Seiko 7A38 - by the numbers



A (not so) brief introduction

Posted on January 28, 2012 at 7:10 PM

Some of you, visiting for the first time, will immediately recognise my somewhat wordy ‘blog’ style of writing. For the last three years, I have posted on a number of internet watch forums, initially as ‘PaulS’ (on the old Network54-hosted SCWF), then ‘Seiko7A38(Fan)’ on the UK RLT watch forum and as ‘Seiko7A38’, sometimes with an underscore as ‘Seiko_7A38’ on various others. What I should really have been doing was working on this site.


If you google 7A38, with or without Seiko, or any 7A38-xxxx model number, you’ll no doubt come across some of my previous online ramblings in the search results. Much of what I wrote back then is still good, though in the early days of my collecting, it was something of a ‘voyage of discovery’. Finding that Seiko (Oceania) still allowed (limited) public access / searches on their database was an absolute godsend. Not only did it allow me to find Seiko part numbers for those all-important spare parts, but it enabled me to quantify the number of models Seiko manufactured using the 7A38 caliber – there were over 80 individual model variations produced.


Inspired by the likes of ‘DaveS’, ‘DWJQuest’, 'Time2Fly' and others, who had posted photos of their substantial collections online, I once dreamt that it might eventually be possible to build up my own collection of every single variation of 7A38 that Seiko made. You may have noticed at the end of the first sentence on the front page, I wrote ‘and their derivatives’. That’s where I‘ll admit to having allowed myself to have been side-tracked. Whereas most Seiko collectors will own a balanced mix of the more, let’s say, desirable of the 7Axx calibres: 7A28, 7A38 and 7A48; I decided, from the outset, that I would try ‘limit’ my collection to ‘only’ the 7A38’s. What I hadn’t realized, at that time, was that Seiko Corporation had either sold tens of thousands of ostensibly badge-engineered 7A38 movements, (perhaps covertly) or possibly licensed / out-sourced their manufacture to other watch producers.


I like to think of myself as a pretty good ‘online detective’. Some of you may recall a couple of cheeky photos I’ve posted of two of my rarer yellow-dialed 7A38’s, with a ‘Dick Tracy’ figurine. I’ve probably spent what most normal people would class as an obscene amount of time researching these watches. Though, to my enquiring mind, many questions still remain unanswered, including the true nature of Seiko Corporation’s involvement and their supplier relationships with the other ‘7A38’ manufacturers. Although these other (non-Seiko) 15J quartz movements may have differently signed back-plates (the alleged makers’ markings are stamped on some, but others are simply printed), their otherwise identical shared components are immediately obvious, on removing the watch’s case-back.


As far back as March 2009, only four months into my collecting spree, I stumbled across the Yema N8’s, produced by Seiko’s French subsidiary CGH (Compagnie Générale Horlogère). The ‘discovery’ had already been made by an online Japanese watch dealer, who trades under the name of ‘Antiwatchman’. Because I was still concentrating on building up a core collection of Seiko 7A38’s, I didn’t actually get around to acquiring my first Yema N8 until November 2009, but a Kamatz 517000 (also manufactured by Yema / CGH) soon followed. The proverbial floodgates were swung wide open, and I was on the road to potential ruin. Soon, fellow collectors were keenly pointing out other obvious 7A38-based ‘clones’ by Jaz (also N8’s); Junghans ‘High Tech', Orient J39’s, Puma Y19’s, and the slightly more exclusive (accordingly priced) Cartier Ferrari Formula quartz chronographs.


The rest as they say is history. I may not own the largest, nor even the most complete collection of Seiko branded 7A38’s; some of the watches in my collection certainly aren’t necessarily the best examples in collectors’ hands either, but I think I can safely lay claim to owning the most diverse collection of 7A38’s in the world.


With Thanks to the following:

For their advice, assisting with my collection, for past and future contributions and giving me the idea / incentive / impetus / inspiration to finally start my own dedicated 7A38 website: 

Dave(s) / David(s) (all 5 of you); Derek (especially); James, John, Julio, Kurt, Lee, Hung, Mark, Michael / Mike, Pete, Paul(s) Paulo, Rod, Skip - and my apologies to anyone that I've omitted to mention by name.



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