The Soviet-Era Elektronika 53 - The Poor Man’s HAQ
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Thread: The Soviet-Era Elektronika 53 - The Poor Man’s HAQ

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  1. #1
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    The Soviet-Era Elektronika 53 - The Poor Man’s HAQ

    In high school, I was the kid that synchronized my Casio Databank to the school bell on Monday morning, sometimes (but not usually) impressing classmates with my exact knowledge of when the bell would ring.

    One thing that you realize if you’re an accuracy freak is that standard quartz watches almost always run slightly fast, something around a quarter second per day. If you set your quartz watch weekly, you’ll be right near two seconds fast. I’ve always wondered if I could get a watch that would allow me to trim off a quarter second per day and improve the accuracy. Even just shaving off a tenth would give me superior accuracy to a regular quartz watch.

    Alas, I browsed the HAQ forums over the years without any solutions. I even bought a couple of (relatively) affordable HAQ watches to appease my love of accuracy: The Longines Conquest VHP and Tissot PR-100. Both also added seconds, though there was at least an order-of-magnitude improvement in performance. But their rates can’t be adjusted, and I just have to sit idly by as each gains around a second per month.

    I know that some watches, like Casio G-Shocks, have trimmer screws that allow you to adjust the rate. However, they are extremely sensitive, and I never really wanted to mess with them. Why not an option to digitally trim: how much software would that take?

    I recently stumbled on a solution to my desire, and to my surprise it was cheap. Old Soviet Elektronika digital watches actually have a digital trimmer menu in tenth-of-seconds per day increments. Only certain models have it: models 53, 54, and 55, but they can be purchased on eBay for around $40.

    I bought one, and after some monitoring I trimmed my Elektronika 53 back 0.3 seconds per day. My goal is to regulate this watch to within 5 seconds per month. I know 60 spy isn’t exactly HAQ territory and that there is no thermocompensation here, but it’s a fun cheap option that might get you accuracy somewhere between a regular quartz watch and an HAQ.

    Has anyone else messed with these watches?
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  2. #2
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    Re: The Soviet-Era Elektronika 53 - The Poor Man’s HAQ

    I presume you have ooked at the f10 forum for Elektronika threads?

  3. #3
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    Re: The Soviet-Era Elektronika 53 - The Poor Man’s HAQ

    I have a 52. I have enjoyed trimming it as close to 0 SPD as I can get but I find that it is so sensitive to temperature that its adjusted rate is good only if it is to be consistently worn (or if you have a very regular wearing pattern and a watch box sitting in a room with a predictable temperature range). Mine is pretty much bang on, as long as I wear it.
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    Re: The Soviet-Era Elektronika 53 - The Poor Man’s HAQ

    In my limited time with my 53, I agree: it's rate is more stable when it's worn. I had a Bulova Precisionist once, and I was disappointed in its accuracy compared to a regular quartz. Perhaps it was 5-7 seconds fast per month. Of course, Bulova would say that you need to WEAR it to get better accuracy, even though the whole point of a high-frequency quartz movement, I thought, was better improved resistance to temperature fluctuations.

    I haven't seen much in the way of technical tests on these Elektronicas, unless I am missing something. Anecdotally, people SAY that they can trim their regular quartz movements to within 1-2 seconds per month, which would be COSC accuracy. My philosophical question is: if you can trim a regular quartz movement to get HAQ accuracy, what's the point of an HAQ movement?

  6. #5
    Member Tom-HK's Avatar
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    Re: The Soviet-Era Elektronika 53 - The Poor Man’s HAQ

    For a start, there are very few 'regular' quartz movements of current production (aside from Elektronikas and G-Shocks) that have trimmer capacitors, so the ability to tune your watch down to 1 or 2 SPM for your particular wear pattern just isn't there for most people.

    And then there's the whole "what happens if I take it off / change my wear pattern?" thing. When not worn, your watch will have a different rate in the height of summer when compared to the depths of winter. This is also true for HAQs but to a much smaller extent.

    How much your non-HAQ fluctuates from winter to summer will vary greatly from watch to watch, even within a sample group of the same model, as the quartz crystals selected for ordinary movements have looser tolerances than those selected for higher end HAQs. So you may get lucky and land a non-HAQ that keeps fantastically regular time across the year (like my V158 Seiko), but you are probably rather more likely to get one that stretches the boundaries of the manufacturer's 15 SPM spec (like my Casio CA-53W).

    And don't forget that there is always a reporting bias. You are far more likely to hear about the relatively few non-HAQs that achieve near HAQ levels of accuracy than you are to hear about the countless millions of non-HAQs that don't. The point of HAQ is to have a watch that should maintain a very high level of precision by design rather than by happy accident. And for a watch to be truly HAQ, this precision should be achieved independently of external synchronisation methods (such as smart phone connexions, GPS or Radio signals).
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  7. #6
    Mod. Russian, China Mech. Chascomm's Avatar
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    Re: The Soviet-Era Elektronika 53 - The Poor Man’s HAQ

    I have to agree that the ability of the end-user to more finely regulate the module in not comparable to High Accuracy Quartz. Nevertheless, I am extremely satisfied with my Technochas Elektronika 55D, purchased new last year. After fine tuning by small increment over a couple of months, I have got it to a state of accuracy that is way beyond my personal requirements (I'm not a native of this forum ). But I should also add that the total correction was disconcertingly large (+1.6s!). All the same, I'm looking forward to the forum project watch when it is delivered. https://forums.watchuseek.com/f921/

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  8. #7
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    Re: The Soviet-Era Elektronika 53 - The Poor Man’s HAQ

    I had an issue come up that may come into play when regulating a digital quartz watch. AfterI posted that my Elektronika was shutting down after hitting the light button, I was told that this is definitely not normal and to change the battery. It had an "LR 41" battery, but I bought a "SR 41" replacement, and from a little casual research, it appears that the old "LR" alkalines provide less power over time. I had initially regulated this watch pretty well at -0.3 seconds/day, but after the battery replacement, it was running way fast (for a quartz). I think I have it pretty stable at -0.9 seconds/day.

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