Seiko 7A38 - by the numbers



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Forum Home > Non-Seiko 7Axx Discussion Area (Re-branded mvmt's) > Cartier Ferrari Formula chrono's - How many permutations ??

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It's a question I've asked myself many times. Having access to Seiko Oceania's database made it a relatively easy task to quantify how many different variations of 7A38 were produced (85), despite there being gaps where data had been lost. I've filled in most of those.

But where do you even begin with the Cartier Ferrari Formula Cal 531. / Cal 532. quartz chronographs ? There's no look-up database.

As for the F6xxxxxx catalogue / model number, they're not stamped on the watch's case-backs - they carry just a 6-digit serial number.

Over the last three and a half years, I've right-clicked and saved nearly 1500 images of these watches - mostly from eBay listings.

They're grouped into sub-folders, like this:

I haven't made sub-folders for every version - there simply are far too many variations and some I actually have very few photos of.

As the red dialed variants are the most popular and numerous they soon got split across the first 6 sub-folders, named as follows:

Black & Gold Early Bracelet; Black & Gold Later Bracelet; Black & Gold Leather Strap; Stainless & Gold Early Bracelet .... and so on.

Hopefully the other folder names (and their contents) will be self explanatory - there's quite a few versions which are lumped together.

The odd thing about the Cartier Ferrari Formula chrono's, is that they all use basically the same asymmetric 'Scudetto' shaped watch case with the familiar 'Hex Nut' crown and pusher buttons - for all these different variations. That said, there were actually three subtle variations of the watch case. What I refer to as the 'Early' version had 18mm wide lug ends. These were machined two different ways: Either with two 4mm notches to take the familiar offset double fixing 'Ferrari' logo'd bracelet, or with a narrow-ish 12mm conventional lug cut-out to take an 18mm notched leather strap. Then there's the 'Later' version of the watch case which has 20mm wide lug ends with a single 5mm wide offset cut-out that was used for both bracelets and leather straps.

Then there's the finishes. With the 'Early' watch case it was quite simple and straight-forward. You either had black ion plating with a gold plated bezel, or stainless with a gold plated bezel. With the introduction of the 'Later' style watch case also came a black chrome or plain 'base metal' finish bezel. The 'Later' bracelets, although ostensibly all the same construction were available in all stainless; all black ion and black ion with base metal finish inner links - besides the previous stainless and black with gold plated inner link sections.

Then you've got the all the different dial permutations that came within these case / bracelet / strap combinations. I've also seen quite a few watches with unusual Tachymeter ring colours. However, knowing that certain German eBay sellers are not averse to swapping movements around between watches, I suspect the majority of these may be 'Franken' rather than official factory produced versions.

Lastly, to further complicate matters, there are variations in some of the individual dials themselves. Take what I'd call the 'Dark Grey' dial, with the white section outlined in red, between the 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock batons. That can have either 'Ferrari' and a small-ish 'Scudetto' printed on it, or a slightly bigger square badge under 'Ferrari'. Other (particularly 'Later') dials have just a larger rectangular 'proper nose badge' (and no word 'Ferrari'). Some dials have a 'Prancing Horse' under the word 'Ferrari'. The mind truly boggles. 

Indeed, as a self-check, I just flicked through my folder containing photos of watches (both early and later style / all finishes / fixings) with the White Roman numeral dial. I found 3 variations: Ferrari + Scudetto; Ferrari + Prancing Horse and rectangular 'Nose badge'.

One constant is, that regardless of case and bezel finish, all the watch cases were fitted with gold-plated 'Hex Nut' crown and pusher buttons, although as I've pointed out in another thread, the crowns can differ internally - dependant on the crown tube / seals fitted.

After I'd finished compiling my own Excel database of all the Seiko 7A38 variations, I later added a couple of addenda to the bottom.

One was sub-titled: Other manufacturer's chronographs which used the Seiko Cal. 7A38(A) quartz movement:

It covers (in some detail) all the model numbers / dial colour variants for: Yema, Jaz, Kamatz; Loris Azzaro, Orient, Puma, Junghans ....

and the re-branded 7A38 calibers used in them. However, the Cartier Ferrari Formula section of that addendum still reads, to this day:

Dozens of different dial face colour / bracelet / strap combinations - need to quantify, when time allows.

All use 7A38 movements signed: Ferrari Cal. 531 (printed).

'Dozens' doesn't even begin to explain the size of the problem. :roll:

Rather than corrupt that spreadsheet, I started another 'little' Excel database, for just the Cartier Ferrari Formula chrono's.

The Y axis (rows) were dials (simple enough). Across the X axis (columns), I started to plot permutations I'd seen them used in -

using the cells as 'tick boxes'. Needless to say after a couple of months it became completely unmanagable and I abandoned it.

Later, I thought about doing it the other way round, plotting dials against case / finishes / bracelet / strap combinations. The eventual outcome would probably have been just the same. But with hindsight, as you'll see as this topic develops, it turns out that would have been the better way to go. Being an ex-parts guy I really wanted to be able to base the exercise on (known) part numbers and / or product codes, rather than just photos of  watches I'd seen listed on eBay over the last three and a half years.

May 28, 2013 at 6:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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The problem being, particularly part number-wise, I actually had very little in the way of such information available to work from. :(

Back in February 2011 I'd bought a NOS Ferrari dial on eBay, which I subsequently used to build my Franken Ferrari 7A38 watch:

It came in a little plastic box with a typical F6xxx xxx format part number label:

But I wasn't even 100% certain that the dial was in it's correct original packaging. :/

Here's a full hand set for the dark grey dialed version that I found online - their spare part number is of a similar F 6xxxx xxx format:

But as you'll see develops, like my dial, this part number other than beginning in F6, bears little or no relation to the dial it's used on.

Product code-wise, I'd known for some time that the first Cartier Ferrari Formula '7A38' introduced - a.k.a the 'TestaRossa' model:

was catalogue model # F6094801. I'd even been fortunate to have found written evidence of that on a few eBay listing photos:

But I'd seen far more warranty cards like that, where dealers had filled in the watch's serial number instead of using the product code, and even a few cases where the F6xxxxxx product codes were patently obviously written incorrectly - either that or the watches were being offered for sale with papers that didn't actually belong to that particular watch. I won't bother posting any of those examples, as they'll only serve to confuse, but it goes without saying that they were mostly being offered by second-hand watch dealers, who really should know better. Naturally, selling them 'with box and papers' can add a couple of hundred euros to the price of a watch like these.

Last March I picked up a couple of Ferrari Forumula brochures on eBay. It's price list dated one from September 1989; the other was undated but I reckon it's from around 1991. I've already posted the scans in the 'Ferrari Formula Fever - Red Mist' thread, but it won't hurt to copy them over to this thread, particularly because the 1989 brochure has model code captions against the illustrations:

   Captions should read F6394877 and F6404876

   Per price list: 6 = F6424402 and 7 = F6424803   Per price list: 10 = F6434403, 11 = F6434801

The problem with those two fold-out brochures is that they only show a partial selection from each model range. Yes, they gave me a few more F6xxxxxx model codes to chuck in the melting pot, but aren't really of much more help. As I also later discovered, in the 1989 brochure, both the illustrations of the '7A48' (Cal. 532) moon-phase chrono's at the bottom of the page were incorrectly captioned ! :mad:

May 30, 2013 at 2:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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So, at that stage, besides 'the original' F6094801, I had a dozen or so more Ferrari Formula catalogue model codes to play with. Although they all similarly began with F6xxxxxx, I couldn't really see any pattern to them, so I wasn't certain whether (any of) their individual included numbers, or their formats, were significant in any way - or if they were just a random generated sequence.

Three weeks ago, I stumbled across a Ferrari Formula website. I posted a link to it on the 'Ferrari Formula Fever - Red Mist' thread. - it documents the amazing collection belonging to our newest forum member, Geert. 

Nobody's commented on the link as yet. I hadn't really got much past this page, myself:

which shows just the Cal. 531 (7A38), Cal. 532 (7A48) and Valjoux 7750 chrono' (40 watches !!) section of Geert's huge collection. 

But at the weekend I had more time to look around and found this page under 'More':

It appears to be a Ferrari Formula dealer's catalogue; A4 loose leaf pages in a hard back ring binder. Amongst those pages was this:

As you can see, in this early full version of the catalogue, presumably from 1988, although they contain the same number of digits, the model numbers are split up F.6xx.xx.xx - and there is a distinct pattern to the number sequences used, which define not only the case finish / bracelet or strap fitment, but the last two digits also signify which dial. The familiar F6094801 shown, top left, as F.609.48.01.

May 30, 2013 at 4:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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The above image was lifted straight from Geert's website and posted here, with his kind permission. In fact, that catalogue web page includes scans of 5 different sheets showing multiple variations of Cartier Ferrari Formula Cal. 531 / 532 chrono's. But they were all a similar small-ish size (approx. 580 pixels by 800 pixels, with file sizes around 200KB). So, ealier today I emailed Geert and asked if he could provide larger higher resolution scans. He certainly did ! The following images were all scanned at 2480 x 3508 pixels with file sizes of 1.0MB  ! Took me a while to figure out how to host them, to gain the best benefit / sharing full size. I ended up using Flickr.

I'll fill in the gaps with my observations about the watches on each page (and particularly their F6xx.xx.xx codes) tomorrow later. ;)

OK, let's start at the beginning. In this larger higher resolution scan, it's easier to read the F.6xx.xx.xx model codes. In this first group, at least, there is a definite logical pattern forming. '09', or as we'll see develops, just '9' as the third digit (after F) indicates Black Ion finish. Similarly '10', or in fact just the third digit '0' indicates stainless steel. '48' as the next pair of digits designates a bracelet fitted.

The last pair of digits: 01, 06, 25 and 05 signify which dial is used. 01 (Red) and 06 (Dark Grey) being by far the most commonly seen dials in the early style Ferrari Formula watch cases - especially the versions on bracelets. I'll write more in detail about the individual dials at the bottom of this section, but what's interesting to note that the illustrations on this page show all four different variations of logos used on these (early) dials: Ferrari + Nose badge; Ferrari + Yellow square; Ferrari + Scudetto and Ferrari + Prancing horse.

A couple of other things to note about that first selection: they all use the same charcoal grey Tachymeter ring with silver printing, and that even the 06 Dark Grey and 25 Black dials are used in conjunction with black lettering on white background Day and Date wheels.

On this second page you've got the same 4 dials as in the first page illustrations - but the leather strap variants, presented in a slightly different order L-R, with a fifth dial colour variant added to the selection, in the middle: '73'. Basically it's a metallic champagne / gold coloured version of the '05' white Roman numeral dial, that's on the far right of both pages. It can't have proven a very popular seller, because I've only ever seen a couple on eBay. As far as the F6xx.xx.xx model codes go, not only have F.609 and F.610 now become F.659 and F.660, but the middle pair of digits has also changed from 48 to 49. Assuming, for now that the 'rule' '9' versus '0' of F.6xX showing the finish (Black Ion or Stainless) still holds good, then the middle digit 5 or 6 must signify the differently machined watch case (for each finish). If one also assumes that 49 as the next pair of digits (as opposed to 48) specifies a leather strap instead of bracelet, it must presumably cover both the light grey or black shark leather straps - or at least in this particular instance. But of more anon. ;)

The other point of interest (to detail freaks like myself, anyway ) is that there are different dial logo variants shown in the 2 images on this page, and that some of them also differ from the illustrations on the first page - yet the .xx dial numbers remain unchanged. 

This third sheet introduces three more dials, which I've always referred to as the 'Ferrari sub-dial' dials - for obvious reasons; numbers 82, 83 and 84. Note that the case / bracelet designators F.609.48.xx or F610.48.xx are the same as on the first page. The main visible difference with these three is that they don't use the charcoal grey Tachymeter ring. The light grey '83' dial uses a similarly coloured light grey Tachymeter ring with two darker grey concentric borders and the other two have white Tachymeter rings with black printing.

Again, I'll write some more, about the details of these particular dials, in my summary of the dial variations (now in a subsequent post).

This fourth sheet showing the leather strap versions of the 82, 83 and 84 'Ferrari sub-dial' variants gives us the first potential anomoly in the numbering system. Both trio's of illustrations begin with F.659 and F.660, as with the previous set on leather straps, but this time, the middle pair of digits (presumably designating strap rather than bracelet) has changed from 49 to 44. Ignoring for the moment, the two Red ones the middle, the straps fitted to the other watches are Grey and Black Shark (previously covered by '49').

The model numbering for the Cal. 532 (or 7A48's as we know them better) moonphase chrono's is pretty straight-forward. Those of us who have dabbled with swapping Seiko 7Axx's about between cases will know that the 7A38 and 7A48 movements share identical dimensions and are effectively interchangable. These Cal 532's are all using exactly the same watch cases as the Cal 531's. But rather than use the existing set of number designators: F.609/610.48.xx (bracelet) and F.659/660.44.xx (leather strap), which they easily could have done, the 7A48 versions have become F.639/640.48.xx and F.669/670.44.xx. Their 7A48 moonphase dial number suffixes, which would on their own have been sufficient to distinguish them from other 7A38 Day / Date Ferrari Formula chrono's, are: '76' - Yellow and Grey stripes and '77' - Red and Grey stripes. These unique F.6xx model codes may have been created deliberately to signify a different movement was used, but I suspect the decision may also have been influenced by catalogue price list strategy. Speaking of catalogues, it was thanks to Geert's set of scans that I discovered the mistake in the September 1989 brochure, that I'd already posted scans of, where the dial designator suffixes (76 and 77) for the two bracelet models had been incorrectly inter-posed.

I haven't been as methodical in right-clicking and saving photos of the Ferrari Formula Cal. 532's that I've seen over the years. 7A48's aren't exactly my cup of tea, but I think I can safely say I've seen all 8 models shown on that catalogue page at one time or another - and that there aren't (m)any more variations of them. As far as 7A48 dials / colours go, I've only ever seen these two. Both are used with a white Tachymeter ring, regardless of case finish, and the moonphase indicator wheel appears to be the standard Seiko dark blue and gold item, p/n 0634500. The dial logo used is always 'Ferrari' with a 'Prancing Horse' underneath, printed in dark grey.

The '77' red and grey striped dials were fitted with red hour and minute hands with white inlays, red sweep second hand and short red chrono' subdial hands, all used on other Cal. 531 models. The only variation in dial printing (which I'll admit I'd missed noticing myself) was pointed out by George, in the 'Red Mist' thread. Just like the Cal. 531's early production Cal. 532 dials carried 'JAPAN QUARTZ'.

    It's printed quite clearly near 4 o'clock.

The '76' yellow and grey striped dial used the dark grey / yellow hand set and short dark grey sub-dial hands as per some Cal. 531's.

I've seen one other leather strap variation, grey shark, instead of yellow listed on eBay last June. Was it 'original' ? Who knows. :/

The Cal. 532's production life-span seems to have been comparatively short - perhaps as little as two years, because these 7A48 versions never made it across to the newer style cases with 20mm wide lug ends. This could have been due to a number of factors: firstly, their less attractive dial designs; the somewhat incongruous moonphase complication not being popular with motorsport fans and the pricing structure: the black ion red / grey dial version F.639.48.77 being 500DM more expensive than some Cal. 531 models.

May 30, 2013 at 6:27 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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And to add  to the permutations of these watches, mine is not even shown here. Basically mine is a F6094801 Testarossa model but has all black hands and smaller sub dial hands (as you stated in the ferrari cartier movment swap thread) and am the original owner since new so is not a secondhand franken ferrari either.

June 2, 2013 at 4:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 13287

Glad to read (in your other recent post) you've finally got your watch sorted out, Mr Lee. :) Told you it was a straight-forward swap. ;)

You kinda jumped the gun (on me) with your post above. What you may not possibly have realized is that I (as the site admin) have an infinite post editing time-out window, so I tend to (ab)use this facility to compose and re-edit lengthy 'blog style' posts.

I had intended to finish editing that previous post of mine last weekend, but something cropped up, then I've been busy at work since.

So I had to leave it as was - adding the captions / explanations between the catalogue pages a few days afterwards, a bit at a time.

I was going to add another sub-section to it, commenting on all the different (early style) Cal. 531 dial variations, but seeing as that post is probably getting perilously close to the 20,000 (HTML) characters per post limit, I'm going to start another. :P

Sorry if that leaves your post looking slightly out of sequence. But you will get an answer (of sorts) when I've finished. 

June 6, 2013 at 7:48 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 13287

Post reserved for dials used in early style Ferrari Formula Cal. 531's. Uploading suitable photos first - text to follow soon. 

So let's start at the beginning with 01 - the red 'TestaRossa' dial.

Apologies for re-posting these 3 photos from the 'Red Mist' thread, but they're the best close-up shots of these variations I've seen.


The dark grey 06 dial:

More photos from this recently ended eBay listing here:


The black 25 dial

That small-ish image comes from a LiveAuctioneers' listing last November, but it's the clearest shot of the dial I've found.

Here's another recently ended eBay auction listing for a black ion / bracelet version:


The 05 White Roman numeral dial:

More photos from this very recently ended eBay listing:

Here's a current eBay listing for a black ion 'JAPAN QUARTZ' (all 3 pusher buttons missing):


The 73 Gold Roman numeral dial:

Ebay June 2011 'parts watch' in job lot:


The 82 White Ferrari sub-dial dial:


The 83 Light Grey Ferrari sub-dial dial:


The 84 Red Ferrari sub-dial dial:

A nice example of the black ion bracelet version with this dial, posted here in a recent thread on the Italian Orologi & Passioni forum.

Interestingly, the OP gave his topic the title: Seiko 7A38 Cartier Ferrari - so he's not under any delusions about what's inside it.


The Light Grey dial (2-digit suffix currently unknown) not listed in any of the foregoing catalogue brochures:

Above image from another recently ended eBay auction:

Thread locked until I finish composing / editing it. 

June 6, 2013 at 7:49 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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