Found an old friend (wrist watch from the 80’s)

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Life in general, Rants and Raves, Techie Stuff

In my previous entry, I talked about looking for an old Alba watch that I had when I was in elementary school.  It was an Alba/Seiko Y749-5030A.  After scouring the internet looking for someone who may know where I could find one, I lucked out and came across someone who happened to be selling the Y749-5020A. It isn’t the exact same model that I owned but functionality-wise, they are pretty much identical.  The only real difference aside from the color, is that the 5020A comes in a 50 meter water resistant casing as opposed to the 100 meter water resistant casing that the 5030A’s have, and they come with a metal bracelet instead of the silicon watch band.  I prefer the silicon over the medal bracelets, because bracelets not only feel heavier, they don’t fit as well on me.

I decided to bid on the watch anyway, because I figured that this would probably be the closest thing I will be able to find to the model that I use to have.  It was in excellent shape.  As a matter of fact, like the Person’s watch that I bought a few weeks ago, it was a dead stock, which means that its pretty much brand new and never been worn.   The seller was selling it for about $60 USD which is an excellent price considering that they use sell for nearly twice as much back the days.  i know this, because the watch came with the original Alba price tag still attached.  I didn’t want to spend too much over the $60 asking price, although I had the option of ending the auction early and winning the watch, if I spent $10 more.  But I decided risk it and waited the 2 days for the auction to end.

While waiting for the auction for the Y749-5020A to take its course, I did some research on the Y749 movement, and found that it was used in many different model watches.  I could have spent a lot less and settled on another used Y749-5000 series Seiko watch, but it wouldn’t be quite the same.  After all, what I am really looking for is the Y749-5030A, which seems to be much more rare and elusive than the other Alba models.

I also was able to find out that the movement inside Person’s watches are also made by Seiko and based on the V701 movement which are used in MANY Seiko and non-Seiko brand watches, which was somewhat of a surprise to me, although I think I may have known this and had just forgotten.    This particular movement seems to be so common that they are still being sold today.   Since I gutted an old Person’s watch that I had cannibalized to repair a very old watch that owned since high school, I now have a shell available that I can pretty revive into a working watch.  So I went onto eBay and bought a new V701 movement for about $21 USD (including shipping to Japan).  Once it arrives, I can repair the Person’s watch and I will then have 3 Person’s watches.  I might even paint it a different color so that I would have the same watch in 3 different colors.

After two days of waiting, the auction finally came to an end, and I was the winner.  Being somewhat of a rare find, I was a bit worried that someone might outbid me at the last moment, which would have been heartbreaking, and I contemplated paying the extra $10 so that I could end the auction.  But I decided to take the gamble, and it paid off.  So now, I own an Alba Y749-5020A.  It brings back so much memories from my childhood, even though its not quite the same.  One thing that I immediately noticed is how compact this watch is.  The Casio TS-1200 thermometer watch is also pretty small and compact, but look noticeably larger than the Alba.   I will continue to search for the Y749-5030A  in the hopes that I will be able wear the same exact model watch I had as a kid , but the 5020A is still a great find.  And being able to hear that cricket-like alarm again makes things all the better.



Reviving an old friend (my favorite watches)

Author: mirai  //  Category: Life in general

When I was a kid, I had an affinity for wrist watches.  I’ve owned MANY of them.  Usually, anytime I would go to Japan, I would have my mom or grandmother buy me a new watch.  I can remember one of my very first watches, which was an Alba/ Seiko chronograph sports watch.  I got it when I was nine years old, and  I seemed to recall that it was about $80 USD, which was a lot of money for a wrist watch, especially for a nine year old.   I LOVED that watch, because the alarm sounded really cool.  It somewhat resembled the sound of a cricket, or the door alarm on most modern Honda cars.  It was cool because it it was water resistant to 100 meters, which was equivalent to many expensive diver’s watches sold at the time.


I also loved it because it had 4 function buttons.  Being a nine year old, I thought that the more buttons a digital watch had, the better.  My 10 year old best friend at the time seemed to agree because he owned a Casio which only had 3 function buttons and deeply envied my Alba/Seiko.


I owned that watch until probably about my first year of junior high school.  I use to wear it 24 hours a day: in the shower/ bath, when I went to bed, when I went swimming….absolutely everywhere.  Eventually the rubber gasket on the watch back gave away and water got into it, rusting the movement inside.  I was very sad by this and wanted another one just like it.  But unfortunately, they discontinued that particular model, and Alba/Seiko where carrying only the metal bracelet version on that model which I didn’t like.


The next watch I got to replace my Alba, was a Casio TS-1000 thermometer watch.  This watch was super cool in that it had a bar graph thermometer built into and it was also water resistant to 100 meters like my old Alba/Seiko.  This watch was the predecessor to the current G-Shock models, yet it was not big and gaudy like the G-Shocks.  It was very light weight, compact, and easy to wear.  The only drawback was that it only had 3 function + 1 adjustment button, and the alarm wasn’t as cool as the Alba/Seiko.  Instead of the cricket like sound, it was a boring beep-beep sound.

For some reason, I am not sure what happened to my TS-1000.  I don’t know if I broke it (which is unlikely, given that I am usually pretty good with taken care of my belongings) or if I lost it.  But shortly after returning to the States from Japan, I seem to recall it going AWOL under unknown circumstances.


When I went back to Japan the next year, they had replaced the TS-1000 with the TS-1200.  Basically, aside from the graphic thermometer being curvy, the functions remained pretty much the same.  I did like the TS-1200 a bit more though because of the curvy bar graph thermometer.  I kept the Casio TS-1200 for several years until it wore and broke for pretty much the same reason why my Alba/Seiko did: worn rubber gasket causing water to get into the watch and rusting the movement.


Before my first year of high school, I bought my first watch on my own.  It wasn’t a Seiko or Casio, nor was it a digital watch.  It was a very plain looking no-name analog watch made by a Japan Domestic Market-only fashion brand maker called “Person’s”.  The watch was branded as Person’s model F-B, other than that, the watch maker is pretty much unknown. There was nothing too particularly fascinating about this watch, other than it looked least to me it did.  It was a plain Jane round faced analog watch, but instead of  numbers on the faces, it had world flags.  For me, this was what was the main cool factor.  It also kind of looked like an expensive diver’s watch with the adjustable gold colored bezel, and it was also capable of being submerged to 100 meters.  Aside from being a no frills, single function watch, it was the most expensive watch I had ever owned at the time at a mind blowing $120 USD.  And like my previous two watches, I also wore this absolutely everywhere.


This watch lasted the longest of every watch I have ever owned.  Although the silicon band gave out pretty early and had to be replaced several times over it’s lifetime, The watch lasted  over 20years of hard abuse.  It eventually gave out over ten years ago, but I kept it around in the hopes that someday I may be able to fix it.

Since the old days I have owned many different types of watchers from Swatches, Fossils, and Honda Racing PIAA racing watch, all of which I still own but don’t carry quite the same fondness that I had for the above mentioned 3 watches.


This drove me to do a search for the other model of watched that I owned, like the Alba/Seiko and the Casio Thermometer watch.  I found both the TS-1000 and TS-1200 on eBay, and they looked to be in excellent condition, so I decided that I had to have one.   The watch was in like-new condition, but the seller was selling it for a bit more money than I wanted to spend: $150 which is more that it was brand new back in 1982, so I offered a cheeky $95.00 instead and amazingly the seller agreed to give me a whopping $55.00 discount.  A few days later it arrived in pristine condition, and I loved it.


Now in full nostalgia mode, I decided to pull out my old gold bezeled Person’s flag watch and see if I could get it working again.  I popped open the back and it looked to be in pretty bad shape.  The rubber gasket had fully perished, the copper elements had corroded and turned green from moisture, and the watch stem had rusted and broken in half.  Amazingly, after replacing the batter, it started ticking again, but the hour hand no longer moved.  Most likely this was due to a rusted or perished gear.  I was truly saddened that this watch that had been with me for nearly 3 decades was in such tired shape, but I didn’t want to just throw it in the bin.  Despite it’s simplicity, and somewhat mundane appearance, it’s still a really good watch.  So I looked on the net to see if there was anyone selling the same model, in the hopes I may be able to scavenge some parts from it to get mine working.  In the process, I found two.  One was a used model that had an ugly green band, but was in good working order.  The other seemed to be brand new, still in it’s box and also had red hands and bezel, but with a cool black and red stitch band.  Of course, I bought both.  The new one for my collection, and the used one to cannibalize to revive my  old 30 year old friend.  After I got the used flag watch, I inspected it, and it was in excellent mechanical condition, and it only cost $30USD.  It was in such good shape that it was almost shameful to pull apart.


I completely removed the movement from the watch casing and began the transplant.  The hands on the donor watch was red so I attempted to swap them for the gold hands on my watch so that the hands matched the bezel color.  This operation was tedious and I wound up damaging the very fragile and tiny second hand.  I order a replacement which I am waiting for in the mail as I write this.  After about two hours of fiddling with the tiny watch parts, I managed to complete move of the newer movement into the old 30 year old casing.  After closing up the casing, everything worked again as it did when I bought it nearly 30 years ago, minus the second hand which I will replace later.


So I now, own 2 of the 3 the watches I had previously owned during my childhood, and I am on the hunt for the Alba/Seiko.   Unfortunately, I had a feeling this is going to be somewhat of a hunt as this watch model is pretty rare.  It’s based on the Y749 movement, which several models of Seiko, Alba, and Pulsar watches where made from, and I only have a very fuzzy picture from a catalog I found on the internet to go from.  I would even settle on the Alba Y749-5020A model which is looks to be the more expensive 50 meter WR version of it.  I would only accept this model because it comes in a very cool black and red color scheme which is my favorite.  So if you are reading this, and know where I can get an Alba Sports chronograph watch model Y749-5030A (black with a white inner bezel) or the Y749-5020A 50 meter version (black with red inner bezel), please let me know in the comment section below.