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.