Beware, be Aware: Vintage Seiko & Citizen

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Don
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Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:58 pm

Brucy wrote:
Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:00 pm

This looks like it is a Japan home market case with an international dial. The dial codes relate to a 7002-700A case. I could be wrong though! But pretty sure I've got the info right.
Thank you for bringing this one up, Brucy. I’m putting dinner on hold for the moment, so I can respond to this as the auction in question ( http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/Listing ... 1243703174 ) is closing in a couple of hours, and there may well be those following this post that are thinking of bidding. Here is a screen shot of the item on TradeMe:

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Firstly regarding Seiko dial code, located at or near the bottom of the dial, these are just that—a code for a particular dial. The first part is, as you may already know, the movement calibre, which in this case is "7002”. The second part is a identifier for that particular dial, and would not normally correspond with the case reference that is stamped on the case back. So, correct case reference plus correct dial code that was offered for that particular reference would equal a match.

In this instance, what you see is actually an aftermarket reproduction dial and hands, which I will take this opportunity to talk about further.

However, what I’m about to discuss next is old news for seasoned vintage Seiko Diver enthusiasts and buyers, as this has been the norm for at least a decade. So, if you are one of those people—and I’m referring to the hardened vintage Seiko Diver nut, not just the Google-warrior :P —then you can skip this post and spend the time instead with your partner, kids, or dogs, in no particular order.

Still here? …okay, let’s get into the Darker Side of vintage Seiko Diver on the market today, and I’m referring here to anything from the Seiko’s 1st Diver (62MAS), 6105, 6306/9, 7002, as well as the mainstream Quartz Diver 7548s. I am not covering modification, or modding, of current entry-level Seiko Diver in the SKX range (Cal 7S26, 200m).

For the layperson who is not a watch enthusiast, aka watch muggle, buying a vintage Seiko diver often involves looking at photos to see whether the item is in “good” condition, runs, or whether they come with their original packaging from four decades ago. :roll: These buyers often overlook or ignore key words within the listing that shout out to those of us more experienced. These key words can include:

new xxxx, replacement xxxx, refurbished xxxx, aftermarket xxxx, original dial professionally repainted, refinished xxxx

…when xxxx refers to the parts of a watch that was never intended to be replaced, i.e. movement, case, case back, bezel, dial, and hands.

Many buyers say they are in fact aware and did not miss those key words. They just like their vintage Seiko to look new, and don’t really understand why enthusiasts fuss over such thing. Well, I personally see it as individual preference whether or not to replace the non-consumables on a watch you own, or whether a dial should be redone or repaired in any way. However, what you do to a watch you own is very different from whether you should buy a watch that someone else has already done it for you.

As an analogy, if were in the market to buy a used Toyota Hilux, and you found one in good condition—it drive okay, and is being sold at a bargain—would it make your short-list?

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…Possibly. Looks okay right? Cheap, right? Yeah. :thumbup:




…but would it matter to you if this vehicle, not that long ago, used to look like this:




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Would that make you rethink the purchase? Would you buy a written-off ute when there are others of the same model and age to choose from?

Sure, the seller claims to have "overhauled" or "serviced" the vehicle…of course. :problem: ...But do you trust them, considering that the claim supports their interest, and that they are doing this for profit? Is it even possible to fully repair or overhaul a wreck to make it as good as new?

Coming back to watches, diver's watches from 1960s to late-1980s most likely left their stores for one reason and one reason only—to be used as they were intended and to get wet—really wet. Fashionable divers and desk divers were yet to be invented by people like us. Like most tools, many were simply discarded when they got damaged, costly to repair, or simply no longer needed. Many were thrown away where ever the need for that watch ended—places where recreational scuba divers flocked to in those decades, like The Philippines.

Starting to get the picture? …So, as these abandoned diver’s watch became valuable collectibles, many otherwise unusable watches, damaged beyond repair, surface again and are sold to buyers worldwide. Most are sold in their honest original condition, like this one for just NZ$64 shipped:


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…in a condition that not even the most risk-averse punter on TradeMe would buy. There are some people though, even certain watch repairers, who see these things as an opportunity to make some bucks. However, Seiko no longer produces nor stock replacement part for these watches, and new old stock dials are either impossible or unfeasible to obtain. Thankfully/unfortunately, there has been a flourishing industry in places like The Philippines to manufacture reproduction parts for the now-popular vintage Seiko Diver.

Initially, the quality was rough and a keen observant eye would spot it from a mile away (okay, a few centimetres to be exact :) ). Then, they made improvements over the years, and it is now a lot harder—though never impossible—to tell the Repro from the originals. These dials are available for a low cost. Here’s one for only NZ$11 delivered:


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One can also buy aftermarket reproduction hands, chapter ring, bezel insert, crystal, and rubber straps for very small sums. Aftermarket reproduction parts are available for vintage Seiko Divers and Chronographs, which have seen an increase in market value over the last few years. There may soon be, if not already, reproduction parts for vintage Seiko Navigators and Rally Divers. Order in bulk at wholesale price with combined shipments, and it is not hard to end up with a decent looking Seiko Diver stocked full of Repro parts. Clean the case a little, dust and oil the movement to get it moving and running—even for just a few minutes is enough to sell for many less-than-honest traders.

I've just checked on TradeMe, and currently, there is not a single Seiko Cal 7002 Diver that is original. All three listings are made of repro parts:

http://www.trademe.co.nz/jewellery-watc ... 029015.htm

http://www.trademe.co.nz/jewellery-watc ... 043451.htm

http://www.trademe.co.nz/jewellery-watc ... 041147.htm

(Disclosure: I do not know nor have dealt with the seller in these listings, as am only using them to illustrate examples)

The above listings would fall into what Seiko Diver enthusiasts deem “acceptable” in that that the seller discloses the fact that some parts are “new”, “aftermarket”, or “reproduction”, so I personally have no issues with these. I do however feel that the terms “new” and “replacement” can be misleading when used to mean “aftermarket reproduction”. That is, I feel it's different when you sell, say, a current Seiko SKX007 on shark mesh bracelet and refer to the latter as a “replacement”, compared to when you say it has a “new bezel insert" that is in actual fact, a non-Seiko-reproduction. It's not the same, agree?

There are, sadly, other traders who frequently list such watches without the proper disclosure when more than likely, they are very much aware of the origins.

To many buyers, what I have just explained will be of little relevance, as they do not nor ever will view watches the way that we on this forum do. But to you reading this and considering one day buying a vintage Seiko diver, please take my advice and choose only specimens with original dial (including chapter ring) and hands, and make sure they are original to that example. If you find a clean honest specimen, components like aftermarket bezel insert and Z22 straps are no deal-breakers, but it is crucial that the dial and hands be original. The reason is not some kind of kinky collector’s fetish, but it at least ensures that the watch has never been flooded, that moisture has never intruded the case, and an indication that previous owners know how to take care of dive watches—a paramount factor in choosing any good vintage watch.

When a watch is in such a bad state that its dial and hands have to be replaced, its movement is more than likely rusted and corroded, sometimes to a level that cannot be salvaged. Would the guy who invested money to redo this wreck for sale get stopped by anything non-salvageable? ...of course not! ...He'll find some way around it, and trust me, you don't want to buy this watch! Revisiting the Toyota Hilux again, having original dial and hands is like having original interior in a Hilux—you don’t want to see new interior, new seats, and headlining, as you can’t be sure where it has been. :wtf:

For those reading this who had never understood the importance of originality in buying watches, I hope that this has made you see things in new perspective. For anyone who love watches, originality is not only a desirable attribute we seek, but also a tool to help assess the true state of what we cannot easily see.

Thanks for reading.
Don
Kiwidave
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Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:28 pm

I recently had a Seiko Chrono (6139) in for repair. It had been only just been purchased from an Indian "watchmaker" on EBay.
What a mess; lots of rusted components that had been sort of scraped clean, old useless gaskets and some really stupid workarounds that caused more problems than they solve. My priceless collection of replacement (new and good second hand) 6139 parts is now sadly depleted. I have bought up old movements/wrecked watches for parts and am pleased to be able to keep these beauties in service. Sometimes we have no choice but to make up or use generic or aftermarket parts and I don't have a problem with this (so long as there is no misrepresentation) as we watchmakers have always made parts if required. Part of my apprenticeship was to learn how to make up replacement balance staffs, setting lever springs and winding stems or turn a pinion and fit up a train wheel. When parts are obsolete that is an acceptable procedure. Up until the past 100 years or so specific watch parts were rarely available so making up a part or using a generic component was the norm.
Aside from that it is difficult to imagine the motivation for selling some of these Seikos - apparently "professionally serviced" and selling for $35 to $80 as they usually (eventually) do on TradeMe. Who are these people?
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Brucy
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Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:30 pm

Fantastic Don, learned a lot on that one, many thanks
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Don
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Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:45 am

Thank you for the valuable input from a watchmaker’s perspective and personal experience, Dave.
Kiwidave wrote:
Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:28 pm
I have bought up old movements/wrecked watches for parts and am pleased to be able to keep these beauties in service.
That would indeed often prove to be a valuable lifeline, and my watchmaker does the same thing, ending up with shelves full of complete and incomplete modules. It’s lucky for the rest of us that many watchmakers like you do this, as your customers also benefit from your foresight in collecting these parts. For Seiko, I have observed that donor movements and donor movement parts do not in general affect their collector’s value—as the transplants or replacements are done in order to keep the watch functional, and not to deceive (in most cases, anyway). This is unlike the case with vintage Omega watches, especially Constellation, where deceit is abound and the opposite would be true.
Kiwidave wrote:
Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:28 pm
Sometimes we have no choice but to make up or use generic or aftermarket parts and I don't have a problem with this (so long as there is no misrepresentation) ) as we watchmakers have always made parts if required.
Yes, I absolutely agree, Dave. For most non-movement parts, there is little other choice. NOS parts are thin on the ground, and most are closer to a legal form of extortion—I once paid as much for a NOS Seiko bezel insert as the rest of the watch. Some aftermarket parts are life-savers, e.g. the ball bearings “click balls” used on vintage Seiko divers—I’m thankful someone is making these for sale. Very soon, I hope someone will use 3D printing to make available the plastic date-changing finger required in Seiko 56 Series. These beautiful watches will thank us for getting their QuickSet Date back.

However, as I mentioned in the post on top of this page, deciding to install and replace aftermarket parts into a watch that we own is one thing, and I respect each owner’s choice to do so—as they will respect my choice in voicing it out should they misrepresent the watches. I believe that people like you have integrity and would never misrepresent a watch when selling, but unlike measuring the diameter of a case, there is no ruler or vernier caliper to measure integrity. As informed buyers, we have a choice whether to buy originals even if it means paying more, or trusting that someone we hardly know would have the rarest of human traits—integrity.

Even originality and authenticity have their own issues. In nearly 30 years that I have been involved in watches, I keep seeing one recurring theme among fellow enthusiasts—on all forums including ours, sale boards, and auction sites—and it is that too many suffer from confirmation bias. That is, they have tendency to search for, interpret, and recall only information that confirm their pre-existing beliefs. The more tightly-defined the forum (Rolex Forums, Friends of Oris, ect), the greater the confirmation bias. Too many collectors purchase vintage watches with small doubts and reservations about authenticity and originality, but when it comes time to sell the piece, their confirmation bias helps answer and justify all those doubts they originally had.

Kiwidave wrote:
Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:28 pm
Up until the past 100 years or so specific watch parts were rarely available so making up a part or using a generic component was the norm.
Very true as you say, and you probably still do when you repair mechanical clocks. Often, we forget how far we’ve come, but of course, up until a century ago, watchmaking, whether in America, England, and Switzerland (where all the cheap knock-offs of the era came from), was a cottage industry. Each workshop produced their own movement design and parts, without any agreed upon standard or convention, and nothing was generic—nothing could fit with anything else.

It was not until the Americans industrialized watchmaking, with the Swiss adopting the practice shortly after, that standards existed, and spare parts would be made for later repair and servicing. Companies like Omega had their fortunes turned as a result of the industrialization, and owe their very existence to the introduction of the assembly line. Spare parts came into existence partially because it did not cost a lot more to simply make extra parts, and also because the production volume for different components of the watch did not always agree, resulting in the inevitable left-overs. The English, being the English, did not put their watch industry onto a production line, and thus, around the turn of the last century, perished off the face of modern watchmaking history—shame, as they were among the world’s best.
Don
Coach
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Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:07 pm

I almost bought one and backed out due to the noticing of the scratched replica movement in it.
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Don
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Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:40 pm

Coach wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:07 pm
I almost bought one and backed out due to the noticing of the scratched replica movement in it.
Hi and welcome to the forum.

If you have photos to share of the watch you nearly bought, you're very welcomed to share it here. Doing so often helps others to avoid them too :)
Don
Coach
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Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:57 pm

ImageImage
"100% Original and authentic watch"

I posted the watch in a TVG group and they told me what the movement was.. So I backed out of it. It is a Seiko and Indian company joint movement but the movement is either made in Japan or hocked together in india. They said that it is a accident that some watch guy used the wrong part when putting the watch back together. I suppose its normal to scatter movement parts around a huge workbench and not take note of where the parts are.

Image
Image


Approximately NZD16.81 including shipping.
I am sure that my bid got bid-ed up as well to inflate my price.
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Don
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Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:58 pm

Thank you for sharing the images, Coach.

I'm glad that you've found Timekeeper NZ, because, if you familiarize yourself with the material posted on this particular thread, you should be able to avoid a close call like this. Trust me, bidding on anything like this constitute a close call ;) ...Well, glad you didn't win it.

Coach wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:57 pm
Image
...
"100% Original and authentic watch"

I posted the watch in a TVG group and they told me what the movement was.. So I backed out of it. It is a Seiko and Indian company joint movement but the movement is either made in Japan or hocked together in india. They said that it is a accident that some watch guy used the wrong part when putting the watch back together. I suppose its normal to scatter movement parts around a huge workbench and not take note of where the parts are.
...

The other thing that you have to trust me on is that this particular watch was far from any kind of "accident". In fact, it was quite intentional, and if you say that the watch sold in the end, then the intention was well and truly fulfilled. When you have one or two components of a watch that is non-original, then yes, it may well have been an accident--though more likely a replacement due to the unavailability of the correct parts. However, if every component of a watch, i.e. movement, case, case back, dial, hands, crystal, and crown, either came from all different watches or fabricated by the person assembling, then none of it was accidental. :shock:

This example that you're sharing with us falls into this latter type. The whole thing was put together in India, from as many watches as you see the components--nothing you see there came from the same watch. It is not a repair job, restoration, nor refurbishment, but simply a put-together of any parts that will fit one another. The case reference that you see on the case back, i.e. 6319-7000, does not even belong to this watch.

A Seiko 5 6319-7000 actually looks something like this pic borrowed from Aeternitas (UhrForum), and you can see it's a different case altogether.


Image


You'll also note that the dial that you see in the photos that you've shared are actually not from any vintage Seiko, but rather a poorly painted piece that metal that has served a function. It was all fabricated to fit the case. :problem: ...Things like this are very sad for vintage Seiko lovers. Only a decade or so ago, we who collect vintage Seiko and hunt them on popular online auction sites only had to be extra careful with vintage Seiko divers and other popular vintage sports models that came out of eBay, from places where such watches were discarded by their owners in the 1970s and 80s. Places like The Philippines.

These Filipino Seiko divers, not fully authentic as they were, at least attempted to pass off as a 6105, 6309, or 7002 diver, sometime with incorrect dials or hands. The Indian vintage Seiko that are invading the vintage watch world today are intended to only pass off as a "vintage Seiko". Sadly, I see them inundating not only eBay, but some are now popping up on Japanese domestic auction sites like Yahoo! Japan, unbeknownst to the otherwise trustworthy sellers who carry them. Unfortunately, a lot of buyers who are new to vintage Seiko hold a common misconception of "why would anyone fake a Seiko 5?", and this would become the beginner of another sad story. :|
Don
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Haribo
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Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:33 pm

Great post Don. Since I'm faily new to this subject I'm gratefull for information like this. And almost every day I'm digging through all the different threads I'm learning something new.
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' Into the future (Steve Miller Band)
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Don
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Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:00 pm

Haribo wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:33 pm
Great post Don. Since I'm faily new to this subject I'm gratefull for information like this. And almost every day I'm digging through all the different threads I'm learning something new.
Thank you, Volker. It's tricky when we're starting out--the traps are usually stuff that we don't know that we should know. Glad you found this beneficial.
Don
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