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:
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
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.
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.