 5 minute markers.  Arrow head sweep second hand and unmarked 15 minute sub-register.
Breguet steel man type xx A36620 1600
Courtesy of kronos.freeforums.org, special thanks to forum mod klaus
A similar watch with Dauphine hands, case number 2988, is shown below but with a thin propeller sweep second hand.
breguet dauphine hands type 20
Courtesy Phillip’s Watches

 

Breguet Type 20, case no. 2970

This model above has a numbered chapter ring, and the use of broad lume on the 15 minute sub-register is another feature in this model, and small radially placed 3, 6, 9 and 12 minute markers, together with a large and rarely seen Breguet logo. Case number 2970.

Below is another model, case number 3375, with a 0 to 12 bezel, and with a dial very similar to the dauphine hand model above, with applied lume at the 5 minute markers.

breguet type xx

The model below has a case number 3385, 10 more than the case number above. This has a propeller second hand,  a 30 minute sub-register, and a numbered chapter ring.  The bezel is marked 0 to 60.

Breguet Type 20, case no. 3385

The 0 to 60 bezel is a feature of this model. This model has the most austere markings on all the dials, and looks extremely modern.  Case number 3385.
Breguet Type 20 Civilian 24xx
Image courtesy of www.carsandwatches.com
Above is case number 24xx. This has applied lume at the 5 minute markers, and at the 3 minute markers on the 15 minute sub-register.  No numerals on the chapter ring.
breguet 20 civilian
This model has thinner lumes on the 30 minute sub-register, and a long arrow in the sweep second hand.  The other sub-registers have dials as below.
Breguet Type 20 CEV Type 20 Brown
Above is a brown Civilian version of the CEV Type 20, with unmarked case number 1002
Breguet Type 20, case no. 1080
Image from www.donindiano.net
Breguet Type 20, case no. 10xx
1960’s case number 1080 Sold recently at Sotheby’s for CHF27500 (Nov 10 2015)
Breguet Type 20 Civilian, case no. 3077
Case number 10xx Sold 9 July 1962 for 525 new francs. Case number 3077
Case number 3479 is shown above with shorter pointers on the baton hands.
Case number 1473.  Image courtesy : Exoticwatches
Below is case number 3531, manufactured in 1960, with a tropicalized dial.
This was originally sold on February 23, 1960, for 490 francs.
Breguet 3591 type 20
This model below was sold in 2016 for CHF 68,000 with caseback engraved “Esso J.B. Champion Du Monde 1959”
Case number 4962
Breguet 4962 Type XX
4295 caseback
J Brabham poster

GOLD VERSION

Only 3 of this 2 register Type 20 are known, this is production number 1780. These were produced in 1955.    Case number 1745 is shown in the earlier 2 register section.   This has a propeller sweep second hand and a different sub-register.

Breguet Type 20, 1780 in gold

BAKELITE BEZEL VERSIONS

Breguet Type 20 Bakelite Bezel

Above is an uncommon version with curved lugs, possibly a transition model to the 1970’s models below.

Breguet Type 20 1963 model
1963 model. Sold on April 28, 2009 for USD 6563

1970s SECOND GENERATION BREGUET TYPE 20

The  release of the second generation Model 20 to the public was in the 1970‘s after Chaumet had took control of the brand in 1970. This model had a black anodised bezel which rotated in one direction,  and the case was changed and had squarer lugs.

This version existed in both two and three-register layouts, with, respectively, the caliber Valjoux 235 and 725 (and maybe Valjoux 726 in some cases), both offering the flyback function that the original military contract stipulated.

The 1970s Breguet Type 20 has a screw-in case-back, a diameter of 40.7 mm, a thickness of 13.8 mm, and comes with 2 or 3 registers on a matt black dial.

Hands were syringe with long thin pointers, and the minute sub-register at 3 o’clock totals 15 minutes with broad divisions every 3 minutes, and an oversized sage leaf pointer.

Model below is 2 register version, which had a bezel marked 0 to 60, and either a thin second hand or an arrow second hand.

 

Breguet Type 20
Case number 20765 sold June 1972 with an arrow sweep second hand.

 

Breguet Type 20, case no. 21122
Case number 21122 with thin second hand.
Model with second hand having a lollipop dot pointer, sold on 12 June 1972.  Smaller pointers on hour and minute hands.
Breguet Type 20 Circa 1973
Circa 1973 with arrow second hand. Image courtesy of www.horlogerie-exquise-paris.com
Breguet Type 20, case no. 21122, 1970's
Case number 21563 2 register version sold to M Sutti on 26 November 1986 for 3340 French Francs.  On the right it is known that case 21747 sold in 1982.

3 REGISTER VERSION

The three register version had either of 2 bezels.  Below is a bezel marked 0 to 12.   The hour sub-register at 6 is marked 0 to 12, but otherwise the dial is unchanged from the two register version, with arrow head sweep second hand.

Breguet Type 20 Case no 20710
Case number 20710 from about 1971.
Case number 21297
Case number 21297.
Breguet Type 20 Second generation, case no. 21663
Case number 21663
Breguet Type 20 case no. 20772, 1975
1975 case number 20772 sold at Sotheby’s for CHF10000.
21620 Breguet type 20 civilian
Case number 21620 above.
This model sold February 1980 for 1400 Francs is case number 21630 and has a bezel marked 1 to 12.

GENERATION 3

The generation 3 series of models is continually expanding as  XX, XXI, XXII, and as these are modern variants, they can be easily found on the internet, and will not be dealt with here in great detail.

The XX models are covered below, and design features relate to the Type 20 models.

3800 

The Type XX (not the Type 20) was launched in 1994, just before the Swatch Group acquired Breguet. The Breguet caliber 582 movement is used, which started its life as the Lemania caliber 1350 but with the addition of a flyback function. The case is 39mm.

3800 Aéronavale without date – polished bezel, multi-layered matt black dial, polished bracelet or leather bracelet. Gold plated and pink gold plated on leather bracelet as well. Platinum model of 100 units.

The hands and the 15 minute sub-register are reminiscent of those in the Type 20. The sweep second hand is a dot lollipop.

Breguet Type 20 3800ST/92/SW9
3800ST/92/SW9
Breguet Type 20 3800ST/92/9W6
3800ST/92/9W6

3800BA is a solid yellow gold Aéronavale, a rare model with black or dark blue dial.

3800BR is a solid rose gold Aéronavale, a rare model with a dark blue dial.

3800PT platinum Aéronavale with black dial, as a limited edition of 100 pieces (made in 1994).

3803

Celebrating 100 years of Aeronavale as a military branch. Breguet created this new limited edition of 1000 pieces Type XX Aéronavale Ref. 3803ST watch for the 2010 Anniversary.

Inside the watch is a Breuget Caliber 582 automatic flyback chronograph movement.

The piece has unique features for a Type XX model such as a black lacquered rotating bezel with figures in relief, and slightly bigger than the one of the 3800. An exclusive winding-crown and a special marking with the official emblem of Centenary of the Naval Aeronautics at the back of the case. Finally, this watch will be delivered with a special box and a limited edition certificate.

Breguet Type 20 3803ST/92/3W6
3803ST/92/3W6

 

3807

3807ST Aéronavale without date – Special Issue, exhibition caseback, polished bezel, glossy dark Cobalt blue dial, polished bracelet, made in 1998–1999 (approximately 2,000 pieces).

Breguet Type 20 3807ST Aéronavale

3820

3820 Transatlantique (3800 with date at 6 o’clock) – circular brushed dial released later than the Aéronavale. The date window is at 6 o’clock.

This model came in numerous versions : White gold, pink gold , stainless steel, platinum, and titanium with various dials including carbon fibre. Only a couple are shown below.

3820TI titanium Transatlantique with a black carbon fiber dial. (Carbon fiber and titanium are high-tech materials widely used in the aviation industry.)

3820BA/BB/BR solid gold Transatlantique (in yellow gold, white gold and rose gold) with deep blue, black or white dial.

3820PT platinum Transatlantique with blue dial.

3827PT platinum Transatlantique édition limitée with a salmon dial and display back (limited edition of 90 pieces).

Breguet Type 20 3820 Transatlantique

Breguet Type 20 3820 Transatlantique Rose Gold
Rose gold
Breguet Type 20 3827PT
3827PT

3860

With alarm , but no chronograph functions. Steel or gold.

Limited series of 500 pieces which used the same movement as the Classique Ref.3600 from 1992–1993, namely the Breguet 579 (based on the Lemania 2980 / Lemania SL 980), although its alarm indicator only shows the hours while that of the Classique has the minutes and the hours. This caliber has automatic winding for both the time and the alarm.

Breguet Type 20 3860

3810

The 3810 model is larger in diameter at 42mm. It was introduced in 2004 and features  the 584Q movement with central chronograph minute’s hand (like the Lemania 1340and the Lemania 5100) and has a 24-hour indicator. The words Retour en vol are written on its dial. Despite what its name suggests, the Breguet Type xxi has no special relation to the French Type 21 military specification.

Various case types exist, titanium, red gold, pink gold steel.

Breguet Type 20 3810

OTHER BREGUET TYPE 20 MODELS

While there were several official manufacturers of the military Type 20 model, there were also some who made civilian versions.

Since Mathey Tissot assembled the Type 20 for Breguet, it is no surprise that several versions of their Type 20 model exist, with both two and three sub-registers.  One is shown below.  These are not discussed in detail in this article.

Mathey Tissot type 20

Dodane manufactured Chronofixe models which were not supplied to the military.  One such model is shown below with a count down bezel and dial almost identical to the Dodane Type 20, which did not have Type 20 on the dial.  The minutes sub-register is uniquely 6, 12, 18, 24, 30.

chronofixe

What is surprising that there are a handful of Girard-Perregaux three dial versions as well, with a  Valjoux PG 720 movement.

girard peregeaux Type 20

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BREGUET TYPE 20

THE STARTER

The starting point would be the model which started the watch series, the Breguet signed civilian version of the model 5101/54 for the French Airforce, with reeded dial.

Breguet No 8114, Type 20 5101 54

THE KEEPER

A classic model is the Breguet second generation model, with 3 sub-registers.

Breguet Type 20 Second generation, case no. 21663

THE GRAIL

The grail would be a brown faced 3 register civilian version of the CEV Type 20 model. A price approaching $30,000 could be expected for a good model.  

Breguet Type 20 CEV

From The Spring Bar Store:

 

References:

1       http://www.classicwatch.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?t=43
2       http://www.calibremagazine.com/node/479
3       http://www.donindiano.net/watches/breguet/type_xx/#type_20
http://www.thewatchobserver.fr/dossiers-montres/dossiers-thematiques/breguet-type-xx-histoire-dune-montre-daviateur-legendaire-71#.VsxozPl9600
5       http://kronos.freeforums.org/type-20-i-leggendari-cronografi-dell-armee-de-l-air-t256-15.html
6       http://www.db1983.com/our-archive/breguet-type-xx-marine-nationale-1950s
7       http://www.svetsatova.com/forum/content/423-satovi-francuskih-oružanih-snaga-pilotski-satovi-type-20-i-type-21.html
8       http://www.watchalyzer.com/magazine/news-events/breguet-watchmaker-aviator-innovator-exhibition/
9       http://luxwatch.ua/position-details/breguet/type-xx–type-xxi/3810-type-xxi-flyback-chronograph/print
10     http://www.ablogtowatch.com/vintage-breguet-type-xx-watches-hands-on/
11     http://www.mensup.fr/montres/news/a,84768,l-ecriture-etamp-le-temps-s-invitent-a-l-hotel-drouot-le-26-avril-2010.html
12     http://www.mensup.fr/montres/news/a,84823,chronographes-type-20-et-type-21-un-peu-d-histoire.html
13     http://archives.chronomania.net/messages/04/49537.htm
14     http://forumamontres.forumactif.com/t17-types-20-les-porter-ou-pas
15     http://yabuuchi1872.blog95.fc2.com/blog-entry-247.html
16     https://monochrome-watches.com/weekly-watch-photo-breguet-type-20/
17     https://monochrome-watches.com/breguet-type-xx-5-years-wrist/
18     http://www.breguet.com/en/timepieces/type-xx-xxi-xxii/3800
19    http://dondellinger.com/mipiace/index.php?post/2009/10/24/Type-20-22

Omega Railmaster: A Collector’s Guide

Initially starting in 1848, Omega has worked its way into becoming a worldwide brand. Being known as the brand that produced reliable and accurate watches, Omega has been very much a part of world history. From being on the wrists of Presidents, a timepiece used in the Olympics, to being the first watch on the moon, Omega has indeed made its mark.

1957 OMEGA MASTERS TRILOGY

In the year 1957, Omega sought to release a trilogy of technical watches to match the current trend and need in the market for niche watches. Thus, Omega released the CK 2913, CK 2914, and CK 2915 or what is commonly known as the Seamaster 300, the Railmaster, and the Speedmaster.

Omega CK 2913Seamaster, CK 2914 Railmaster, and CK 2915 Speedmaster
1957 Omega Masters Trilogy of watches: Seamaster 300, Railmaster, and Speedmaster

 

Each watch in the Omega Masters Trilogy sought to fill a specific need. The Seamaster 300 was intended for professional divers with its improved water resistance. The Speedmaster was intended for car racers or one who would need to measure short periods of time as it featured stopwatch functions. The Railmaster was intended for professionals who worked close to electric currents or strong magnetic fields as it features an anti-magnetic case. The Railmaster lacked the appeal of a dive watch or chronograph to the wider public, so today this is a rare piece, much sought after by collectors.  The Railmaster was Omega’s answer to other anti-magnetic watches already in the market, such as the Rolex Milgauss 6541 released in 1954 and IWC’s Ingenieur 666 released in 1955.

Railmaster trilogy

 

For this guide, we will be focusing on the CK 2914 or the Railmaster.

Below is the Mk 1 version of the CK 2914

Railmaster
Image courtesy chronocentric user: Jack Wong

 

Magnetic fields are one of the major causes of inaccuracy in watches and these days they are everywhere. Due to the two delicate springs inside mechanical watches – one so thin it is actually called a ‘hairspring ‘- magnetism has been a significant problem throughout most of watchmaking history because it can cause havoc with the timing of a watch. Watches are particularly vulnerable when worn by people who do a lot of travelling or work in certain areas such as the medical or scientific professions for instance.

World War II led to the development of an accurate navigator’s chronometer to complement the bubble sextant for airborne navigation.

On board radar disturbed the accuracy of the issued chronometers the Mk VII and the Mk VIII.

The result was the legendary IWC Mk 11 (6B/346) watch which was not available until 1949.

The ‘6B’ showed the watch as ‘Aircraft Navigation Equipment, Accessories and Unit Servicing Parts’.

Its characteristic features were laid down in the initial specifications:

a highly accurate movement with hack-device,

an inner soft iron cage forming a shield to screen the movement against magnetic interference, the dial being an integral part of this soft iron cage, (a Faraday Cage),

a stainless steel waterproof case with the crystal secured by a screwed ring to prevent it detaching from the case during sudden depressurization, and

a black dial with luminous markers and hands.

The succeeding navigator’s watch, the 6B/542 was supplied by Omega in an order of 5900 pieces from 1953.  It was an Omega model CK2777-1 with a 17 jewel 283 movement.   The original thin arrow model is shown on the right, and the redialled fat arrow or broad arrow dial on the left.

 

6b/542

CK2777-1 thin arrow

6b/542 case back
high quality fake rolex create and earn unique will work.

 

The case back on these models was engraved with the numbers, meaning (6645-101000- NATO code) ( 6B/542- RAF Store Reference Number)  (3695/53- Serial number/year of order).

Drawing on this military experience, in 1957 Omega released their Railmaster watch which had specially constructed case, dial, movement and dust cover using materials to shield against magnetic activity. The movement was copper finished and protected by a special double case and iron dust cover making it Omega’s first 1000 gauss anti-magnetic watch.

Omega CK 2914 catalog scan
1959 Omega Railmaster German catalogue scan Image by Steve Waddington and Richard Grimmel via Old-Omegas.com
Railmaster section
Image by Steve Waddington and Richard Grimmel via Old-Omegas.com

 

THE OMEGA RAILMASTER

The Omega Railmaster is best known for its anti-magnetic features. The timepiece is said to be able to resist 1000 Gauss or 0.1 Tesla. The timepiece had a short production run starting in 1957, and ending in 1963 while its trilogy counterparts continued in production.  Due to its short production run and limited pieces produced, it is one of the most collectible pieces of the trilogy today. Ref. 1 Omega issued a new version in 2003 called the Railmaster Co-Axial Chronometer, but this model has also been recently discontinued.  In 2012 Omega released the Railmaster XXL Chronometer which is still in production.

New Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Chronometer

Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Chronometer released in 2003

THE DIAL

One of the key elements for any timepiece to be anti-magnetic is the dial. The Railmaster dials are 1 mm thick, as opposed to the usual .4 mm. The dials also have luminescent markers for improved visibility.

The dials for the series have several marking variations but only come in two colors, black and white. The markings on the upper half of the dials feature the logo and signature of Omega, and some have the word “Automatic” underneath these markings.

The black version of the dial comes in several incarnations. The most common one seen has the markings “Railmaster” written in script on the bottom half of the dial by the 6 o’clock marker. This type of dial has numeric and short triangle markers at the poles, long triangle markers for every five minutes, and indices for every minute.

2914-1 railmaster
1957 CK2914-1 model.

 

2914-3 railmaster
Late 1950s CK 2914-3 dial with broad arrow hands and arrow second hand.

 

Another dial (the “Railroad” dial) is shown below, this CK 2914-4 having syringe hands and an arrow second hand.

Railmaster 2914-4

 

There are less common versions of the black dial for the Railmaster series. One of the versions released has the markings “Railmaster” written in Edwardian script, with shorter minute hash marks

Other variations of both the dial and hands are far less common; a broad arrow minute hand,  and a lollipop seconds hand are said to exist. Edwardian-style “Railmaster”

The “Railroad” dial which has all numeric markers, and shorter minute hash marks. It was made to comply with the Railroad Standard for watches during the 1960s.

Omega Railmaster dial with numerical markers
Railmaster with “Railroad” dial

 

There are also the prototype versions of the dials for the Railmaster series.   The first from about 1952 has a gladium hour hand, a baton minute hand, 5-minute markers in numerals on the chapter ring, and the inside back case is engraved 2777.   This is shown below with the RAF 53 Omega antimagnetic pilots watch.

2777omega 53 RAF

 

Another prototype of the Railmaster series was made in October 1955. This version has numeric markers, similar to the “Railroad” dial. The dial also has rectangular indices for every fifteen minutes and circular indices for every five minutes. There are 2 chapter rings, with tick marks between.There are fewer than ten pieces that have been seen of this version and only one had a white dial.

This watch, 2777-2 produced in 1955 and sold in Canada, bridged the gap from the 2777-1 RAF pilot’s military watch of 1953 to the first Railmaster production model, 2914-1.

2777-2
Image courtesy Omega forums user: gemini4

2777-2

 

 

THE RAILROAD APPROVED RAILMASTERS

The Railroad Approved versions of the Railmasters are those with white dials. These were produced for North American railroad companies in the early 1960s. The initial version of the dial has the logo and signature of Omega on the upper half of the dial with the word “Automatic” underneath it. The bottom half of the dial is dominated by the markings “Railroad Official Standard”. This type of dial has numerical markers for every hour with circular indices underneath. Some versions of this dial also have red inner numerical markers from 13 to 24 as the one shown below.

1960s Omega Canadian Pacific Railways Railmaster
1960s “Railroad Official Standard” Dial Image by Jeff Chiang & Robert Chen via Old Watch Club

 

Another version of the Railmaster with a white dial has the markings “Railmaster Official” on its bottom half with the word “Railmaster” written in script.

Omega "Railmaster Official" White Dial
“Railmaster Official” Dial

 

However, the watch produced by the Ball family in the 1960s was very similar to the white dialed “Official Railroad Standard” versions of Omega. The Ball company has been using the markings “Official Standard” on their pieces for years. Ball ended up suing Omega, and Omega was ordered to stop production. Due to its short production run and history, the white dialed versions of the series are some of the most sought after by collectors.

Omega Railmaster Railroad Official Standard dial and Ball Trainmaster Official Standard dial
Omega Railmaster “Railroad Official Standard” dial vs Ball Trainmaster “Official Standard” dial

 

THE HANDS

There are also several variations for the hands that came with the series. The Railmaster series are known to have come with broad arrow hands, Dauphine hands, baton hands, and leaf hands. There does not seem to be any specific pattern or order to which hands came with which versions. It is observed, however, that the initial versions of the CK 2914 mostly came with the broad arrow hour hands. According to Marco Richon’s book “Omega – A Journey through Time”, there was also a version of the series that came with the broad arrow minute hand.

Omega Railmaster Hand variations
Railmaster Hand Variants (from left to right): Broad arrow hour hand, Dauphine hands, and baton hands

 

For the white-dialed versions of the Railmaster, these came with leaf-shaped hands for the “Railmaster Official” model and “Official Railroad Standard” model.

White Omega Railmaster dial with leaf hands
“Railmaster Official” with leaf hands

 

THE BRACELET

There are two types of bracelets that were originally used on the Railmaster series. The earlier versions of the series are usually found with the 7077 Omega bracelet with #6 endlinks. The Omega 7077 bracelet is unique as it has “double links” which can be seen when it is stretched.

Omega 7077 "double links" bracelet
Omega 7077 bracelet with “double links”

 

The latter versions of the series usually come with the 7912 bracelet also with #6 endlinks. Unlike the 7077 bracelet, the 7912 has “7912” markings on the inside of the clasp. Both are flat link stretch bracelets and are hard to come by with the original end links.

Omega 7912 bracelet
Omega 7912 bracelet

 

THE CASE

The case for the Railmaster series is the key to its anti-magnetism. The timepiece has a double-constructed case. It has a Staybrite stainless steel outer case and a MuMetal inner plate creating a Faraday cage that protects the movement. The case measures 38mm with a screw-in case back.  The piece also comes with an armoured hesalite crystal.

Omega Railmaster MuMetal plate and Staybrite Steel case back
CK 2914 MuMetal plate and case back

 

The case back for the latter versions of the series have a picture of a seahorse whilst the initial version does not. The anti-magnetic case for the Railmaster can withstand up to 1000 Gauss, as opposed to the usual 60, and is water resistant of up to 60 meters or 200 ft.

Omega Railmaster case backs
Railmaster case backs with and without Seahorse engraving

 

The Railmaster uses a Naiad crown, which Omega also used on the Seamaster and Speedmaster. The crown further improves on the water resistance of the piece as the crown further seals as the pressure increases. A Naiad crown can be easily identified by the symbol inside the Omega logo that looks like a “Y”.

Naiad crown used with Omega Trilogy watches
Naiad crown with “Y” symbol

 

The reference/model number for the Railmasters is not readily visible upon looking at the piece. It is marked inside the case back of the series. The different reference numbers for the series range from 2914-1 to 2914-6. Later on, Omega changed the way they reference their timepieces and the code for the Railmaster series changed to 135.004. The new reference coding indicates the type/materials used for the piece. The code 135.004 indicates that the piece is a Men’s watch with manual winding and is water resistant. Elite Timepieces has a page containing information on how to read Omega reference numbers.

Omega Railmaster case back engravings
Ref. code engravings inside the Railmaster case back: 2914-X and 135.004

 

The Railmaster prototype uses a different case back reference number, which is the 2777. It is the same case back used for the Omega RAF 53 Pilot watch.

Ref 2777 case back used on Omega RAF 53 and Railmaster prototype
RAF 53 case back with ref. 2777

 

The Railroad Approved versions of the series used different reference numbers, 165.001 and 165.002. The main difference they have with the serial production of the series is that they make use of automatic winding movements, the Cal. 550 and Cal. 552.

Omega 165.002 case back engraving
Case back with Ref. 165.002

 

THE MOVEMENT

There are several movements released for the Railmaster series. For the versions that were included in the serial production, the movements used were Cal. 284, Cal. 285, and Cal. 286, depending on the year of release. The Cal. 284 movement was used in models that were released in 1957 until 1958. The Cal. 285 was used from 1958 until 1961. After this time, the Cal. 286 was used on the Railmasters until 1963. All of the movements make use of 17 jewels, measure 30mm in diameter, and are manual winding.

Movement Cal. 284 Cal. 285 Cal. 286
Manufacturer Omega
Picture Omega Cal 284 movement Omega Cal. 285 movement Omega Cal 286 movement
Production Run 1957-1958 1958-1961 1961-1963
Markings OMEGA
Swiss 17 Jewels
284
OMEGA Swiss
Seventeen 17 Jewels
285
OMEGA Swiss
Seventeen 17 Jewels
286
Height 30mm 30mm 30mm
Width 5.10mm 5.10mm 5.10mm
No. of jewels 17 17 17
Winding Manual Manual Manual
Shock proof Yes Yes Yes
Non-magnetic Yes Yes Yes

 

The serial number for the piece can also be found on the movement and helps give an indication of when the piece was made. You can check this page from Elite Timepieces for a better idea of when a piece was produced based on its serial number.

For the 1955 prototype, the movement used was quite unique as it was a Cal. 283 with a swan neck regulator/index, or what is termed as the Cal. 283 Rg. This is the only known movement to be used with the prototype. The movement was no longer used as of December 1957.

Omega Cal. 283 movement
An Omega Cal 283 similar to the one used in the Railmaster prototype Image by Ranfft Watches

 

For the Railroad Approved versions of the Railmasters, there were two movements used, the Cal. 550 and the Cal. 552. According to the Omega article from 2003, the movement used for the 1963 “Railroad Official Standard” model was the Cal. 552, which was developed for the Canadian Pacific Railways. On the other hand, versions with the “Railmaster Official” markings on the dial are usually found with the Cal. 550 movement.

Movement Cal 550 Cal 552
Manufacturer Omega
Picture Omega Cal. 550 Omega Cal. 552 movement
Year Created 1960 1958
Markings OMEGA WATCH CO. Swiss
550
17 Jewels
OMEGA WATCH CO. Swiss
552
24 Jewels
Height 27.90mm 27.90mm
Width 4.50mm 4.50mm
No. of jewels 17 24
Winding Automatic Automatic
Shock proof Yes Yes
Non-magnetic Yes Yes

Image of Omega Cal. 552 by Ranfft Watches

The Cal. 550 and Cal. 552 are different from the movements used in the serial production as they are automatic winding. The Cal. 552 also has 24 jewels while the Cal. 550 still has 17 jewels.

EXECUTIONS

There are various versions of the Railmasters with the following reference/ model numbers: 2914-1, 2914-2, 2914-3, 2914-4, 2914-5, 2914-6, and 135.004 when Omega changed their reference coding system.

There are incarnations of the series that have automatic winding and would have the reference numbers 165.001 and 165.002. The prototype for the Railmasters would have the reference number 2777.

Omega Railmaster variations

RECOMMENDATIONS:

There is a broad range of versions for the Omega Railmaster that a collector may choose to purchase. You may choose to go for the pieces that were included in its serial production, which are relatively easy to acquire. You can also go for the versions with a limited production but bear in mind that these are seldom found and would have a heftier price tag. Here are some recommendations to help you get started with your search.

A PLACE TO START

A good version to start with would be the early models produced for the series. Tell-tale signs of an early version are those with the reference number 2914-1 with broad arrow hands and Cal. 284 movement. Another piece to look out for is those with the elusive Edwardian script.

Omega CK 2914-1 with broad arrow hands
1959 CK 2914-1 with broad arrow hour hands

 

Online auctions are a good place to start when looking for these pieces. There are also some pieces that are sometimes sold on Ebay, but ensure to be careful about authenticity and scrutinize the pictures posted. Prices for these versions of the series would usually be around $ 8,000

THE BEATER

Some of the common Railmasters that can be found online are those that were produced during the latter part of the series’ run. Those with Cal 286 movements from the 1960s are fairly easy to find and most are in good condition. Prices for these versions of the series sold in the past years are around the $5,000.

Omega CK 2914-4 with baton hands
1960s CK 2914 with baton hands

 

THE HIGH END

The more elusive pieces are the military versions of the series. There are two military versions produced for the series. The first one is a cross between the Railmaster and Seamaster. It was produced for the Pakistani Air Force (PAF). The PAF did not seem to take a liking towards the Railmaster dials and requested for Seamaster dials and case backs to be put on the timepieces instead. These pieces, however, still have the case and movement of a Railmaster. The case back would feature the markings “P.A.F.” and were delivered to the Pakistani Air Force in the early 1960s.

PAF Railmaster
An example of a PAF Railmaster/Seamaster Image by sohail via Omega Forums

There are two variants for the PAF version of the series. The first had the Seamaster markings on the case back, the Seahorse, the PAF signature, and the serial number for the piece. This variant would have the 135.004 model number (e.g. 135.004-63). Another variant would only have the initials “P.A.F” on the case back and PAF engravings on the movement. This variant would have the 2914 model number (e.g. CK2914-5). These pieces are seldom found for sale as there were only around 200 made. It usually costs around $15,000 and can be found for sale on online auctions and trading corners of watch forums.

THE GRAIL

A rarer military version of the Railmaster is the one produced for the Fuerza Aerea Peruana (FAP) or the Peruvian Air Force. The piece also makes use of the Railmaster case and movement, but the dial and case back features markings for the Flightmaster, which was not yet released during the time the pieces were ordered in 1964.

flightmaster/railmaster
Railmaster/Flightmaster issued to the Peruvian Air Force

Flightmaster

 

There are only a few hundred pieces ever produced of this version of the series. The model number CK2914-4 is on the inside caseback. All hand variations were used: Broad arrow, Dauphine and baton.  Pieces in good condition are extremely expensive and can be found on online auction sites.

A FAP catalogue for the model shows the original price $45.00

Flightmaster catalogue

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR OMEGA RAILMASTER:

Even though it had a short production run, there are still several Omega Railmaster pieces that are available nowadays. For information regarding the Omega vintage pieces, you can visit their database found here. It is also possible to request for anExtract of the Archives from Omega for information regarding a vintage timepiece that you own. Other sites that may be of help when looking for information about vintage Omega watches are Old-OmegasChronoMaddox, and RochPro Watch Gallery.

 

From The Spring Bar Store:

 

References:

  1. Adrian,  CK2914, Auction site, 2013
  2. Ariel Adams, Collecting Vintage Omega Watches, Blog post,2011
  3. Bill Sohne, THREE HIGH-PRECISON WATCHES FOR SPECIAL ASSIGNMENTS…, Website, 2001
  4. Chronocentric user Jack Wong, FS: Vintage  CK 2914 & Seamaster CK 2913,1st Gen, Forum ad, 2009
  5. Chronocentric user SteveW62, Here are some pics of an original 7077, Forum post, 2007
  6. Elite Timepieces, Omega Wristwatch serial Numbers and Omega Wristwatch Reference Number Decoder, Watch dealer website, n.d.
  7. Heirloom Gallery, RARE OMEGA AUTOMATIC RAILROAD OFFICIAL STANDARD Ca. 1963, Watch dealer website, n.d.
  8. Hodinkee, A Railmaster Called A Seamaster: What Did Pakistan Have Against The Railmaster?, Online magazine, 2009
  9. Jason Heaton, The Third “Master” In Omega’s Trilogy of Tool Watches: The Railmaster Explained, Online magazine, 2010
  10. MWR user jatucka, Omega Flightmaster F.A.P. a very rare milwatch…, Forum post, 2008
  11. Omega, OMEGA and “Railway Time”, Omega website, 2003
  12. Omega, Seamaster Railmaster, Omega website, n.d.
  13. Omega, The new Railmaster, Omega website, 2003
  14. Omega Forums user dsio, Naiad Crowns Info, Forum post, 2012
  15. Omega Forums user mementomori1985, Interesting piece…ref: 165.002, Forum post, 2013
  16. Omega Forums user sohail, Two of a kind , PAF rare seamasters…., Forum post, 2014
  17. Omega Forums user ulackfocus, Reply to Need help comfirming this railmaster authentic or not, Forum post, 2012
  18. Omega Forums users watchyouwant and sohail, Opinions, Railmaster / Flightmaster, Panama Air Force, Forum post, 2013
  19. Omega Forums users watchyouwant and sohail, another issued Railmaster on the bay………., Forum post, 2013
  20. Omega Forums user watchyouwant, My Railmasters., Forum post, 2013
  21. Orologi Passion user robertortolani,Railmaster ’63, Forum post, 2012
  22. PuristSPro user Bill Sohne, Review-Omega: A 9 year story – The watch that almost got away!, Forum post, 2008
  23. PuristSPro users Bill Sohne and watchdude, vintage railmaster, Forum post, 2009
  24. PuristSPro user blomman, Nicolas, it sounds like we are doing the same homework…, Forum post, 2011
  25. PuristSPro user DrStrong, My Grail-Master has landed, Forum post, 2014
  26. PuristSPro user mrsnak, Railmasters, Forum post, 2010
  27. PuristSPro user MSNWatch, Reply to Bracelet question, Forum post, 2010
  28. PuristSPro user tdn.dk, Reply to Opinion on this Omega RailRoad Wristwatch.., Forum post, 2012
  29. Serge, The legendary Railmaster CK 2914, Website, n.d.
  30. Serge, Scarce and collectable steel Omega bracelets, Website, n.d.
  31. Steve Waddington, Old-Omegas, Website, n.d.
  32. Tim Mackrain, SEARCH BY name : ‘Railmaster’, Website, n.d.
  33. timezone.com user omeganut, Re: Railmaster: Value, cleaning?, Forum post, 2009
  34. timezone.com user watchyouwant, military vintage railmaster from the 60´s confirmed from biel,Forum post, 2005
  35. TZ-UK user dickstar1977, Reply to Very rare Omega on Ebay, Forum post, 2013
  36. TZ-UK user dickstar1977 and M4tt, When’s Railmaster not a Railmaster? When its a Flightmaster, Forum post, 2011
  37. TZ-UK user flame, 1963 Railmaster ST135.004…., Forum post, 2013
  38. TheWatchGuy.com, OMEGA, Website, n.d.
  39. Watch Pop user Bill Sohne, Reply to Unusual Railmaster–Can anyone shed some light?, Forum post, 2012
  40. WatchesToBuy.com, Railmaster Automatic, Watch dealer website, n.d.
  41. watchuseek user E.F. Schwerin and Kungfucowboy, New watch day: vintage Railmaster, Forum post, 2012
  42. watchuseek user Francois Boucher, Re: Are vintage Railmasters really going for this much?, Forum post, 2010
  43. watchuseek user Hewybaby, Re: Omega’s numbering system, Forum post, 2008
  44. watchuseek user mondodec, Re: Are vintage Railmasters really going for this much?, Forum post, 2010
  45. watchuseek user Per K, Re: Railmaster 2914 caseback, Forum post, 2007
  46. watchuseek user PMONTOYAP and E.F. Schwerin, What was this Railroad Omega that just went off the bay, Forum post, 2012
  47. watchuseek user Wytnucls, Railmaster/Seamaster Pakistan Air Force, Forum post, 2009

Omega Chronostop 145.008 Collector’s Guide

In the case of premium luxury brands, there will always be an entry-level, a sense of belonging but not quite being there. It’s what the Boxster is to a Porsche’s 911, the Ghost to a Rolls’ Royce Phantom, the E-class to a Mercedes S-class. You’re given a gold membership invitation for an exclusive club when there are platinum and diamond doors just within arm’s reach. You are a karate student with a brown belt, inches but a world away to a seasoned master’s black. Close but not close enough. In the world of luxury watches, this makes all the difference.  Unfairly, yet accurately, this characterizes the Omega Chronostop Reference 145.008. Released in 1966 as a third-fiddle to the technically superior- and significantly more expensive- Speedmaster and Seamaster chronograph models, it was designed for the young and up-and-coming; a whiff that there’s more to come.

Omega Chronostop Vintage ad

THE OMEGA CHRONOSTOP’S HISTORY

Upon its release in 1966, the Chronostop was equipped with all the bells and whistles afforded to a top-of-the-line sports watch of that era. With an extremely accurate 21,600 half beats per hour running speed, shock resistance and internal anti magnetic protection, it immediately garnered the top prize in the prestigious Federation Horologer competition. More notably, the Chronostop came equipped essentially with the same manual wind, 17 jewels Omega caliber 865 movement, as the technically superior Speedmaster models. Though it was merely missing the additional 12 hour register and external anti-magnetic dust cover, possessed instead by the Speedmaster,it was valued only at  about half the price. Though at the time of its release it was considered as an expensive luxury watch a, the Chronostop is now regarded as one of the best bargains among vintage watch collectors.  A total of 124,000 units were produced, and yet, it has become increasingly difficult to lay hands on an original piece, with prices going up to $3,000 for a prime specimen.

Omega Chronostop 1968 catalog

Taken from the 1968 Omega Chronostop catalog featuring the three variations of the turning scale series

VARIATIONS OF THE OMEGA CHRONOSTOP

The original Chronostop Reference 145.00 came with a Tonneau-shaped case with black, tritium point, luminous hour and minute baton hands. Its chronograph function had a sixty second stopwatch with an orange-colored dial, operated by pushing a button located at the 2 o’clock position. Always upholding its reputation as a high performance watch, three additional variations were released for the Chronostop Reference 145.008 from 1966 to 1969. All variations had a 41-millimeter stainless steel, waterproof tested case (120m) that came with either a leather or steel strap. They also shared a similar rotating inner bezel controlled by the crown located at 10 o’clock. All the variations displayed times to 1/5 per second.

The first variation was the Omega Seamaster “Pilot” Chronostop, featuring a 24-hour bezel with a second time zone. Released in 1967, the second variation, the Omega Chronostop Regatta, added yacht timers, especially designed for yachting enthusiasts. The countdown Chronostop came with a blue and red rotating yacht bezel. Lastly, the Seamaster Chronostop Jumbo Diver, released in 1969, was used extensively by amateur divers for the ease with which they could check their diving times, courtesy of the 0 to 60 scale. This variation came housed in a rare oversized (pristine) case, with an 865 manual winding movement exclusive for this specific variation.

Omega Seamaster “Pilot” Chronostop; B. Omega Chronostop Regatta; C. Seamaster Chronostop Jumbo Diver

Omega Seamaster “Pilot” Chronostop; B. Omega Chronostop Regatta; C. Seamaster Chronostop Jumbo Diver

SPECIFICATIONS

The 1960s were a time in which Omega was regarded as one of the premier watchmakers in the world. The quality of the build and workmanship of its watches arguably remain unmatched to this very day. Upon its release, the Omega Chronostop was marketed as a Technical Watch, powered by the in-house Caliber 865, with raw ebauches provided by the legendary watch movement manufacturer Lemania.

Omega Chronostop Lemania Caliber 865 movement

The Lemania Caliber 865 movement

MOVEMENT

The manual wind caliber 865 movement was released in 1966, specifically targeting the younger, less affluent buyers. Its 17 jewels provided it with an extremely accurate 21,600 bpm. Some may criticize this watch for its limited “stop-second watch” function, which allowed to record times up to one minute only, with the wearer having to rotate the inner bezels as a marker for minutes, making the process of recording longer times quite cumbersome. Nonetheless, it is significant to note that the 865 movement was, for all intents and purposes, a simplified version of the Calibre 861 found in the much more expensive Speedmaster line.

caliber 865 & caliber 861

Cal. 861 (left) Cal. 865 (right)

DIALS

The dials for the different variations came in monochromes of black. The Pilot Omega Chronostop had “black sunskin”, the Regatta’s dials came in “matte black”, while the Seamaster Chronostop jumbo diver’s dials were simply black. All variations shared luminous batons for the hour and minute dials. They also shared the trait of having orange colored chronograph hands ,and the “Stop-second”, displaying 1/5 second divisions, enclosed in a white ring. Arabic numerals were in all three variations.

 A. Omega Seamaster “Pilot” Chronostop in black sunskin; B. Omega Chronostop Regatta in matte black; C. Seamaster Chronostop Jumbo Diver in black

A. Omega Seamaster “Pilot” Chronostop in black sunskin; B. Omega Chronostop Regatta in matte black; C. Seamaster Chronostop Jumbo Diver in black

CASE

The Caliber 865 reference 145.008 has a diameter of 41mm and a 5.70mm high mainspring. The case was created in stainless steel and was tested to be waterproof up to 120 meters. Imprinted on the screw-back was an Omega logo, as well as an image of a seahorse. An acrylic crystal movement was used. Designed for very rugged use, the Chronostop Reference 145.008, as previously stated, was produced as a  variation of other Omega models, targeted for specific users.

Omega Chronostop Seahorse logo

Omega’s trademark seahorse image

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Chronostop is not as well regarded as more expensive Omega models from the 1960s, such as the Speedmaster Professional. Better known today as the “Moonwatch”, it is famous for being strapped to Neil Armstrong’s wrist during the Apollo 11 mission. Yet the Omega Chronostop Reference 145.008 is, in essence, a simplified version of this vintage classic.

Omega Speedmaster

Speedmaster Professional Cal. 861 Ref. 145.022

When searching for an Omega Chronostop Reference 145.008 to add to your collection, look for a particular specimen that is near, or in mint condition. As most models are worn for having been used in rugged and trying conditions, it is difficult to find one without visible signs of wear and tear. It is recommended to acquire a piece having the original dials, distinguishable by the “Omega Chronostop, Geneve” signature. The movement should also bear the words “Omega Swiss, 17 Jewels”, on its pink gold bridge, to indicate authenticity.  At the back, there should be an imprint of the Seamaster with the Omega logo, an image of a seahorse, and the words “waterproof tested 120m”. The watch must have been serviced only by Omega authorized service centers. If possible, ask for papers indicating that this has been done.

Omega Chronostop caseback and movement

Remember that the Omega Chronostop Reference 145.008 was released in three variants, with a specific use intended for each of the models. As discussed above, the watch came in the guise of a divers’ watch, a regatta timer, and a pilots’ watch.

The “Pilot” Chronostop was designed with a 1/12-13/24 scale and came equipped with a feature that allowed the time of two different time zones to be read simultaneously. The function is achieved with the use of the inner 24-hour bezel set to a second-time zone. It is also affectionately called the “Roulette” bezel, because of its striking resemblance to a roulette wheel. This model was intended for global travellers and commercial airline pilots. These are some of the most notable things to look for when purchasing said variants.

Omega Chronostop Pilot bezel

The Pilot Chronostop’s distinctive Roulette bezel

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

The Chronostop Regatta also called the “countdown”, is distinguishable by a blue and red rotating bezel. The variant is designed with a 15-minute regatta scale that is ideally set for regatta countdowns. This comes as a  function tailored for such races, as sailboats are positioned at a starting buoy when the gun goes off, and cross the starting line 15 minutes later. It is distinguished by the name “Seamaster” written below the dials. Very few of these models were ever sold, making it a very rare variant for this watch.

 Omega Chronostop Regatta bezel

Chronostop Regatta’s blue and red rotating bezel

THE GRAIL

One of the most unique versions of the Omega Chronostop Reference 145.008 is the Jumbo Chronostop model. It features a rare inner rotating 24-hour bezel, controlled by the crown at 10:00. The one-button chronograph has a 40mm signed stainless steel screw-back case and reverse pie-pan dials with raised silver markers. The original dials come in matte black, while the chronograph has white hands and red chronograph sweep seconds. The acrylic crystal and crowns located at 4:00 and 10:00 should also be signed.

Jumbo Diver rotating bezel

The Jumbo Diver Chronostop’s inner rotating bezel controlled by the crown at 10:00

WHAT TO LOOK FOR AND WHAT TO AVOID

All inner bezels rotate with the crown at 10 o’clock, so watch out for aftermarket replacements. The Omega Chronostop Reference 145.008’s strap came in leather or steel, a collector’s item in their own rite. The demand for vintage Omega watches has driven the price up, thus unmodified samples have become difficult to come by. As a rule, Omega watch parts are ordered by caliber number and must be accompanied by corresponding warranty papers.

From The Spring Bar Store:

 

References:

  1. timezone user WalterKross, A Watch With a History…., Forum post January 2013
  2. SometimeAgo, Omega Seamaster Chronostop pilot, Article 2014
  3. timezone user Cliff Helander, OMEGA CHRONOGRAPH 145.008 Calibre 865 JUMBO CHRONOSTOP, Forum post September 2013
  4. Jason Heaton, Timekeeping Selects: OMEGA Chronostop, Article
  5. atgvintagewatches user DaveS, FS – 1968 Omega Chronostop 120m Diver with Internal Bezel – 145.008, Blog post May 2010
  6. vintage-watches-collection, Vintage Omega Watches for sale
  7. Derek Dier, Omega Geneve Chronostop Diver, December 2014
  8. watchuseek user turboBB, A little help with info on Omega Chronostop., Forum post-November 2009
  9. Steve Waddington, Omega Chronostop Wrist watches, September 2003
  10. manoftheworld, Omega Seamaster Chronostop, Online retailer
  11. chronomaddox, Omega Watches and their Movements, Article
  12. retrovintagewatches, OMEGA Seamaster Chronostop Jumbo Diver – 865 Chronograph – 145.008 Vintage 1969 with Papers 1972, Online retailer
  13. bachmann-scher, OMEGA VINTAGE SEAMASTER CHRONOSTOP REF-145008 STAINLESS STEEL BJ-1968, Online retailer
  14. watchuseek user andyxx1100, FS: Omega Chronostop 145.008 ca 1968 – Beautiful Condition, Forum post June 2008
  15. Auctioneer Rich Pontier, Omega Seamaster Chronostop – men’s wrist watch – 1968-1969, Auction site
  16. thedivewatchconnection user corto, Speedmaster Mark II Racing & Seamaster Chronostop, Forum post February 2012
  17. ebay seller kardinalpuff, Vintage Omega Seamaster Chronostop Caliber 865 #145.008 S.Steel C & B, Online retailer
  18. ebay seller oldtime6616, Vintage 65’s OMEGA Chronostop Seamaster Jumbo 41mm Cal 865 C Ref 145.008, Online retailer
  19. christies, OMEGA. AN UNUSUAL AND LARGE STAINLESS STEEL TONNEAU-SHAPED WATER-RESISTANT STOP-SECONDS DUAL TIME CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH, Auction site
  20. philippinewatchclub user Egyptfive,  ST145.008, October 2013
  21. timelinewatch, Timeline Watch, Article
  22. Ashley Budgen, Omega Chronostop Regata, Blog post 2014
  23. chronocentric user Ernest Molina, FS: Pair of Vintage OMEGA Chronostop Chronographs Ref: 145.008, Forum post July 2012
  24. ebay seller vtg.watches, OVERSIZED 1968 OMEGA SEAMASTER CHRONOSTOP SS MENS WATCH CAL 865 REF:145.008, Online retailer December 2014
  25. watchlords user koimaster, Omega Diver Generations – From WUS, Forum post October 2012
  26. lacotedesmontres, Omega, “Seamaster Chronostop”, No. 27056031, Ref. ST 145.008, Online retailer
  27. worthpoint, GENUIINE VINTAGE OMEGA SEAMASTER ‘JUMBO’ CHRONOSTOP DIVER WATCH : ST 145.008, Online retailer
  28. db1983, http://www.db1983.com/our-archive/omega-seamaster-145008-chronostop-1967, Online retailer
  29. chrono24 seller A Novavenida Relojoeiros Lda., Omega Seamaster Chronostop and steel ref.145.008 cal.865, Online retailer
  30. Chuck Maddox, 1968: ‘New: the Omega CHRONOSTOP Measures time in 5th’s of a second’, Article January 2003