The introduction of the 50m Seiko SilverWave dive watch in 1961 marked a number of firsts for Seiko: it represented their first semi-serious divers watch, (although not iso-rated and therefore not qualifying as a professional divers watch by today’s standards); it was their first watch with an inner rotating timing bezel; and it was their first automatic watch with a screw-down case back. The earlier incarnations of these lovely watches were identified with the model number J12082, a numbering convention preceding the familiar eight digit system currently used by Seiko. The naming conventions for the movement calibres was similarly different, with the 20 jewel automatic 603 calibre fitted to these earlier watches essentially the same as the 6201 caliber, subsequently used with additional complications in the more celebrated 62MAS divers, world timers and numerous Seikomatic dress watches.
Photo credit: http://www.h4.dion.ne.jp/~smatic/
The main distinguishing features of the 50m version of the Silverwave, produced under the Seikomatic line, were the screw-down case back (in fact a two part affair, with a separate retaining ring screwing down over a press fit back); a conventional count-up bezel (also of two part construction); and the 20 jewel 603 movement. These watches were produced for about three years until 1964 when they were joined/replaced by a budget version marketed as the Sportsmatic Silverwave, with model number 69799, superficially identical in appearance but featuring a slightly more workmanlike 17 jewel 2451/6601 movement and, by virtue of its press-fit case back, a reduced 30m water resistance. This watch was produced at least until 1965* at which point its model number had been upgraded under the new numbering convention to 6601-7990. It is the 30m 697990 version which is the subject of this post.
My watch was secured, as is my wont, via a poorly described and photographed Ebay auction about a year ago. The description was sparse but the single photo just about good enough to allow the eagle-eyed to identify what was on offer:
When it arrived a day or two later, I was quietly encouraged that this one would not take too much to lick into shape:
The watch was complete, in decent condition overall but a non-runner. The pistachio-ice-cream-green lume displaying tell-tale signs of encroaching mung, the bezel pip lume missing altogether and the outer crystal retaining bezel a bit on the tatty side. Removing that tatty bezel and crystal reveals the inner bezel, unconventionally a count-down bezel (10 to 60 displayed anticlockwise rather than clockwise on the count-up bezel of the 50m variant), made of black plastic, but faded to dark grey as is typical of these watches.
In fact this ghosting of the bezel is at least partly reversible though judicious cleaning with watchmakers putty but the main job with this part would be to sort the missing lume pip. These one-piece rotating bezels on the 30m variant are made entirely of plastic, with teeth to the rear engaging with a toothed wheel mounted on the crown. They can be subject to damage but the example on this watch appears fine.
The dial is not too bad at all considering it’s approaching its 50th birthday. It’s a bit dirty and the black lines marking the lume dots betraying the drooping inclination of the hour hand, causing it to come into light contact with the lume dots on its journey around the dial. Although the lume is in reasonable condition overall, I have to say its hue is more than I can tolerate and the need to relume the timing ring pip means that a hand/dial relume is on the cards. More of that later.
We take note at this point though the broken screw head securing the movement to the movement spacer (we’ll be coming back to this in a while). Next, off comes the movement spacer (having extracted that broken screw), an operation that must precede dial removal because access to the dial feet screws is otherwise obscured. Dial off and we are into our familiar routine of breaking down the movement, winding bridge down.
Looks alright doesn’t? Rather begs the question at this point as to why it won’t run (at all). Removing the autowinding bridge exposes the train wheel and barrel bridge, and barrel ratchet wheel. If you go now and take a quick peak at a shot of a 6601A at a similar point in proceedings here, you will see that the two movements are basically the same.
I can only imagine that a watchmaker has at some point thought to reduce barrel arbor end shake by trying to close up the hole in the bridge but it seems like a very crude approach to me. This impression is further reinforced when we turn the bridge over and we see an impression of the click spring has made its way all the way to the other side. I have no clue how that might have happened other than to suggest that the click spring came under fire when the arbor hole was receiving its punishment. Very odd.
There is no way though that this bridge is going to find its way back onto this movement but fortunately I’ve got a whole bunch of spare 6619’s stashed away from which I can procure a replacement. A bonus in this case is an extra jewel servicing the fourth wheel where an unjeweled pivot hole does the job in the 2451/6601.
The damage to the bridge though is not sufficient on its own to prevent the movement from running (surprisingly). The principal culprit turns out to have been the remainder of that broken screw head, now lodged between the spokes of the centre wheel:
Now, before refitting the dial and hands, I dip my toe for the first time in the art of reluming and somewhat to my surprise, don’t make a complete hash of it (although still plenty of room for improvement). Here are the hands, freshly lumed and left to dry for a day
Now, at this point all looked good. The movement was running sweetly and timekeeping looking pretty good on the Timegrapher but with quite a lot of positional variation. Furthermore, I noticed that the balance had a marked wobble, its edge visibly moving vertically up and down during each oscillation. As I have a whole stack of 66xx series movements for spares, I secured the best looking balance from among them, gave it a thorough clean, oiled the diashock and fitted to the movement (now with auto winding bridge and weight in place).
With this balance running true, the positional variation is now very consistent and with a little extra attention to regulation, she’s running at +1 s/24h, zero beat error and 261 degrees amplitude. Excellent for such an old timer.