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explained quartz superior early qz sq elnix el grand el330 the el370 calibers seiko qt qr

Facts The early Seiko Quartz calibers explained
The numbers decrypted
#1
2
Better response on post <span class="highlight" style="padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px;">The</span> early Seiko Quartz calibers explainedSeiko's early quartzes can be downright intimidating, what do all these numbers and letters mean? Well, after some years of doing my research I can finally say with confidence what's what. 
As of 1971 The '38' movements were Seiko's first widely available quartz movements, but first was the 1969 Seiko Quartz Astron (100 or so made) representing a groundbreaking technological breakthrough. 

   

The watch’s tuning-fork-shaped quartz oscillator gave the Astron’s movement, caliber 35A, an amazing accuracy of just +/- 5 seconds per month. Its successor was the 36 movement with around a 1000 made. The '370' movements were 'Electronic' 'hybrid' battery-powered 'balance wheel' movements from around the same period (1970-73). Examples are the EL-330 3303-8070 & EL-370 3702-7010 (last one depicted below)..

               

Eventually they culminated in the EL & Elnix line with caliber 0702/0703. Here is a table, including the even earlier movements (for more on this read this post):

   

3100 : 1969
3200 : 1972
3300 : 1972 the EL-330
3700 : 1971 the EL-370
07     : 1973 the Elnix

More specifically:

EL-330 3303-8070
EL-330 3303-8080

EL-370 3702-7000
EL-370 3702-7010
EL-370 3703-7000
EL-370 3703-7020
EL-370 3703-8100
EL-370 3703-8009

The EL and Elnix line up is a separate story, and of much interest. But I will save that for later, as most us will have dealings with the 38 movements and its descendants. (There is a nice early 1971 example here on the forum by the way). These movements were divided in the SQ, QT, QR and QZ quartzes. They were the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) watches made around 1971-75 while the export models were mostly labelled SQ 2002, SQ 3003 and SQ 4004.
The highest quality and the most expensive would be the SQ & QT (with tighter specifications - 15s as compared to QR's 20), then the QR and finally (much later in time as well) the lowly QZ. But remember, at this time there were no cheap quartzes so even the lower grade QZ was more expensive than the average mechanical watch. 
The 38QR interestingly does not turn up again in any other series and dies out as such; it is depicted however in the same catalogue of 1975 right next to the identically priced 08QZW/08QZC - that would be calibers such as 0842/0843. It is evident then that these 08's are the descendants of the 38QR. What a conclusion to see these presumably lowly quartzes elevated.. Of course they already looked the part. (As you can see below in the photo)

   

We are not done here however, and it does not get any easier with the 38QT, which evolves in 1974 into the 08KQW caliber King Quartz series - and, for a year or so, into the elusive 08QTC! That would be respectively the King Quartz 0852/0853 and the Quartz QT 0823.

   

The 38QZ finally is introduced in 1975 in the 09QZ series with a 15/20s specification. To conclude, there was never a model year where all these designations existed at the same time but it is evident that the SQ is better and more expensive than both the QT and QR. The cheapest QR of course was more expensive than the QZ at introdution but this compares 1971 against 1975 where there probably has been significant price erosion for quartz watches. However, with more or less the same specifications and a four year difference, the QR would have had the higher market positioning, just below QT.
By the way, if you wanted the best quartz you had to make sure to buy the V.F.A edition of the SQ, the Very Fine Adjusted, or even a Superior - but they where out of reach for most people pricewise.

So, let's jump in with calibers like 38QRW/38SQW/38QTW and 38QRC/38SQC/38QT/38QTC...

Q      = Quartz
QR    = Quartz ("QR" and "cadre honeycomb" on the dial) - evolved into Quartz 0842/0843
QT    = Quartz ("QT" and "honeycomb" on the dial) - evolved into King Quartz 0852/0853 and the Quartz QT 0823
QZ    = Quartz - evolved into Quart QZ 0923
SQ    = Seiko Quartz (usually "Quartz V.F.A." on the dial)
Superior  = Seiko with "Quartz Superior" on the dial

W     = Weekday and Calendar (38QRW/38SQW/38QTW)
C      = Calendar only              (38QRC/38SQC/38QTC)
T      = Time only                    (38QT)

Now, here is a little theory... the last 3 consonants of "Quartz" are R,T, and Z. It is known that these letters on the dial indicate a quality level (high to low). Z is lowest, (S)Q is highest.. logical.. there is T next, but why the R not as the top of the line before the T? The disparity in production years, with the T continuing and the R stopping early, does not mean that they might not have been at least equal.. Thus a small mystery remains, but the final thought on this may be that, with more or less the same specifications and a four year difference, the QR would have had the higher market positioning..

Be that as it may, I created a table of caliber prices. You can judge for yourself.

From the 1974 catalog:

38SQ  (W=day/date; C=date only; SQ=time only)
38SQW 047 18k bracelet 1.000.000 Quartz V.F.A on dial
38SQW 026 18k bracelet 952.000 Quartz V.F.A on dial
38SQW 016 18k bracelet 733.000 Quartz V.F.A on dial
38SQW 037 18k on strap 495.000 Quartz V.F.A on dial
38SQW 038 18k on strap 485.000 Quartz V.F.A on dial
38SQW 016 18k on strap 460.000 
38SQW 010 SS  bracelet 141.000 Quartz V.F.A on dial
38SQW 014 SS  bracelet 141.000 Quartz V.F.A on dial
38SQW 040 SS  on strap 139.000 Quartz V.F.A on dial

39SQ   (W=day/date; C=date only; SQ=time only)
39SQW 027 GC  on strap 103.000 V.F.A on dial
39SQW 014 SS  on strap 99.000  V.F.A on dial
39SQW 017 SS  on strap 99.000  V.F.A on dial
39SQW 024 SS  on strap 99.000  V.F.A on dial

39SQC 022 18k on strap 477.000 V.F.A on dial
39SQC 014 SS  on strap 94.000  V.F.A on dial
39SQC 016 SS  on strap 94.000  V.F.A on dial
39SQC 044 SS  on strap 94.000  V.F.A on dial

38QT  (W=day/date; C=date only; QT=time only)
38QTW 057 GC  on strap 92.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTC 057 GC  on strap 87.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTW 104 SS  bracelet 85.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTW 114 SS  bracelet 83.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTW 094 SS  bracelet 81.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTW 030 SS  bracelet 78.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTW 120 SS  on strap 78.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTW 127 SS  on strap 78.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTW 050 SS  on strap 76.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTW 074 SS  on strap 76.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTW 040 SS  on strap 73.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial

38QTC 057 GC  on strap 87.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTC 030 SS  bracelet 73.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTC 120 SS  on strap 73.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTC 124 SS  on strap 73.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTC 050 SS  on strap 71.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTC 080 SS  on strap 71.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QTC 040 SS  on strap 68.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial

38QT  010 SS  on strap 66.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial
38QT  040 SS  on strap 66.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial

38DQ   (W=day/date; C=date only; DQ=time only) (GMT quartz! called Duotime)
38DQC 010 SS  bracelet 80.000 Quartz QT & honeycomb on dial

38QR   (W=day/date; C=date only; QR=time only)
38QRW 044 SS  bracelet 55.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 047 SS  bracelet 55.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 050 SS  bracelet 54.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 054 SS  bracelet 54.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 055 SS  bracelet 54.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 056 SS  bracelet 54.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 057 SS  bracelet 54.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 016 GC on strap 52.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 020 SS  bracelet 51.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 026 SS  bracelet 51.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 034 SS  bracelet 51.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRW 010 SS  on strap 48.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial

38QRC 020 SS  bracelet 48.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRC 034 SS  bracelet 48.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRC 010 SS  on strap 45.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial
38QRC 040 SS  on strap 42.000 Quartz QR & cadre honeycomb on dial

In the end, starting in 1975 Seiko introduced, the descendant of the 38SQW, the Grand Quartz 48GQW and the 48SQW (4883 Superior). In the same catalogue one could see the descendant of the 38QT the King Quartz 08KQW, the 08Quartz QT and the 38QR related Lord Quartz. In 1976 the QZ related Type II appeared, the first affordable Quartz watch with a price similar to the average mechanicals.

The next iteration of the King Quartz calibers were 4822/4823, 5855/5856 (derived from 08QTC?), both produced already in 1975. Generally, these parallel calibers were designed to differently styled cases and had slightly different properties looking at case design, thermo-compensation, battery life, shock resistance, build quality (plastics) and dial quality - the 08KQW in particular was featuring very complex dial work.
[-] The following 3 users say Thank You to Watch4me for this post:
  • Collectionist, Harry, jpfwatch
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#2
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That is a nice overview. Thinking about the 3883 Superior though. As you said, that one was on sale at the same time as the 38SQW.
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#3
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Well, it remains to really analyze the price tags on these watches to definitely put one of them on top...
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#4
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I see you did just that - thanks...
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#5
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Good to have started with the 38 caliber. But even those are very hard to come by ...
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#6
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To me availability is not an issue. have you seen the size of those watches? They are close to 14mm thick. And that battery bulge..
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#7
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(08-27-2017, 11:37 AM)Watch4me Wrote: Well, it remains to really analyze the price tags on these watches to definitely put one of them on top...

I would say that settles the issue. It is the 38SQW.
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#8
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It is all very nice and good but when these items are listed for sale 38SQW is hardly mentioned. I see 3800, 3823, 3803 etc. Sadly one cannot infer it from the catalog.
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#9
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All right, all right, I will be trying to get a grip on that. Bear with me now.
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#10
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(08-29-2017, 11:04 AM)Watch4me Wrote: All right, all right, I will be trying to get a grip on that. Bear with me now.

Thanks Watch4me, as poster of the week I deserve a present lol.

I wonder how poster of the week is calculated?
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#11
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That is quite thorough Watch4me, quite thorough... Thanks.
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#12
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That is a nice list - if only I could find some!
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#13
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Massive update guys! Just read the first post again. Have fun!
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