24 May 2010

SOLD: SEIKO Quartz Diver 7548-700B "Desert Storm" Restoration

Watch is SOLD.

One of my favorite vintage SEIKO dive watches is the 7548 Quartz Diver. The design is classic and simple. Its 7548-caliber quartz movement is tough and reliable. General Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander of the Operation Desert Storm, was wearing a SEIKO 7548 when he led one of the strongest military forces in history to kick Iraqi soldiers out of Kuwait in 1991. In 1999, Schwarzkopf donated the watch for a charity auction. It was auctioned under the title "SEIKO Desert Storm" and sold at USD 11,000.

▲ General Norman Schwarzkopf wearing a SEIKO 7548 Quartz Diver. Picture taken from LIFE.

Few days ago, my friend Ariska sent me a 7548-700B from May 1979. At the first glance, it looked bloody messy with painted hands, faded bezel insert, and dirty dial. But upon a closer look, I knew I had found the 7548 I had been looking for. It was a perfect base for a restoration project.

▲ SEIKO 7548-700B before restoration.

The case was very dirty. It was soon dismantled to pieces. Every parts were cleaned and checked. Case is still good and untouched. It has scratches on caseback and lugs but I can live with it. Crown tube was bent, prevented the crown from screwing in. I pressed the crown tube back to its position. The original HARDLEX crystal is still in good condition, slightly polished by previous owner. Caseback is a little bit corroded but still acceptable.

▲ Case completely dismantled.

▲ Case cleaned and assembled.

The original 7548-700B dial is a little bit dirty. But all writings on dial including the dial code are still sharp and crispy. Original hands were replaced with original hands set from SKX007 (7S26) because the design is almost identical. The difference is 7548 has flat-type hands.

▲ Dial before cleaning.

▲ Dial after cleaning and new hands.

Crown-stem assembly was stripped down and cleaned. The original gasket has been worn out but I haven't found a new crown gasket. So I will just temporarily use it until I find a new one. Stem spring is not original, but it functions very well without problems.

▲ Dismantled crown.

All parts were assembled back with new caseback gasket, new bezel gasket, and new aftermarket bezel insert. The insert is the best quality repro I have ever seen. It is almost 100% similar to the original 7548/6309 insert including the correct lume pip, slanted surface, and grainy paint when observed under magnifier.

▲ 7548-700B after restoration.

The 7548 was then put on a high-quality aftermarket GL831 rubber strap. This is the correct type of strap when the watch came out for sale at the end of 1970s. Below picture is comparison shot of 7548 (right) and his more famous successor, the SKX007. Like father, like son.

▲ SEIKO Quartz Diver 7548-700B and SEIKO Automatic Diver 7S26-0020 SKX007.

Below is comparison shot of 6309-7049, 7548-700B, and H558-5009. They were produced and sold in the same period, from the end of 1970s to mid 1980s.

▲ SEIKO 6309-7049, 7548-700B, H558-5009.