About five Featured Watches ago, I covered the ‘humble Homer’ (https://sweep-hand.org/2012/02/23/this-weeks-featured-watch-23-the-homer/). However, one model I didn’t include since I believe it warrants a feature of its own, is the the so-called railroad watch. And it has this name for good reason, since it was official issue to Japan’s National Railways staff in the 1960s and 70s:
Simplicity and clarity appear to be the design priorities for this one, as well as the use of ‘second setting’, more commonly called ‘hacking’ – a feature not normally found on the Homers. This allows watches to be synchronised and was no doubt a requirement on the famously reliable and punctual Japanese railway network. The white dial, which has a slightly blue tint, has very clear numbers, with lumed hands and pips outside the hour markers:
Other than second setting, the 21 jewel movement appears to be standard Homer, although I don’t know if any additional adjustments were made for accuracy at the factory before issue (note the crown is pulled out in this shot to ‘hack’ the watch):
Inside the somewhat pitted caseback there’s evidence of servicing fairly recently:
But it’s the outside of the case back that is particularly interesting, since it is specially marked:
The upper symbol and ’50’ is the Showa year of issue, so this is 1975. Here’s a conversion chart for the Japanese calendar for information: http://photojpn.org/PPC/gui/year.html (with thanks to Philbert Ono)
I presume 1934 is the issue number of the watch, whilst I understand that the lower characters probably read ‘National Railways’ (West Division).
This shot better shows the chrome frames of the hands:
The signed crown on this one is the earlier type, more usually seen on pre-1970s watches:
A classicly simple watch, perfect for use on the railways of Japan:
Hi there, I am from Singapore and I have the exact same citizen homer as you. I myself love Japanese watch. And this is my first real watch for a start However I am not too sure about a few things about the adjustment. Is it ok to wind the watch clock wise and anti clockwise ? and how far should I wind the watch ? when I first received the watch I just wind it till there is a slight resistant and stop. Maybe about 30 or so winds. You advise is greatly appreciated.
Hi Bertram, thanks for visiting my blog 🙂 Good to hear you have one of the Japanese Railways Homers, one of my favourite watches. It sounds to me that you are winding the watch correctly. Hand winders are usually wound every morning, and winding until you feel resistance and then stopping is fine. I usually do it fairly gently, especially when it is likely to be getting close to fully wound. Winding daily will probably nor require as many winds as 30. It’s ok to turn the crown clockwise and anti-clockwise. Clockwise is actually winding the watch, whilst a ratchet (‘click stop’) works when you turn it anti-clockwise so that you don’t have to keep letting go of the crown as you wind it.
Hi Sorry for the late reply!!! Thank you very much for the detailed explanation. Yes I do agree that its a very underrated watch. But it is so robust. And its really a everyday watch to be utilize and not kept in watch box for years!
I agree Bertram – and of course these were used in their day on the railway neteowrk,
I’ve owned on of these railroad Homers for many years. Thanks for the info and the link to the date table. Very useful info. By the way, mine gets a lot of daily use and still keeps great time.
Hi Jim, thanks for visiting my blog and I’m pleased that it has been useful. Great to see that your are using your Railroad watch regularly. I believe the 21 jewel movement, with second setting, is a high precision version of the basic Homer movement – it needed to be for official use of course.
So that was the story. I had read somewhere that Seiko also submitted their proposal for Japanese Rail Watch. That was based on their 61xx caliber or something. I suppose that contract went to Citizen.
Hi Hisham, thanks for visiting my blog. I know Seiko ‘second setting’ pocket watches are used, to this day I believe, by Japanese train drivers.
Stunning watch! I think, that there have not been so many wrist watches at that time, -60´s and -70´s, with the RR-status. Of course Swiss brands, like Zenith and a few others have their own and also U.S makers, like Hamilton, might have had a few too. But the most part of RR-watches was pocket watches, they are “easier” to adjust and altogether easier to produce, because they are larger than wrist watches.
I think Japan Railroads have acquired prefer domestic watches than watches from abroad and there´s no problem, Japanese watch is as good than an equivalent Swiss, maybe even better when comparing chronometer-standards…
But all in all, absolutely stunning and very collectable and desirable watch in these days!
How accurate it is…?
Hi Marko – thanks for your comments, much appreciated. I haven’t worn this for a while and I can’t remember its accuracy. I know it wasn’t poor, I would remember that!! Stephen
This watch is one of my favourites. Classy and reliable. I have one from Showa 52 (1977) issued to JR Sapporo Rail. Keeps quartz-like time for a mechanical watch, and so is one of my regular wearers. Mine gains less than 1 second per day, which is better than my Rolex.
Hi Michael, thanks for visiting my blog – this is one of my favourites too. And the humble Homer ‘better than a Rolex’ is a great strap line 🙂 Stephen
I’m more of a Seiko enthusiast but when I recently stumbled across this model, I was sold by it’s clean looks and history.
It’s very interesting though how there’s no indication whatsoever on the movement to show that any special adjustment was made to it to meet the RR standards. Surely the base Homer movement won’t be up to par?
Would you like me to share some pictures of it with you? Mine model was apparently issued to the bullet train department, Shinkansen.
Thanks and Happy New Year!
I also thought it was very interesting that railway watches are considered low end watches as accuracy are not important (?!) as mentioned here :
Thanks for your comments about the Homer railroad. I have never found any info on whether or not they were specially adjusted – as you say there are no markings anywhere about that, so maybe they were not. Perhaps the second setting feature was enough to synchronise each day. Mind you, the Japanese railways are renowned for their punctuality of course so I’d be surprised if they would issue watches that were not within a few seconds accuracy per day.
I would like to see pics of your example 🙂
I’ve taken some photos and published them on my little blog. Let me know what you think of my model.
You can see them here:
Please remove the link if it’s against your policy.
thanks for the link to your blog and the pics. It’s a nice example and the bullet train part is unusual and nice to have. I like the milky white dial of these watches combined with the clarity of the black Arabic numbers.
I’ve now had chance to do a bit more research on the movement, with the help of Google Translate! As you can see from your pic of the movement, it is stamped with the number 0911 – this is the same movement used in the Crystate and Crystate Deluxe models. So, although derived from the 02 Homer movement, they have a different designation, becoming part of the 09xx calibre family that is used in Chrono Masters. The relevant ‘museum book’ describes the 0911 as ‘high performance’ corresponding to the entry level high precision Chrono Master (0920) calibre, and refers to it being used for the Japanese National Railways. Unfortunately there are no performance figures given for these calibres, but there is a clear indication in the text that the 0911 has better performance than the original 02 Homer movement, on a par with the base Chrono Master. The finishing of the movement also differs from the 02. This seems to explain why this watch was issued to JNR staff, and that it had the necessary performance for that use. For info here are my posts about the Crystate models:
Thanks Stephen! That’s super informative and definitely explains why there was no markings whatsoever on the movement to indicate any adjustment. Having a high end movement would render such markings unnecessary.
You mentioned a Museum book. Is that in English and is there a link to access it anywhere?
Thanks so much!
Separately I also wanted to say that I initially read the movement number as 1160 which got me scratching my head. I was reading it backwards, thanks to your clarification!
There is a series of books, Japanese text only, that are known as ‘museum’ books. They cover all the main brands, Citizen, Seiko, Orient, Takano & Ricoh. If you scroll down this thread: https://www.thewatchsite.com/21-japanese-watch-discussion-forum/42631-japanese-watch-reference-books.html you’ll see them listed by ‘Akable’. Stephen
Nice article, I learned some new stuff.
I’m trying to find a replacement brown for mine, since it’s now signed (no CTZ nor a C) and I feel like it’s a replacement.
I was wondering if you know any part numbers for crowns that will fit. Mine seems to be from 1969 (so one with a C perhaps?)
Hi Mark, thanks for visiting my blog, and glad it has been helpful. The Railroad Homer doesn’t have a case number so I don’t have the crown part number. However, it’s a Homer 02 movement so it is not going to be a unique crown to this model. The most used crowns for Homer movements are: 506-110, 506-122, 506-131 and 506-160 – I’ve had a quick look on Yahoo Japan to see what’s available and some of these are ‘C’ some are ‘CTZ’. ‘C’ would probably best for your 1969 watch. Stephen
thanks for the quick reply, didn’t manage to find a crown with “C” on it in the right color so I got one with “CTZ”. This brings me to the next question: do you know the part number for the crown stem this watch uses and if it depends on the crown.
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Thank you for sharing your expert knowledge with us watch guys; especially the relationship you mentioned between the cal. 0200 and 0911interests me: Do you know whether the hands can be switched between the two movements?
Greeings from Berlin!
Hi Dirk, thank you for visiting. And yes I believe that the hands are interchangeable – here is a scan of a 1960’s parts list, and as you can see the hand sets listed are for the 02 and 09 calibres:
All the best to Berlin 🙂
Hey, that´s good news!
Your watch is likely from Kanezawa Division 金沢, rather than ‘West’ based on the Kanji 金局 .
Hi JS, thanks for visiting my blog – and for that information. I got ‘West’ from the original seller’s description when it was sold on Yahoo Japan. Stephen
I have one of these dating from 1968 and wear it regularly. It has a lovely charm and clarity to it, and keeps excellent time. One of my favourite watches!
Hi Clive sorry that I’ve only just approved your comment. One of my favourites too 🙂 Stephen