Sunday, October 29, 2006

Collection Part 7 - Fancy 5000s (Presmatic Vanac LM Special and a DX)

Continuing the ongoing saga of Seiko watches, this is now the 7th chapter of 10 or so.

General reference history from Kevins post here;

Anything written by Don will provide reference to this chapter but I have chosen to use them in connection with the particular watches described.

SteveGs recent Presmatic review tells you all you want know about Presmatics and has some fantastic close-up pictures.

The 51XX caliber is a Daini development starting in 1967. The most common variant is the 5106 that is used in the Seikomatic-P and its export version, the Presmatic. The Presmatic is supposedly named after its hex-crown inset which is "pressed" to activate the quick-set, a function which was new with the Presmatic. Presmatics always have very high quality dials and finishing (see some of SteveGs pics for the attention to detail) and while being a low-beat caliber, it would probably be possible to adjust to KS grade standards.

A 5106-7010 from June 1968

Unfortunately this one does not have the hex crown (and a replacement one costs as much as the watch). The dial is better than I can get the picture to show with a midnight blue deep colour dial.

A 5106-8020 from April 1968

A SCTF purchase that I am very satisfied with. The onyx/black insets set it off nicely. The Presmatics are about 38-39mm so the are (for me at least) very wearable watches that do not dominate. Excellent on black leather straps.

A 5106-9000 from December 1967

My newest purchase which is in pretty much NOS condition with a bit of the blue stuff still on the back. It has a serial number of 0068 so I think it is a very early version Presmatic. It has (like the previous one) the most common Presmatic design, which seems to have been available in a number of dial colours but with the same type hands and dial markers. This light grey version gives it a bit extra life and shine.

The 51XX series also had a few DX models at 5126 and 5139 with 23 and 27 jewels respectively. Not much is written about these but I assume they were medium grade. Except for the number of jewels, the calibers are very similar. John W puts them as down-jeweled versions of the 5106.

A 5139-7020 from June 1968

Moving on from the 51XX series, we get to the 52XX series. This is also a Daini development starting in 1969 and used in the LM Special, the Chronometers and the KS Vanacs. The 5206/16 comes in both 23j and 25j variants but the rest are 25j only. As with the 51XX we are still in the high range and watches are nicely finished. Don noted in a post a few years ago that dials and finishing in this range is pretty much the same as with the GSs.

I have not been able to find any major differences between the 23j and 25j versions or between the 5206 and 5216 and they turn up in pretty much the same brands and case styles.

A 5206-6070 from December 1971

This is a LM Special with a meteorite dial. As mentioned above, excellent quality and finish. I particularily like the little yellow arrow on the second hand.

A 5216-7070 from May 1975

If you want the fancy 3D dials, they are probably most common in the LM Special range. Usually and perhaps exclusively comes with the faceted crystal. This crystal is a bit prone to chipping so there are many out there with plain crystal. There seem to be faceted replacement crystals being made so hopefully the trend can be reversed as the facets really add to the appearance of the watch. Again a pretty small watch at about 36-37mm (but the longer length balances it out quite well).

For more of the blue dialed versions, see Dons post from a few weeks ago, which also has a few more details about LM specials and these fancy dials.

And here is another Don post regarding the "Special" designation;

Leaving the 52XX we get to the 56XX series. The 56XX series is made by Suwa and starts about 1968. Again a high-end series going from the 560X LMs through the 562X KS to the 564X GS. The 560X was covered in a previous post so I will leave those out. The 5626 is a high-beat caliber used for the KS, the KS Vanac, the Vanac and the Chronometer. I am not that familiar with the technical details but any search on KS or GS, of which they have been quite a lot, will bring you the requisite details.

A 5626-7150 from April 1972

A SCTF purchase of a very nice Vanac. It is not completely evident from the picture but this has a 9- faceted slightly blue coloured crystal(essentially there are 3 faceted (either split horisontally or vertically) or 9 faceted (like tic-tac-toe) dials). The blue colour works very well with the blue dial and adds life to what could otherwise have been a bit boring.

Another Don post, this time on Vanacs and KS Vanacs. A you probably know, Dons posts on high end stuff below GS from the late 60s and 70s is probably the most valuable (only competition would be early Lee and a few of Koheis over at TZ but they are more picture-based) non-Japanese reference on these watches and everyone of them is a great pleasure to read. Wish someone would make more and possibly an index (hint, hint).

A 5626-5029 from November 1971

The KS 5626 was also made in an export version. The thing to note about this one is that it does not say KS anywhere but is one of the few that actually says "Officially certified Chronometer" at a time when this was also true. There is a very interesting movie about the certification process and the establishment of the Japanese certification institute on the Seiko site but I cannot find the link at the moment.

A 6106-7720 from June 1974

I thought I would throw this one in here as well. It is not a 5XXX series but for time and design purposes, it is very similar to the Vanacs of the time. As usual, Seiko is trying to spread its designs over a large price and customer range. Faceted crystal and a nice dial.

A 5606-5211 from December 1975

A slight discourse from the theme but it did not fit into my previous 5606 post (or any other post really). A SCTF purchase which presumably should be dated as 1975, but could as well be 1985. Seiko did a few of these designs which were ahead of its time like the 6220-7990 Skyliner and this one. Also a good way of using your 24mm leather straps.

Just to make my 5000 post more or less complete (I have deliberatly skipped the 50XX Tomony kids watches), we should also include the 57XX. As I do not have any GS and the 5717 is saved for a later post, the remaining one is the 5740 Lord Marvel. A high beat (36000) 5740C. The 5740A and B are low beat Lord Marvels.

As usual, a Don post will provide all the information you need about the 5740C.

A 5740-8000 from August 1968

Don has tirelessly been promoting these watches as the most value for money high end Seikos and it is very hard not to agree. Collection focus have kept me out of the GS range but with these watches I do not really feel that I have lost very much as to quality, workmanship and technical perfection.

Presmatics would be available on ebay at least once or twice a month. Expect to pay from USD 125 for fair quality to above USD 200 for very good quality. Go for the Seikomatic-P as the Presmatic badge adds probably USD 20-40. LM Specials are also not that unusual and have even better prices. If you are lucky, you can catch one where the competition is low at about USD 75. Really good examples with good crystals would bring you into the USD 150 bracket.

Advans and KS Advans are generally lower then KS prices and not that common. Keep you eyes out and expect to pay about USD 250. Lord Matic 36000 is also available from time to time. A bit overpriced in my mind and some of the designs are quite ugly (none is excellent). Prices around USD 150.

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