Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1964 vintage Seikomatic on "Omega" style open mesh bracelet...

I have a small collection of 1964 Seikomatics, including this rather nice vintage Seikomatic Weekdater 6218-8970. I only use these Seikomatics very occasionally, for formal business meetings where a diver would be out of place, or for special family occasions, such as weddings. I have my other Seikomatics on leather straps, but have been looking for a bracelet which complements this particular watch (my favorite Seikomatic), makes a statement and at the same is appropriate for formal occasions.

Well, my quest is over, with the new 19mm "shark" mesh which I picked up from SCWF member and supplier wjean (http://myworld.ebay.com/wjean28/. For those who havent seen the earlier review, I also have my Citizen Nighthawk on the same mesh, although in 22mm (http://www.thewatchsite.com/index.php/topic,2475.0.html), and the effect is IMHO equally stunning!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Impressions of the new "Omega-type" heavy mesh diver bracelet.

Ever since my interest for vintage dive watches started, I have yearned for an Omega mesh. We all know them, but not many of us pluck up the courage to take 300 dollars out of the housekeeping jar to be the proud owner of one. One of the great mysteries of WISdom for me (ranking up there with missing bracelet pin collars and that one screw left over from my last repair) is why no aftermarket mesh with open mesh end links has ever been offered! Webpage after webpage of cyberdrool every time someone posts a diver on an Omega mesh must surely speak volumes about the potential market!

Well, wait no more, they're here - and wjean (http://myworld.ebay.com/wjean28/) and stella (tungchoywatches) have them! I just got one in the post, and I quote: "And it came to pass I beheld them, and they were good":

After fitting the mesh to the Tuna, I thought I would give it a try on the Nighthawk. Now, it was amazing on the Tuna, however the effect of the mesh on the Nighthawk is nothing short of stunning! Somehow the mesh transports the Nighthawk to a watch which you could wear at work, on the beach and still be suitable for formal evening wear. The mesh is amazingly versatile, and seems ideally suited to a large, sporty watch.


Out of the box the bracelet is lighter than I had expected. The mesh is thick and yet very flexible, and the clasp feels sufficiently solid. I have often been disappointed by clasps on after-market bracelets, but the clasps here are appropriate. Fitting is very easy, and the effect of the pin through the links is visually appealing. Note that these bracelets will not accept fat spring bars for divers, but wjean does offer special regular width bars with thicker pins for divers.

The finish on the strap I received is brushed. Each row of links appears to be a spiral or coil of wire, so there is a "free" end at each end of each coil. These free ends have  been filed (for want of a better word) and pushed in to make a flush ending - I wondered if they would catch on clothing or hair but I have had no problem in this respect. The links have also been filed or brushed on top to make a flat surface which is very pleasing - a nice detail. There is a good amount of space between the links, and I have noticed that my arm is dry under the bracelet, even though it is humid, while the Monster on my other arm is sticking to a thin layer of sweat. The mesh is definitely a cooler bracelet and will be a sure winner this summer!

Just after I fitted the bracelet to my Nighthawk, a friend of mine (who also has a Nighthawk) dropped by and immediately noticed the new configuration. His eyes widened and he said "That I HAVE to have, would you order me one!". I absolutely recommend these mesh bracelets - get one, you wont be disappointed. I expect these bracelets will be a major posting topic on watch forums this summer.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

An Omega Speedmaster in Paris...

Not quite a Seiko, but I thought I would share a few Speedmaster momements in Paris ...

Disneyland Entrance. The Speedy came in useful to time the wait for rides: typically 1-1½ hours.

Somebody left this standing after the World Fair over a hundred years ago and never bothered to remove it. Two hour wait to get to the second floor. If we had wanted to get to the top the 12h chrono on the Speedy would have been useful.

View of the city from Sacre Couer. Strap change in honour of the solemnity of the situation.

Champs Elysees, after breakfast at MacDonalds (what can I say, my kids are 14, 10 and 9). Out of the corner of my eye, my mouth stuffed with Bacon MacMuffin, I espied the Omega sign...

Omega, Paris. Moonwatch exhibition (right), Constellations (left) and youths wondering who JFK was . Friendly staff (hidden, center) had seen me dribble at the Moonwatch exhibition, and noticeing my Speedy, had unlocked the security doors to give me some Moonwatch "stuff" and invite me inside. I sensibely declined 

Notice the cigarette nonchalantly poised behind my ear. I am a great believer of blending in with the locals, and grew my moustache at the age of 12 in anticipation of this trip 

My son, wondering what we would be having for lunch.

Moonwatch exhibition, with my first sighting of the brown dial Speedy Pro. It was fun to see - I wonder if the astronauts ever really stood on top of the landing module, though? I had a brief vision of Buzz Aldrin standing on the roof to take a leak, but immediately banished that thought as entirely inappropriate...

The 40th Anniversary - pictured during the 40th Anniversary  Expensive.

The limited-to-69-pieces platinum 40th Anniversary. The number at the bottom left is 
not the telephone number.

Say no more. A striking contrast to the watch I had seen the previous day in the museum at Coulommiers:

 No platinum here - the movement is made of....wood!

After all that excitement, an espresso was in order...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Seiko Tuna 300m 7549-7010 disaster, diagnosis and repair

Happiness is a 7049-7010, Sharm-el-Sheikh, January 2010. Little did we know...

It was a dark and stormy night - I lent my son my Tuna to time a five minute foot bath (his foot), and he unintentionally dropped it on a particularly hard floor. Subsequently it ran intermittently, stopping for a while only to run again an hour later. This carried on for a few days, so I opened her up, checked the battery was seated ok, and it was.

Battery seated, as per spec....the plot thickens

At this stage my immediate reaction was to install a spare 7548 movement I have been saving for a project and send the 7549 module for a service. However, 7549 hands will not fit a 7548 movement, as the 7548 movment was developed on the basis of the 6309 mainplate, canon pinion and hour wheel. I wonder if Seiko originally planned to use the 6309 auto caliber in the Tuna, and switched to quartz during its development? Anyway, I was in a quandry as to whether I should install the 7548 caliber with 6309 hands, or whether I should retain the original caliber, dial and hands.

At that precise moment I received a mail from Ken Setser, who encouraged me to take on the diagnosis of the faulty movement, and provided me with a step by step diagnosis strategy. Ken wrote:Harry,The first thing you want to do is to determine if you have a mechanical or electronic problem. 1. Check the battery2. Check to make sure screws are tight and battery insulator is in place. 3. If everything above checks out then you want to get a small compass and set it on the coil(copper colored). The coil should pulse every second and the hand of the compass should deflect whenever it pulses. If the compass hand moves then the problem is mechanical. If it doesn't then the problem is electronic. 4. You want to determine if the problem is in the coil or the electronic module. If you have a ohm meter you can check for continuity in the coil. My guess that the coil would be the problem if it is an electrical problem. If you can, do step 1-3 and let me know what you find. Ken

Under the microscope I was able to confirm that all connections appeared to be intact, and that the jewels and wheel where sitting correctly.

Jewels and small things seated as they should be.

More of the same. I like microscopes.

The next step was to test the coil. A quick trip to the local tourist store netted a small compass, which I placed directly on the movement.

The compass was placed directly on the movement.

For a particularly fascinating video, please see: http://biocomm.eu/7549repair/5.wmv (Remember popcorn). Say, does anyone know how to embed a video?

OK, so YouTube it is:

Hear the tock-tock in the background? Thats our grandfather clock!

So I proudly answered Ken:

Hi Ken I can confirm that when the watch stops, the compass stops moving (as opposed to the 1-sec pulses of the needle clearly obvious when the watch is running), suggesting that the problem is electronic. The movement tends to restart when I wear the watch, but leaving the watch on a hard surface overnight will leave it in a stable state, ie running overnight if left when running, dead overnight if left when dead. I have tried gently prodding the movement to induce running, without luck. The movement will often start running when I loosen the caseback, but not always - I'm sure this is an important piece of information... Am I correct in assuming that the next phase is to localize the source of the sporadic elctronic breakdown, between and including the battery (tried two new batteries) and the coil, on the circuit block itself? Incidentally, I have a spare 7548 movment - would it help troubleshooting to try to replace the 7549 circuit plate and coil with the entire working 7548 circuit plate and coil block, then with the 7549 plate / 7548 coil and vise versa? Of course, if the 7548 plate and coil are a straight switch (wishfulthinking) the problem would be solved, but I would really like to identify the source of the problem just for the challenge of it... The quest continues - I feel like I am playing a sort of WIS chess here! RegardsHarry

Almost immediately Ken replied:

Harry Great troubleshooting techniques. Here is what I think and what I would do. Since the problem is intermittent, I suspect a loose connedtion somewhere. Could be the battery to circuit; circuit to coil; or internal coil problem. I have attached some tech sheets for the movement so you will have some reference. 1. Check the - battery contact to make sure it is firmly attached to the circuit board. Also make sure it is raised enough to make firm connection to the battery 2. Make sure + battery strap is firmly attached to both sides of the circuit. 3. If you look at the circuit just to the left of the word "Japan" you will see a small cutout. Look in the cutout and you will see two gold colored fingers. These are the connections from the circuit to the coil. Make sure they are touching the coil underneath. The best way to do this is to remove the circuit and turn it over. the tech manual has the steps. 4. After you remove the circuit you can check the resisance of the coil. The resistance doesn't matter so much in your situation, only if it is open. 5. If, after doing steps 1-4 everything is ok then clean all the contact points with a pencil eraser, making sure you remove all bits of eraser when done. Reassemble the watch then try it. 6. Let me know what you find. Ken

So, at this stage I was sitting looking at a 7549 movment with an electronic fault, and beside it I had the 7548 movement I had originally planned to insert as a donor movement.

Left: faulty 7549 movement, right: 7548 movement. The mind boggles.

I then remembered that the 7549 was built around a 6309 mainplate, and it began to dawn on me that the 7548 and 7549 movments had different canon pinions and hour wheels (and thereore different minute and hour hand hole sizes), but the two movments I had before me seemed to have identical circuit blocks and coils! I quickly dug out a spare 7546 caliber movement, and again the circuit block and coil appeared identical!

Left: 7549 circuit block, right: 7548 circuit block. Background: artfully placed technical manual sheet.

Left: 7549 circuit block, right: 7548 circuit block.

Throwing caution to the wind, I replaced the circuit block with a circuit block from a 7546 spares movement.

The FrankenTuna, with culprit coil, and now-spare-7549 circuit block and magnetic shield.

While doing this I noticed the antimagnetic shield plate was missing (!) from the original 7549 movement, so I also scavenged the ditto part from the 7546. This failed to solve the problem, but I remembered that the 7546 movement was dead when I got it (these things happen when you get to my age) so the next step was to transfer the coil block from the 7548 movement and - hey presto - it lives!

The lesson learnt thus far is that 7546, 7548 and 7549 coils, circuit blocks and antimagnetic shield plates are freely and easily interchangeable. Considering that it is relatively easy to source 7546 and 7548 parts movements, this could certainly be useful information for some!

I fitted the now strongly-running movement into the case, snugged down the caseback and now have a caliber 7549 Tuna running a caliber 7548 coil in a caliber 7546 circuit block! This is the beauty of the 6309/6 and the 75xx series - they are so closely related and follow Seikos "Lego block" approach!

This amazing thing in this story, however, is that a professional watch restorer like Ken Setser would take the trouble to contact me, and the time to walk me through an extended diagnosis and repair process. And therein, children, lies the essence of the spirit of our WIS community. Thanks, Ken.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Omega Speedmaster on NATO straps

Not quite a Seiko - but the Speedmaster is one the the 10 ultimate tool watches. A tool watch can be defined in many ways, of which mine is "a watch that looks good on a NATO-G10" (as issued to the British MOD, NATO stock number Army/Navy (6645-99-124-2986) & RAF (6645-99-527-7059)).

If anyone is considering NATOs I hope this will help you decide one way or another, but for daily wearing the standard issue 20mm admiralty grey NATO is sure hard to beat...

Standard issue 20mm admiralty grey




GasGasBones NASA-issue "Flight Qualified":

Travellers set - a NATO for all occasions!