7A28-7120 Seiko RAF-Issued Gen I Chronograph
Highly collected, issued military watches do not necessarily have to come with prohibitive values. With a little careful research, one or two may actually provide value. And when I say one or two, I mean basically just Seiko 7A28 military chronographs. As a rule, I tend to prefer mechanics to to quartz for all the wrong romantic logic. However, provenance and history trump any attachment I have to mechanic escapements or even this site’s eponymous name. While this unassuming Seiko may appear benign, its story is a discourse in renegade 80s horology.
The 7A28 was in fact the world’s first analogue quartz chronograph. As in ever, meaning the first chrono with its stopwatch hand powered by the quartz train. The first 7A28 movement appeared in 1983 and quickly attracted the MoD’s attention by 1984. That contract lasted until 91. In total, 11,307 of these were produced with stamped numbers for the RAF. In part, the MoD sought the contract because the 7A28 used metal gears for its trains, which could be repaired instead of immediate scrapping. It was also highly legible and capable of a precise 1/10ths of a second measurement (with its own dedicated register). Technical, robust, and easy to operate.
Interestingly, two main variants exist. This example, with an encircled P (for Promethium luminous material), went to the actual RAF. A second version without luminous material was issued to the British Royal Navy, primarily for HM nuclear sub crews. Promethium was omitted to prevent radioactive interference with sensitive military equipment. Given that these Gen Is were in circulation on wrists of pilots during the Gulf War, Bosnian War, and even Operation Desert Fox, it is enticing to imagine exactly what a life this chrono may have endured.
This example hails from the end of the run 1989. Its case is full with moderate surface wear throughout, as one might expect and even hope to see here. The dial and handset are in excellent condition, with very little degradation visible at all. Rather importantly, its military engravings are still deep and highly legible across an unpolished case back. All told, this is a lovely example of a military chronograph with outrageous value to offer. It comes from a small, well-regarded English retailer who specialize in the military-issued.
Find this RAF 7A28-7120 here from Finest Hour Timepieces for 1295 GBP.