Needing a new watch I happened to notice this one in the window of Bulmer’s, the second-hand shop in York that sells all sorts of treasures.
I liked the look of the clear face and the low price of £20. I decided to take the chance and bought it. It was not until closer inspection and trying to find out more about it online that I discovered it is solar powered. What a pleasant surprise! No more batteries.
Online I discovered ‘WATCH. History of the modern wrist watch’ by Pieter Doensen. What an excellence resource for the watch collector. Pieter informs me that my V103 dates from 1884 and only 10 minutes of sunlight will power it for 10 days.
A clever feature is that if the power stored in the capacitor gets low the second had starts to jump 2 seconds at a time. This is to tell the user that it will stop in 3 days if it does not get more light.
My V103 is going well. However, I have discovered that parts for it are not longer available from Seiko so I will just have to let it run for as long as it may. I have already discovered that it is very accurate.
How to set time, date and day was a puzzle. If you have one, this is how to do it.
- Unscrew winder by turning anticlockwise.
- Pull out to first click.
- Turn to set the previous day’s date and previous day. Turning one way will change date, and turning the opposite way will change the day.
- Pull out to second click when second hand is at the 12 o’clock position.
- Turn to set Hour and Minute hands to the desired time. Turn until the day changes and date changes too. If you are doing it in the afternoon you will need turn it past the 12 a second time to go past the midday point.
- Push winder in to start watch.
- Push in winder and turn clockwise to screw it home completely.
- Do not set the date between 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Otherwise, it may not change properly. * If it is necessary to set the date during that time period, first change the time to any time outside it, set the date and then reset the correct time.
- When setting Hour hand, check that AM/PM is correctly set. * The watch is so designed that the date changes once in 24 hours. Turn the hands past the 12 o’clock marker to determine whether the watch is set for the A.M. or P.M. period. If the date changes, the time is set for the A.M. period. If the date does not change, the time is set for the P.M. period.
- When setting Minute hand, first advance it 4 to 5 minutes ahead of the desired time and then turn it back to the exact minute.
- It is necessary to adjust the date at the end of February and 30-day months.
Since collectables need collectors and collectors need reference works, Pieter Doensen has taken up the challenge to provide them with the first comprehensive study of the “collectable modern wrist watch”.
From the section on solar watches:
- 1976 The first watch with solar cells and hands, the ‘Citizen Quartz Crystron Solar’ caliber 8620A reaches the market of Japan in August. It was a normal quartz watch with four double silicium solar cells and a stepping motor. In 1974, some periodicals had already published photographs of a solar watch with hands, these are only prototypes.
- 1977 The first solar watch of Seiko cal. 4826. Only sold in Japan with a silver oxide rechargeable battery.
- 1977 Mondaine markets the ‘Analog-Solar’.
- 1978 Sicura produces a model with solar cells on the right side and with date.
- 1983 In September, Casio releases its first solar cell watches the SA 60, SA 61, SA 600, W 27 and WS 80 to WS 83, all with the QW 189 module. At the same time its calculator watches with solar cells are released: the CL 30 and the CL 301 with the QW 243 module.
- 1984 Seiko presents the Pulsar ‘Quartz Solar’, caliber V102A and V103; the first solar watch which functions without any problems because the battery is replaced by a supercapacitor or large scale-capacitor. Ten minutes of sunlight suffice to charge the watch for ten days. When the capacitor is discharged and the voltage goes down to 1.2 Volt, the watch gives a warning by two seconds step motion instead of one step a second. In 1987, Seiko marketed the 8S23 with a residual power indicator, which contained a capacitor instead of a battery.
- 1986 In June, Casio launches its first watch with a supercapacitor instead of a rechargeable battery, the FB-50 and FB-51 with module QW-520. The watch, when fully loaded, can now run for seven days.