1968 Seiko Bellmatic


An automatic stainless steel Seiko Bellmatic gunmetal metallic dial watch. Hot on the heels of both the Vulcain Cricket and the Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox, the Japanese watch maker, Seiko, launched their wrist alarm watch, the Bell-Matic in 1966. Including an alarm mechanism inside a mechanical wrist watch proved very difficult to accomplish, early on during the development of the wrist alarm. Creating the sound was not so much of an issue. The disruption this would cause on the mechanism and accurate time keeping, on the other hand, was problematic. The ‘bell’ in the Bell-Matic is actually a curved metal sounding spring that is repeatedly struck by a small hammer powered by a spring unwinding. That spring is released by a lever moved by a wheel sitting on top of the hour wheel on the dial side.

As with the Vulcain, the Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Tudor, the Seiko utilizes two separate barrels for storing power. This ensures that the power required to ring the bell does not detract from the power reserve for time-keeping. A watch that powered its alarm via the regular mainspring would stop after the alarm sounded and not be particularly useful. Unlike some designs like the Memovox, the Seiko has one crown, and a button at the 2 o'clock position. With the alarm button pressed in, turning the Bell-Matic’s crown winds the alarm’s spring and feels just like winding a manual watch. With just 6 revolutions to full wind, the alarm spring has enough power to ring its tiny bell for around 11 seconds. Pulling out the button at 2 o’clock arms the alarm, pushing it back in again disables the alarm. Pulling the crown out to its first position engages the indicator ring allowing it to be turned. A marker on the ring indicates when, during the next 12 hours, the alarm will sound. Pulling the crown out to its second position allows the time to be set as with a regular watch.

The multi function Bell-Matic has another two tricks up its sleeve. Pushing the alarm button in to its second position and releasing allows the date to be quickset just like pushing the crown of a 6xxx series movement. Finally, the day can be quickset by repeatedly flicking the hour hand backwards and forwards between 2 and 10. During its lifetime, the Bell-Matic came in 27, 21 and 17 jewel variants. The early watches all have 27 jewels with most of the extra jewels employed in the gear train where all the gears are jeweled top and bottom. Both barrel arbors are also fully jeweled top and bottom in this version. In 1968, Seiko reduced the jewel count to 21 for the US market, supposedly to avoid the import tax applied to luxury watches with high jewel counts. Within two years, Bell-Matics for all markets had been reduced to 17 jewels. The only exception were the 4006-701x models that kept their full count of 27 jewels and continued to be sold in Japan into the mid-70s. This example is an earlier and more desirable 27 jewel version.

The Bellmatic remained in the line until 1978 when it was phased out by the onslaught of the digital watch revolution. These watches are fabulous in design, a very wearable size, and great to look at. They are quickly being sought after. This example with its gunmetal metallic dial and black outer ring is a very handsome version. The case has light wear to it, but remains unpolished showing strong original lines and chamfers. The condition of the dial is excellent with all the luminous material showing well under UV light.

Case measurement: 38 mm

This item is final sale.

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  1. Make your return request through https://jpressonline.myreturnscenter.com/. You will receive a Return ID Number (RMA#) from J. Press. Once your return request has been approved, you will be notified via email.
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If you would like to exchange an item for another size or color, note that we cannot reserve or hold an item for exchange. If the item is not available when we receive the item, you will be issued a store credit (discounted more than 25%) or refund.

  1. Make your exchange request through https://jpressonline.myreturnscenter.com/.
  2. Please indicate what size and/or color you would like to exchange in the Notes box.
  3. You will receive a Return ID Number (RMA#) from J. Press. Once your exchange request has been approved, you will be notified via email. Please do not send items back without obtaining the Approval from J. Press. If the item you wish to exchange is not available, we will contact you.
  4. Follow the Return procedure 2 through 4.

Please send all returns and exchanges to:

J. Press E-Returns
8 West 38th St Suite 200
New York, NY 10018

J. Press will update you via email when your return has been processed. J. Press will not charge an additional shipping fee for size and/or color exchanges shipped within the US by Ground shipping. International orders may be charged additional shipping fees for exchanged items, and custom duties or taxes may be billed by the carrier at delivery.

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Merchandise shown on the website may not be available in all sizes or colors, as item availability can change throughout the day.
If an ordered item is not available, you will be notified by email.

GROUND Rates Merchandise Total Standard Shipping
 Under $199.99 $7.50
$200.00 - $299.99 $11.50
$250.00 and up FREE


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Not all promotional codes and gift card codes will work in this checkout so please contact us at customerservice@jpressonline.com with any issues.

We will not be accepting orders from the UK under 130 GBP at this time. Our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.