Seiko 7A38 - by the numbers

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Forum Home > Non-Seiko 7Axx Discussion Area (Re-branded mvmt's) > Jean Lassale Thalassa Quartz Chronograph - the missing 7Axx

Seiko7A38
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I may be onto something. Or maybe not. Perhaps this was just too much of a coincidence.  Belated edit: It wasn't - please read on.

Or have had I accidentally stumbled across the ultimate high-end 'Loadsamoney' Yuppie-era 7Axx quartz analogue chronograph ? 


Jean Lassale were a Swiss watchmaker, notable for by producing a line of ultra-thin mechanical dress watches in the late 1970's.

Seiko acquired Jean Lassale, subsequently using the Lassale brand name on a range of dressy quartz models in the 80's and 90's.

A concise history of the brand development has been posted on TZ-UK: http://www.tz-uk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=140421

Calibers used in these watches included: 3L14, 5A54, 5L14, 5L15, 5T52, 7F68, 7F69 and the rather more familiar humble 7T32 ....




In this 1989 advert, Seiko attempted to give the white dialed version of the Lassale-branded 7T32 something of an air of exclusivity:


  (Note the 5th Avenue address.)


Here's another typical very dressy 7F68 model, which featured in Seiko's Lassale 'Opus III' advertising campaign in 1989: 




There were other more obscure models besides ....

Like the quirky Seiko-built Lassale branded 7A54-7009 - which was effectively a gold-plated 7A48 movement in pocket watch case:




However, although Seiko used the Lassale brand name to manufacture and market 'higher end' dressy quartz watches themselves,

it would appear that a Jean Lassale (Genève) branding / operation continued in parallel - producing 'seriously upmarket' watches.

Here's a Jean Lassale advert from 1988, featuring a model from the Thalassa collection. Note the prices quoted: $995 to $45,000 !




I'd noticed the Jean Lassale Thalassa quartz chronographs before - on eBay in the States. They're somewhat of an acquired taste. :/

Extremely dressy, very 1980's styling, often with a high 18K gold content, hence expensive. Asking prices range from $1200 - $2000.

Belated edit: Although when they do occasionally actually sell, it would appear to be for rather less; one sold last year for 'only' $900.




But there was something familiar about their tri-compax dial layout which drew me to them, and prompted my further investigation. 


Here's those four current eBay listings:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/120897523352 Quote: High end Swiss complicated movement. This watch is not to be confused with the later Seikos.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/230774425922 Quote: I can send you pictures of the inside of the watch with all the markings if you wish.*

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/261005193527 See also: http://www.jewelrynloan.com/products.aspx?search=Jean%20lassale

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/251042351595 See also: http://www.jewelrynloan.com/products.aspx?search=Jean%20lassale


Here's another currently listed on Chrono24.com, in all stainless steel - but still asking a whopping 1790 Euros (approx $2361):

http://www.chrono24.com/en/jeanlassale/thalassa--id1917946.htm




Note the crown at 8 o'clock and chronograph pushers at 10, 2 and 4 o'clock. If that doesn't sound a very familiar configuration, then

how about a 1/10 of a second sub-dial at 3 o'clock, constant seconds at 6 o'clock and a 30 minute counting sub-dial at 9 o'clock ?

O.K., so the date window may be at 4:30, but just imagine where it would fit, if it was moved 45° counter-clockwise round the dial. :)

If my assumptions are correct, this could almost be a 7A38 without a day window - effectively a 7A34 with the date in the right place.


Note the case-back stampings:




See also this (at the time, unanswered) thread on the Rolex forum: http://www.rolexforums.com/showthread.php?t=59448 (and quote):


Posted by 'valenciajewelers' on 4th December 2008:


We got this watch in for repairs and for the life of me I can't find anything about the watch. Which mean, I have no clue where to get parts. We thought this watch was made by Seiko? But, I read that Jean Lassale started back up. So I'm not sure who made this model. Nor, does there seem to be a website for them either.

 

Any help would be appreciated. We need the missing button and stem.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Here's pics of the watch.

 

Jean Lassale Thalassa Chronograph

 

Case back #'s 7A74 018





Needless to say, there is no record of a 7A74 caliber on Seiko's database, but then again you won't find Cal. 531, V906, etc. either.


*This eBay seller is currently away until 03 May 2012. It goes without saying, when he returns, I shall be taking him up on his offer. 

April 22, 2012 at 4:36 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

As I hinted at the beginning of my first post, I may be barking up the wrong tree. Time will tell. I can always move this thread if need be.

Let me try and explain part of the logic behind my suspicions that the 7A74 is another (possibly re-branded) Seiko 7Axx quartz caliber.

If you search eBay worldwide, on 'Jean Lassale Thalassa', one of the other current auctions found is this watch:


http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/120792953207

Jean Lassale Thalassa Watch 18 Karat Moon phase/ Triple Calendar 7F98 018




Note the calibre 7F98.

The styling is obviously very similar to the 'Swiss made' (or at least swiss-cased) Jean Lassale Thalassa 7A74 chronograph.

The dial layout (and presumably functionality) is also very similar to the Seiko manufactured Lassale 7F68 shown in my first post.

Yet whereas Cal. 7F68 is documented on Seiko's database, if you search on 7F98, like the 7A74, the result = no data found. :(

April 22, 2012 at 7:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

Oh Yes, I nearly forgot ....




.... that italic Chronograph script looks vaguely familiar too. :) 




Until I see a photo of the movement backplate, confirming my suspicions, or otherwise, the only doubt in my mind, is: that given the apparent depth of the Tachymeter ring spacer used in these watches, whether this case would be quite deep enough to take a 7A movement with a date complication. Assuming it's of similar thickness to the Seiko 7A34A movement - which would be approx. 5mm.




In most other respects, particularly the 38mm case diameter (without pushers), and the proportions of the classic tri-compax layout ....




.... everything pointed to me being on the right track. ;) 

April 22, 2012 at 7:48 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Arpie
Member
Posts: 202

There was one on ebay recently: http://www.ebay.de/itm/280857976820

Only 47 viewers...perhaps the price was too high? :P

Here are some pics:



April 23, 2012 at 6:55 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

Well spotted, Arpad ! 

1000 Euros (approx. £819) isn't too ridiculous an asking price for one, when compared with the outlandish price on Chrono24.com.

Belated edit: Item # 280857976820 was later relisted: http://www.ebay.de/itm/270963798559 - again went unsold at 1000 Euros. 


This photo of the seller's goes a long way to allaying my earlier concerns, as to whether a 7Axx date complication might fit that case:




The Tachymeter ring spacer on a Jean Lassale may be deeper than most Seiko 7Axx's, but then so is the bezel, to compensate. :)


I went back and looked again at the Chrono24 listing, and from this angle, the watch case does appear to be a reasonable depth:



All we need now is a photo of the movement. 

April 23, 2012 at 7:33 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

I will admit, impatience got the better of me. I just had to know. Instead of waiting for that eBay seller to return on 3rd May ....

I phoned Jewelery-N-Loan in Costa Mesa, California, who currently have two Lassale 7A74-019's for sale (both are on eBay).

I spoke to Mark Schechter, one of the proprietors, and asked if he'd be so kind as to email me a photo of the movement of one.

I was just expecting him to unscrew the case-back, and take it in situ - in the case, but he went one better, and took it right out.




So there you have it - a Jean Lassale 7A74A movement - clearly yet another re-branded Seiko 7Axx movement, complete with the obligatory green plastic '710' spacer / insulator. Like the (Seiko branded) 7A54A movement in my Lassale 7A54-7009 pocket watch, the back-plate is gold anodized. I can't quite make out all the stampings, that clearly, in Mark's photo, but the positive battery plate appears to be signed JEAN LASSALE INC. and possibly 'Unadjusted'. 'FIFTEEN 15 JEWELS' is stamped underneath the H.M.S. coil.

The $64K question - Does it say 'SWISS' or 'JAPAN' anywhere ?


I assume we are looking at (one cannot know, obviously, without removing the dial and hands) a lightly modified 7A34A movement,

fitted with a different date ring to the Seiko version, so the numbers align with a date window at 4:30, rather than '12' as on the 7A34.




Thinking about the 7A74 dial's 4:30 date window; the way it and the numbers which show though it are aligned at 45° to the horizontal,

the date rings used on this movement may well have been Seiko 'parts bin' (7A38A) components. Their colours and fonts all match. ;)


April 23, 2012 at 6:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Like the (Seiko branded) 7A54A movement in my Lassale 7A54-7009 pocket watch, the back-plate is gold anodized.


I've not got around to taking a decent photo of the movement in my 7A54-7009 yet, but here's one of the eBay listing photos:



The back-plate differs from the Jean Lassale 7A74A slightly, in that more stampings are crammed onto the positive terminal plate:

SEIKO TIME CORP. FIFTEEN JEWELS, 7A54A and UNADJUSTED - indeed not that different from a standard Seiko 7A back-plate.

Here's a photo of the movement in a Seiko 7A34-7010 'beater' that I found on the 'Net for comparison:



April 24, 2012 at 6:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Sir Alan
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Posts: 457

Paul, I'm assuming from what I've read so far that the movement inside these is a normal 7Axx movement, but with the back-plate, battery positive plate (and possibly other plates?) and the centre seconds bridge anodised gold.

A rather cosmetic 'improvement' and rather pointless given the movement is hidden :roll:

April 24, 2012 at 8:51 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

Did you miss reading the last two lines of my penultimate post, Simon ? 

Belated Edit: Regardless of whether you did see or not, at the time, Simon, I've since gone back and edited that post as well ....

By adding in the photo of the topside of the 7A34A movement, which you were so kind as to post in another thread. Cheers ! 


Yes, totally agreed. The gold anodizing is cosmetic, yet totally pointless. I thought that when I unscrewed the back of my 7A54-7009.

If that, or the Jean Lassale Thalassa 7A74 had been fitted with display case-backs, it might have made some kind of sense. :roll:

Perhaps it was done to befuddle watchmakers (like 'Valencia Jewelers') into thinking they were looking at something a bit special. 

April 24, 2012 at 9:22 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

Mark from Jewelry-N-Loan had promised me a better photo of the 7A74A movement, and true to his word, he came up with these two:




This is the movement taken from his other Jean Lassale 7A74-019 - the white dialed version, where the stampings are a little sharper. They're pretty much as I had expected, expect possibly that when compared to a Seiko branded 7Axx movement, the relative positions of 7A74A on the backplate and JAPAN on the battery positive plate have been interposed. There may have been a reason for this ....

April 25, 2012 at 2:56 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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You see, apart from the colours of their dials, there is one very subtle difference between the two 7A74-019 that Mark has for sale:




The cream dial version* has SWISS MADE printed at the bottom of the dial, either side of the 6 o'clock baton. The white dial does not.

There are strict regulations governing the use of the SWISS MADE marking on watches. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_Made

 

Swiss Made Defined by Law

Swiss watch

A watch is considered Swiss, according to the Swiss law if:

its movement is Swiss and,

its movement is cased up in Switzerland and;

the manufacturer carries out the final inspection in Switzerland

Swiss watch movement

A watch movement is considered Swiss if:

the movement has been assembled in Switzerland and,

the movement has been inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland and;

components of Swiss manufacture account for at least 50 percent of the total value, without taking into account the cost of assembly.

If a watch movement is intended for export and will not be cased-up in Switzerland, but it otherwise meets the criteria to be considered a Swiss movement, the watch may say "Swiss Movement" but it may not say Swiss Made on the watch case or dial.

A watch that says "Swiss Quartz" is considered to be a proper Swiss watch. However, it is often improperly used by foreign manufacturers to merely indicate that the quartz movement is of Swiss origin.


Interesting ? 


*Although the photos used in the eBay listing flagged by Arpad aren't quite so clear, that cream dial version is without SWISS MADE.




April 25, 2012 at 3:31 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

So, other than having ‘SWISS MADE’ printed at the bottom of their dials, what exactly is the difference between the ‘Swiss Made’ and ‘non-Swiss’ Jean Lassale Thalassa 7A74-01x chronographs ? The only other external difference I have spotted, so far, appears to be their methods of bracelet closure. Those watches with ‘SWISS MADE’ on their dials were fitted with a simple bi-fold snap-fix type clasp, albeit one stamped JEAN LASSALE Swiss Made, which gives the bracelet an impression of being almost seamless.

Here’s a few photos from eBay listing # 230774425922 (the one where the seller is away till 3rd May) which demonstrate it nicely: 




The bracelets on the non-Swiss versions have a small push-button release catch, with a 'L' logo, operating a butterfly clasp.

Probably best seen in the photos from that eBay Germany auction, now re-listed as item # 270963798559:




The two differing examples offered by Jewelery-N-Loan appear to follow the same pattern: the Cream 'SWISS MADE' 7A74-019:





The 'non-Swiss' White dialed 7A74-019:




Here's another, small, but clear photo I found of the alternate 'L' logo'd pushbutton butterfly clasp that I found elsewhere on the 'Net:



April 26, 2012 at 3:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

Unlike some of the Yema N8's and other manufacturers of non-Seiko 7Axx's, whose production carried on for years after Seiko Corp. themselves ceased (in late 1989), the Jean Lassale 7A74 quartz chronograph appears to have been contemporary to the Seiko 7A's.


Although I can't state for certain that Jean Lassale were using the same serial numbering system as Seiko, as their 6-digit format differs slightly, by having a gap in the middle, I have managed to glean a few serial numbers. They ranged from 55x xxx to 86x xxx.

(Corrected in subsequent Erratum). ;)


This is borne out by copies of advertisements for 'The Thalassa Collection' that I have found online, dating between 1985 and 1989.

I won't bother uploading all of them, because none actually include images of the 7A74 chronograph, and most are fairly nauseating.

The punchine in the majority of them being: 'Perhaps the most beautiful watch in the world'. Or perhaps not, depending on your tastes.

Here's just one, from 1986, designed to appeal to the engineers within us. The bracelet is the same 'Rouleaux' design as the 7A74.




By 1990 Jean Lassale were introducing their Thalassa II collection. A different blander design altogether, and arguably less attractive.

April 26, 2012 at 4:34 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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dating between 1985 and 1989. I won't bother uploading all of them, because none actually include images of the 7A74 chronograph


It's amazing scary what you can find with a little anorak-level online research.  Besides, I don't give up easily. 


http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1828&dat=19851213&id=bv8jAAAAIBAJ&sjid=qqYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3165,9426952

From the Anchorage Daily News, Friday 13th December 1985, a half-page advertisment for Jean Lassale Thalassa range. 



Zooming in about a third of the way down, is an image what is obviously the 7A74 quartz chronograph:




Two weeks before Christmas - just what the well-heeled Alaskan oil-man would be thinking about buying himself. :roll:


Joking apart, I believe this helps to prove that the Jean Lassale 7A74's years of manufacture / serial numbers ran from 1985-1986.

April 26, 2012 at 12:47 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

I was looking back through some old posts I'd written on the UK RLT watch forum a couple of years ago, and came across this one:

http://www.thewatchforum.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=58476&view=findpost&p=598310


Makes me wonder if (prior to 1989), Seiko produced any Lassale branded 7A38's (or 7A48's).


Prophetic words, perhaps .... though 'Close but no cigar'. 


Coincidentally, less than a week after I made that post, watch enthusiasts on the other side of the Pond were also debating ....


Slightly off topic (in terms of the Jean Lassale 2F70 in question), but some interesting questions were raised on WUS back in 2010.

See: http://forums.watchuseek.com/f9/seiko-manufactured-sub-brand-l-jean-lassale-456407.html 

The thread is intriguingly titled: Seiko Manufactured Sub-Brand "L" Jean Lassale. A few particularly pertinent quotes include:


Of course this does not mesh with the history of the buyout of Jean Lassale by Seiko and their subsequent relationship. Most stories relate the history of this buyout that all of the gold cases were hand tooled by Jean Lassale and the movements were also made and manufactured by Jean Lassale in Switzerland not Japan.


To have the same movement manufactured in two locations, Switzerland or Japan dependent on branding of the watch by Seiko would not make business sense because it would seem uneconomical.


And it appears that most of those other "L" JEAN LASSALE quartz owners still do not know what the story is either judging by their for sale descriptions. So you see I do not consider this topic too insignificant to be discussing. In fact a company that resorts to the sword of silence to distort their corporate history is sad.


When was the Jean Lassale company completely bought out? Seiko only bought the brand name, not the company name. Jean Lassale S.A. was patenting ultra-thin watch cases as late as 1984, years after the brand was bought out. Remember the "Thalassa"?


Jean Lassale SA is defunct but was last headed by Mr Hagiwara Yasunori. I suspect that company when operational was a wholly owned company within Seiko and that as owner Seiko could define their products in any way it saw fit.


See above. I think Lassale was little more than a department within Seiko that had a separate corporate charter. That way Seiko could maintain the illusion of Lassale being a separate swiss watch company when it was not. Perfectly legal. What you have are very nice dress watches produced by the Lassale subsidiary (effectively a department) of Seiko.


If you don't feel inclined to read through the entire WUS thread, the OP's post # 4 is most worthy of two minutes attention:

http://forums.watchuseek.com/f9/seiko-manufactured-sub-brand-l-jean-lassale-456407-post3375715.html#post3375715

April 28, 2012 at 3:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

With further googling, I later found these extracts from a thread, entitled 'History of the Quartz Movement' on the WatchFreeks forum:

http://watchfreeks.com/view_topic.php?id=10410&forum_id=129 (It's also posted on the US Timezone and elsewhere - even on eBay !)


Source 

“The Age of Quartz” 

The Swiss and Japanese battle to produce the most advanced watch. 

By Dan Finch


April (1980)

Seiko enters the Swiss luxury market by purchasing a small, little-known, hi-end Swiss watch company called Jean Lassale, founded in 1976 and specializing in ultra thin watches of about 3mm, with the world’s thinnest mechanical movements of only 1.2mm thick. However, Seiko did not acquire the rights to the original Lassale mechanical movements. Those ended up with the company who made the movements for Lassale, who now licensed them instead to Piaget. Instead, Seiko fitted Jean Lassale’s watches with quartz movements, as was common with many Swiss brands by this time. However, instead of fitting them with Swiss made quartz movements, they used their own Japanese-made Seiko Quartz movements already developed in 1977-1979 for their successful Credor luxury line sold in Japan. This seemed a logical and practical move for Seiko, but it proved to be brash move that was not very well received. Realizing the potential opposition to this, Seiko tried to keep it quiet by removing the Seiko name from the movements, branding them instead with the Jean Lassale name. The only reference to Switzerland, “Swiss Case”, now only appeared stamped inside the case. But in advertising they used the clever deception of continuing to portray the Jean Lassale line as a “Geneva” watchmaker, promoting it as an ultra hi-end line with its heavy, hand-finished, solid gold cases. And there was no reference to its famous Japanese owner. One of the most notable accomplishments under Seiko’s ownership was the “Thalassa” launched in 1984, aimed directly at the best-selling Concord Mariner. It was designed by the famed Swiss designer Jorg Hysek, and won Monte Carlo’s Laurel D’ Or watch of the year award in 1986. Advertising boasted that it was “the most beautiful watch in the world” and that its watch bracelet contained more pieces than the engine of a Rolls-Royce. Shortly thereafter in response, Concord launched a successor to the Mariner, the Saratoga. But, to Seiko’s frustration, they never put much of a dent in the Swiss’s almost total lock on the high-end market, and would eventually close production. A comparatively little known Swiss brand with Japanese movements was no threat to the numerous well established and respected Swiss watch brands. But the original Jean Lassale mechanical movements created by watchmaker Pierre Mathuys are still considered a great watchmaking accomplishment, and the mechanical Jean Lassales are much sought after today.


That section is closely followed by:

 

January 12 (1981)

Having come to the realization that their Swiss Jean Lassale brand would take years to develop into a high volume vehicle for their movements, Seiko hastily adopts another plan. They announce a separate new “affordable” luxury line for North America and Europe called Seiko Lassale to launch in the spring. The idea was to leverage the Seiko brandname, production capabilities and dealer network to reach a new market of buyers looking for a watch priced between regular Seikos and more expensive imports. In this price range, it was thought that buyers would be more accepting of a “Luxury” watch made in Japan, especially from a company known for quality and reliability. The watches would emulate stylish ultra-thin Swiss luxury watches, but would actually have more in common with regular Seikos. They would be priced at about double the regular Seiko line at $375-$595, and carry a large profit margin for the company. Seiko would produce this new line entirely in Japan. Instead of the expensive hand-finished, jewelry-grade cases of Jean Lassale, this new line would use the cheaper plated base metal cases, and mass-production techniques of regular Seikos, but they would be fitted with Seiko’s best movements, considered close rivals in quality to the Swiss. They directed their designers to emulate the original Jean Lassale styles, and the line was quickly launched, using the Seiko Quartz movements already developed in 1977-1979 for their successful Credor luxury line sold in Japan. With most cases measuring only 3-4mm, they seemed almost as thin as Seiko’s record-setting 1978 2.5mm ultra-thin. For all practical purposes, this was found to be the optimum point of thinness for an easily mass-produced watch. The line was widely distributed to Seiko’s retailers, and sold alongside their regular line, gaining them instant recognition. At the same time, Seiko kept production of the more expensive Jean Lassale line in Switzerland, and sold it through selected Jewelers. This unusual arrangement created some confusion among customers and dealers. Despite Seiko’s high hopes for this line, it was not met with the huge success they were looking for. Most customers could not see enough of a clear benefit of the Lassale line over the regular Seiko line, and were reluctant to pay twice as much. Seiko was identified more with a value priced, rather than, hi-end watch brand, and so many luxury watch buyers did not seriously consider Lassale. There were entry-level Swiss watches that could be bought for about the same price. Another factor was that the petite proportions of these thin, delicate dress watches did not appeal to everyone. After a disappointing launch, Seiko tried unsuccessfully to position Lassale as a separate, more distinct brand from Seiko. They greatly expanded the range of styles in 1991, offering diamonds, faceted crystals, and even a line of solid gold cases with stainless steel backs. However, in a step backwards, they also retired their original assortment of higher-quality movements in favor of a small number of newer, thicker, jewel-less movements that were cheaper to make. Despite all efforts, sales declined throughout the nineties and the two Lassale lines were eventually discontinued in 1997 during a reorganization. So, the “watch wars” officially ended, with the Swiss being the decided victors in the battle for the high-end watch market, with the Japanese left to the middle and lower-end of the market. Notable among the Lassales, is a rare model sought after by collectors, the limited edition “Centennial” model, signed by the company President and founder’s grandson, Kentaro Hattori. It was given to Seiko Dealers to commemorate Seiko’s 100 year anniversary, and was not available to the general public. It contained what many would say was Lassale’s best quartz movement, the 8-jewel Cal. 9300A, adjusted for temperature.


That rare Seiko Lassale watch, of course, being the subject of Neil C's thread on TZ-UK, mentioned at the very beginning of this topic:

http://www.tz-uk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=140421  My rare Seiko Lassale and a brief history....


April 29, 2012 at 5:18 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
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Posts: 12468

It might appear, from the last three or four posts, although they were actually quite relevant, that I had been stretching this thread out; stalling even. Well, I was waiting, albeit impatiently, for something else to arrive.

 

You see, in two of his previous emails, Mark from Jewelry-N-Loan had written:


It definitely says "SWISS" under Jean Lassale.

 

The cream one, photo sent yesterday, has "Swiss" stamped where this one says "Japan".

 

Indeed, if you looked very carefully, it was just about possible to make out the last 2 S’s of ‘SWISS’ in the original photo he’d sent me: 




 He later followed up by writing: Ok, I will get a better shot of the Swiss branded movement over to you. It was worth waiting for. :)




Note in the photo above you can also more clearly see the '710' moulded into the typical Seiko 7Axx green plastic insulator spacer.

If you're not familiar with the '710' terminology used on this forum, please check out this thread in the 7Axx General discussion area:

http://www.seiko7a38.com/apps/forums/topics/show/7559748-what-is-a-710-the-official-7axx-version-


The $64K question - Does it say 'SWISS' or 'JAPAN' anywhere ? – Well, we’ve already seen close-ups of the ‘JAPAN’ version.


And so, to what is known in journalistic parlance as ‘The Money Shot’ ....


Not this one:




But this one:




You may remember I wrote in a previous post:

This is the movement taken from his other Jean Lassale 7A74-019 - the white dialed version, where the stampings are a little sharper. They're pretty much as I had expected, expect possibly that when compared to a Seiko branded 7Axx movement, the relative positions of 7A74A on the backplate and JAPAN on the battery positive plate have been interposed. There may have been a reason for this ....


Here's a repost of the positive battery terminal plate from the 'JAPAN' version to save the reader from scrolling back up the page:




You may also remember a poster in that WatchUSeek thread entitled 'Seiko Manufactured Sub-Brand "L" Jean Lassale' wrote:


To have the same movement manufactured in two locations, Switzerland or Japan dependent on branding of the watch ('by Seiko') would not make business sense because it would seem uneconomical.


It doesn’t take any more than a cursory examination of the close-up photos of the two battery positive terminal plates to deduce that the words ‘JAPAN’ and ‘SWISS’ were stamped as a different, and presumably secondary process to the words ‘JEAN LASSALE INC.’ and ‘UNADJUSTED’. Whereas ‘JAPAN’ is in the same style font as the initial set of stampings, with flat-topped ‘A’s, it is noticeably deeper. However, the word ‘SWISS’ is stamped even more boldly in a slightly different font – compare the double ‘SS’ with the same two letters in ‘LASSALE’, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. 

 

This first begs the question why Seiko Corporation – sorry, Jean Lassale Inc. felt the need to produce two differently stamped versions of the 7A74A movement – both going into ostensibly the same high-end Jean ‘L’ Lassale branded watches, but one with SWISS MADE printed on the bottom of the dial and the other without. Could it have been that they envisaged potential ‘difficulties’ trying to sell this watch in certain markets as ‘Swiss Made’, and so also produced the (non-Swiss) ‘Japan’ stamped version as a cautionary measure ?

If that was the case, then how ironic that 25 years later, that the two versions of the watch should end up next to each other, on the shelf of a secondhand jewellery / pawn outlet in Southern California !

 

Then of course there's the question of why ‘SWISS’ or ‘JAPAN’ was stamped on the separate battery terminal plate, as opposed to the main anti-magnetic back-plate, as ‘JAPAN’ was on almost all other Seiko 7Axx movements. On the Seiko 7A38 movement, it is usually stamped underneath the CG-S coil; on other re-branded versions of the movement, for example: the Ferrari Cal. 531, Orient J3920 and Shimauchi Ltd. V906(A), 'JAPAN' is stamped slightly smaller, between H.M.S. and CG-S.

  

Two words: Final assembly. If you’ve ever stripped down a Seiko 7Axx movement, after first removing the battery, probably the first two screws you undid were those two attaching the positive battery terminal plate to the main back-plate and the movement. As all the best workshop manuals will tell you: ‘(re)assembly is the reversal of removal’ – in other words, if you were ‘building’ a 7Axx movement, the last part you would attach would be the battery positive terminal plate. Could it have been that these nominally ‘Jean Lassale Inc.’ 7A74A movements were BOTH (almost 99%) fully assembled in Japan, and shipped to Switzerland - either minus their battery positive terminal plates altogether, or if they were affixed, with the country of origin left unstamped ? Surely not. 


Again, to save the reader scrolling back up the page, here's a partial copy and paste:


Swiss Made Defined by Law

Swiss watch

A watch is considered Swiss, according to the Swiss law if:

its movement is Swiss and,

its movement is cased up in Switzerland and;

the manufacturer carries out the final inspection in Switzerland

Swiss watch movement

A watch movement is considered Swiss if:

the movement has been assembled in Switzerland and,

the movement has been inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland and;

components of Swiss manufacture account for at least 50 percent of the total value, without taking into account the cost of assembly.


The ramifications ?

Well, 25 years after 'the fact', it's all rather academic. Jean Lassale SA is effectively defunct as a company. From their Wiki page:


The Jean Lassale SA company was excluded from the Swiss Chamber of Commerce on 10 April 2006, following the bankruptcy that was declared by the Tribunal de Première Instance dated 23 June 2003. The company's last CEO was Mr Hagiwara Yasunori.


But what if someone had carried out a similar investigation in the mid-1980's ? I think they might have risked worse than 'exclusion'. 

May 4, 2012 at 7:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 12468

Post reserved for additional photos and information (further images may be added later, as and when they become available). ;)


 I can send you pictures of the inside of the watch with all the markings if you wish.*

*This eBay seller is currently away until 03 May 2012. It goes without saying, when she returns, I shall be taking her up on her offer.

Which indeed I did, actually before 3rd May, and she (not he as I originally wrote), finally came through with, a few days after that. :)


They're different, in that unlike the photos supplied by Mark of Jewelry-N-Loan, they show the 7A74A movement in the watch case.

Though apart  from 'SWISS' on the battery positive terminal plate, most of the other movement stampings are barely discernable:




Her first photo shows the stampings on the inside of the back cover, which include JEAN LASSALE and SWISS CASE, as expected.

Lower down, there is an unidentified atelier's stamping, which resembles a Christmas tree, with the letters APE ADB underneath it.

(Subsequently corrected. See close-up photos in other 7A74 thread: http://www.seiko7a38.com/apps/forums/topics/show/7947449 )




The case-back is stamped: WATER RESISTANT, THALASSA, 7A74 018 and with the serial number S68 011.

The bottom edge of the case-back also carries 18K GOLD - ST. STEEL, but is almost completely worn away on this example.




In the last photo, you can see the serial number S68 011 more clearly.

Funnily enough, in her eBay listing description the seller had typed it as 668 011, which partly contributed to my earlier confusion. :roll:


.... and hence this post is also reserved for the odd erratum.


It's all too easy, when carrying out this type of online research to occasionally draw the wrong conclusions, particularly ....

in the absence of any feedback from the manufacturer, or when squinting at poor quality photographs, in an effort to glean data.


I'd earlier convinced myself that the 6-digit serial numbers on these Jean Lassale Thalassas followed the same format as Seiko's.

Last week, I'd made a couple of posts in Neil C's thread on TZ-UK, and included a link to this thread. In his last post, Neil replied:

http://www.tz-uk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=140421&p=2279694&hilit=lassale#p2279694

 

The question is, does the serial number number of the JL read as the Seiko's do? 

I am rather doubtful myself as everybody seems to use a different system but it does seem to make sense.


I'm grateful to Neil for having 'sowed the seeds of doubt', because despite having arrived at the conclusion I wanted, I was wrong.

Purely by luck, as it was included, by mistake, in an advert for another totally different Thalassa, by the same seller on Chrono24:

http://www.chrono24.com/en/jeanlassale/thalassa--id1917943.htm I found a different view of the case-back of the same 7A74-017




The first digit of the serial number which I'd previously incorrectly assumed to be 8 was actually an S !

This discovery prompted me to revisit the other photos and adverts where I'd gleaned serial numbers.

The two that I'd previously incorrectly identified as beginning with a 5 also were both actually Sxx xxx ....

Perhaps I need to get my eyesight tested again, or invest in a better monitor with higher resolution ! :roll:


So the range of serial numbers for these that I've found, so far, in fact runs from S52 018 to S68 011, which actually works just as well.

If one now assumes that the second digit represents the year of manufacture (within a given decade); that the third digit is the month, then the last three digits would be the serial number of that unit produced in that month / year. So now, we've got unit # 018 produced in February 1985 through unit # 011 produced in August 1986. The S stands for Seiko, naturally, as the 7A74A movement supplier. ;)


Here's an old eBay auction dating back to October last year, which I later found, that clearly shows yet another S62 xxx serial number:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/190582679351

18K SOLID GOLD Jean Lassale Thalassa Chronograph Mens Swiss Watch & S. S. S.



Incidentally, despite many revisions and price reductions, it remained unsold at the last opening bid price of $1179 (approx. £728).

It was subsequently re-listed and finally sold on 26th November: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/190606737956 for $900 (approx. £556). 


Here's three more additional photos I found posted on Orologio & Passioni: Jean Lassale Thalassa Crono chi lo conosce?

See: http://orologi.forumfree.it/?t=59234654




The OP was asking if anyone knew anything about the watch. 

Although the lower case-back stampings are out of focus, I think it's fairly safe to assume that it's another example of the 7A74-019.

Similar to that offered by Jewelry-N-Loan, except that this one is a 'SWISS MADE' (presumably the movement is stamped accordingly).

It also appears to be fitted with a tan leather strap (in 2nd photo), rather than the more desirable 'bamboo' stainless and 18K bracelet.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


A couple of very belated additions to this post made on Sunday 27th May 2012:


Two more Jean Lassale Thalassa 7A74's were listed on eBay in the States in the latter part of May, which were both worthy of mention.


http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/300714942293

Jean Lassale Men's Thalassa Quartz Chronograph Stainless case and bracelet



 

Model: Thalassa 7A74 017

Serial Number: S62123 on caseback

Style: Thalassa Stainless Steel White Face

 

This all stainless watch is for the man who prefers not to wear dual tones.

Originally purchased in 1991 the watch has had only one owner and has been worn infrequently.

Will be sent with original zipper case and watch holder, outer box, instruction manual in 5 languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish), brief instruction folder, and original certifications (filled in). Zipper case interior shows age. See picture.

Watch crystal and top of bezel have light scratches which are not apparent unless making a close examination.

Watch tested and is in working order. Inside is in like new condition, no staining, new battery.


Opening bid price is $950 (approx. £607.61)


This is another 7A74-017 in all stainless steel - offered at less than half the price of the similar black-dialed version on Chrono24.com.

It's also nice that this particular example comes with all its original boxes and papers. I contacted the seller through eBay, and asked a few questions of her, all of which she very helpfully replied to - and subsequently updated some of her listing information / description.

I did consider making an offer for a while. But then I found myself asking - What makes this all-stainless Jean Lassale 7A74 - without any 18K gold content (or a day window) worth up to 10 times the cost of the equivalent stainless white-faced Seiko 7A38-7280/9 ? 

In this instance, isn't it solely the cachet of being a (re-branded) 'Swiss Made' Seiko 7Axx - at a slightly more 'affordable' price ? :/



http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/160803191798

Jean Lassale Thalassa 18k Gold Black Chronograph Dial Black Leather Quartz Watch



Jean Lassale Thalassa 18k Gold Black Chronograph Dial Black Leather Quartz Watch

Condition Rate: Watch is in good condition and works perfect.

Pre-Owned. Does not come with box or papers.


Buy-it-Now asking price is $1000 (approx. £639.59)


This one's a 7A74-018, the same model # as offered by eBay seller 'Kasiart' and also posted on the Rolex forum by 'ValenciaJewelers', except that this is on a leather strap. When I first saw the previous such example on a (tan) leather strap posted on Orologi & Passioni, I'll admit I had my doubts about its originality, suspecting that the strap had been retro-fitted to replace a broken or damaged bracelet.

It would seem that was not the case. The above eBay listing photos may not be the best, but they clearly show the black leather strap is fitted with what is obviously an OEM Jean Lassale 'L' deployant clasp. Also, if you carefully compare photos of the two watches on leather straps, with those fitted with the more familiar 'bamboo' bracelet, you can see 2 small machined indentations - cut-outs on the ends of their watch cases, possibly to allow the bracelet more movement, or maybe just a cosmetic alteration to match the bracelet.

Best seen in this photo posted by 'ValenciaJewelers':





These are notably absent from both the leather strap version's watch cases, so obviously this was a factory option. Why Jean Lassale offered the 7A74 on a leather strap escapes me, particularly as in their earlier Thalassa adverts, the bracelet was a major selling point.


May 4, 2012 at 8:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 12468

Overall conclusions ? Let's start at the very beginning, shall we ?


When I first began this somewhat lengthy thread, I gave it the title:

Jean Lassale Thalassa Quartz Chronograph - the missing 7Axx ? (with a question mark).

By about my fourth post, after the phone call to Jewelery-N-Loan, having heard Mark's description of the 7A74 movement, but before I'd actually received his first photo, I was, by then, already fairly certain of what I'd stumbled across - and so at that stage I post-edited the topic title slightly, by simply removing the question mark. Later, I considered changing it, as a mischievous tongue-in-cheek jibe, to

Jean Lassale Thalassa Quartz Chronograph - the 'Swiss' 7Axx


But, regardless as to how they may have been stamped, as far as Seiko's family of 7Axx 15J quartz movements are concerned ....

this is still is the missing 7Axx.


Consider the options available to middle-income Seiko customers (as opposed to wealthy purchasers of Jean Lassale Thalassas) in the mid-to-late 1980s. If you were looking for a 3-register quartz chronograph with date, you had two options: either the classic (and still unique to this day) Seiko 7A38-xxxx range with its day / date windows let into the 3 o’clock sub-dial, or the two rather quirky 7A34 models with either a long crescent shaped or small round date window at 12 o’clock. In the latter, it was effectively useless, obscured by the (zero'd) chronograph sweep second hand. It shows how unpopular the 7A34 must have been, when 25 years after they were produced, you can still buy a NOS S23204J on the ‘Net, even today: http://chronograph.com/store/mli_viewItem.asp?idproduct=1229


 

In modifying the 7A34A movement, presumably simply fitting a different date wheel, to produce the 7A74A movement for the Jean Lassale Thalassa chronograph, Seiko’s engineers solved the problem - at a stroke. But why didn’t they offer the 7A74 as a Seiko chronograph, instead of foolishly persevering with their ‘lost cause’ 7A34 models ? Were Seiko’s marketing managers worried about distracting buyers of their already highly successful 7A38 range ? Or were they more concerned that if they had offered the 7A74A movement in an own-branded watch, that more observant potential Jean Lassale customers might have recognised the dial layout ?

 

Nowadays a date window at 4:30 has very much become ‘the accepted norm’. Think about the hundreds of differently branded three register quartz chronographs you see today, with a date window at 4:30 – powered by ETA, Ronda, Miyota (or whatever) movements.

In fact, Seiko themselves have gone that route, with their current ‘bread-and-butter’ quartz chrongraphs – their 6T63 powered range.

Here’s just a couple of examples, the SBB003P1 and SBB037P1:




Instead, Seiko phased out the 7Axx range at the end of 1989, replacing it with the 7Txx family and the 7T32 date model, which was obviously much cheaper to produce. Imagine if there had been a Seiko 7A74, how successful and long-lived it might have been ....

Hence, IMHO, not only ‘the missing 7Axx’, but a totally missed opportunity.

May 4, 2012 at 8:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 12468

I promise this will be my last post, in what has become something of an epic tome. ;)


It seems from reading about myself on another watch forum, that I have gained something of a reputation for bad-mouthing other peoples ('junk') watches and criticising badly photographed, poorly written and ill-informed eBay auction listings. Do I care ? No. :P


To quote a post from that WatchUseek thread, entitled: 'Seiko Manufactured Sub-Brand "L" Jean Lassale' one last time:


.... most of those other "L" JEAN LASSALE quartz owners still do not know what the story is either judging by their for sale descriptions.


Here's a prime example. Before I started my research into the Jean Lassale Thalassa 7A74 chronograph, I contacted this US eBay seller, asking if he could provide me with some information. It was the first eBay listing I linked, which he has subsequently re-listed:


http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/120919606731

Mens Jean Lassale Thalassa, 18K SS Collectors Watch No Reserve




Collectors Mens Jean Lassale Thalassa


High end Swiss complicated movement. This watch is not to be confused with the later Seikos. This watch breaks down an actual second into tenths. If you are not familiar with it, when the chronograh function is activated this watch has a subdial measuring the elapsed time between seconds! True high end movement.


I am not a dealer just a collector downsizing my collection. This watch features Swiss complicated movement, 18K gold bezel and a band which that makes a statement. 18K and Stainless Steel, it was advertized that the bracelet to this watch has more components than under the hood of a Rolls Royce. Truly unique design to the bracelet which will accomodate a wrist size up to seven and one eight. The mineral crystal is clean as is the dial.


Do not be confused about the there being three or four other Thalassa watches currently being offered on eBay, this is a rare collectors watch which I have worn proudly to many watch shows and conventions!

 

This watch has just been serviced and polished this month and a fresh battery.


Sorry about the quality of this listing, I'm sure you see that I am new to the eBay community. I haven't learned how to show this watch with the quality it deserves! Learn, learn, learn :-) I will supply more pics upon request. I have recently purchased a digital camera which I am expecting delivery any day now.


I'm sure we could have hours of fun tearing his eBay listing description to pieces. But that's not my aim, on this particular occasion. 

His first reply, via eBay message, went as follows:


I have owned this watch for many years but have not found a watchmaker yet who is both familiar with and has a good source for parts for this watch. I call it a "cult watch" because it is worth nowhere close to what it should be worth, factoring supply, demand and quality. I guess you are finding out that this is a ghost watch...


Needless to say he never came back to me with one single fact about the watch. Later I pointed him in the direction of this thread. 

The tone of our exchanges of messages rapidly deteriorated from thereon. Just call me the 'Ghost-Watch-Buster'.  


But he was right about one thing ....

It could possibly become a ‘cult watch’. 

 

Not because it embodies the worst taste of 1980’s excesses, in the form of its questionably i(c)onic ‘Classical Greek’ styling with a high 18k gold content, in what was effectively nothing more than a very expensive Seiko quartz powered chrono, but because it contains the ultimate evolution of the Seiko 7Axx movement. Something that a serious Seiko 7Axx 'and derivative' collector might aspire to owning.

You know what ?  I think I actually want one ! 


PS - Apologies for the various 'Belated Edits' that I subsequently made to a number of posts. Hope the thread still makes a good read !


My own Thalassa 7A74 saga continues here:

http://www.seiko7a38.com/apps/forums/topics/show/7947449-incoming-my-poor-man-s-jean-lassale-thalassa-7a74-chronograph

May 5, 2012 at 11:44 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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