Bucket o’ eBay #14 – Seiko Champion

Posted by Harry Bishop on Sep 29th, 2008
Sep 29

I’ve seen quite a few of this blog’s namesake, the Champion model from Seiko, on eBay this summer.


First produced by Seiko in 1963, Champion is one of the lower end models in the Seiko lineup, and it wasn’t that long-lived a model line. Still, many of the plain Champion models have a certain basic elegance to them, and it also came in a number of quite interesting dial variations, which are not seen as often. The date models at this level and era are a pain, because date change is via 24 hour roller, which means you can’t even wind back and forth around midnight, you actually have to wind the hour hand through two entire revolutions to move the date forward. Let me tell you, this is NOT the watch I pick to wear if the current date is the 15th and the watch is set at the 20th right now! :-)

First in the lineup, this 17 jewel black 860 calendar from 1963. I have the silver dialed variant of this myself (first pic above), and other than having  a roller date advance, it’s a great watch. This one was in worn shape (especially noticeable on the back of the case), with a bit of dirt, but still a bargain at $26. A few reasons in addition to the wabi – (1) it was from a vendor that used to use XOOM instead of Paypal and just switched, so perhaps is not back on the main list of many collectors (most of whom look for Paypal based payment). (2) Plus the pictures were not great – lots of shots with the camera reflected in the crystal. (3) Most important, there were conflicting movement numbers listed in the auction – it looked genuine but you’re taking a bot of a risk in such cases.


This one is the 19 jewel stainless version, no date, of the Champion type design, from 1963. In good shape, it went for $119. I’ve included pics of the case back, fairly typical for a Seiko of this range in this era, and of the movement – you can see it’s a reasonably basic manual wind caliber.




And here’s a gold plated 17 jewel Champion 860, no date. Similar lines, it went for $103.


Back to the 19 jewel variant, in gold plate plus a machined white dial. This came from a new and fairly unknown vendor, had some dirt and wear on the dial, a bargain sale at $37.


Here’s an example of a nicer dial treatment, on another 1963 17 jewel stainless Champion 850, in reasonable shape but with an obvious patina from age. Despite that, the rarity of the better dial pushed the price to $132.


This next one is an example of a type of watch I see listed fairly often – used to be nice, but has seen some hard times. It would have been a slightly nicer dial treatment, but at this point is well beyond what I would buy. It was listed at $35 and didn’t sell.


If you have access to a replacement dial (which I’ve seen on Yahoo Japan for this model), and can replace a watch dial, then it’s a good buy, otherwise why bother. Speaking of which, you can usually find these dials listed, I just checked as I was writing this blog and found 2, both at about $20 (not sure what they’ll finally sell for).



In general you can find more and better earlier Seiko watches on Yahoo Japan. Unfortunately I don’t know how to search completed sales on that site, but here are a few Champions for sale there right now. With deputy and shipping and duty fees, you’ll definitely pay more in fees than anything you’d save buying from Japan, but you’ll probably find much more selection.




Happy shopping!

Online Comics – CFRH (a brief 1999-2007 retrospective)

Posted by Harry Bishop on Sep 27th, 2008
Sep 27

Another quick digression from watches and marketing, into the world of online comics. College Roomies From Hell, by Maritza Campos, is one of those online comics that’s moved back and forth between mainstream and weird, depending on where the story goes. The antics of 3 guys who are roommates and their friends 3 girls who are roommates, sounds like an episode of Friends, until you start adding in the uber-rich mom with the basement torture chamber, the battle to fight Satanic demons, laser eye and sucker hand mutations, and other little side stories.


It’s been around for AGES in web time – the first strip in the archives is from January 1st, 1999. I’ve been reading it more or less regularly for most of that time, just missed the first year, save a few story arcs that went a bit too far into left space for my enjoyment, but I’ve always come back (unlike many other long-run web comics).

What’s interesting is seeing the change, or should I say growth and development, in her art skills over the years. The first 5 saw a lot of change, then it settle down to a fairly consistent look since then. Here’s a brief retrospective…










Quote of the day

Posted by Harry Bishop on Sep 25th, 2008
Sep 25

I just read this on Popular Science of all places, reviewing the T-Mobile Android (aka Google Phone or G-Phone), and it made me smile.


<When you’re trying to sell me something> call a spade a space – don’t piss on my shoes and tell me it’s the sky opening up with possibilities.

Well said :-) . Having just spent half a day to just switch numbers between 2 cell phones, I know that the idea of portability is still very half-baked.

Bucket o’ eBay #13 – 70′s Bling

Posted by Harry Bishop on Sep 22nd, 2008
Sep 22

Along with Seiko, I like watches that exemplify the “garish 70s”. Some are too colorful for regular wear, but there’s a large number that have that obvious look without being too loud. One of the watch brands in this category that I keep looking for a good vintage buy on, is Sorna. The best example of this that I’ve seen lately was a NOS (New Old Stock) manual wind chronometer. Wonderful watch, and the price reflected the rarity of finding one in this condition, it went for $638.


This one in “lightly used” shape went for $510 (nicer model but with one crown with issues), the one below if for $287 (NOS but more basic and newer model), the bullhead chrono went for $327, and the NOS Jacky Ickx “Easy Rider” (Tag Heuer look-alike) brought in $153.





If you are shopping for a Sorna though,  know what you’re buying … Sorna is another example of a watch brand that died from financial difficulties when quartz rolled over mechanical watches in the late 1907s, that has recently been revived as a “purchased brand”.

Actually, Sorna is a great example of what are known as “Germasian” or “Germese” watch brands … either owned or sold in Germany, but with movements manufactured in China. They are actually not bad watches, the quality is getting better, but well below the level of anything like Seiko or any of the true Swiss or German watches. The following two examples are available for “buy it now” prices between $99 and $119 .. worth the money, but you’re not getting any sort of deal. What you’re doing is buying a cheaper knock-off of 70′s bling.


From Sorna, let’s look at another “gone away” brand. You’ll see the name Sicura commonly associated with Breitling … they are actually the firm that purchased Brietling when that company went into it’s financial difficulty, but then made the wise choice to keep the name with the best brand awareness, and killed the Sicura name.

You’ll see many different types of Sicura watches out there, some of the better ones are their divers. Most of thse are black/white/black, but some are available with at least a bit of 70s colour. At this point a lot of the ones you can find on eBay are fairly beaten up, but good examples still are available. These two went for $158 and $94 respectively – each with a few issues but in general good shape.

sicura1.jpg sicura2.jpg

And here is the bargain – all working, wonderful asymmetric case, a few scuffs and dings and dial wabi, sold for $31!


Moving up the food chain, is Vulcain. They are the brand currently most associated with the “Cricket” mechanical alarm watch term (ignoring which firms actually owned or used the term over the years, for now :-) ), and have tied their name to those watches given the US presidents this past century (great marketing initiative!). This non-cricket R3218 chronograph, with a very nice traditional look and tachymeter scale (less “blingy” than the other examples here today), went for $242.


You can find real bargains more often with some of the “mystery brands”, those many Swiss names that were ubiquitous just before the ascent of the quartz movement, but which now most people have never heard of, but even some of these will command half decent prices if it’s a unique looking piece. This manual wind “Raimond” went for $152 (I really wanted this watch for myself, but didn’t win the auction), and the Titoni Cosmo 88 for $103.



Not quite that unknown, but still a minor brand, is Clinton. This Clinton World Time watch went for $74 – a reasonable purchase. I came close to bidding for it, but stopped myself at the last moment because it was just a time bezel (no GMT hand), and wasn’t quite “70s” looking enough.


No such issue with this one … a rotating external bezel with a cut-out to display the month?? Neato! Definitely a bit faded, but still a real unique buy for somebody at only $88 (I bid lower because of the fading, and because I’d just won another auction already, so no win for me on this one).



I know I said these were all “subtle” 70′s bling, but I have to add this one. This Damas automatic went for $66, another low-ball bid I just missed. :-(


Today’s lessons from the world of eBay? Lots of good bargains still, especially the less known brands, but for really good examples you’re going to pay in the $300-$600 range.

US Banking Industry goes POOF – Bubble Wrap Part 2

Posted by Harry Bishop on Sep 21st, 2008
Sep 21

As an addendum to yesterday’s fun post, here’s one on current affairs. Some political commentary needs very few words…


Thanks again to Tatsuya Ishida of Sinfest for his Zen approach to life with bubble wrap.

Seiko Orange Monster (SKX781) – part 2

Posted by Harry Bishop on Sep 20th, 2008
Sep 20

There is one small thing I miss,  getting this watch from Singapore via Fedex instead of EMS…



Thanks to Sinfest for the timely comic. :-)

Fedex eBlasts – Seiko Orange Monster (SKX781) for $90

Posted by Harry Bishop on Sep 19th, 2008
Sep 19

I often enjoy the hunt for a bargain on a new watch, almost more than the watch itself (okay, I did say ALMOST :-) ).

In this case, I’ve been wanting to add an Orange Monster to my collection for a while, preferably with stainless bracelet, given how much I’ve heard that the Monster diver’s bracelet is one of the better ones on the market. So, every so often I’ll put a low-ball Auction Sniper bid.


Well, last week I won doing this, for only $90, thanks to a last minute bid through Auction Sniper. When I checked history, that’s the lowest price in over 3 months on the bay for a metal bracelet OM, with the normal low price during a week being about $134. So I’m quite proud of myself for getting such a bargain!

I know, it’s all relative … none of this is big money in any sense, and I could have easily just bid at the normal levels at any time and gotten one much sooner. But I enjoy the hunt, and the feeling of accomplishment of getting those few extra dollars – I realize it’s petty and childish enjoyment, but at those dollars it’s the sort of thing you can do without any worry, and simply appreciate the journey.

The new arrival made it’s way here very quickly, via Fedex.


This surprised me, I’m used to watches from Asian eBay vendors arriving via EPS. This was MUCH quicker – I won the auction last Thursday, and paid that Friday afternoon. So it was shipped out on Monday from Singapore, and arrived here at our house in Canada on Wednesday morning. And that includes going through customs.

There was less packing than I’ve experienced before, not going through the mail – I expect that’s a slight offset to the vendor against the higher cost of Fedex. And the quicker delivery is a great customer service plus.

I also appreciated getting the booklet, and international warranty card. So often with eBay vendors of new watches, those things seem to not be there. I purchased this one from CapitalMall – definitely a vendor I would recommend after this buying experience.


What I didn’t appreciate, even though again it’s small dollars by itself, is how the Canadian customs billing works.  Okay, I have no issue with $3.71 for duty, that’s small. And the $3.90 provincial tax and $6.24 federal tax are completely understandable. But the $10 “processing fee”? I’m not really too thrilled with being charged a fee to charge my money. I expect this is a good revenue source for the government – it’s unfortunate that our economic system has to rely so much on “user fees” and other hidden charges.


The really neat thing was being at work and getting an email telling me “package was delivered”, calling my wife, and finding out delivery just happened 5-10 minutes ago. Wow! I’d not experienced that before (our admin staff do shipments at work, so I’ve not gotten into the details of this myself for several years), but I image shipment delivery scanning drives the email blast. Although this specific process was new to me, I’ve seen so many other improvements in customer service/notification in this and similar industries over the past few years. I believe most of it’s been driven initially by Amazon, who in many ways defined a new online business model with how their system works for customers – it’s made people expect so much more from all of their business relationships!

Seiko Production Date Calculator – new URL

Posted by Harry Bishop on Sep 18th, 2008
Sep 18


This utility is a wonderful tool, and used every day by Seiko collectors, eBay buyers, and lots of other people. The premise is simple – enter the movement number and the serial number, click the button, and Voila! you get the year and month the watch was manufactured. It works for most commonly collected movements. It can be off some times for those movements that spanned multiple decades, but that’s not a common occurrence for collectible calibers.

How’d this come to exist? Compliments of one individual, John Gauch, and we all say THANKS to him for this.

I’m posting about this tool today since he, and therefore the hosting of this tool, recently moved from the University of Kansas (whose mascot, and therefore his old nickname, was Jayhawk) to the University of Arizona. So those of you who’ve bookmarked this tool directly will find your old bookmark won’t work now.

The tool now resides at http://www.csce.uark.edu/~jgauch/tools/seiko.html

Thanks John!

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