Een stukkie geschiedenis dat ik op e-bay tegenkwam… Was Seiko de eerste met een automatische chronograaf???
Seiko produced the world’s first automatic chronograph?
In 1969, Omega first sent a chronograph to the moon (along with an American man), but that Speedmaster was hand-wound. Hard to believe, but there have been arguments that Seiko were the first to produce the automatic chronograph using in-house column wheel calibers 6139/6138.
So in 1969, three automatic movements were released to the public for the first time. These were by:
A Breitling-Heuer Consortium: Made up of Buren, Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton and |Dubois Depraz, this consortium came up with the Cal.11. It was first shown at the Basel fair in March ’69. The Cal. 11 was an automatic movement with a micro-rotor and with the chronograph module placed on top of it.
A Zenith/Movado joint venture: At almost exactly the same time Zenith/Movado came with the (still present, though revised a few times) famous El Primero. Zenith claims that the Primero is the first integrated automatic chronograph movement.
SEIKO Time Corp: And then there was a contender from the other side of the world who also introduced an automatic chronograph movement in ’69. The Seiko caliber 6139. The 6139 was a 1 register chronograph with a 30 minute totalisator. It was patented in early 1969.
Its successor, the 6138 came out a year later in 1970. It had 2 subdials instead of one – one was a 30-min totalisator while the other a 12-hour. While the Cal.11 and the El Primero were revised a few times, the 6138 remained unchanged until 1979, its final year of production. The Cal. 11 was replaced by the Cal.12 three years later.
At a time where the automatic chronograph movement was considered at its peak of what was technically possible, it was even more tragic that in that same year (1969) a new phenomeon was on the brink of a breakthrough that re-shuffled the watch industry completely: The Quartz-watch. Seiko, of all manufacturers, was first to introduce the quartz. In one of the biggest ironies in the time-keeping world, the timing of the introduction of the automatic chronographs by Seiko was indeed bad. Despite being technically astonishing, they were soon out-performed both in accuracy and price by the quartz models.
History has shown that many traditional companies did not survive the quartz revolution. Only those who adapted and produced quartz models themselves survived.