Here we have possibly my grail digital watch! a Seiko 0634-5019 from 1976. This watch was the worlds first digital Chronograph and was a hefty price back in 76. They came in 3 main configurations of which I now own all three (see Digital page).
The 5019 version is the most prestigious of them all. a bigger and more angled case design and a two tone bracelet which really sets it apart from the others considerably. I have wanted one for a long time but they are either too messed up or commanding a price that is too high for a guy like me. I needed to find a watch that was working but needed some of my TLC to bring it back to its best.
Fate came my way when a friend in the Favebook group acquired one from a flee market in Belgium. He posted pictures of it which I admired. A few weeks later I was talking to him about something else when he then offered it to me saying it really was not to his taste and would I like it. Would I like it??? of course.
The deal was done and a week later it arrived. Here it is on day one.
As you can see it is working, looks a little beaten up and the crystal is scratched.
The first job was to strip it all down and give it all a good clean. all case parts and pushers would be washed in the ultrasonic and the circuit / module would be given a bath in IPA Alcohol to remove all grease and grime or any battery leak residue.
Tearing these down is very straight forward. first remove the bracelet and then use a small screwdriver or other tool to poke into the holes in the case, 2 each end. while pressing in apply slight pressure on the crystal. Basically the holes have a spring in them and once your release each corner the case top will come off.
Once the case is off the glass stays on top of the module. This can easily be pulled off but you have to be careful the gasket is not stretched. It should either stick to the glass as you remove it or stay on the case. If it sticks on both then don’t pull as it will stretch and then be useless. Replacements if found will be expensive!
The module can now be removed but just pulling out carefully. the crown button will stay in place so don’t worry. Next the top face of the front needs separating from the main module and I have found the easiest way is to prise from the bottom slightly all the way around as it will eventually free it self. Do not be tempted to push from the screen. The screens are delicate and the last thing you need is damage on that as you will not buy one! only donor watches can get you out of that situation!
Once removed the screen is the next part…. there is a spring loaded cover that holds it in place. My heart is always in my mouth removing that. I push with a round springbar too just behind a hook on the front. Some of them have holes which make it easier. Some don’t. Push towards the screen to release. once off the screen can easily be removed. Once I removed the screen I always clean the screen contacts with alcohol as this is the most common area for bad segment problems. These modules are so early that zebra rubber contact strips were not fitted so all the contact to the screen is done by copper prongs.
In the photos above, firstly you can see the extent of dirt / DNA that has accumulated over 40 years. If you think about it too much it will make you sick…
I didn’t take any photos with the screen off sadly but what I would say is the original screen had a rainbow effect to it which is very typical on these as the polarising filter degrades, you have to either live with it or find a replacement. Fortunately I have a better spare which I duly fitted.
What I found in the bottom case was surprising though and that was a watchmakers service stamp. In all my digital watch restorations I have never once seen this so this is very much a first. It has to be an indication of how well it was looked after in its early years. Being an expensive watch in its day I can understand why someone would want to look after it.
With the module, once the screen is off there is a white plastic shroud. this has to be removed if you want to clean the contact pads of the pushers effectively. It is a delicate process to remove, carefully prising it up without damaging the copper contact pins for the screen. Fitting is just as agonising. If you do bend a pin you can manipulate it back to position with some fine tweezers.
Cleaning contacts with alcohol is a 2 minute job remembering to fit the seesaw type copper piece the right way around. Fit it incorrectly and once assembled the pushers will not work.
Next up removing, cleaning and refitting of the pushers. removal is straightforward carefully tweezer out the circlips and make sure they don’t go flying across the room as once lost you will never find them. I clean these in little mesh baskets in the ultrasonic. It is important to clean as debris gets behind them and hampers their effectiveness over time. . first of all I use a drop of Moebeus D5 oil on the gasket to help with the seal. Once I was happy they were on correctly its time to fit them again I have a technique that works well which you can see in the photo below. I use a bit of Rodico to make a sticky platform for the circlip to sit on. Once in position I use a screwdriver to push them on, pushing from the back. Keep your fingers nearby as this will help prevent a slip and again loss of spring. If done correctly its a simple and quick job.
Now for the casework!
The first part to tackle on the case was the front angled piece as this had a ground finish on which is different to brushed or polished. I had to think for a while how to tackle it without ruining it. I could not live with the scratches that were present.
I figure that as I am without a grinding machine at home I would use a flat steel plate and some P180 Emery roll which will be a bit more aggressive than standard wet & dry paper. I would carefully hold the case so the angle was flat to the abrasive and drag towards me with just a little bit of pressure. This would take some time but the finish would be as good as I can get using this method.
Above you can see before, during and them final comparison shot. I was pleased with the result as this for me was the most challenging and difficult part.
Next up would be the sides. they needed to be polished on the bottom and brushed on the top and the back also.
Brushing would be easy although you have to be precise at the end to make it look right. I first went around using P600 wet & dry paper to remove marks and scratches , once happy then P800. after that it was hand pads I use in my video ( can be seen on my tool page) maroon (Very fine) then grey (ultra fine). The last passes were done slow and steady to get it looking uniformed. I was pleased with the end result.
Now for the polishing! case top needs to be highly polished along with the bottom part of the sides. For polishing its all about preparation. Firstly I tape off any areas I dont want to get polished and I use thermal tape for this because it sticks very well and is heatproof (See listing on tool page) . After that I am using many grades of wet and dry to get as good as I can. then the scotchbright pads and finally polishing machine with cotton wheels and 3 grades of polishing compound. All sounds allot and it is but you only have a small area to cover. prep to polish was around one hour.
Finally I put it all back together. I had a few twists to this watch, firstly I did a deal 6 months beforehand for a new old stock unused bracelet for one of these. Someone I knew in watch land wanted a 5009 bracelet that I had so we did a straight swap. Even then I knew that my time would come when I would find this watch!
Second twist of fate was I recently did a video on a 0634-5009 on my YouTube channel 0634-5009 Video
someone watched this video and got in touch to ask if I could fix their 0634-5019 as it had missing segments. I agreed to help for a small fee. The customer then sent me his watch along with a brand new crystal he bought that he wanted fitting. His old crystal in comparison to mine was 100% better so I asked if I could use this on mine which he kindly agreed.
It really completed the look of mine. So here it is the final watch back to it almost factory like appearance. This will now keep going strong for another 40 years+ . Remember folks never leave batteries in watches you don’t wear often as in time it will leak and it will wreck them if not caught early.
PS, did anyone notice I forgot to polish the pushers!!!