Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

Thread: Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

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  1. #1
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

    TAG Heuer just introduced a watch with a magnet as the balance wheel. (It is the highest beat production watch ever made.) Of course, magnets and balance wheels have been married for a long time... (TAG's innovation is no hairspring) ...and here is some evidence:



    In the 1960's Timex introduced the Caliber 870 a robust implementation of the electric watches of that era. It was made in "West Germany".





    To generalize, the electric watches have a coil on the balance 'wheel' that is pulsed with current during one arm swing of the arc. This creates a repulsive magnetic field to the permanent magnets fixed to the mainplate. The repulsive field provides a kick to the balance wheel to give it some energy. That energy is channeled by the escapement into the drive train.

    The wheel rotates backwards to another point where the next pulse is applied. Thus there is an energy pulse each arc of the balance wheel. There is a hairspring attached to the balance wheel to regulate the timing of these arcs.

    Normally the mainspring is providing power into the gear train and the escapement regulates the application of the power. In this design the power is coming directly from the escapement. (That thick piece of brass at the bottom of the next picture is part of the balance wheel!)

    Beyond that, they are normal watches.



    As I said, the Timex implementation was a robust one using a thick stamped and machined plates. Plastic was used when appropriate and it appears the intervening fifty years has not aged it. The screws are not delicate nor dainty. But the assembly was accurate. All of these production savings allowed Timex to offer these watches for $25 or less.







    Notice the size of the 'hairspring'... no need to conserve energy in this design (and it had better be non-magnetic!).



    This is a side on view of the balance wheel. It is the beefy chunk of brass you see. Below it is a ferrite permanent magnet.


    The Caliber 870 is called the Model 84 in Timex technical documentation. Evidently the Service department did not appreciate the marketing department ruining their numbering schema and they just renamed the movement.

    I have seen this movement in a number of Timex watches and earlier this year we even had a member asking how to open the caseback. I suspect it is one of their last electrics but I am only just starting to learn about them.

    This specific watch looks like it can be coaxed into maybe 30 seconds per day accuracy (from the vendor it is at +120 spd). The movement is clean and the timing screen shows no irregularities in the beat.

    Just to complete the documentation, two views of the caseback. It is epoxied to the rest of the case.




    The inside of the caseback... note the easy match of the "crown" to the green knob on the movement. Putting the movement back in the case is trivial.


    And to round out - a mystery! ... strange dial numbers
    Last edited by Eeeb; March 19th, 2010 at 03:24. Reason: edit for clarity
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  2. #2
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

    Nice photo spread! And nice '67 Timex; it's as old as my sister! Hope that magnet didn't mess up any of your tools... :)
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  3. #3
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    Re: Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

    Thanks for the explanations and pictures, here's one of mine, not sure how old it is !


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  5. #4
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

    In general, the last two numbers of the "serial number" are the manufacture year.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  6. #5
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    Re: Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

    Thanks, the number at 12 on the dial ? Mine seems to be in two parts and I don't think I can read it without removing the glass. Will try to get a hold of my loupe...

  7. #6
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    Re: Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

    The 1970 electric diver, same movement for the most part, aside from the backset crown assembly. Looking for a bezel, anyone have one.
    Attached Images Attached Images

    Last edited by dirtvictim; March 19th, 2010 at 18:32. Reason: correction
    1979 5513 Submariner
    1977 Timex Milspec Custom Conversion
    1966 Timex 600 Skindiver
    1969 Benrus US Military Issued
    1961 Belforte Sheppard AFB
    1961 Omega Seamaster



    "Time spent waiting between the seconds is only conspiring to make me older" DV 2018
    "I don't always agree with everybody but when I do it's because I'm Right"
    DV 2011
    Dirtvictim The Watch Mechanic.

  8. #7
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    Re: Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtvictim View Post
    The 1970 electric diver, same movement for the most part, aside from the backset crown assembly. Looking for a bezel, anyone have one.
    Thanks for this - its curious that Timex doesn't come up much on the vintage forum - mind you, its not a JLC or a Zenith, but for all the honest designs and millions sold, you'd think the brand would pop up more often.

  9. #8
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    Re: Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

    Quote Originally Posted by jimw View Post
    Thanks for this - its curious that Timex doesn't come up much on the vintage forum - mind you, its not a JLC or a Zenith, but for all the honest designs and millions sold, you'd think the brand would pop up more often.
    Agreed and they are quite simply some of the easiest to work on in my experience.
    1979 5513 Submariner
    1977 Timex Milspec Custom Conversion
    1966 Timex 600 Skindiver
    1969 Benrus US Military Issued
    1961 Belforte Sheppard AFB
    1961 Omega Seamaster



    "Time spent waiting between the seconds is only conspiring to make me older" DV 2018
    "I don't always agree with everybody but when I do it's because I'm Right"
    DV 2011
    Dirtvictim The Watch Mechanic.

  10. #9
    Member 3sails's Avatar
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    Re: Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

    I had received a lot earlier in the month and at the bottom of the bucket was an Electric and a Q. I recognized the battery size and dug out a calculator from more than a decade ago and the electric started right up. The Q (it does have a balance wheel and regulator but there is a crazy sliding rheostat on a baby board straddling the "mess". That Q hatchback only runs in some sort of mariachi dance and I have given up, even with fresh batteries. I had it running well within a minute a day but was stopping at the least amount of moving it about. A real service would probably cure it and as it is transistorized, should clock pretty close to perfect.



    My back shot is pretty pitiful but all I can share at the moment.



    The gold Electric is running well within that 30 second mark now and has been happy here as a keyboard accessory.

    I've no guts pictures of them but I imagine they all look pretty much the same. There was recently a thread in the watchmaking section and I'm still curious if there is a quick set routine for the day of the week. I have advanced that only by winding through 24 at a time to get there. The date wheel clunks/rotates happily with the crown pushed in, so easily set.

    Cheers

    GC

  11. #10
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Timex Electric Caliber 870 - what is old is new

    Times watches vary a great deal between models. It clearly was not one size fits all.

    My watchmaker won't service them as he finds some will not run in a decent time and he has a difficult time getting them decent. Since he never charges for a watch he could not get running decently, he looses too much money servicing them. So he won't.

    I understand. He has a much work as he wants. He has a web page. He handles walk in trade. He never advertises. Yet he is as busy enough to be picky.

    My solution is to fix them myself... as soon as I retire I'm gonna take the time to learn!
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

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