Seiko 7A38 - by the numbers

Subtitle

Forums

Post Reply
Forum Home > Non-Seiko 7Axx Discussion Area (Re-branded mvmt's) > Aragatz - Anniversaire 25 Ans - a celebration of Spationautes - Mis a jour: 30 Ans !

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

Twenty-five years ago today, or to be more exact, Saturday 26th November 1988, three cosmonauts climbed the gantry stairs to board their capsule atop the Soyuz U2 rocket and waved to the assembled press photographers, politicians, officials and guests, including members of the band Pink Floyd. The original planned launch date of 21st November had been moved back to permit French president François Mitterrand to attend the launch. It was a cold dark late afternoon at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.



 

The three men were: Jean-Loup Chrétien, research astronaut and a French national hero, on his second Franco-Soviet joint mission; Alexandr Volkov, the mission commander and Sergei Krikalev, their relatively young 30 year-old flight engineer, who would go on to log more hours in space (803.5) than any other human being and later become head of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. This was his first space flight.

 

It was the start of a fourth Soviet long duration expedition to space station Mir, designated Soyuz TM-7 / Mir E0-4 – the French 24-day contribution to the mission was codenamed Aragatz. More facts here and here on Wikipedia and here on Spacefacts.de. The mission included a 5 hour 57 minute EVA by Chrétien and Volkov, depicted cartoon-like on the mission patch.




The Aragatz insignia was designed by the French artist Didier Bécet, who sadly passed away in February 2012.

 

Some time prior to launch, the three above named Aragatz cosmonauts and their reserve back-up crew members: Michel Tognini, Alexandr(s) Serebrov and Viktorenko had been presented with prototype versions of a newly designed quartz chronograph, based on the proven Seiko 7A38 15J movement – the Yema Spationaute III Aragatz.



 

Their watch dials carried miniature hand painted depictions of French and Soviet mission flags. The case-backs were inscribed ARAGATZ vol longue durée and CCCP.FRANCE and stamped with a two-digit serial number. (Michel Tognini's watch above).

 

A lightly modified version of this watch would soon be productized as Yema model # N80P76, sales code Y1115.

 

Although, in their publicity material of the time, Yema didn’t presume to make any bolder claims for their watches, other than they were ‘on board Aragatz’ and that ‘Jean-Loup Chrétien was supplied with a Yema Spationaute III’, Alexander Volkov was clearly wearing one (on his right wrist) at the launch.




Jean-Loup Chrétien was photographed a few times wearing one aboard space station Mir – the only person clearly seen to be, but then possibly joked that he’d lost his watch, when interviewed on returning to earth on 21st December. Both Volkov and Krikalev can be seen wearing theirs, post Soyuz TM-7 landing / recovery on April 27th, 1989.




The French back-up crew member Michel Tognini (who quite coincidentally became ‘Le Troisième Spationaute Français’ was still wearing his Spationaute III, some three and a half years later, when he posed for official crew photos for his forthcoming Soyuz TM-15 ‘Antares’ mission in 1992 !



 

I’m almost ashamed to admit that it was only 4 years ago, in 2009 that I personally ‘re-discovered’ these watches. Hopefully, with the research I did last year, in documenting them in this albeit somewhat rambling thread, which in itself was something of a ‘voyage of discovery’, I have since made suitable amends. Incidentally that topic has now received over 6500 views, many by space enthusiasts from all over the world, but particularly France and Russia.

 

My own first Yema Spationaute III began with something of a very lucky purchase on eBay France in November 2009 - a ‘mission flags’ dial and hand set from a dismantled watch. It cost me the princely sum of 5.50 Euros and checking my records, the auction ended on 26th November !




Soon afterwards I bought a complete but tatty 'project' watch and built this ‘bitza’ from it. It’s not correct for the early mission flags dial version (which was only produced in limited numbers in 1989), in that it’s a much later serial number case, fitted with the later style polished hands and a German made (Colditz Pazifik) shark strap. But even though I now have enough parts and the wherewithal I wouldn’t change it, because it’s special (to me) the way it is.



 

I began collecting Seiko 7A38’s late in 2008, searching on eBay for a ‘potential spares donor’ for my original stainless 7A38-7270, which I’d owned from new for 20-odd years. Whereas, to me, that watch, was the ‘classic’ 7A38 and is still a firm favourite, there are others ‘7A38’ designs which I have come to appreciate and love more. The Yema Spationaute III Aragatz is pretty near the top of that list.

My enthusiasm for them has similarly influenced a few forum members. So come on, Gentlemen – let’s see them. Post ‘em up.

Happy 25th Anniversary, Aragatz ! 

 

November 23, 2013 at 6:55 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

You would not believe how much time I wasted this morning, faffing about with ribbons, trying to re-create the 1989 Yema advert shot. 




Wrist shots are so much easier. 


November 23, 2013 at 8:56 AM Flag Quote & Reply

GeorgeClarkson
Member
Posts: 508

The more I look at it, the more I like it... Nice Anniversary picture, btw :) 

--

My personal Blog: www.onlyvintagewatches.com/blog

November 23, 2013 at 2:29 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

Thanks George. :)

Only problem I find with these lovely watches is taking photos of them (even simple wrist shots) without picking up reflections from their domed crystals - even on a dull overcast day like today. 



November 24, 2013 at 9:36 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

Another variation on the N80P76 theme - as previous but with the alternative style slightly slimmer polished hands and shark strap:



November 25, 2013 at 9:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

It may be a bit of a 'beater' (and a 'wrong un' at that) compared to some of my other more recently acquired Yema Spationaute III's ....

but my original mission flags dialed 'bitza' is still a firm favourite. :)


November 26, 2013 at 9:00 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

A Spationaute III a day keeps the blues away. Well almost ! :lol:

My regular daily wearer, on Fleurus shark strap, which I've probably posted dozens of photos of already. But what the heck ! :P


November 27, 2013 at 8:56 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

Not forgetting 'Ole Yeller'. :)


November 28, 2013 at 9:05 AM Flag Quote & Reply

GeorgeClarkson
Member
Posts: 508

I so envy you... :P

--

My personal Blog: www.onlyvintagewatches.com/blog

November 28, 2013 at 9:34 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

For anyone else who may be interested, I picked up this little snippet from the French space forum: forum-conquete-spatiale.fr

On Thursday 26th November (which coincidentally will also* be the 27th anniversary of the launch of the Aragatz mission)

French TV channel RMC Découverte will be showing three 1-hour space documentaries, back to back, under the heading:

LA FRANCE ET L´ESPACE: 50 ANS DE CONQUETES:


LA SAGA DES LANCEURS Jeudi 26 novembre 20H45 

L'ESPACE SUR TERRE  Jeudi 26 novembre 21H45

LES FRANCAIS DANS L'ESPACE Jeudi 26 novembre 22H45


See: http://rmcdecouverte.bfmtv.com/emission/france-l-espace-50-ans-conquetes/

*The programmes are actually in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the launch of first French satellite Astérix in 1965. 


November 22, 2015 at 6:24 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

My how the years fly by. :/ I created this thread 5 years ago. I considered starting a new topic to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Aragatz mission, on Saturday 26th November 1988, but as the basis was already written here, decided to add updates to this one instead.


Sadly there weren't more replies (in the form of other members wrist shots) last time, as I'd hoped. :( My collection of Yema Spationaute III's (and Aragatz mission ephemera) has grown somewhat over the last 5 years. I'll be posting a few more photos over the next couple of weeks.


What this thread really needed to kickstart it again was input from someone else. Somebody important, whose input would make a difference. From my previous brief exchanges with him, I know France's elder spaceman, Jean-Loup Chrétien is generally disinterested in the watch that was specifically created for him to wear. I only know one other person associated with the Aragatz mission (as back-up crew) who still owns and regularly wears his Spationaute III - France's 3eme Spationaute, Michel Tognini. This morning I emailed him and asked he could kindly provide a wrist shot. He did rather better than that ! :D



Merci beaucoup Michel and Happy 30th Anniversary, Aragatz !


November 24, 2018 at 8:32 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

Not an easy one to follow that. Although he's slightly older than me, I sadly don't have Michel's boyish good looks.  So for now, here's a typical wrist shot of one of my Yema Spationaute III Aragatz 'Cadran Drapeaux' Limited Editions. 



November 24, 2018 at 9:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

I wrote back to Michel, thanking him for his photo, but adding that wasn't quite what I was looking for (literally a 'wrist shot', rather than a portrait). Meanwhile, he emailed me this superb shot of his much loved Yema Spationaute III. :) Note the many subtle differences between his watch - one of the space flown prototypes (which carries the serial N°. 04) and the production version.


November 24, 2018 at 11:04 AM Flag Quote & Reply

johngo
Member
Posts: 10

Happy 30th anniversary Aragatz!!!

Regards to Paul and the members of Seiko 7A38, I'm more a reader than a writer over here.



November 24, 2018 at 6:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Sir Alan
Member
Posts: 458

November 25, 2018 at 12:13 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

Thanks to John and Simon for those contributions. 

Any other Spationaute III owners feel free to jump in there. ;)


With plenty of others to choose from, I don't wear my self-built 'Mission Flags' dialed 'bitza' very often nowadays - perversely mostly to preserve the condition of that non-original 'Colditz Pazifik' shark strap. :roll: However I did later relent and made a retrospective corrective modification, in reuniting it with its original silver painted handset, which I had professionally re-lumed. It still doesn't bear too close an examination, but being my first Spationaute III, I'll never part with it.


November 25, 2018 at 5:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

Something to brighten up a dull overcast Sunday afternoon. :D 'Ole Yeller' - so named for obvious reasons - not least of which being the rather loud Morellato 'Kajak' Gommatex strap I fitted.



This one's also benefited from a change of hands (to the later polished style) since it last appeared in this thread, 5 years ago, but I still need to find another pair with much yellower aged lume to match those dial batons. :/


November 25, 2018 at 9:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

Happy Aragatz Day, fellow Space and Watch Geeks ! 


My first of a couple of posts I wanted to make today, just rather later than planned. Better late than never. :P


Here's my most recently acquired Yema Spationaute III - another limited edition 'Cadran Drapeaux'. Quite amazingly, this one rocked up in Southern California on OfferUp.com in June this year - and was very reasonably priced. As I've previously written elsewhere on the forum, I never seriously expected to find one of these versions Stateside, due to the presence of the 'Commie' flag on the dial. 




Once again I'm indebted to forum member Paul (PHK) in Vegas for the logistical assistance. ;) He literally 'went the extra mile' (and then some) to buy it for me.

It's now fitted with a Morellato Shark strap.


November 26, 2018 at 6:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 14381

Did I mention that I also collect Aragatz mission related ephemera ?

Collecting space memorabilia can be a seriously expensive hobby (more so than watches). There is a bulletin board dedicated to it collectspace.com, though I've never seen a mention of the word 'Aragatz' in the few searches I've run on there. Probably just as well. My collecting started with a couple of First Day Covers - the same pair you'll find continuously re-listed on eBay by French seller historiaphil. I've got literally dozens of different designs now - both French and Russian, but none are 'flown'. I must figure out a way to try and take a group photo of them.


I have had a couple of lucky cheap purchases, in the form of my Aragatz mission patch, which has been verified as genuine by the owners of spacepatches.nl :D




Then there was this Aragatz mission technical brochure (English language version) I picked up off a US space book dealer's website for a mere $10.




My latest Aragatz mission memorabila acquisitions are the mark of a true collector (or a sad reflection), depending which way you look at it - Pin Badges !  




I spotted the above Russian picture pin on the French collector site, Delcampe.net back in January and added it to my watching list. Didn't buy it and Delcampe kept sending me reminders. I eventually succumbed and bought it about 9 months later. It measures approx. 6cm by 4cm and the reproduction of the Aragatz crew publicity photo is actually rather better than my grainy photo belies.


The Russian seller is a space pin collector. We traded emails and he sent me a photo of 6 other enamel pins in his collection, which he believed commemorated the 1988 Soyuz TM-7 / Mir-Aragatz mission. Two of them were a bit too 'generic' for my tastes and could equally have represented Soyuz T-6 / Salyut (Jean-Loup Chrétien's first Franco-Soviet joint mission in 1982). But a couple took my fancy, so I wrote back saying that if he could find decent examples, I'd be interested in buying them. A month later he came up with these. :)



The one on the left has shades of Star Trek about it. The detailing of Mir on the right hand pin is exquisite and correct for 1988. And No - I don't wear them ! :P


November 26, 2018 at 7:22 AM Flag Quote & Reply

donwatch
Member
Posts: 568

Happy 30th anniversary Aragatz!!!         :D                  

November 26, 2018 at 9:38 PM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.