Early in the hunt for serviceable timepieces I noticed how difficult it is to find watches for women which share the same features as those for men. While it’s expected that a quality mens automatic watch will have a day and date feature, should you try to find the same features in a watch designed for a woman you often have to accept a quartz movement.
There are exceptions of course. Omega offered the Ladymatic sometime back and now offers the Aqua Terra with an automatic movement, and of course Rolex have their Oyster Perpetual Datejust, but otherwise the pickings are slim. It seems today most watches designed for narrower wrists will have a quartz movement.
I did however stumble across this wonderful Seiko Automatic. The watch was in poor shape when I received it although it did tick. The crystal was scuffed badly and the bracelet held more grime than I would have thought possible but otherwise the piece was in good order.
I liked this watch because it sported a fully automatic movement along with a day and date window. Once I had a chance to fiddle with it a bit I discovered that there is also a quickset for both the date and day of the week (very nice) and the engine (Seiko 2206A) is a high beat movement, clocking in at 28,000 beats per hour (or eight ticks per second) making it the first high beat movement I’ve serviced. That’s an amazing amount of features to find in mechanical womens watch.
Generally the first thing I do when I get a new watch is place it on the timegrapher to get a general idea how far out of spec it is. This one was in rough shape with very poor amplitude and an exceptionally high beat error of 8.0ms.
Unscrewing the caseback gave me my first look at the movement which was unadorned but decent.
The first gremlin appeared when I removed the case screws- one had sheared off in the movement.
This hiccup didn’t stop disassembly though and soon enough the movement was out of the case.
As I had hoped the dial was in very good condition so much care was taken with its removal.
Although this was not a chronograph movement, it had both a calendar and auto-winding mechanism, so I took many pictures during disassembly to guide me during reassembly. As each piece came away I was pleased by the general lack of grime and oxidation.
For watches with calendar functions, you will usually find all the gears and levers which operate the calendar directly under the dial. These pieces must be removed first so that you can remove the cannon pinion which is attached to the shaft of the center wheel. The center wheel is the second wheel in the gear train of the time keeping mechanism. It cannot be removed until the cannon pinion has been lifted off.
Unfortunately the remainder of my pictures of the dial side were blurry so I’ll skip straight to disassembly of the topside.
The gear train is not nearly as complicated as the calendar works but it did offer a few surprises. To get an idea of how tight the tolerances are in this movement note how the very tip of the stem extends through the pilot hole and rests just above the center wheel. The distance between the wheel and stem is probably 0.1 – 0.2mm!
As usual the last bit to be disassembled is the setting mechanism. Here we have a more complicated setup in order to accommodate the quick set features.
I turned my attention to the broken off screw once disassembly was complete. Luckily for me I was able to thread the remainder of the screw all the way through the plate by grabbing the tip with my tweezers. Usually you don’t get so lucky with broken screws.
A replacement crystal, mainspring, and balance were ordered to complete the service. The mainspring is wrapped pretty darn tight in the barrel since this is a high beat movement so I was thankful Seiko sold replacement mainsprings pre-wound in a new barrel.
I wouldn’t have needed a replacement balance except that I managed to fling the old one all the way across the workbench with a flick of the tweezers. This being after I painstakingly fixed the spacing of the hairspring coils! Sometimes all you can do is shake your head. Fortunate for me, a replacement balance was easily sourced and turned out to be quite affordable. I may have to consider working on Japanese watches full time.
With replacement parts in hand, assembly proceeded quickly and uneventfully; however, the replacement crystal I ordered wasn’t a proper fit so instead I broke out the Polywatch and got to work polishing the old one.
During testing I was quite concerned to discover that the movement wouldn’t register a day change until several hours after the date had changed. Anxiety turned to relief after finding Seiko’s own advise regarding day/date change and that it should occur approximately between the hours of 9:00PM and 4:00AM. It’s not exactly snappy but it will do.
The timegrapher confirmed this watch has a lot of life left in it as it has the most consistent beat and amplitude of any watch I’ve worked on regardless of the tested position. This was surprising since I had to replace the complete balance assembly. I’ve done the same for two Swiss watches and even after burnishing pivots and trimming the hairspring I still couldn’t get such a consistent beat. This balance was ready to go straight out of the box. I’m starting to really like Seiko…
With the gaskets greased the movement was ready for casing.
Multiple runs through the ultrasonic cleaner and quite a bit of elbow grease brought the bracelet back from the dead and a bit of Scotchbrite didn’t hurt either.
If you’re going to purchase a mechanical watch you can do a lot worse than a Seiko. This watch didn’t cost a lot of money to purchase, nor much to repair and it came out beautifully. Best of all, it keeps fantastic time. There isn’t much more to say after that!