Seiko A557 solar

Seiko A557 solar

Seiko made a reasonable number of solar watches in the 1980s, little knowing (or caring) that the supply of rechargeable batteries would dry up long before their quality modules would stop working.

The XR9527W has been the go-to battery in recent years for Seiko solar watches but they are becoming harder to find and are getting very expensive.

The solution (or workaround) has been to disable the solar charging portion of the watch and just run a regular battery (in this case, a 395) — that way you get a working watch and don’t have to worry about the possible damage that can be caused by trying to charge a non-rechargeable battery.

I’m not a huge fan of doing that though and would rather take the time to find the right battery for it and have it as original as possible.

So I had high hopes for this watch which I bought from a local auction site – nice condition but non-working (needed a battery). The seller had promised to get a new battery for it in the ad, so I was pleased someone else was going to do the legwork to find one.

The watch duly arrived and was 90% working, one of the front-buttons was non-functional, so I dissembled it to clean and realign the zebra strip that is usually the cause of this problem (as it was in this case).

The ‘jeweller’ who had replaced the battery and charged the previous owner NZD30 for a ‘rechargeable’ obviously didn’t think anyone would ever open it up to check. They had stuck a standard Renata 395 in there.

I was only partly annoyed since I had got the watch at a good price and had been prepared to find a battery for it anyway but wondered how they were blanking off the solar charging portion.

They weren’t. They had removed it completely.

It could be argued that the functions of the watch (time/date/alarm/stopwatch/countdown timer) hadn’t changed but I don’t tend to hold onto hacked watches since in my mind this isn’t an A557 anymore, it’s an A547.

The takeaway from this, don’t trust your old digital watches to jewellery salespeople, or to unsympathetic watchmakers. I’ll be contacting the jeweller in this case to try and get the solar part of the module but if that’s not an option it’s destined for eBay for someone who isn’t fussed about originality and just wants a cool looking watch.

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12 Responses to Seiko A557 solar

  1. Hi, I have one of these, still in working order. The A557-503A actually. Solar recharging disabled by the watch guy, without first asking me of course. The glass is scratched on one corner otherwise it’s as good as it was in 1982. I’d love a new glass, any tips? I assume your watch isn’t for sale.


    • Disabling the solar charge is a good idea, but only so you can have a working watch while you try and track down one of the elusive rechargeable batteries. As long as he’s just blanked off the pins it should be easily reversible. Finding a replacement glass will take a bit of luck. There are a lot of NOS crystals for Seiko watches that show up on eBay so your best bet would be to find out the part number of the crystal you want and set up some ebay searches to get results emailed to you. One will show up, it’s just a matter of waiting. Alternatively, depending on the scratch, you could get the glass polished and finished professionally by a lapidary specialist. Good luck! I sold mine soon after I acquired it since the whole recharging unit had been removed.

  2. Just to add: I’v got his watch since 1980. About each 9 years I need a new battery. It’s now time for the 4th replacement.

  3. I have an A557-503A. The MT920 fits and works well. But you lose your microlight. It will shine, but the display immediately dims so much that both become useless. There simply isn’t enough voltage. No problem with the alarm.

  4. Hi, if anyone knows where I can buy this exact watch above please let me know. We lost the original which is sentimental from a passed family member however having a replacement would be amazing. Thanks, Simon

  5. I have solved the problem by using a Panasonic CTL 1025 2.3V rechargeable battery. BUT you need to do some very fine engineering in order to use it as the battery is 0.5mm larger in diameter.The depths are virtually identical.

    You need to drill out the nylon housing very carefully using a mini annular cutter whilst protecting the terminals with a close fitting washer. Also affix paper over the rest of the watch insides to avoid contamination. You only have to drill 1mm depth to remove the small amount of housing so that the 10mm battery will fit tightly. It can be pried out if need be using a pin. This works well and gives 2.3V as opposed to alternatives that are only around 1.5V

  6. I purchased a nice Seiko A557-5000, but when I opened the back I found that the old XR9527W had leaked massively and the entire module looks to be affected. I’m no battery expert, but I thought these rechargeable ‘XR’ batteries were more like a lithium ‘CR’ battery and less prone to leaks than a silver oxide battery. I was hoping to use an MT920 as suggested on this excellent website 🙂

    Do I have any hope of recovery, will soaking the module in isopropyl alcohol help?

    • Soaking the module is a bit hit-and-miss; you really have to remove all (or as much as possible) of the battery residue so your best bet is to fully disassemble the module. Keep the LCD away from the isopropyl too. clean all metal parts on the module holder since some of them are likely contacting important parts of the circuitboard. Clean the circuitboard extra well and look for issues on the board as you clean it — corrosion on traces, crumbly solder etc. Good luck!

  7. Thank you so much for the advice that’s brilliant – i’ll give it a try (when I get the time!!)

  8. Found battery on Ebay, Thank you for mentioning the partnumber. That made me find it. High price, but I would love to wear my Sports 100 again after more than 30 years 🙂

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