Seiko 7A38 - by the numbers



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Forum Home > 7A38-xxxx Model Specific Area > 7A38-701B SAA005J - the 'mythical' yellow-faced RAF Vulcan

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

In an effort not to draw too much unnecessary attention to the then current example(s) offered on eBay at the end of May 2012 ....

I first started this topic in the 'Other Watch Forums Sales Corners' section, right at the bottom of the forum. It was originally titled:

7A38-701B Vulcan 'Pie in the Sky' on MWR forum (and it concerned just that particular watch of the original title).

But rather than have multiple 'Vulcan' topics running in different forum sections, as long as this thread stays reasonably 'on topic' ....

I thought I'd first move it here. We can then move the thread again - to the 7Axx Model Specific area (where it really belongs) later. ;)

Hopefully it won't end up quite as long as the 13-page (184 post long) epic tome that I started on the UK RLT forum, back in 2009. :roll:


Posted on 30th May:

For Sale: Seiko 7A38-701B Chronograph "Vulcan"

Hi all,

I have a Seiko 7A38-701B for sale, commonly referred to as the "Vulcan Bomber" watch but that myth has been debunked plenty of times before and I won't go into it here. These watches have supposedly turned up amongst other issued pieces from MOD stores, though no documentation has actually been found to substantiate this.

This one is in used but not abused shape, the only flaws I can see apart from the worn bezel insert are a small spot of yellow paint that has flaked off from the "0" of the 1/10 sec counter and some marks on the outer edge of the dial between the "10" to "15" markers.

Functions and timekeeping are all correct and working. Crystal is clear and no visible scratches.

Comes on an aftermarket Seiko-signed "Speedmaster"-style bracelet that is a millimeter too narrow at 19mm (the watch actually takes a 20mm bracelet).

Price is £300 which includes registered signed-for delivery anywhere in the world. I accept PayPal and will absorb the fees. Thanks!

June 1, 2012 at 11:01 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

Not quite sure what makes 'Bobsy' think this rather dog-eared example of a 7A38-701B might be worth £300. :/

Particularly when one in a not too dissimilar condition (albeit on a leather strap) sold 3 days earlier, on 27th May on eBay Germany: .... for a mere 103 Euros (approx. £82.74)

SEIKO - Herren Chronograph (Men's Watch) mit Tag/Datumsanzeige + neuer Batterie

Belated edit to this post : See below - it's probably got something to do with the price he paid for it, a little over 6 months ago. :roll:

June 1, 2012 at 11:06 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

I'd been scratching my head, trying to remember where I'd seen that 7A38-701B currently offered for sale on MWR forum before. 

I finally manage to find it at last. :) It was sold on eBay, back in late November last year:

Seiko RAF Vulcan bomber flightcrew issued watch


Here it is.


Rare indeed. The yellow faced Seiko known to be worn by RAF Vulcan bomber crews.

Bezel is somewhat worn. Glass is clear. Keeps excellent time.

Marking on the back:



Water resistant



Stainless Steel 7A38-701B (A3)


RAF flightcrew Seiko watches described in detail here (scroll to the bottom of the page):


Buyer pays actual shipping.

Unfortunately no original booklet or box

Definitely the same watch, although it was offered fitted with a rather different 'wrong' bracelet previously - the wear on the bezel inlay and flaws on the dial (there are others besides the 1/10s subdial's missing paint flake) match exactly. It sold for £266.98. It would seem that eBay listing prompted this most recent 'Vulcan myth' thread on MWR:

June 5, 2012 at 10:13 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

I don't think I could have got any luckier, wading back through eBay to find an auction which ended (early, at that) 12 months ago. 

It was listed, albeit very briefly, by a US seller 'sewcowboystuff', based in Colorado, in the first week of June 2011. But here it is:

Seiko Chronograph Quartz TachyMeter

Beautiful and hard to find Seiko Chronograph Tachymeter sport watch. Like new condition, worn only a few times.

The auction had an opening bid price of $20, and IIRC, the reserve was set at $150. I believe it sold off eBay for in excess of $500. 

In the seller's first photo, the bezel inlay appears to have a missing flake of enamel - adjacent to the 55 mark on the minute ring. ;)


The watch was purchased by the UK-based collector and dealer, Archer Mclean - better known in the digital world as 'bigmacnofat'.

He had originally inferred that he had intended to keep it, but after offering to me, subsequently listed it on eBay in November 2011:

Seiko Vulcan vintage 7A28-701B quartz chronograph SAA005J

Up for auction is a stunning Seiko 7A38-701B chronograph, sometimes called the 'Vulcan' because of urban legends associating this yellow faced watch with the RAF Vulcan flight crews (and subject to much internet debate!).

It has been worn, but is in very good condition bearing in mind its nearly 30 yrs old. All functions are working perfectly and its keeping time to approximately 1 second a day.

To the naked eye it looks to be in very nice cosmetic condition. Under a bright light with a magnifying glass you will find various tiny marks and nicks. The Hardlex glass is in superb shape with no big scratches of scuffs, and only a few microscopic marks. The black bezel is also very good with only a few minor scratches and indentations. The tachymeter numerals are all nice and crisp.

The case and strap are very good all over with just the odd sign of wear.

The clasp has few marks on it, that you can just make out in the photos.

The quartz movement is very clean and original.

The strap is very large and will fit on a wrist up to about an 8.25 inch.

The watch weighs approx 95g.

Towards the end of the 5-day auction the following amendment to the description was added. :lol:

On 04-Nov-11 at 20:25:22 GMT, seller added the following information:


Thanks for all the emails pointing out my enormous cockup getting the cal number wrong .. Doh !!

It should have read Seiko 7A38 … my loss, your gain.

Also, I'd prefer to just let the auction run rather than accept any of the tempting offers.

My own comments, at the time, in post #146 on page 10 of the 13-page RLT mega-thread, went as follows:

Didn't seem to make much difference - the listing still received 582 views over the 5-day period. 
Sold for a respectable £566.00 after 28 bids, jumping from £479.00 in the last few seconds.
I think I'm going to have to get my 000 paintbrush out and retouch those couple of marks on my bezel.
Indeed, looking closely at the eBay listing photos again, either the watch itself, or the photos appear to have been retouched. 

June 5, 2012 at 10:34 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

Here's a a selection of  images from a few even older eBay listings, that I've right-clicked and saved.

This one, a head only, with what is possibly water damage to the lower sub-dial was dated 2005:

Not sure if the photo is captioned correctly, but I believe this particular example was purchased by UK collector DaveS in May 2007:

According to a post he made on the old Network54 SCWF, some time later, in December 2008:

I paid ............. wait for it .................. 

$330.98 + $25 P&P. At the time that was £178. Then I had to pay DHL the dreaded VAT, duty and collection charge.

I skipped out of the DHL office like a 5 year old.

The next example was also listed on eBay, sometime in 2007 - with the p/n Z1118S bracelet shown separately.

I can't be certain whether or not it's the same one referred to, in this thread dating from April 2007 on the RLT forum: entitled: Vulcan Bomber Crew Seiko 7A38-701B Crikey!! 

But if it was, then it sold for  £870 ! Those were the days when the Vulcan myth still prevailed, and people paid silly prices. 

This is the first I bought (later re-sold at a considerable profit) - purchased on eBay Germany for a mere 167.66 Euros in May 2009:

Here's my second 7A38-701B, which was in better condition, found on eBay Germany in November 2009, purchased for 280 Euros:

The next one was a head only, offered without bracelet, listed on eBay in November 2010:

Despite being in less-than-pristine condition, and without bracelet, it still sold for a very respectable £515. 

Note my comment at the bottom of page 7 / post # 105 of the RLT '7A38-701B' Vulcan thread:

June 5, 2012 at 10:51 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

Due to the manner of my departure from the UK RLT forum, and their admin's hasty decision to block my ID's ability to host images ....

most of the photos of Vulcan's that I'd posted in that thread are long gone - and I have since re-organized my Photobucket account.

So here's just a few of them, some of which may be familiar:

Here's a couple of better, and more recent photos of my 7A38-701B:

June 5, 2012 at 10:52 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

The most recent eBay auction for a 7A38-701B ended in something of a mini-snipe-fest just before midnight on Friday 1st June 2012:

Vintage Seiko SQ quartz chronograph 7A38 701B 1980

Nice vintage yellow dial Seiko 7A38 chronograph. It’s in working condition but the large chronograph hand needs attention. It often takes a few seconds to start running after the chrono is started (then it resets to a corresponding number of seconds before "0" when reset). Everything else works fine and it’s keeping good time.


It’s in used condition and has the usual dings and scratches throughout that one would expect of a watch of it’s age (mid 80’s).


These watches have the same high grade quartz movement in them as the very collectable military RAF 7A28 watches (but with the addition of a day and date window). It's made from solid stainless steel and is signed on the caseback, movement and clasp.


Payment to be made by PayPal within 5 days of the auctions end. It will be posted in a sturdy box with plenty of bubblewrap within two working days of receiving payment. Postage will be £12 within Europe. Outside of Europe will £14. This includes tracking number and signed for delivery.


To quote a previous poster on RLT: .... had a little 'play' with this for a while on the bay. :D

It sold for £333.51 after 28 bids, jumping from £231 in the final dozen seconds of the auction. The listing received 646 views.

June 5, 2012 at 12:56 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

So .... anybody here caught 'Yellow dial Fever' and want to talk about 'Vulcan's ?? ;)

June 5, 2012 at 1:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 202

Yes, I'm infected by a "Yellow dial fever" but I don't want to talk about them....I want to get one!!!!! :P

June 5, 2012 at 2:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 17

I caught the fever back in the mid 1980's when i bought mine brand new!!...i remember seeing it in the display case window of the jewelry store...and said to my self,   " i have  to have it!!!"..i paid $150NZ dollars  for it...Im not saying its RAF...i doubt it too....but it did come in a plain unmarked box! with no instructions....they got a set of intructions from another 7A38 that was next to it (they copied them for me)

Paul?...are there any production numbers on these? mine's  # 393292 

 would be interesting to run the serial numbers of the 701B's  we know about

June 6, 2012 at 3:05 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

Sorry, John. No idea of production numbers, because of the way Seiko allocate serial numbers on a monthly basis (to more than one caliber-model). I suspect they were fairly low volume, and something of a 'toe-in the water' exercise, with the bright yellow coloured dial.

I've seen 7A38-701B's with case-back serial numbers beginning 38xxxx - August 1983 (the first month any 7A38's were manufactured), through 39xxxx (which appear to be the most numerous), 3Oxxxx and 3Nxxxx. I thought I'd seen a 3Dxxxx - December 1983 somewhere, but I just scrolled through my photo folder (twice) and not found any evidence of it. So it looks like a fairly brief 4-month production run.

June 6, 2012 at 3:59 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 17

Well, that 'toe in the water' test worked for me back then!! was love at first sight!!  :) 

June 6, 2012 at 4:09 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

As this thread is likely to become the reference topic for our forum, I guess I ought to 'put a stake in the ground'. :P


Specifications and Buyers Guide: 7A38-701B SAA005J


Size: 39.5mm diameter (excluding crown and pushers) x 43mm over lug ends x 11mm deep - 20mm lug width fixing.

Case and bracelet are common to the 7A38-7010 and 7A38-701A, but each uses a slightly different bezel (inlay colours).

Case material: Stainless steel – matt silver anodised finish all over, apart from case-back. Pushers and crown are polished.

Fixed external Tachymeter bezel with black enamelled inlay and all gold lettering: ‘Tachymeter’ and numbering.

Dial: Part number is 7A38704LXY18. Seiko's database shows it as ‘BROWN’. It is most definitely Yellow (with black printing).

Dial markings: SEIKO (gold-plated logo), QUARTZ Chronograph. At the bottom: JAPAN 7A38 704L T Suwa symbol.

There is a small mid-blue inverted triangle mark under the 12 o’clock baton. The yellow minute dial ring is marked 5 though 60.

Day and Date wheels: White lettering on black background. Second languages seen include: French, German and Spanish.

Hands: Main handset is black (with lume) and gold bosses. Sub-dial hands are all black.

Seiko crystal p/n: 300WF0GN00 - 30.0mm Ø x 1.5mm thick, with polished bevel - obsolete NLA; use Sternkreuz p/n XMF300.860

Case-back markings: Plain case-back; stamped SEIKO WATER RESISTANT JAPAN S STAINLESS STEEL 7A38-701B [A5]


Despite the ‘RAF Vulcan’ myth and various rumours of these watches having turned up in MOD surplus stores, and being supplied in plain brown (waxed) cardboard boxes, none have ever actually been seen stamped with military markings – NSN / issue numbers, etc.


Seiko bracelet p/n: Z1118S – fixing tube is stamped Z1118. Finish is matt silver anodised to match watch head.

Tapers from 23mm wide at the shoulder to 16mm. Fixing by 20mm x 1.5mm Ø spring bars.

Clasp is 'standard' brushed finish - 16mm x 35mm long, with 7 adjustment holes, stamped SEIKO SQ.


Production variances: None seen, apart from slight differences in edge treatments on some Z1118S bracelets.

Production dates: Examples seen have serial numbers beginning 38xxxx through 3Nxxxx. (August – November 1983).

Geography: Seem to turn up pretty much worldwide - particularly in Europe.

Buyers Tips: Original Seiko p/n Z1118S bracelet is prone to stretching, so beware of non-original bracelets.

Price Guide: $100 - $750 dependent upon condition (beater / parts watch –> mint).

Rarity Factor: 3/5 - Moderately Hard To Find.

June 8, 2012 at 1:36 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Sir Alan
Posts: 457

Well, I'm now the proud owner of this:

the above terrible photo doesn't do the watch justice - my phone camera takes the WORST pictures I've ever seen. I'll take some better pics when I get home.

It really needs a new crystal and a longer clasp fitting - I've got both so should be busy tonight  ;)

June 13, 2012 at 8:59 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

Strange that it should have come fitted with the 25mm long 5-hole SQ clasp, Simon. Every other 7A38-701x I've seen (that's been still fitted with the original p/n Z1118S bracelet) has also had the longer 35mm 7-hole SQ clasp fitted. Yet that bracelet looks 'right' to me. 

I missed noticing it in the eBay seller's listing photos, but it was clearly visible in this one:

Don't be in too much of a rush to fit that replacement Sternkreuz XMF300.860 crystal. While you've got the old crystal out, it's an ideal opportunity to touch up any missing enamel on the inner lip of the bezel. I use a 000 paintbrush and Humbrol modeller's enamel paint. It's far easier to do this working from underneath / from inside the watch case. There's less risk of getting excess paint on the numbers, that way. I haven't done this on my own, but I have touched up one of my 7A38-7010's, and my 'beater' Vulcan resto' project. 


June 13, 2012 at 10:02 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 2

hi everyone, hope someone can help me. i have a 7A38-701B which was working ok up till a few months ago when the battery died and i had it replaced. Now it only seems to work until 01.27 when it stops. the chrono still appears to work. i had the battery checked again and the back blown out, but no success. i was intending to sell but obviously i would prefer if it worked. So the question is any idea on what it'll cost to get it repaired and where would people recommend? i stumbled across this site by accident, i have to say its quite compulsive. i do like a good watch and there are some very interesting specimens here. many thanks, tic tock. bigfer

July 2, 2012 at 3:16 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

Hi, and welcome aboard. Assuming that it's 01.27 (in the morning) at night when it stops, then it's a sign it needs a service. With age, the oils in the jewels thicken, and act more as a brake than a lubricant. At 1:30-ish in the morning, the watch is halfway through the date / day change-over cycle - when it's working that little bit harder, and so placing additional load on the stepper motor / gear train which drives the hour and minute hands. Sometimes, making the watch warmer will temporarily help it get over 'sticky oil syndrome'. Try leaving it in the airing cupboard overnight and see if it makes it past 1:30. ;)

July 2, 2012 at 3:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 2

you sir, are a genius!!

i stuck the watch in the lagging of the hot water tank and it made it through to 06.45 this morning (only lost 10 mins). many thanks for your interest. so where do you recommend for a watch service of this type? Back to Seiko, Timpsons or an independent?

July 3, 2012 at 2:44 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

No genius involved - just the 'voice of experience' speaking. I've had a couple of 7A38's demonstrating exactly the same symptoms. ;)

Putting the watch in a warm place is nearly always just a temporary solution. As soon as it cools, the old oils thicken again, and you're faced with the same problem. The only answer is a complete strip; clean and rebuild of the entire movement - re-lubing with fresh oil.

Whereas there are a couple of members here who are at the 'tinkering' stage, because of the complexity of reassembly, particularly the main train wheel bridge, there's really only a couple of people in the UK I'd personally recommend to do the job properly:

Steve Burrage of Ryte Time (who's done quite a few 7A28 RAF Gen 1's for various people), or Seiko UK themselves. 

They have a repair technician (Nick) who is well versed in servicing 7A's. Unfortunately it's going to cost about £90.

July 3, 2012 at 5:28 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 12952

I presume everybody saw the one that was listed on eBay in Germany last week ?

Seiko Quarz Chrono Top Zustand

-sehr guter Zustand

-sehr seltenes gelbes Ziffernblatt

-Aufzug Quarz 

-Original Seiko Uhr 

-Wunderschöne Uhr, so etwas findet man heute nicht mehr, selbst gebraucht im Internet nicht zu finden.

As you can see from above, there was no mention of '7A38' nor 'Vulcan', let alone the 7A38-701B model number in title or description.

The auction ended a few moments ago, with the watch selling for a mere 396.00 Euros (approx. £313.27) after only 17 bids.

August 4, 2012 at 6:40 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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