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I recently got a VFA Quartz 3923 Seiko from the 70's. I'd never seen one in the metal, and had always thought the blinking 'LED' with each second was a touch odd, but interesting. I finally found one in unpolished, good condition for a good price and pulled the trigger. Whelp, now I'm hooked. This thing is so cool. The asymmetric crystal is cool, and I was totally surprised by the curved caseback that makes it wear VERY comfortably. Neat watch, I recommend them.



That curved caseback:
 

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the metal, and had always thought the blinking 'LED' second was a touch odd, but interestin I finally ition for a good price and pulled the



Blinking LED? Post video please.
 

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This is super funky and I like it. Two questions - do these need to be serviced in some way and what is the battery life on them?
 

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That is a prize! The dial color with the little light is just beautiful.

There is always something you didn't know about with Seiko.
 

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This is super funky and I like it. Two questions - do these need to be serviced in some way and what is the battery life on them?
I'd say they probably need to be serviced, but I don't think there'd be that many people who are willing to touch them - these 39SQs have a very complicated movement, much more so than the 35A and 38SQ, the first two quartz movements from Suwa, which are from around the same time. This was Daini's second quartz movement - the first one, the 36SQ, no-one can find in the wild anywhere - there are examples of the watches and the movements in Seiko's museums, but it's not known if they work or not. It's said that the 36SQ had some fatal flaw in the movement, which meant that they weren't very reliable. The 36SQ was the world's first quartz watch to use CMOS, but the CMOS was actually developed by an American company called Intersil as the product of a research collaboration agreement with/as a sub-contractor to Seiko, after Seiko tried and failed several times to do it themselves in-house. 35As are said to be temperamental too, unsurprisingly. This 39SQ was the 36SQ's successor, and looks very similar in layout. As for the 39SQ, you can see that the movement is a lot less neat and tidy than the 35A and 38SQ's, if you look at the article here: http://www.crazywatches.pl/seiko-3923a-vfa-led-quartz-1973

It's more complicated, but less sophisticated in design than the Suwa movements. It's perhaps even less neat and tidy than the Beta 21, the first commercialised Swiss quartz movement, which I have read some people deriding as looking like it was knocked up in a university course workshop.

It uses 2 batteries in parallel, since it's so power-hungry, which is different from any other quartz movement that I know of, apart from the 36SQ. As you can see from the photos, you have to disassemble the watch's case and then partially disassemble the movement in order to replace the batteries. The LED blinks once a second, and acts as a power/battery-life indicator - it starts off bright when the batteries are new, and dims over time as the voltage of the batteries drops, until you can only barely see it in a pitch-black room. They didn't have the ticking-every-two-seconds low battery life indicator until the next generation of Suwa quartz movements, with the 48SQ, the 38SQ's replacement. Battery life on these early quartz movements is short, maybe around a year if you're lucky. As you can see, the movement is quite thick, which makes the watches thick, too.

These watches are quite surprisingly thick and heavy, due to the dual-layer, thick, stainless steel cases, one inside the other.
 

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That takes some getting accustomed to. Sort of like a vintage watch aficionado widens his horizons. Happy for you.

Curved backs are great. I had a Bulova Curv like that and yes why isn’t that design more prevalent?

Congrats on your new score!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'd say they probably need to be serviced, but I don't think there'd be that many people who are willing to touch them - these 39SQs have a very complicated movement, much more so than the 35A and 38SQ, the first two quartz movements from Suwa, which are from around the same time. This was Daini's second quartz movement - the first one, the 36SQ, no-one can find in the wild anywhere - there are examples of the watches and the movements in Seiko's museums, but it's not known if they work or not. It's said that the 36SQ had some fatal flaw in the movement, which meant that they weren't very reliable. The 36SQ was the world's first quartz watch to use CMOS, but the CMOS was actually developed by an American company called Intersil as the product of a research collaboration agreement with/as a sub-contractor to Seiko, after Seiko tried and failed several times to do it themselves in-house. 35As are said to be temperamental too, unsurprisingly. This 39SQ was the 36SQ's successor, and looks very similar in layout. As for the 39SQ, you can see that the movement is a lot less neat and tidy than the 35A and 38SQ's, if you look at the article here: http://www.crazywatches.pl/seiko-3923a-vfa-led-quartz-1973

It's more complicated, but less sophisticated in design than the Suwa movements. It's perhaps even less neat and tidy than the Beta 21, the first commercialised Swiss quartz movement, which I have read some people deriding as looking like it was knocked up in a university course workshop.

It uses 2 batteries in parallel, since it's so power-hungry, which is different from any other quartz movement that I know of, apart from the 36SQ. As you can see from the photos, you have to disassemble the watch's case and then partially disassemble the movement in order to replace the batteries. The LED blinks once a second, and acts as a power/battery-life indicator - it starts off bright when the batteries are new, and dims over time as the voltage of the batteries drops, until you can only barely see it in a pitch-black room. They didn't have the ticking-every-two-seconds low battery life indicator until the next generation of Suwa quartz movements, with the 48SQ, the 38SQ's replacement. Battery life on these early quartz movements is short, maybe around a year if you're lucky.
Wow, talk about dropping the knowledge, sounds like you know them well! Thanks for sharing.
 

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I'd say they probably need to be serviced, but I don't think there'd be that many people who are willing to touch them - these 39SQs have a very complicated movement, much more so than the 35A and 38SQ, the first two quartz movements from Suwa, which are from around the same time.
FWIW, I own 14 of these. At least half of them were bought in "non working" condition (i.e. they were not running when offered for sale, and the seller had - understandably - made no attempt to try to change the batteries).

Every single one of them came back to life when passed to my watchmaker. Not sure if he had to do anything other than just put new batteries in them.

The movement may well be complicated, but it would seem - from my experience at least - to be pretty sturdy.

Kind regards,


Gerald.
 

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Not sure if he had to do anything other than just put new batteries in them. The movement may well be complicated, but it would seem - from my experience at least - to be pretty sturdy.
Oh yes, I have no doubt that they'd run, but in terms of the question about needing service, there's a difference between not running/running, and running well and in spec for when the movements were made. I have one, which runs, but keeps time very poorly - it's hours off per month. I guess it would probably be better with service, but I don't know if it'd be running within the original spec of ± 10 seconds per month. I don't know who'd work on one of these. Does your watch-maker not provide an itemised list of all the stuff done to the watch, and the cost of each of those processes, to sum up to the total cost of the service?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
FAt least half of them were bought in "non working" condition (i.e. they were not running when offered for sale, and the seller had - understandably - made no attempt to try to change the batteries).
Can batteries be replaced through the removable back, or does the whole movement need to be taken out (with the crystal coming off)?
 

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Can batteries be replaced through the removable back, or does the whole movement need to be taken out (with the crystal coming off)?
As you can see from the photos, the back isn't removable per se - there's an outer frame, and you push the two leaf springs hidden between the lugs in to release the inner "capsule" from the frame. Then the crystal is in a metal frame which forms the top of the "capsule", so you have to take it off, then the movement can be tipped out of the bottom of the capsule, which is the case-back, once the stem and crown are released. The shape of the frame on your model is different, but the system works the same way.

Blinking LED? Post video please.
Here's one I found: https://media.giphy.com/media/t5PhjiosMFZjtG7CFQ/giphy.gif
It can be pretty distracting when the LED's bright, but thankfully can only really be seen well from head-on.
 
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