Musings: For other articles by Mr. Chow, please click here. As always, all pictures by contributor unless otherwise stated.
I’m writing another article again, this time about a vintage hand wound caliber by my favorite watchmaker, Seiko. I’m writing for this blog not because the owner is my friend, but rather that I have no avenue to publish it and putting in on Facebook makes me seem like a pretentious cunt. Enjoy!
This review will be about a not so common Seiko caliber – caliber 2220. When it comes to vintage Seikos, I have quite the spread of watches, from moonphases to flyback chronographs all the way to single pusher chronographs. It was only until lately that I started to become curious about higher beat (28,800 vph and above) movements and was looking at ladies watches in particular. The main reason being I have never owned a vintage ladies Seiko watch, and as a collector, I MUST HAVE THEM ALL.
More on caliber 2220
Keeping my searches on the good ol’ bay to ladies watches, it led me to caliber 2205, with a date, minute, hour and second hand. This movement beat at a 28,800 vph and was an automatic. Several more searches on Google and I came across caliber 2220. This was a movement made for ladies watches as it is very small.
However, for such a small movement, it had a relatively high jewel count of 24 jewels. Being a hand wound movement, I was naturally attracted to it. One thing I found most unique was that watches housing the 2220 did not have a second hand. On one hand, this makes it difficult to appreciate the smooth sweeping second hand that most high beat movements embody. On the contrary, the lack of a second hand gave the watch a very classic and simple appearance.
There were a few listings on of watches with caliber 2220 on the bay and I decided to bid on one. The odds were in my favor when I received a notification that I had won! Within a week it arrived. Here are some pictures of my first caliber 2220 (notice I said ‘first’).
Isn’t she gorgeous? It is a silver case with a silver ‘linen’ dial. The ‘linen’ dial comprises of crisscross patterns, which can be viewed at different angles, thus giving the illusion of linen. The black baton markers are applied and it comes with a black hour and minute hand. On the dial, the only prints are the “Seiko” wording as well as the Daini lightning bolt. If you have to ask me what that is, get the fuck off this blog. This baby winds up perfectly and when placed within earshot, that high beat ticking sound can be appreciated. This 2220 is an utterly, jaw dropping, erection-inducing looker of a timepiece. I mean it is thee Nicole Kidman of watches – you cannot get classier than this.
This 2220 is known informally as the Chariot and I have no clue why. It is an absolute beauty, admirable from most angles. Its diameter is large enough to avoid being accused of wearing your dead grandmother’s watch, yet small enough so that people don’t call you a male chauvinist pig. Another useful thing is that it comes with drilled lugs, which makes removal of 18mm straps a breeze. This is a watch that I can barely take my eyes off, a watch that fits perfectly under my cuffs, a watch that is technically sound. Now, the problem with finding a watch you like so much will explain what happens next. For those of you with a voracious appetite for collecting, or even murder for that matter, one is never enough.
Yes. I got one more. This time, I chose a gold plated square case and a patterned dial. This is a lot little smaller. Again, it came with baton markers that were applied and the dial only featured the two aforementioned prints. One interesting factor is that the lug width is actually 20mm, which is almost the width of the case. Therefore, the ideal strap would be 20mm at the lugs tapered down to 16mm at the buckle. These straps are a little harder to find due to the larger taper of 4mm, as will conventional tapers of 2mm. Overall, a very classy watch.
The next 2220 I acquired is actually a gift from my girlfriend. She got it as a graduation gift, and had picked out the crème de la crème of 2220s. It was an NOS specimen with the original box. It was one I had been eyeing for sometime already. This one featured a hammered dial. It like my first Chariot, it had black hands and black applied baton markers.
The case was almost flawless in the sense that it did not have a single scratch, and the case back still had its blue protective plastic on. It was in marvelous shape and condition. The only thing wrong was one bent lug, which seemed odd considering the case had no scratches. I concluded it to be a plausible production error. Besides, it was barely noticeable.
Size wise, it is slightly larger than the linen dialed Chariot but of comparable thickness. One special touch with this watch that the crown featured a small black jewel or plastic, which I felt was the cherry on top. This made the watch have a luxurious feel to it, as Seiko bothered with the intricate details. Overall, the nicest dials of all the caliber 2220s I’ve seen.
There you have it. The story of my chase for a 2 series vintage caliber and the wonderful ending it has. I am very glad to have found a caliber that is simple, high beat, high jewel count and perpetually executed so graciously. In my opinion (which you ought to value), it has a very good balance of looks, technical specifications and lastly price range. A good conditioned caliber 2220 can set you back no more than USD$150, which is a lot more watch than that money is worth. I do enjoy hand wound watches a tad more than automatic ones, and caliber 2220 is growing to be one of my favorites.
Musings: Shortly after receiving this article, I noticed that certain 2220s movements have a unique serial number on the movement plate itself (not the case back), whilst other 2220s do not have this additional movement serial number. In addition, these serialised 2220s also have different parts from the regular 2220s, appearing to be gilded in some instances. From online forums, it appears that serialised movements tend to have been assembled with a higher care to quality or tested before casing although this need not translate to better timing specifications. It is definitely an interesting avenue to pursue further.
Did you ever get any 2205s? I now have a small collection of 2205s and 2206s, for some reason. Silver, red, green and fuschia dials so far. No idea why. Just can’t pass them up.
No, not at all. This is my first time hearing about them actually!
Have a 2220-0690R, beautiful dial and rare. Great movement! I’ll send pics if you like.
Hi, during my search for info on the 2220 caliber, browsing the web, I see that it should be a 24 jewels movement but in many cases is a 17 jewels. Also funny that in the RANFFT website under 2220a the movement is listed and described as 24 jewels but the photo of the moviment is a 17 Jewels…;-)
It has to be because of the import regulations in the US of the time, being the limit of 17J in foreign watches, therefore the 17J must have been the US version, I heard the same story for other Swiss brands actually.
Pretty interesting !
hi, I’ve just acquired a 2220-0300, the midel with the arabic numeral, just wondering by any chance that the dial of that watch is enamel? Couldn’t find sufficient info on google as well.
I doubt it’ll be enamel, but there’ll be tell tale signs if it’s not, for example spotting/staining on the dial. Enamel dials can usually keep their pristine color over a long period of time, but they tend to crack with heavy impact.