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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is a watch I have not seen here before but is interesting when seeing how technologies were added to watches over time.

Introduced July 1990 in Portland the Seiko Receptor MessageWatch combined a traditional digital watch with pager functions.




The paging ability allowed people to call an automated service and send specific messages to your watch. This paging capability relied on a FM sub-carrier signal and it was limited to certain geographic areas.

Initially the watch was just released in Portland OR and Seattle WA and due to the use of the FM signals only a relatively small reception area was available. Maps of the supported reception areas were provided with the watch.




To receive the signal an antenna is embedded into the wrist band. A thin metal strip is inside the strap and when connected with the metal clasp this makes a loop antenna.




The strap connects to the watch body by use of a leaf spring mechanism. This connection mechanism was awarded US Patent US5168281 and the inventor credited on the patent is no other than Ikuo Tokunaga who is famous for many Seiko innovations.



In addition to messages from friends and family it was also possible to subscribe to services that provided information like weather, sports scores, stock info, snow reports and lottery numbers.




While the service started in Portland and then Seattle it was expanded to include at least the Los Angeles are as well. I do not know what other areas were eventually included or when the service was discontinued. It is possible that this service ran for a few years as pagers were in use in the US for a long time even when the rest of the world had already moved onto SMS messaging.

As the service is no longer available the watch shows just dashes when the message button is depressed as no message has or will be received.



My watch came with the original packaging, manual and paperwork.




Also included was a copy of the original subscription agreement. This agreement shows the ten models of the watch that was available. My watch is a MA50 with a black and titanium case.

Seiko Receptor – Subscription Agreement (4MB)


The subscription fees are also detailed in the agreement. People would pay a monthly fee of $12.50 for a single city or $22.50 it you wanted subscription in both Portland and Seattle. If you wanted the various information services these were provided free to subscribers.

The watch came with a reference card to remind users how to retrieve and send messages and change their password.




Also included is a sheet of tear off cards that could be given to people to give them instructions how to send you a message.




The original manual was also provided with the watch and it provides activation information as well as operational and troubleshooting information.

Seiko Receptor – MA-51 User Guide (6MB)


Other than the paging functionality the only other complication that the watch has is a dual time display to allow you to set the time in another city for when you are traveling.



The watch it is quite simple and it will not really win any awards for looks, but the use of the bracelet as an antenna and the unusual paging functionality of the watch, along with the original paperwork make it a nice addition to my collection.
 

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Thanks for the post!

Love the breadth of the Seiko designs and innovations - you don't succeed without failing, and learnings from this helped pave the way forward.

Very nice collection piece.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Love the breadth of the Seiko designs and innovations - you don't succeed without failing, and learnings from this helped pave the way forward.
Exactly correct. It is all of the different technologies that are developed for one product that turn up in innovative ways in other products as they are put to other uses.

Without these types of experiments we do not know what works and what does not when trying to integrate these new technologies.

It is surprising how things that can be developed for one purpose can drive the company in other directions.

For example it was only recently that I found out that Seiko developed a printer to allow the recording of times from their timing systems created for the 1964 Olympics. It was this printer mechanism that went on to be the foundation for the Seiko Epson company and made Epson the largest printer manufacturer in the world at one time.
 

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Just felt like contributing to this information slightly. The Seiko Receptor was originally developed by a Beaverton, Oregon based company called AT&E. This would attribute to the coverage area being in the Portland area originally. This company folded completely by the mid to late 90's. I'm personally familiar with this as my father was on the R&D team that developed the Receptor wristwatch. The original concept design that AT&E was trying to design was a Dick Tracy inspired watch. At the time the miniaturization process for phone technologies was not close enough for them to successfully enclose within a wristwatch however pagers were much more simple devices only requiring simple receive data from a radio signal.

One thing I find most interesting is with more than 25 years of smart watch technology development that has occurred since this device released to the market is that battery life is such a problem for the devices now. Depending on different factors the Receptor only needed a new battery about once a year. Today your lucky to get a smart watch that can hold a charge for a week forget about a month.
 

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For example it was only recently that I found out that Seiko developed a printer to allow the recording of times from their timing systems created for the 1964 Olympics. It was this printer mechanism that went on to be the foundation for the Seiko Epson company and made Epson the largest printer manufacturer in the world at one time.

I have heard a delightful story related to those printers, that the first prototypes were designated EP-1, for Electronic Printer Model 1.


Once they understood the technology was viable for consumer sales, they developed a commercial version of the printer, and a sub-division to make them, and called them EPSON, for "Son of EP". :grin:


- Thomas
 

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Very interesting and a Great write up on the receptor watch.

I have a TON of nos parts for these message watches: Movements, cases, bracelets, buttons, you name it. If anyone's in need shoot me a PM.
 

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Having spiked my interest on message watches I decided to partially look over some of what I have on hand. There are several case styles and a few different movement modules. When time allows I'll probably assemble a few. On a few of the tags they have a list price, back in the day, of $119.95.



 

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Discussion Starter #8
Just felt like contributing to this information slightly. The Seiko Receptor was originally developed by a Beaverton, Oregon based company called AT&E.
Thank you very much for the information. The paperwork supplied with the watches has reference to AT&E but finding specifics on the company was not easy.

Tom, that is an impressive range of cases and I have only seen about half of those styles before.
 

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Anthony,
Do you have any idea what size screws hold the case back on?

Do you have photo's of the instruction booklet?

I just popped a battery in one of mine and found it interesting that the date started at 1-15-94.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Tom, not sure about the screw size and I am away at the moment so I can not check.

The first post has a link to a PDF of the original user manual. Just click on the link or on the image of the user guide cover to download. Hopefully this will give you what you are looking for.
 

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Thanks Anthony!
I hadn't had my coffee yet this morning and over looked the link on the owner's manual.
 

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Just felt like contributing to this information slightly. The Seiko Receptor was originally developed by a Beaverton, Oregon based company called AT&E. This would attribute to the coverage area being in the Portland area originally. This company folded completely by the mid to late 90's. I'm personally familiar with this as my father was on the R&D team that developed the Receptor wristwatch. The original concept design that AT&E was trying to design was a Dick Tracy inspired watch. At the time the miniaturization process for phone technologies was not close enough for them to successfully enclose within a wristwatch however pagers were much more simple devices only requiring simple receive data from a radio signal.

One thing I find most interesting is with more than 25 years of smart watch technology development that has occurred since this device released to the market is that battery life is such a problem for the devices now. Depending on different factors the Receptor only needed a new battery about once a year. Today your lucky to get a smart watch that can hold a charge for a week forget about a month.
Hi Darkkender, I was wondering if I could still send a message to my Seiko. I have a small FM transmitter and I think if I know the protocol and the frequency, it must be possible!
Do you think that (now that this system is obsolete) you can get that info from your father?

Edit: With an old Nokia smartphone such as the N8 (it has a built in FM transmitter) it must be possible to make an App that turns messages into MP3 ands sends it via FM to the Seiko watch. Then this old watch suddenly turns into a modern message watch.
 

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The frequencies that the watch are set to work on have long been sold off to other companies. You would have to have the technical abilities to alter the frequency the module is set to broadcast on. I am sure there are electrical engineers out there that could probably modify the circuit board but at what cost? I have a couple of these watches also. One is new still in its original packaging. It would be very cool if could be modified to receive text messages.

Michael
 

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The frequencies that the watch are set to work on have long been sold off to other companies. You would have to have the technical abilities to alter the frequency the module is set to broadcast on. I am sure there are electrical engineers out there that could probably modify the circuit board but at what cost? I have a couple of these watches also. One is new still in its original packaging. It would be very cool if could be modified to receive text messages.

Michael
The watch only receives. My portable FM transmitter can transmit on any frequency you want. So all we need is to know the frequency and the protocol (the way and the speed it has to 'talk' so the watch can understand) it uses to communicate.

Edit: So the watch itself does not need modification
 

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Getting the Seiko MessageWatch to receive messages

I was responsible for many aspects of the Seiko MessageWatch, including the watch itself, communication protocol and early system architecture. I worked for AT&E and Seiko on the system from 1985 to 2000. I think it would be difficult to replicate the transmission system as it utilized subcarriers on the existing FM radio station network 87.5 MHz to 108 MHz. There is a published paper describing a great deal about the system - Titled "High Speed Subcarrier Data System (HSDS)" written by myself and Ken Gray published March 1995. I have numerous prototypes and documents that someday I will get around to putting some information online.
 

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Anthony,
Do you have any idea what size screws hold the case back on?

Do you have photo's of the instruction booklet?

I just popped a battery in one of mine and found it interesting that the date started at 1-15-94.
Tom, I put the one together you sent me has a gift (THANK you) i've had a couple of these over the years.

This one also had an unusual strap fitting to the case, a couple of pins and pegs but works well.

The display is perfect and so easy to read in bright sunshine I wish my iphone was half as good in bright day light :)

I will be sending you some screws this Monday :)

 

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Tom, I put the one together you sent me has a gift (THANK you) i've had a couple of these over the years.

This one also had an unusual strap fitting to the case, a couple of pins and pegs but works well.

The display is perfect and so easy to read in bright sunshine I wish my iphone was half as good in bright day light :)

I will be sending you some screws this Monday :)

Thanks John! I'm looking forward to getting some screws. What size are they? I have a few dozen of these to assemble.

Watch looks great. Now all we need to do is figure out how to message each other on them.........:57:
 

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Just thought I'd jump in. I was just working on a Receptor MA52-4AOO that I just found at a yard sale yesterday. So I had it right in front of me. The case back screw size measures 1.35mm dia. x 2mm long, Phillips panhead. Head dia. 2.5mm. Pitch 4/mm (est)
Unfortunately the rubber strap/antenna has completely disintegrated but I was able to revive the display.
 

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Just thought I'd jump in. I was just working on a Receptor MA52-4AOO that I just found at a yard sale yesterday. So I had it right in front of me. The case back screw size measures 1.35mm dia. x 2mm long, Phillips panhead. Head dia. 2.5mm. Pitch 4/mm (est)
Unfortunately the rubber strap/antenna has completely disintegrated but I was able to revive the display.
I am trying to revive one of these message watch. Any idea on where to buy the replacement screws?
 

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Seems like I learn about a new (to me) and interesting Seiko almost daily. Thanks for the great write up and all the documentation.
 
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