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Mid 90s Swiss Army Mecha-Quartz Chronograph?

Articles | Vintage | 03.07.2012

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A few weeks ago my Dad, an avid watch-nerd, brought to my attention a peculiar watch from his collection. The watch is a Swiss Army chronograph from the mid to late 90’s that he believes was the first chronograph they produced, and one that was only available for a short amount of time. As far as looks go it’s not particularly strange. It has the classic Swiss Army case design with a white face, and a fairly normal dial layout. What’s weird about it is how it works. First, there is no moving seconds hand. The third sub-dial, which is located at 6, is a date index with a hand that points to the day, which is set by pushing a recessed button on the side of the case. This detail unto itself is fairly uncommon for a quartz chronograph, but what is really weird is how the chronograph works.

When you start the chrono, you might find its behavior slightly strange. First, the 60-second register is ticking at half-second intervals. While this is less than a typical mechanical chronograph, which have a relatively smooth sweep, it is more than the normal once-per-second quartz chronograph. The other strange thing is when you reset the chronograph. One expects the typical travel-back-to-zero sweep of a quartz chronograph…well, that isn’t the case here. The watch has instant reset; the chronograph hands snapback to zero just like on a mechanical chronograph. We’ve seen this behavior in a quartz watch before with the Techné Sparrowhawk II, which is powered by a Seiko VK63 Mecha-Quartz movement. That leads us to wonder: is the Swiss Army also a mecha-quartz?

I’ve run some searches through the forums and haven’t found out anything about this watch, so I thought…hey, maybe our readers would know about this mysterious Swiss Army chronograph. Check out the video of it in action, and let us know if you know anything about it. Thanks!

by Zach Weiss


  • http://URL Rick Jones

    Hi Worn and Wound,
    I have been an eBayer for about 12 years and have been a Swiss Army nut since they first rolled out watches in the late 1980′s. The SAB chronograph you pictured is an awesome example of their second release of the Officer’s Chronograph. The first had stainless markers (actually plastic) at the locations where yours has black arabic numerals. The third version changed quite a bit when they added a date window and a continuous second hand both at the six ‘clock position. I have pics if you are interested. I really enjoy your page.

    Rick

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/esdy/ esdy_11192

    Why you don’t open the case-back?

  • http://URL Kelly Campbell

    I have this same exact watch with a metal band — it just stopped and is at the watch shop – they want $250 to clean it to get it running — I think it was $500 years ago — thinking its time to retire it – I can just buy another watch for $250
    Your thoughts?…