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What's so great about the SEIKO GEN1 military watch used by the Royal Air Force?

The British military has always supplied its Air Force and Navy with technologically advanced, yet affordable, chronographs.

It started with the long-established Swiss brand Lemania, and in the second generation it changed to brands such as Newmark, Hamilton, Precista, and CWC, all equipped with the Valjoux 7733.

The story of the British Ministry of Defence watches up to this point is summarized here, so please take a look at it when you have time.

The Royal Air Force adopts Seiko watches

In the early 1980s, the British Armed Forces were looking for a new pilot's chronograph to replace the Valjoux 7733-powered chronographs they had been issuing for the previous decade.

In 1971, SEKO caused the quartz shock, which devastated the Swiss watch industry.

By the 1980s, quartz technology had advanced to the point where it was proven to be of reasonable quality and affordable.

Thus, while until then the selection criteria had only been mechanical watches, with the advent of this new watch the British military turned their attention to Seiko, which had the latest technology.

The Japanese company Seiko was chosen to manufacture the new watches, a departure from the Swiss, American and British brands the Ministry had previously used.

It's no surprise then that the MoD (Ministry of Defence) decided to look to Japan for their new watches.

Seiko has been making great quartz watches for years, and their quality has been praised by real users.

This marked the beginning of SEIKO officially adopting watches for the British military.

Year of delivery

The first were issued to British pilots in October 1984 and the model would remain in service for six years.

This is the 7A28-7120, commonly known as GEN1 .

Seiko GEN1 delivered to the British Army *SEIKO GEN1 delivered to the British Army

As I am Japanese, I tend to be biased and praise Japanese brands, but to say the least, they are cool!

"Quartz is so cheap!"

There may be some of you who think so, but once you get your hands on this watch, I think you'll realize that was a big mistake.

Its diameter is 37mm, almost the same size as that used by the British military up to that point.

At the 3 o'clock position is the 1/10 second counter dial.

The second hand is at the 6 o'clock position.

At the 9 o'clock position is the 30-minute counter.

is not it.

There is a P marking at the 12 o'clock position, which indicates that promethium, a low-radioactive man-made element, was used to illuminate part of the dial and hands.

Let me explain the buttons.

The top right button starts/stops the chronograph

The bottom right button is reset

The top left button is the split-second chronograph; pressing the top left button while the chronograph is running will stop the chronograph hand, and pressing it again will move it to the elapsed time.

The crown is on the bottom left.

It would be easier to understand how it works if you watch the video, so please take a look here:

Now, let's get back to our topic.

This first generation, GEN1, remained in active service until November 1990, when it was succeeded by the second generation.

This is the 7T27-7A20, called GEN2 .

Seiko military watches delivered to the Royal Air Force

Compared to the 1st edition, you can see that the design has changed significantly.

First, the 1/10 second counter at the 3 o'clock position has been removed and a date display has been installed at the 4 o'clock position.

The second hand at 6 o'clock remains the same.

At the 9 o'clock position is a new 24-hour counter.

The one at the 12 o'clock position is a 30-minute counter that has been moved from the first minute.

The size has also increased slightly from 37mm to 38mm.

What does the engraving on the back cover mean?

The case back is marked with the NATO stock number, the watch's individual issue number and the year of issue.

It is engraved.

There is an arrow pointing up, which is the "Broad Arrow" marking indicating that it is owned by the British Military.

The first quartz chronograph delivered to the British Army

Officially introduced by Seiko in 1984, the 7A28 movement watch was the first quartz chronograph, which holds special significance.

The greatest feature of the quartz chronograph was that it improved the ease of maintenance of watches, which had previously been a problem.

In the case of mechanical watches, overhauling the watch takes a significant amount of time.

However, by changing the movement to quartz, it became more robust and easier to repair.

In other words, if properly cared for, watches have evolved into excellent products that last a very long time and are relatively easy to repair.

Future outlook for GEN1

For these reasons, GEN1 and GEN2 have become very popular watches among collectors.

This applies not only to Seiko but also to all watches delivered to the Royal Air Force equipped with Lemania and Valjoux 7733, but since production has already been discontinued, prices have skyrocketed.

As of 2022, the GEN1 can be purchased for around 200,000 yen, but in the future the price will likely rise even more.

That's because the number of watches equipped with Lemania and Valjoux 7733 has tripled in the last 25 years.

If you are interested in these rare Seiko watches for the Royal Air Force, why not add one to your collection while they are still affordable, before the prices rise?

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