Quartz Fun

Had some free time and I decided to take a look inside of my two quartz watches.  It seems like not many people take photos of quartz watch movements and I wanted to add a little to the internet.  The first one I opened was my trusty, 5M62 based Seiko Kinetic:


As you can see, the movement is well detailed with thick cast and stamped metal parts.  All the metal surfaces are machine tooled or bead blasted.  The movement has 6 jewels, 2 are used on the self generating system.  The rotor or uneven weight is identical to mechanical automatic watches.  What is different is in an automatic watch, the weight spins pretty freely, then comes to stop.  This rotor starts slowly and takes a second or so to stop moving and does so with a slow, braking looking motion.  This is somewhat to be expected since what it happening is the rotor turns, turning 3 reduction gears, then turns the rotor on the generator.  You can see the cap jewels for the reduction gears here:


From what I have read, the generator inside spins at up to 100,000 RPM!  I don’t there are many companies out there that can manufacture a generator less than a 1/4″ across and work at those speeds.  The coils you see are actually the stepper motor and generator for the watch.  I am quite surprised how large they are.  They should last damn near forever with that many winds to the coils.


The one on the left is the generating coil, the one on the top is the stepper motor coil.


In this photo you can see the power storage cell, which is a titanium lithium ion battery in a shock absorbing housing.  This is something I have never seen in a quartz watch.  I wonder if other high end quartz watches share this feature?  Speaking of quartz, around the 10 o’clock position you can see the quartz oscillator. It looks like a metal tube.  There are two companies in the world that make their own quartz crystals, ETA and Seiko.   I looked at the service manual for it and the watch actually uses 4 jewels in the gear train.  2 for the stepper rotor, 1 for the fifth wheel, 1 for the center wheel.  Most companies don’t bother with jewels on quartz watches, but it really does extend the life.  The entire movement is held is what looks like a hard, thermal set plastic, then shock mounted (using the brass springs you can see at the edges of several photos) in a soft set plastic spacer ring.  I, again, have never seen so much shock protection in a quartz watch.  The movement has a traditional metal base.  Many aspects of this movement show that this watch was designed by a company that began with mechanical watches.  With 61 individual parts and the level of workmanship displayed, I expect this watch to work for decades to come.

As a contrast, here are the guts of my Fossil watch:


Inside my Fossil Speedway is a Miyota OS10 no jewel quartz chronograph movement.  Who is Miyota?  Miyota is basically Citizen’s movement making division.  They sell to anybody who wants a quartz or mechanical Japanese made movement.  They are very respected in the watch making world and a godsend to low end watch makers.  They make robust movements at low cost.  If you don’t care about having a Swiss movement and it’s not a Seiko, it probably has a Miyota movement.

The movement is based on a gray, plastic base and covered with a thin metal plate.  There is not much to see here, the stepper motor and quartz oscillator are hidden.  The battery is held in place with a small, metal clips.  Dispensing with the tradition machined metal base is certainly a cost reduction.  The plastic movement is held inside of a soft, plastic spacer ring.  Of course, this is not a very fair comparison.  The Miyota is a low cost quartz movement, the Seiko 5M62 movement alone is over $150.  A better comparison is to the Seiko 7T62 quartz chronograph:


The workmanship is pretty similar.  The Seiko movement does cost a little more, and has quite a few more features like 1/5 second tick, alarm, and second time zone.  I am actually quite happy to know that my Fossil has a Miyota movement, made in Japan.  I hope they continue this trend.

It was neat to look inside some quartz watches.  They are remarkable machines, but I still like my automatics more.  They are great for people who just want to slap on a watch and not worry about it.

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First J. Springs

J. Springs Model BEB006
Here it is, my first J. Springs.  It is made by SII, Seiko Instruments, Inc.  J. Springs is short for Japan Springs.  SII happens to make all of Seiko’s springs and advanced alloys.  Every other watch manufacturer relies on Elnivar (an alloy and the name of a company) for the special metal used to the balance wheel spring of a watch.  Seiko being Seiko, makes their own version, called SPRON 300, in their own factories.  So if Elinvar goes bye bye, Seiko can still make mechanical watches.  So I digress, back to this particular watch.

This is the BEB006.  It is a diver’s style watch with an all stainless steel body and a 120 click, unidirectional bezel.  The watch is pretty substantial at 41.5mm in diameter and a whopping 14mm thick.  That being said, it wears well on the wrist, due to the well turned  down lugs:

jsprings_sideAs you can see here, it has a signed crown, which is unusual for watch at this price point (comfortably under $100.)  The body of the watch is a all brushed, with the crown and the bezel have a high polish.  The crown is at the conventional 3 O’Clock position, unlike Seiko 5’s and has large crown guards.  The watch does not hand wind, since it is a based on the Seiko 7S26B aka the Y676B.

j_springs_21The band and clasp are really exemplary for a a sub $100 watch.  The links are solid and the clasp is a signed push button with a safety clasp.  It does not pinch at all and does not grab hairs.  The bracelet is brushed except for the two bands.  It compliments the brushed and polished case well.

j_springs_faceThe face of the watch is very detailed.  It is a radiall sunburst with a grid of matte dots.  The hands are a classic style are filled with some Lumibrite.  The markers and hands have a high polish and are placed flawlessly.  The chapter ring has marking at 1/5 of a second intervals up to 20 seconds, then every ten minuted thereafter.   It makes a for a very modern look.  The crystal is domed and perfectly polished.

Case: 41.5mm diameter, 14mm thick, stainless steel, 100m water resistance.
Back: Hardlex exhibition back, screw down.
Crystal: Hardlex, domed.
Movement: Automatic, Y676N, Seiko in-house design, 21 Jewels. No handwind or hacking.  Based on 7S26B.
Complications: Day of week, Date
Other:  Lumibrite, 120 click unidirectional bezel..

Overall, I really like this watch.  It is surprisingly easy to read, even with silver hands and a silver face.  I think my only complaint would be the lume is pretty weak.  It glows brightly to begin with, but dims rapidly.  The watch is very accurate (+8 seconds a day) and although heavy, is not hard to wear all day long.  It’s a real keeper and a great find by Tiffany, my lovely wife.

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First Impressions, Fustration, and Happiness (Hopefully)

You only get one chance at a first impression, so when I saw this watch, I thought it was very nice looking:

I really liked the way it looked, even though it violates my watch buying rules:

Always buy Seiko (or Orient, Lorus, J. Springs, or something owned by Seiko.)

Don’t buy Gold or Gold Plated

Don’t buy open heart watches.

Well, I violated the rules and bought it, a Lucien Piccard.   The fit and finish were very nice.  Chinese made, by the look of it.  22 jewel automatic, with hand winding , no hacking  It had a 24 hour and moon phase complication and a visible balance wheel.  It also had a small seconds hand.  Well, turns out the seconds hand was the cause of my problems.  I was looking at the watch the day after and saw the seconds hand stop, then jerk forwards.  Oh no.  Bad pinning of the seconds hand. Well, if you can’t get that right, what else will fail on the watch.  What happens when the seconds hand falls off and gets jammed in the balance wheel?  Well, I didn’t want to find out and I returned the watch the next day.  Crestfallen, I went looking for another watch in about the same price range.  Turns out Tiffany (my wife) spotted this one:

It’s a J. Springs BEB006 sports watch.  It’s made by SII, Seiko Instruments, Inc.  SII makes all the spring materials for Seiko, like SPRON 100, 300, etc.  J. Springs is common in the European and Japanese markets, but no so much here.  From what I have read, the quality is just as good or better than Seiko 5’s and Orients.  We shall see how it compares. It is 41.5mm in diameter and has a really eye catching look.  I know it also has a nice, solid link bracelet.  I think my review will be the first English language review, when I get it Monday, thank you very much United States Postal Service.

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