This year is a significant year for me age-wise and I’ve been on the lookout for something suitable to mark the occasion. I’ve considered all sorts of possibilities, covering a fairly wide-ranging budget, but as should be evident from this blog, my heart lies in the realm of the vintage and in particular with Seiko. Given the nature of this particular landmark, an obvious period to aim for is the early 1960’s with 1964 being ideal but not a deal-breaker. I’ve written previously about three projects dating from 1964 (here, here and here). The last of these was a Seiko Sportsmatic Silverwave 30 proof, a budget version of Seiko’s first semi-professional divers watch, the Seikomatic Silverwave 50 proof with model number J12082.
The older 50 proof model was produced from 1961 to about 1964 and finding decent examples is very difficult (in fact it’s hard enough to find examples in any kind of condition). As they come up so rarely on eBay, I started combing the Yahoo Japan auction site and a few weeks ago stumbled upon an auction for what looked like a new old stock example of the J12082 complete with original bracelet. The progressive weakening of the Yen over the past year coupled with the strengthening of the pound has meant that buying direct from Japan provides much better value for money than it has in recent years and some determined bidding won me the auction. It has taken nearly a month for the watch to make its way to me but last week it arrived, having paused briefly for the British Customs to dip a little further into my pocket for the VAT. Without further ado, here it is:
With the watch in the hand, every indication confirms that it is basically unworn, still sporting the original Silverwave tag, evidence of the blue protective covering still on parts of the case back and with the only minor marks those attributable to 50 years of storage. There is a faint hint of fungus on the lume applied to 12 marker of the two-part inner divers bezel but the dial and hands are minty fresh and squeaky clean.
Although the case looks superficially identical to the later 30 proof examples, it’s actually quite different in many respects: a deeper case to accommodate the higher grade movement; a two-part count-up rather than count-down bezel; and most significant to its higher depth rating, a screw-down case back, incidentally of two part construction.
The age of the watch is not discernible from the outside because the serial numbers for this model were stamped on the inside of the case back so to establish its birthday, we need to unscrew the retaining ring
lever the case back up, aided by the tab shown above, to reveal what is to all intents and purposes a brand new 20 jewel 603 movement
Turning the case back over and we see the serial number which dates the watch to August 1963.
The bracelet is unbranded but from what I can tell from other photos of this model is original. It has a rather nice internal spring bar system for sizing the bracelet which works really well and a divers extension to the clasp
The movement is running a little slow with quite high beat error but that is not surprising after 50 years of storage. A service should sort that out, something I’ll get to before my birthday later this year.
An excellent example of what determination and experience can produce. A VERY nice watch indeed.
Another lovely watch. Looking forward to reading the servicing article later this year.
Ian Margetts said:
I have a lovely silverwave like the above, but struggled to find original bracelet, I’ve finally got one, attached to a Sportsmatic, so another watch to add to my collection!
Unfortunately the bracelet is to small, by a fair bit, and the way it is me@ns no way of adding a bracelet extender.
Would you have any links around, or any contacts to ask please?
It really annoying, my watch is great condition, just need the bracelet to finish it off, so close and so far….
Hi Ian, I do have a couple of spare links for my bracelet but I am afraid that they belong with the watch and I would not part with them. I don’t really have any other suggestions to make other than to continue to try the same approach you took in finding your Sportsmatic bracelet: eBay and Yahoo Japan surfing being the most likely to bare fruit!