Seiko 7A38 - by the numbers



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Forum Home > Non-Seiko 7Axx Discussion Area (Re-branded mvmt's) > Rare Orient J39 variant found in Spain .... and a Racer from Romania

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Did it really need yet another J39 thread ? Possibly not - I didn't think so at first either, but then after some deliberation I decided, for reasons that will hopefully become apparent, that this rare and unusual find probably did deserve its own separate topic.

Late yesterday evening, our newest (and clearly very enthusiastic) forum member ninpondo (real name David), who comes from northern Spain, posted something slightly off topic in another thread: one which he'd already quite correctly and rightfully replied to, in his own defence.

I responded by saying his newer post was technically off topic for that thread. But where was he supposed to post it ? After I'd temporarily locked that thread down, I started looking around this forum section and couldn't decide myself. Of course, he's a newbie and wherever he'd have posted it would have been wrong. :P In an ideal world, he could theoretically have started his own new thread - but with the various unresolved Captcha glitches afflicting the forum, nobody, not even full members, are able to create new topics at present. :( Just me. So I'm starting one for him - and me. :)

Here's what David posted in that other thread (now deleted) ....

October 10, 2018 at 7:07 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Originally posted by ninpondo in this thread on October 9, 2018 at 10:35 PM

I have to show you something Orient that I have in my collection, a brand new J39.

October 10, 2018 at 7:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Before he joined the forum, David and I had already exchanged a number of short messages via eBay and later emails. In one of them he attached these three photos of his Orient J39 (first one is obviously the same as he posted).

It is of course, to those of us who are familiar with these more obscure variants, instantly recognisable as the ever so slightly quirky J39723-70 - the Orient equivalent of my RACER branded version.

October 10, 2018 at 8:15 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Here's a few old photos of my NOS RACER J39723-70 copied across from the RACER J39 'Spanish Inquisition' thread for comparison.

It's clearly the same watch case and bracelet as mine, though I can't be quite sure from David's photos whether his Orient is coated like mine, or just plain stainless. It has the same 'Mercedes' style hands, a virtually identical dial design / layout, but obviously in black with gold printing as opposed to grey with black printing.

Most importantly, David's J39723-70 is an ORIENT branded version in Spain - the traditional home of RACER. So naturally, one of the first questions I asked him was how he'd come by it.

October 10, 2018 at 8:34 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Hello everyone I'm glad to be here due to my strange ebay advert. :D

As I can see this is the place for a 7a38 collector and Paul is a lovely person who love these timepieces.

Well I'm a watch collector with a small collection and this piece came to me from a Spanish reseller. It was love at first sight, at first moment I didn't noticed was I was going to received but then looking on internet I found the movement and I can see that this watch was a great piece.

As Paul says is strange to see an Orient piece in Spain from 80,s or 90,s but in that moment Racer and Orient were involved in some problems in courts that will allow Orient to sell pieces on Spain with his name and I think that this watch was sold at the same time in Spain as the Racer ones.

Also it has the original bracelet a rare piece that I never saw before.

I will try to answer any question if i can do it.

Thanks again


October 10, 2018 at 11:28 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Hi, David. I was hoping that you would copy the text of your last email, as I'd hinted.

Particularly your references to:

This watch comes from a Barcelona reseller.

Maybe it could come from France I'm not sure at all, so other way could that here in Spain in 80,s and 90,s some shop called Bazar like in Canarias was so popular and they allow parallel imports, so maybe the watch comes from them.

I was wondering too, if it might be a 'grey import'. There is one easy way to tell which market a 7A38 / J39 was originally intended for - that is to check the second language on the day wheel. Apart from the actual DAY abbreviations, there is also a very small indicator printed on them, like ES (English / Spanish) on my RACER J39723-70.

The photo you posted yesterday shows MAR in the date window, which could be either French (Mardi), Italian (Martedì) or Spanish (Martes). So I was going to ask you. But with the additional photo you just sent me, showing MIE (Miércoles) in the day window I now know it's Spanish. 8) (French or Italian would have been MER.)

Italian would have made more sense (if it was a 'grey market' import), because in my experience that's where most Orient J39's seem to turn up. But Spanish it is. :/

It doesn't look David's J39723-70 is coated like mine, either - just plain stainless.

The case-back has exactly the same slightly incongruous case material stampings:

BASE METAL BEZEL, STAINLESS STEEL BACK (with no mention of the case itself). :/

October 10, 2018 at 11:53 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Well, as you may have gathered, I was quite enamoured by this watch myself. But during our email exchanges, I deliberately refrained from asking David to sell it to me. It was he who made the first move and asked me if I'd like to buy it. I told him to name his price - which he did. It was very reasonable, so I immediately agreed to it.


October 11, 2018 at 8:17 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Here's a couple of very Q&D 'as received' shots of the Orient J39723-70, which I've just posted in the WRUW thread. It needs a bit of a clean - and a new battery. It arrived from Spain - courtesy of forum member 'ninpondo' David yesterday, but had stopped whilst in transit. Once it got warm, it re-started itself, but is doing the 'two-second two-step' (low battery indicator). One thing's now clear, unlike my previous RACER branded version, this one's definitely plain uncoated stainless.

I'll post some more photos, including a side-by-side comparison shot of the Orient and RACER versions, once I've cleaned it up properly. Those decorative notches on the bezel are a real DNA magnet. :roll: The trickiest thing to capture is usually the dial part number (because of the domed crystal / relections). So I was surprised to see that it's actually legible in that first Q&D wrist shot: (BK) J3927237-033 - which ties in nicely with the RACER version (BK) J392723R-020 and their common case model # J39723-070.

October 17, 2018 at 9:59 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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I'm delinquent in still not having taken that promised side-by-side comparison shot of my Racer and Orient J39723-70 variants. In the interim, with the help of recently joined forum member gogusrl (Andrei from Romania), I've acquired a third slightly different variant - and hence the reason I've edited the topic title.

I'd actually deliberated about whether to buy it (or not) for a few months, primarily because it wasn't in such good condition as my two current NOS / almost mint examples. In fact it's a bit knocked about. I first spotted it listed on the Romanian watch sales site in February, but it had been listed there since December last year - difficult to miss with 'Seiko 7A38' included in the listing title.

As can be seen from the seller's first photo, it's the RACER TEAM COLLECTION branded version of the otherwise almost identical stainless black-dialed Orient J39723-70, so perversely one would have expected to find this in Spain, not Romania.

I emailed the Romanian eBay seller, asking if he would be prepared to ship it to UK, but it soon became evident that his command of English was minimal and that he required payment by Bank Transfer. So I left it. Of course, each time I ran a search on, there it was - still unsold. When Andrei first attempted to join the forum, back in mid-May, we had a light-hearted exchange of emails. T.B.H., at first, because of his default email address, I thought he might be a spammer. But it soon became clear he wasn't and that his command of English was excellent. ;)

There are other longstanding Romanian forum members, who've helped me before, by acting as middlemen, but as we'd corresponded recently, I asked Andrei if he'd be prepared to buy the Racer J39723-70 on my behalf and ship it to UK - to which he kindly agreed. Indeed, he negotiated the selling price down to 450 Lei (RON), equivalent to approx. 95 Euros - still probably too much for such a watch in this condition, but after waiting 3 months and more, I'd finally decided I had to have it.

Here's a few photos of it that Andrei sent me earlier this week - pretty it ain't. :/

Something I hadn't spotted before, but immediately obvious from Andrei's second photo, is that the original domed Orient crystal has been replaced by a flat generic mineral glass. Hardly surprising, given the number of dings and scratches on the watch case. Hopefully, when it arrives next week, I'll be able to source something closer to the original from Cousins' DMF range.

Once I've replaced the crystal and cleaned the watch up, I might actually get around to taking a 3-way side-by-side shot of my J39723-70's. No promises. :P

June 16, 2019 at 5:15 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Meanwhile, from studying Andrei's photos, I've updated the J39723-70 section of my Excel spreadsheet 'knowledge database' of Orient J39 variants. Not that it's that particularly legible at this resolution. :roll:

June 16, 2019 at 7:09 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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