Seiko 7A38 - by the numbers



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Forum Home > Non-Seiko 7Axx Discussion Area (Re-branded mvmt's) > Some wry observations on Orient J39 pricing

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Seiko7A38 at February 13, 2012 at 6:42 PM

As an overt unabashed collector of non-Seiko 7A38s, in all their guises, I seem to have made something of a rod for my own back. 

In starting that thread on the UK RLT watch forum, nearly two years ago, entitled: My Newest Incoming 7A38 - Sorry - Orient J39 ....

I never really intended it to run to nearly 8 pages, and certainly had absolutely NO idea how much interest it might eventually garner. 

I checked on it at the weekend, to find that it has now received in excess of 13,000 hits ! 

If you google Orient J3920 or any Orient J39xxx-xx model which I've cited in the thread, the search results will lead you straight to it.

Obviously some (or two at least, anyway) online watch dealers, possibly as a result of reading that thread, have also subsequently made the same Seiko 7A38 / Orient J39 connection, and titled their offerings accordingly, in a bid to attract other 7A38 collectors.

First there was that 'Indianapolis 500' logo'd Orient J39701-70 offered on Yahoo Japan auctions, in the last week of December 2011:

★ORIENT by SEIKO-7A38ムーブメント搭載 1980年代・超レア品★

Originally the Japanese seller 'Serena_Special' was asking an absolutely ridiculous ¥59,500 Yen - equivalent to  £488 or $763 US.

In their most recent (re)listing, they've dropped the price to ¥39,500 Yen, but that's still the ludicrous equivalent of £324 or $509 US.

Things have been pretty quiet on the Orient J39 collecting front lately - well for me at least - in the last 12 months, anyway. :(

I've found it  particularly galling, every time I've run a search on '7A38' on Yahoo Japan, that same white-faced 'Indy 500' logo'd dial J39701-70 is still there - nearly a year later, although the price has gradually been reduced to a slightly less ridiculous 35,000 Yen. :roll:

The YJ listing number remains the same:

December 2, 2012 at 8:36 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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That it is still available (and stupidly priced) continued to bug me. Not so much because it possibly is a genuinely rare 'limited edition', but because it's an Orient J39 'Diver' with a white dial. If you've scrolled through the photos of mine, on the previous page, you may have noticed that I already have most of the other dial colours - champagne, light grey and black - but until very recently not white.

In November, an Orient J39001-70 came up in my saved favourite eBay searches, listed on eBay Germany: 

Orient Chronograph Quartz J39001-70CA

Orient Quartz. Water Resistant. Stainless Steel.  

Sie bieten hier auf einen Orient Chonograph! 

Die Uhr ist ein Erbstück.Leider ist kein Armband mehr vorhanden.Außerdem weist das Gehäuse kleine Kratzer auf.

Und im Glas ist ein kleines Loch.

Die Batterie ist leer, das austauschen überlasse ich dem neuen Besitzer.

Ansonsten ein optimales Sammlerstück........ 

Und jetzt viel Spaß beim bieten..........

I wasn't absolutely sure the dial was white (from the seller's listing photo) and it was obviously a bit of a rough 'head only / beater'. :/

Problem was, not only wouldn't the recalcitrant eBay seller ship outside Germany, they were also blocking bids by foreign bidders. :mad:

I don't give up that easily, and enlisted the help of forum member Andre ('Nova') who sniped it for me - with a very pleasing result. :D

It arrived yesteday, while I was out shopping. Between us, we seem to have spent more on postage than the actual cost of the watch.

Earlier this morning, after very little sleep and still admittedly feeling the effects of last night's drinking and partying, I got to work on it.

The case-back came off to reveal a surprisingly clean movement, with no sign of previous battery leakage. I popped in a new battery and everything worked straight away - apart from the 1/10s sub-dial. The pushers were all clogged up with muck, and the 4 o'clock pusher button stuck in (resolutely) when operated. That may have contributed to the failure of the coil, which I replaced. I've cleaned up the case, but deliberately haven't replaced the chipped and scratched crystal - reason being I may yet swap this dial / movement into a better case (of one of my black-dialed versions). Just to get it on my wrist, for want of anything better and expediency's sake -

I've fitted one of those cheap and nasty 20mm 'Feiko' after-market bracelets. See also my post this afternoon in the WRUW thread.

December 2, 2012 at 8:46 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
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I guess it's time to wish 'Happy Anniversary' to the Japanese seller 'Serena_Special' and their Orient J39 'Indy 500' chronograph.

It was 12 months ago to the day, on Boxing Day 2011, when they first listed it on Yahoo Japan auctions - and I clapped eyes on it.

At this rate, by the same time next year the price may have been lowered to something more affordable / sensible like 15,000 Yen. :roll:

But I won't hold my breath.

Incidentally, that Indianapolis 500 logo on the dial would seem to be 'period correct' for the watch.

Since 1980, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has changed its logo for the '500' race every year.


The Orient dial logo appears to be a black and white depiction of the 1985 Indy 500 logo:

That 1985 race being memorable for the Andretti / Sullivan 'Spin and Win' incident:

December 26, 2012 at 11:56 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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I must admit to feeling a tinge of sadness this morning. :(

Having watched it being re-listed over, time and again, on Yahoo Japan auctions for the last 20 months, by seller Serena_Special, (originally with a ridiculous asking price of 59,500 Yen), that Indy 500 logo'd Orient J39701-70 appears to have finally sold yesterday:

★ORIENT by SEIKO-7A38ムーブメント搭載/1980年代 超レア品★ 

Google translation of the above:

It seems someone, whose Yahoo Japan bidder ID shows in abbreviated form as mt0 ****** made the seller an offer and they accepted.

That was always the danger of sitting on my hands, particularly then bitching about it on a public forum. This thread has received over 2000 views in the same period, a good many by Japanese visitors. I'll admit it had crossed my mind, on more than one occasion, to ask forum member Daisuke to make the seller an offer on my behalf, but I was still thinking about 15,000 Yen (perhaps even stretching to 20,000) rather than the seller's albeit reduced 35,000 Yen asking price. I wonder what the buyer actually paid for it.

I expect we'll see more Orient J39701-70's - maybe even the Racer branded version, one day:

But I'm not sure I'll see another like that, with the 1985 Indy 500 logo, ever again - not in my lifetime, anyway. It was a rare one indeed.

If the buyer should read this thread, perhaps you could share some decent photos of it with us. ;)

August 22, 2013 at 3:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Sir Alan
Posts: 457

And we were only talking about this the other day Paul.

This snippet from a well known poem springs to mind: 


Then be not coy, but use your time,

And while ye may, go marry:

For having lost but once your prime,

You may for ever tarry."

(I was watching The Newsroom btw)

August 22, 2013 at 4:49 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
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Indeed, Simon - it was only yesterday we spoke about it. :roll:

In case anyone doesn't recognise the quote, Robert Herrick's famous poem begins:,_to_Make_Much_of_Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying ....

I'm sure as hell, no virgin - watch collecting or otherwise. Very much a case of Carpe Diem (failed) on my part. 

August 22, 2013 at 5:48 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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It seems I may have missed out on another stainless white-faced Orient J39701-70 recently - but not for want of searching. 

Best I can tell, this one was first listed on the Finnish website as far back as 27th September:

The same single photo was used throughout:

Although the title changed slightly, the descriptions on the 5 listings (that I've managed to find) read almost exactly the same:

Miesten siistikuntoinen Chronograph rannekello. Seikon koneistolla. Koneiston tyyppi on 7A38, legendaarinen ajannäyttäjä, 15 kivinen quartz koneisto.Orient kellon tyyppi on J39701-70, alkuperäinen ranneke, mutta koteloa ei enää ole.

Which translates roughly as:

Men's neat condition chronograph wristwatch. Seiko motor. Machine type is the 7A38, the legendary timepiece, 15 jewel quartz movement. The Orient watch type is J39701-70, original bracelet, but the battery is no more.

The difference being that the most recent listing, which ended on 19th November, finally attracted some bidding:

I should say now, that by adding the above post onto this ostensibly price-themed thread, I was in no way inferring that the Finnish seller's original asking price of 85 Euros (as an opening bid) was particularly unreasonable. Had I seen it when it was first listed, I might well have gone for it myself - at that price, simply because J39 Divers which are still fitted with their original p/n SA160 bracelets are hard to come by. It just serves to show that if you're prepared to gamble and sit on your hands, the price will eventually come down.

So Well Done to 'Matto', for having got himself a bargain-priced J39 Diver ! 

December 10, 2013 at 2:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
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Thanks once again to the invaluable assistance of forum member 'Nova' - a.k.a. Andre ....

I've another budget-priced Orient J39 Diver incoming - and it's slightly different from the previous variations. :D

This one, listed on eBay Germany, first came up in my eBay saved favourite search notifications a week or so ago:

I bid on that listing, but the German seller was unwilling to ship 'Ausland' - and he subsequently ended it and re-listed it.

Hallo ebayer

Verkaufe hier ein Original Herren Armbanduhr der Marke ORIENT J39.

Mit Bedienungsanleitung die Uhr ist mit

Gebrauchsspuren kleine Kratzer am Gehäuse und Deckel!!!

Kann mann vielleicht Polieren!!!

Mit nagelneuen Lederarmband!!!

Die Uhr ist voll Funktionsfähig!!!

Privat Verkauf keine Garantie oder Gewährleistung! !!!

Auch keine nach Verhandlungen oder Rückerstattung!!!

Wer damit nicht einverstanden ist sollte hier bitte nicht mit bieten Danke!!!!

Nun viel Spaß beim bieten.

I wanted it for a couple of reasons: I wasn't too worried about the fact it was missing the original bracelet. I had planned to use the 'black' dial (and movement) in my 'freebee' ex-Wimstore J39701-70 / J39001-70 franken (see previous page) to correct that watch. 

But more than that, I wanted it for the Orient user instruction manual included. Not that I don't know how to operate these things ....

It was the fact that it had 'J39' on the front cover - the first concrete evidence I'd seen of Orient Watch Co. referring to them as such.

You may recall that sentence from an email reply I received from Orient in February 2010:

We had several type of J39 chronograph models until 1990 year, but it is regret to say that we do not have such records in hand now.

I'd started using the now familiar abbreviated form 'J39' solely based on that sentence from their email. But if you examine the watches themselves, you'll find Orient movements are stamped J3920 and their case-backs with the J39xxx-xx model number - not just 'J39' ....

Anyway, to cut a long story short, despite a well-meaning intervention from Kurt, who outbid Andre with half an hour to go, 'we' won it.

I wrote in my second post on this page:

If you've scrolled through the photos of mine, on the previous page, you may have noticed that I already have most of the other dial colours - champagne, light grey and black - but until very recently not white.

Andre emailed me last night to say he'd received the watch and it was all packed up and ready to post, but ....

The dial wasn't black as I'd expected - as it appears in the seller's photo. It's actually a very deep shade of dark blue

December 12, 2013 at 6:23 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
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Looking again at the photos of the J39701-70, that was listed on in July 2012, which I wrote about on the previous page:

.... and comparing the colour of the dial with the black of the strap - I now suspect that one may also have been the same dark blue.

December 12, 2013 at 8:08 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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I bagged another Orient J39 Diver on eBay Germany yesterday evening: another J39601-70 - like the very first J39 I bought from Kurt.

Didn't really need another one - just couldn't resist the comparative bargain. 

December 15, 2013 at 6:59 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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As you may have gathered from the tone of this thread, I have 'a thing' for these Orient J39 divers - but don't like paying too much for them. I've bought a good few now - some very cheaply too. But let's just say that some of them aren't exactly in the best of condition.

So I thought it was time to rectify the situation - and have recently treated myself to a couple of NOS examples.

These are the eBay seller's photos:

A Stainless White-dialed J39701-70:

A Gunmetal / Gold two-tone Champagne dialed J39601-70:

Anybody like to hazard a guess what I paid for them ? :|

September 10, 2014 at 5:46 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 566

Yes, $ 125. 00 each give or take  :P  :roll:

September 10, 2014 at 9:49 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12495

Close-ish (sort of) on the first one, Don - but a country mile out on the second. :P :D

My actual winning bid prices were 89.88 and 59.00 Euros:

Although the second one is not what I'd class as a desirable colour combination (gunmetal / gold two-tone with champagne dial) for NOS it represents something of a bargain. I'd happily have paid a lot more. In fact, at the time the seller listed the J39601-70, I was already high bidder on the auction for the stainless J39701-001 - I tried to negotiate a deal for the two of them, offering considerably more. To his own detriment the seller said he wanted to let both auctions run the distance. Serves him right for making me wait. :roll:

Incidentally, despite his less than perfect feedback, I didn't have any qualms about dealing with this Italian eBay seller ....

They're a 'brick and mortar' establishment in Mantova:

September 13, 2014 at 5:21 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Seiko7A38 at February 14, 2012 at 12:21 PM

As I said, I've collected 5 different variants of the Orient J39x01-70 Desk Diver so far. There are probably umpteen more permutations out there to be found. I did a quick calculation on the price I'd paid for each of them - converting it to dollars. The most expensive was the 'Gunmetal' two-tone J39601-70 which I bought via a fellow collector, Kurt. The cheapest was of course the 'freebee' from Wimstore. The average price I paid ? Just under $70.

Despite having somewhat exceeded my previously calculated (2012) average purchase price, in what I just paid for these two NOS examples, with the three 'cheapies' that I bought off eBay Germany in 2013, I'm still better than maintaining my average. :D

PS - I was hoping to have had these two in my sticky mitts by this morning. The seller had shipped them GLS International Express. Unfortunately that involves ParcelFarce as the UK delivery agent. The tracking number was last updated as being in ParcelFarce's Bristol depot @ 1:26 this morning. It's allegedly on an Express 24 delivery service. So, by rights, it should have been delivered this morning. I've just watched their van drive down my street (at 11:00am) making two other drops. So I guess it'll be on Monday now. :( Bloody typical !! :mad:

September 13, 2014 at 5:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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ParcelFarce duly delivered the package from Italy (which, by rights, I should have received Saturday) this morning around 9:30am. :)

The watches are just as I'd hoped for - genuine NOS, unworn - if a little sticky and grubby, as they appeared in the seller's photos.

I'll take some decent photos once I've carefully stripped and cleaned them. Although they didn't come with original boxes or papers, they did have Orient price tags attached. I was intrigued as to what they might state on them.

This thread was originally about Orient J39 pricing, remember ? ;)

Turns out they were just badly handwritten ....

This is the stainless white dialed J39701-70.

The tag shows a price of 180 Euros. Double the 89.88 Euros I actually paid. :) Although I'd offered the seller 150 Euros to end the listing early (which he foolishly declined), if 'push had come to shove', I probably would have grudgingly paid him the sticker price.

This is the gunmetal champagne dialed J39601-70.

370 Euros !!! :o Apart from the slightly iffy colour combination (which actually looks gorgeous in the metal), you can see why, with that stupid price tag it had gone unsold for nearly 30 years ! 59 Euros is still a bargain basement buy for a NOS J39, regardless. :D

September 15, 2014 at 5:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Seiko7A38 at February 14, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Here's another group shot, taken in July 2011, not long before I acquired my most recent favourite J39701-70, showing left to right:

J39001-70 on non-original Orient bracelet; J39001-70 on p/n SA160; J39001-70 on Seiko B1688S bracelet and 'gunmetal' J39601-70.

They're taking over the watch box ! :lol:

I'd already moved my Orient J39's to start a new watch box with the Puma Y19's, 18 months ago. But already that's full to capacity. :roll:

Looks like I'm going to need to re-arrange them again. :/ For now I've just slotted the two NOS J39's in at the top right of this photo.

Not the best (grainy and out of focus) - the natural available daylight was poor this morning; I'll try and re-do the photo at some point.

Although many if not most have come fairly cheaply, I'm disappointed that still only 50% of them are on Orient p/n SA160 bracelets. :(

So I'm going to keep on seeking them out. Not just for better condition examples fitted with original bracelets, but the black dial with white (instead of gold) printing that I need to rectify the ex-Wimstore 'freebee' franken, hopefully a RACER branded version or two ....

and, of course, that elusive Indianapolis 500 logo'd version which I let slip through my fingers. One day perhaps. :/

September 15, 2014 at 6:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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I'm feeling quite pleased with myself, this morning. :)

I may have eliminated one of my long-term Orient J39x01-70 goals.

It's concerning this line, from the last paragraph of my previous post:

.... but the black dial with white (instead of gold) printing that I need to rectify the ex-Wimstore 'freebee' franken ....

Not as you might first think, because I've just bought another J39701-001 with the 'correct' black and white printed dial ....

But possibly because it doesn't actually exist. :/ It seems I may have been chasing unicorns for the last 3 years or so. :roll:

Here's the original photo from Wimstore's 2011 online advert (shown on page 1), which has since disappeared into the ether:

The dial looks quite black in it, but notice the discrepancy of gold printing on the dial and white printing on the Tachymeter ring ....

.... and also, the slight mis-alignment of the Tachymeter ring, relative to the dial. Both these factors had previously led me to believe that the watch was a 'Franken' - a J39701-70 (all stainless) fitted with the dial / movement out of a J39001-70 or J39601-70 two-tone.

Here's one of the very first photos I took of it, almost as received, back in August 2011, which better shows the true dial colour:

Here in the cold light of day, in a photo of another such J392 0017 dial / movement removed from my original J39601-70 ....

It's clear that the dial is anything but pure matt black. It's that very dark grey / brown colour, as found in a good many Seiko 7A38's. 

In my experience, when that dial is fitted in a J39001-70 (Stainless / Gold two-tone) or a J39601-70 (Gunmetal / Gold two-tone) ....

it's always been used in conjunction with a similarly coloured matching Tachymeter ring with gold printing. Not matt black / white. :/

That this matt black Tachymeter ring with white printing had been fitted apparently uniquely to this stainless J39701-70 had convinced me that I should be looking for a matching matt black dial with white printing. Logical ? :| You'd have thought so. Especially when you factor in the other very dark blue dialed J39701-70 that I bought (with Andre's kind assistance) back in December 2013 - because that uses a slightly different (again very dark blue) white printed Tachymeter ring, to match the dial colour.

May 9, 2015 at 4:38 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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So, you may well ask - what's made me change my mind after all this time ? :|

Well, two wrong un's may not make it right, but I've finally found another one, just like mine. :)

O.K., perhaps not just like mine - it's in rather poor 'well loved' (more like knackered) cosmetic condition. :(

I stumbled across this thread on yesterday, which had been started by a newbie, earlier this week.

The OP's first post begins:

Hallo Uhrenliebhaber

Ich habe hier eine (Ur)alte Orient Diver. 

Orient Chronograph Quarz 100m 

Ich habe noch einen Stempel im Boden Y J39701-70 CA 

Ein Quarzer der mich bisher durchs Leben begleitete.

Da Alter > 40 Jahre und läft heute noch einwandfrei und genau.

Ist zwar gerockt wie Ihr sagt aber diese Uhr hat was.

Foto nachgesetzt - sieht zwar schrecklich aus auf dem Foto aber im Orginal besser. (Ich übe noch) ....

Which roughly translates as:

Hello watch lovers

I have a (great) old Orient Diver.

Orient Chronograph Quartz 100m

It is stamped on the underside Y J39701-70 CA

A Quarzer the previously accompanied me through life.

Since age> 40 years old and still runs properly and accurately.

But is indeed rocked as you say this clock has what.

Photo uploaded - although looks awful in the photo but in the original better. (I'm still practicing) ....

After a few typically unhelpful replies by various German posters, he subsequently uploaded a photo of his much-loved J39701-70:

Not the best of examples (or photo), but it's clear that his watch also suffers from the same apparent anomoly as mine - white printing on the matt black Tachymeter ring and gold printing on the off-black dial. Like I say two wrong un's doesn't neccessarily make it right, but now I've seen a second one, that's been owned from new, I'm feeling a lot better about my own ex-Wimstore 'freebee' example. :D

It still doesn't explain why Orient Watch Co. / Seiko went to the trouble of using a different Tachymeter ring, (but not dial) though. :/

@ Pipchen (a.k.a. Bernd).

If you read this - and can translate the English, hopefully you'll understand why I went to the trouble of replying to your post. ;)

Herzlichen Dank ! :)

May 9, 2015 at 5:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12495

Please excuse my slightly rambling, but I've been giving this question some more thought  .... specifically regarding:

It still doesn't explain why Orient Watch Co. / Seiko went to the trouble of using a different Tachymeter ring, (but not dial) though. :/

I strongly suspect that at one stage, Orient Watch Co. had planned to produce an all (matt) black dialed stainless J39701-70.

- For the simple reason of the existence of the matt black Tachymeter ring with white printing which did make it into production.

It would have been an attractive looking watch - I personally prefer the Orient case design to Seiko's 7A38-7070 and 7A38-7080.

We know from the Indy 500 logo on the example that appeared on Yahoo Japan, that these watches were in production by 1985 ....

and according to that email I received from Orient Watch Co, back in February 2010, that they carried on making them up until 1990.

So this wasn't another case of Seiko off-loading re-branded surplus 7A38 movements onto another manufacturer (or subsidiary) ....

These watches were being produced (possibly by Seiko themselves, on the same lines), in a parallel operation at the same time.

Orient Watch Co. finally became a wholly owned subsidiary of Seiko Epson Corporation in 2009, but decades prior to that Seiko had held a large controlling interest. Orient quartz watches have historically been priced lower than their Seiko branded equivalents using the same movements - often targetted at different market segments. Had Orient Watch Co. produced such an all (matt) black dialed stainless J39701-70, not only would it would have created an awkward pricing anomoly, but potentially direct sales competition for Seiko's own 7A38-7070 (and 7A38-7080). I believe Seiko marketing management vetoed it and stopped the supply of black / white printed dials from Seiko Instruments. 

Just consider the case and bracelet finish / dial colour variations of the Orient J39x01-70 Diver, witnessed to date:

J39001-70 Stainless and Gold two-tone: Off-black dial (gold printing); Light Grey dial, White and Champagne dial.

J39601-70 Gunmetal and Gold two-tone: Off-black dial (gold printing) and Champagne dial (just those two, so far).

J39701-70 All stainless case / bracelet: Off-black dial (gold printing); Light Grey dial, White and (very) Dark Blue dial.

None exactly what you'd call 'classic' dive watch colour combinations - particularly the slightly unusual Gunmetal versions. :/

It's clear that Seiko's marketing people didn't want these Orient J39 branded versions competing with their own 7A38 divers.

Funnily enough, these latest musings reminded me of a post in the Orient J39 thread on RLT, that I made back in August 2011.

It's had me wondering, for quite a long time, what the intermediate models, presumably .... 

J39101-70; J39201-70; J39301-70; J39401-70 and J39501-70 might look like (if they ever existed).

Just imagine, for example how good a black chrome J39x01-70 with gold rimmed bezel, with matching gold bracelet accents, fitted with that off-black gold printed dial might have looked. Think of a Seiko 7A38-6010 scaled up slightly. Answer = absolutely gorgeous.

I may of course be wrong in my assumptions. One thing's for certain - I'm not expecting Seiko or Orient to confirm or deny. :/

But in case anybody ever spots a J39x01-70 with the mythical matt black white printed J392 dial, I'd appreciate a heads up. ;)

May 9, 2015 at 7:21 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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It's been a while since I've spotted an Orient J39 'Diver' - anywhere. :(

Seems I missed one for sale at the end of last November and again a week later (possibly by a re-seller) at beginning of December.

I belatedly stumbled across this sold example - a reasonably tidy-looking J39701-70, while idly googling 'Orient J3920' earlier today.

It was listed, simply as 'Orient Chrono' on two Finnish free classified sites - and

Google partially translates the Finnish description as follows:

WR 100m, Quartz, a rare machineries J3920, 15 jewels 40mm dia, New Mineral Glass put on 11/25/15. Clock very kyväkuntoinen.

Presuming it actually sold for the asking price of 85 Euros, that's still a fraction of the selling prices being acheived by the equivalent Seiko model 7A38-7070 on eBay lately - even for average worn examples. :/

January 31, 2016 at 7:26 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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