Saturday, November 11, 2006

Collection Part 10 - Lights, Colour, Action (Advan, Actus, Bellmatic, Vanac, Elnix)

Seiko has often made watches that are a bit out of the ordinary as to design and/or function. A lot of these a newer and quartz so they fall outside my collection but I will try to cover some noisy or colourful variants from the 60s and the 70s.

Probably the most well known Seiko trademark is the Bellmatic and no Seiko collection would be complete without one. The Bellmatic watches have been sold in the US and outside of Japan to a much larger extent than for example KS and GS.

John Ns site at will provide you with pictures, sounds, manuals and everything else you need to know about Bellmatics and the forum there is an inexhaustible resource for repair help, ebay advice and every other issue regarding Bellmatics. Perhaps the only thing missing is a compiled Bellmatic history (hint). The front page is a Bellmatic collectors dream.

The Bellmatic started production in 1967 with the 4005 caliber but seem to have been replaced the same year by the 4006 caliber. The 4005 is day only and the 4006 is day/date. The 4006 come in 17, 21 and 27j version but the 4005 only in 27j. The 4005 together with the 21j 4006 seems to be the most rare versions. Bellmatics are usually marked with "Bellmatic" on the dial but there also exists a rare "Business Bell" version of the 4006. I have not been able to ascertain when Bellmatic production stopped but there seem to be very few after 1976.

I also saw the other day on SCWF that there was a Quartz Bellmatic.

A 4006-7001 from January 1970. SCTF purchase. Nice condition but no casing spring.

A 4006-6011 from December 1971.

Staying on the sounding watch track, Seiko has produced a number of quartz watches that do all kinds of strange feats like TVs, calculators, computers and much else. The A966 talking watch is a relatively simple watch by comparision but it still manages to speak the time in both English and Spanish and I think it looks really cool.

A A966-4010 from June 1986.

In the years between the mechanical watch period and the quartz period, Seiko (as many other watchmakers) produced a few electronic watches. These were the 31/3102 from 1968, the EL-370 from 1970, the EL-330 from 1972 and the Elnix from 1973. The first three are 21600 and the Elnix is 28800 bph. The Elnix was a high end watch higher in price than the KS. As I understand it these are transistorised watches with a balance spring similar to the Bulova Dynotron (but not the Bulova Accutron, which is a tuning fork style).

To avoid discussing things that I do not understand, Pieter Doensen has a very good site on electric watches here (even if his info does not match the one from my Japanese watch books);

As usual, Nakahiro has pages on the Elnix and the EL-370 with excellent movement pics;

Jake B had some additional Elnix pictures here and Aaron and Zoodles did a good summary on these watches here

A 0702 caliber Elnix from September 1974

A 3703 caliber EL-370 from October 1971

Both these watches are working fine and keeping good time. Modern batteries work well but might need to be adjusted as original voltages are not always available.

To continue into the 70s, Seiko produced a colourful avant garde style watch called the advan from about 1972-75. The advan was usually a 7019 caliber but there are also 7039 and 6106 caliber variants as well as 6106 DX models that look like advans but does not have the advan label. Advan bracelets are marked advan and sometimes as interesting as the watch. Advans came in a multitude of dial styles and cases most om them with faceted crystals. Unfortunately, a lot of the crystals have been buffed out or replaced so original crystals are less common. Advans were not cheap. Both the 7019 and 6106 are medium quality calibers and advans seems to have been priced similar to LMs at around JPY 22-24,000.As you can see, all my advans are a bit beat up but I thought I would try to get as many as I could so I have imposed a USD 25 limit on my purchases.

Randall has a nice meteorite advan here;
An advan-ad from Don;
And no advan post would be complete without Dons seascape advan. Comes in a few different colours but probably the best advan design;

A 7019 from April 1973. Crystal changed. The dial on this is a nice blue/silver combination.

A 7019-7280 from August 1973

A 7019-7310 from March 1974. Original crystal on advan bracelet. Interesting brass dot on case.

I also have a 5 Actus that might as well have been called an advan. As mentioned by Isthmus in the sub-brand post, Actus were produced both as advan-style watches as well as divers like the silver wave and also in other more tarditional styles. The Actus brand is therefore not that practical as a cathegorisation. Aaron has helpfully noted that Actus means "moving through" or "a thing done" in Latin. Not sure which meaning Seiko was referring to.

A 7019 5 Actus from October 1976. Faceted crystal and a very nice deep blue slightly 3D dial.

Aaron had a pair of similar 5 Actus here;

A 7005-7001 from November 1970. The other Seikos of the early 70s also had a marked design element to them. Not very common with the magnifying crystal so I assume this has been added to the original. This looks very similar to the Presmatic in a part 7.

To conclude the tour of strange Japanese words, the high end modern style Seiko of the 70s was the Vanac. Vanacs came with 5246, 5256 and 5626 movements. My 5626 Vanac was posted in part 7 so I will focus on the 52XX series here.

I think I have referenced Dons post on Vanacs and Vanac Specials before but it is again relevant as to the differences between a KS Vanac and a KS Special Vanac;

Even though authenticity was questioned, I think this is a very interesting Vanac and I have never seen this type of faceted crystal on any other watch;

Perhaps sometimes overlooked, jayhawks database has a good selection of Vanacs in the vintage KS section. Chect the 5626-726A for the most fascinating case ever made by Seiko;

A 5256-6000 from December 1973. Brown is really not the best colour for watches.

Citizen closely followed or perhaps sometimes led the 70s styling race and had a number of watches similar to the Advans and Vanacs. I do not have anything with a close resemblance in my collection but this is a nice 70s style watch. Not much information on these but a 28j high beat watch would normally compete with a Presmatic or a LM Special.

Nakahiros page (in Japanese) on the Leopard is here;

A 36000 bph 7200 caliber 28j Leopard from April 1970.

To conclude the post of colourful watches, I have the only diver in the collection postings (I have a few more divers but not interesting enough to post and my diver knowledge is minute so I cannot contribute very much there either). I do however like this one (came from the SCTF) a lot.

A 6106-8100 from June 1969. They are also very nice with the black and silver dial but the yellow wins in my book.

To sum up the pricing/collecting issues as usual, Bellmatics are probably the most common non-diver Seiko on ebay. Quality varies significantly but not always consistently with prices. Crystals are readily available and easy to change so that should not be a big issue.

Missing casing springs is the scourge of BM collecting. Check Richies blog about the only known successful example of making one As most sellers have no idea how to check this and as there is significant risk in getting a bad watch for a high price on ebay, I would advice doing your purchasing on the SCTF. It is also a good idea to spend a few more dollars for a better quality BM. Good BMs on the SCTF would be around USD 100.

If you want a talking watch, I have seen them everywhere from USD 75 to USD 300 on ebay. Bid low and be patient. Advans and similar Actus used to be cheap at around USD 25 in the beginning of the year. Lately they have sold around USD 50 but supply also seems to be increasing. Here as well, bid low and be patient unless there is a particular design that you absolutely must have. A Vanac would run you about USD 250 unless it is really ugly where examples go below USD 200. The 61XX-8XXX divers are quite popular and usually ends up around or above the USD 100 mark.


Anonymous said...

I have a Bellmatic I purchased in 1977. A friend gave me a catolog, and although I did not order the bellmatic, one came in a tube of water, with an explaination. Seemed the one I had ordered was out of stock. I still have and wear this very same watch, and it keeps great time. I have always been glad the one I ordered was out of stock this watch has been faithfull for 32 years

Anonymous said...

Add to previous comment it is a 4006 6011 seiko and It came from some mail order in Guam. Anyone know anything about that history?

martback said...

Check out the Bellmatic site at It has most of the Bellmatic variants.

/ martin