The longer you collect anything, the less surprises you are likely to find as you become more familiar with the background, history, catalogues and variants of whatever it is you collect.
It’s been a long time since I’ve found a watch (of those I like to collect) that I hadn’t seen or at least known about.
Until this week. And I found a Seiko A944-4010.
It wasn’t 100% unknown to me, I had seen the plastic/resin version and the look of it didn’t really appeal so I wasn’t fussed about chasing one.
But when the all-metal version (including original bracelet) appeared on a local auction site recently I had to take another look.
By far the coolest (and most unusual) feature of this watch is the dual-power option.
Generally, solar-powered watches of this era only had a single power source, a rechargeable battery, that powered the watch and was trickle-charged whenever the solar cells were in sunlight. Not a bad idea at the time, but trying to find replacement batteries for these watches 30+ years later is pretty much impossible.
Workarounds include trying to adapt modern (and *very* expensive) rechargeable batteries to fashion a replacement, or using a standard lithium battery and blanking off the solar cells, rendering them useless but at least not dangerous (never try to run a standard battery in a solar watch; non-rechargeable batteries are known to explode if a charge is pushed through them).
Back to the A944, though, this had a very novel approach to using the power of the sun.
While it runs a standard lithium battery (a CR-1616) it switches to being powered by the solar cells if there is sufficient UV light.
It may not seem that impressive to you. I think it’s amazingly clever technology — particularly for a watch made in 1988.
There’s an indicator on the LCD that switches between solar and lithium depending on the current power source.
Power options aside, another cool feature of this watch (which offers 12/24 hour time, day/date/month calendar, 10/100 chronograph, daily alarm and hourly time signal) is that it only has two buttons.
Without a manual it would take a while to work out how to set all the functions with only two buttons, but once you know it’s another aspect of this watch that makes you smile.
This particular variation of the A944 has the SPORTS 150 text in red on the crystal (most others are yellow) and the metal construction and bracelet give it a solid but comfortable feel on the wrist.
Buy one of these if you see it for sale (maybe even the plastic one might grow on you) — they are very rare and very understated. Whatever you pay for one, you won’t regret it.