At risk of coming across as a complete Seikomatic bore, my developing infatuation with this rather cool ‘60’s sub-brand continues apace. Each one that crosses my path reinforces for me just what beautiful under-appreciated watches these are and how perfectly in tune with their age they were. These are watches that were produced at a time when an awful lot of Swiss dress watches looked rather too uniformly conservative: small round cases with slight lugs. Contrary to what you might expect, rather than aping that style (although admittedly the very first Seikomatic did just that!), that uppity far Eastern pretender produced a series of boldly-designed, larger cased watches that today still look fresh, handsome and above all original. There is something refreshing in the diversity yet coherence of design in the range of Seikomatic watches but also in their undeniable quality.
So, let’s get to the subject of today’s retrospective: one Seikomatic 6218-8971 from October 1965. This one I’ve had in a state of part-disassembly for the better part of 16 months, neglected for that time for no better reason than that other projects have asserted themselves a touch more forcefully. However, its turn has now come, and so let’s take a look, first at the auction photo that snagged my attention
You can perhaps see why it appealed. There is something rather fetching in the combination of angularly sculpted lugs and the very low profile, flat bezel framing a dial exhibiting the distinctive Weekdater calendar layout with the date at 3 and the day appearing in a window above the 6 marker. Whatever you might make of it at this point, I really like it and that, after all, is what counts if you are me.
You may just be able to make out from the photo above, a hint of yellow around the outer edge of the crystal between the 11 and 12 markers. I missed this at the time but with the watch in hand, the yellow turns out to be Bostik overflow from an enterprising sort who thought lashings of glue the best bet to secure a loose crystal:
We’ll get a better look at the consequences of that botch shortly but in other respects, the outward appearance of the watch is excellent, the case completely original and unpolished, with most of its crisp original lines present and in particular the lovely dolphin case back surprisingly unworn:
In keeping with the suspect state of the crystal, the first sight greeting you with the case back off is a traumatised winding weight
sitting atop an otherwise decent-looking 6218B, with teardrop fine-adjustment on the balance cock. The outer part of the weight must have come loose at some point and the solution has been to solder the two parts together.
Releasing the movement from the case requires the two case clamp screws to be removed first
and with the crown and stem out, the movement then drops without protest.
This unrestricted view of the dial reveals the folly of gluing the crystal to the case: the glue, or more likely, vapour from the drying glue has deposited itself over the outer third of the dial surface, discolouring it visibly, with the worst discolouration between the 12 and 5 markers. A close up of the case shows why the right-hand side looks to have been the worst affected.
With the autowinding mechanism removed, we get an initial impression of the extent to which this movement is festooned with a minor embarrassment of riches in the jeweling department.
The two Diafix settings servicing the escape and third wheels in particular mark this 35 jewel 62 series movement out from the common and garden 17 jewel variety used in the prosaic 62MAS divers watch.
However, the train side looks rather modestly endowed when compared to the abundance of jeweling on the calendar side, the matching pair of two Diafix settings complemented by a further 11 flat jewels serving the rather doubtful role of easing the passage of the day and date wheels:
Fortunately, the suggestion of a traumatic service history hinted at by the glue and solder finds no corroboration in the internal condition of the movement, the only points of note being a broken screw head in the date dial guard
and a little wear evident in the barrel arbor hole in the main plate
With the movement parts cleaned and dried, reassembly starts with the diafix settings on the main plate
Although this is the logical place to start, I also like to get this fiddliest part of the process out of the way. Next, is the cleaning of the main spring,
winding it into the main spring winder
and then fitting it into the pre-lubricated barrel.
The choice of main spring winder on this occasion is determined by the smaller size of the barrel in these 62 series movements compared with the larger barrels used in the later 61 series. I cannot get my Bergeon winder to work with these smaller main springs and barrels and so have to resort to my vintage Watch Craft set. The latter works fine but requires a bit more finger power as the winder lacks a crank, relying instead on a knurled knob.
With those jobs completed, we continue with the winding stem, clutch and setting lever components
before turning over to fit the centre wheel and centre wheel bridge.
Back to the calendar side to fit the minute wheel and cannon pinion
and then back to the other side again for the train wheels, barrel and second setting lever.
The next step is to fit the train wheel bridge, being careful to locate the train wheel pivots into the jewel holes before tightening down the bridge. Gentle rotation of the barrel should set all three wheels spinning freely, taking a little time to spin down and come to a halt on their own. If their rotation dampens as soon as you release the turning force from the barrel then there may be some impediment to the running of the movement that will cause problems later.
In this case, the wheels spin away nicely and we can move on to fitting the pallet and pallet cock.
With the balance and Diashock settings in place and some power wound into the mainspring, the movement swings into action.
All that remains then is to fit the calendar parts, noting the different style of day wheel compared to the last 6218 we encountered (here)
before thinking about tackling the yellow-stained dial. In the absence of a better idea, I opted for lighter fluid soaked into kitchen roll, wrapped around a pair of tweezers and set to work, initially on a small test area to the side of the dial. My enthusiasm for the task saw me throw caution to the wind and on I pressed. At first I thought I may have made an error of judgment as the yellow staining turned to a matt slurry but persistence saw the underlying colour of the dial emerging as a small lake of creamy white against the nicotine yellow of the glue residue.
Encouraged by this success, I worked my way around the periphery and as far in board as necessary to eliminate as much of the staining as I could without endangering any of the printing on the dial. The only casualty in that department was the movement and case code between the 5 and 7 markers but I felt that a price worth paying to restore the colour (more or less) to its former glory.
The dial (and hands) are now ready to be reunited with the movement.
The crystal part number for this watch is 330T06ANS but Cousins report it as obsolete. However, the Seiko casing guide lists the all but identical 6218-8970 as accepting the 330T07ANS, a crystal still in fairly free supply. A little bit of detective work (thanks to the brilliant Seikomatic site here) reveals that the 8970 was the earlier watch produced for a year or so from April 1964, with the 8971 taking over from late 1964 and surviving through to April 1966. Other than the years of production, the main difference between the two is that the former used no alignment indexing of the chapter ring to the dial with the crystal tension ring playing the role of chapter ring. The problem with this design is that the correct indexing of the chapter ring to the hour markers then relied on the meticulous alignment of the crystal when fitting it to the case.
The 8971 on the other hand instead uses a notched ring to align with the tab on the dial at the 2 o’clock position thus ensuring easy alignment of the chapter ring with the dial markers.
In the case of my watch, the solution to the lack of a 330T06ANS was to source the earlier crystal, and to replace the chapter ring mounted in the crystal with the tension ring rescued from a tatty original crystal fitted to another watch in my spares box and then to press it into position over the waiting notched chapter ring in the case.
With that done, we follow the familiar routine of re-casing the movement,
followed by the crown (complete with fresh gasket) & stem, case ring, clamps and autowinding mechanism.
A brand new rotor and case back gasket complete the deal.
Closing up and with a Di Model Lizard strap fitted, it’s time to turn her over and admire.
The proof of the pudding in any completed project is how long it subsequently stays on the wrist. This one has been a fixture for the past 10 days and counting. This is a masculine but very elegant watch, superbly comfortable and providing an amusing variety of personalities depending on the angle from which you view it. I like it greatly.
Mark Fletcher said:
That is one beautiful watch, you have a great eye. When I first looked at the auction photo I wasn’t that impressed, actually thought the case was a fake gold colour which didn’t help.
Thank you. Yes, the gold highlight in the auction photo is just a reflection of an incandescent light source. Talking of gold, I’ve got a gold cap version of this watch tucked away but the condition of the steel beneath is too far gone and I’ll probably end up having to recase that one.
First I must say, very impressed with your skill, workmanship, and the ability you possess to eloquently express yourself. I have read over this post multiple times and still have the American feeling of awe as the first read. I have another Seiko 6218-8971 in probably a little better condition than what you started with this one on. However my specialty is cars, not vintage watches. The watch is very special to me as it was bought new by my grandfather for my father and passed down to me. It still runs fine, but has seen little use in the past 30 years. I trust very few people to work on anything of mine, but If you are willing to work on it and restore it to this level, I would greatly appreciate the help. I don’t know what this work might cost as I mentioned before, I have little knowledge on the watch industry, but please consider what I have to say and maybe we can work something out?
Thanks very much for your kind words. These are very under-appreciated and, I think, under-valued watches given their quality and very considerable charisma. I am asked quite frequently if I would consider taking on work for other folk, but I simply do not have the time. I am able typically to work on a watch a month, all of which are my own, and I enjoy the methodical pace that this allows. I have the freedom to learn from mistakes that inevitably follow as my growing confidence allows me to venture outside my comfort zone on the technical side.
I assume you are in the US, in which case you might give Spencer Klein a try. I have no direct experience of his work but he seems to be one of the go-to Seiko guys in the USA. Alternatively, in the UK, I would wholeheartedly endorse Richard Askham – an excellent watchmaker and a very nice chap. Another UK option is Duncan Hewitt who has tons of vintage Seiko experience. He started out as a dabbler about the same time as I did and has since turned that into his full time occupation. Best of luck!
Amazing watch and restoration. Thank you for sharing your passion.
It would be great to see some tutorial, especially about the Seikomatic. 🙂
Warren L. Wilson said:
Hello…can’t believe you actually did a blog on this watch! I have one and would love to get it restored…any chance you can help me?
Warren L. Wilson said:
Hello…can’t believe you did a blog on this particular watch! I have the exact watch handed down to me from my Grandfather. Would love to have it restored…any chance you can help me or direct me to someone who might like to restore it for me?
Hi Warren, I don’t take in work for other people but could make one or two suggestions for who you might send it to depending on where you live. If the USA, you might give Spencer Klein a try (based in Colorado I understand); if the UK, then I can heartily recommend Richard Askham. Coincidentally, I have just completed services for two of these watches, one steel and one cap gold. That account will appear in the blog soon.
Warren L. Wilson said:
Hello Martin. Thanks so much for you reply. I will indeed contact the resource in Colorado my home state!
Jonas Völcker said:
For anyone that wonders where the Seikomatic page (www.h4.dion.ne.jp/~smatic – referenced in the crystal replacement section) has gone: It has moved here: http://matic6246.web.fc2.com/
Martin: Maybe update the link and then delete this comment. 😉
Jonas, thanks so much for pointing this out. I have been mourning the loss of that excellent resource and am really pleased that it is still available. I will work on updating all of the links where I’ve referenced it.
Jake Lewis said:
Impressive work as always. I have this exact model that I (rashly) bought as it was made in the same year I was born. It’s weathered the years well, but is ready for an overhaul, and after 6 months in a drawer has made it’s way to the top of my todo list.
From your photos I’m impressed how you manage to re-install the diafixes without scouring the springs. My steel tweezers cut into springs’ surface, yet my brass tweezers are nowhere near sharp enough for this fine work. Diashocks I can get back in unmolested, but my diafix technique needs work – any advice?
I’ve tried all sorts of approaches, some of which have left marks on the springs, but my settled routine, which still requires a degree of black art, employs sharpened pegwood sticks. I use the end to push the tab at the end of the spring in the direction of the open end of the spring and then sort of roll the stick in my fingers to get the tab to gain some sort of purchase on the lip around the setting. At that point it may be possible to complete the deal with the stick or tweezers.
My experience with Diafix’s varies case to case and they are still the only part of the whole process that I approach with anything approaching dread still! They are something to be got out of the way in order to enjoy the rest of the process.
Ng Di Lin said:
Great work you have here. I have my eye on a 6218 which quickset date does not work. From your previous experience, does the 6218 quickset share design / material frailties as the 5605/6 quickset date?
The 6218 does exhibit frailties associated with its setting wheel lever but not for the same reasons as the 56 series. Problems with time and quickset on 62 series are the result simply of wear to the teeth of the gears in the setting wheel lever, coupled to damage to the teeth of the clutch wheel. Replacements are still available or can be sourced from scrap movements so nothing like the headache associated with the 56 series.
Ng Di Lin said:
Thanks for your reply Martin, appreciate your wisdom very much!
I recently stumbled upon your site… I absolutely love it, congrats! I hope one day to be able to have half your skills!
Now, my question: I’m very new to this watch thing, and the Seikomatic sub-brand has really caught my eye. This guy I know is offering me this exact 6218 watch, but he pointed out that the day change doesn’t have quick set, and when I asked about it being broken he mentioned that the 6218 movement did not offer day quick set at all. Is this comment accurate? If so, did Seiko expected people to set the day by turning advancing the time, manually? Seems like a long process! So… what are your thoughts? And again, congrats for your site!
I’m pleased to hear you like the blog. A very quick answer to your question is that the 6218 has quickset date but not day. However, the day has semi-quickset by repeatedly setting the hands back and forth across the midnight position. If you look at the video on my YouTube channel on the GS 6146, I demonstrate the method there.
Thanks for your prompt reply! I was completely unaware of the existence of a semi-quickset feature (that’s how newbie I am!). I tried finding your YouTube channel but I couldn’t find it… could you point me to it?
Also, correct me if I’m wrong but I always heard that mechanical watches had to *always* be adjusted moving the hands clockwise, and that moving hem “backward” could break something – is this a real thing? And if it is, does this “rule” have an exception with movements with semi-quickset?
And finally, I assume that when advancing the day by moving the hands back and forth across midnight would also make the date change, right? If so, for adjusting the correct day/date combo I would need to ensure (first) that the date is the correct one for whichever day the watch is displaying, and then do the back-and-forth trick?
Once again, thanks and congrats!
There is no problem moving the hands back and forth but you need to exercise some care in quicksetting the date close to the natural date change time. As to the rest, just experiment and you’ll figure it out!
The YouTube channel is: adventuresinamateurwatchfettling
Hello Martin, forgive my writing, I am French and my English is pitiful.
I discovered your site by researching my 6218-8970 weekdater and I must say that I am in awe.
Your watchmaking adventures are fascinating, I like your approach, the calm that emerges from them, the quality of the photos, wonderful …
My interest in watches is fairly new, I bought my first low-cost automatic watch (seiko 7009) 1 year ago.
A watch that has already been revised, but what made me switch to this passion was the magnificent weekdater.
I switched to a new passion, bought the tools and I started helping with your stories, completely dismantled and cleaned the mechanism, reassembled, oiled and now it works again (delicious satisfaction).
I still have the glass to change, but I don’t know how to put it down.
Many thanks for your contribution (your written English is excellent – far better than my French!). The Weekdaters are among my favourites too. Well done in reviving your watch. It is indeed very satisfying and continues to be so, no matter how often you achieve a good result.
To fit the crystal, you will probably need a crystal press. I have found too that models are very fussy about the fit, usually when using aftermarket crystals rather tha Seiko originals.
Well done and best of luck.
Yann. R said:
Hello Martin, thank you for your encouragement, I am starting and this micro mechanics fascinates me.
I am lucky to have found an original seiko crystal from old stock, I am waiting for a new tool for setting (seiko s220).
The difficulty will be to succeed in aligning the tension ring with the indexes of the dial ….. without exploding the crystal.
I’m also waiting for a new watch won at auction for my wife (Seiko 2205-0640)
With the indexed tension ring fitted to the crystal, I would hope that alignment ought to be straightforward. You can use the gentle pressure from a crystal press to hold it in position as you position the crystal, and then just press it home when you are happy. The challenge is probably whether to do this with the dial and movement in place or whether to align with some other reference.
Good review and restore Martin….i’m salute for you. Can you restore my seikomatic? Or did u have friend that recommended to do it? Sorry i’m live in Asia….Indonesia.
Thanks for you reply…We pray all corona virus on earth gone and all people stay healthy. Amin
Hi Abdul, I’m afraid that I don’t take in work for other people, preferring just to work on my own watches. In the UK, you might try Richard Askham or the USA, Spencer Klein. All the best