Many may not know that it was Seiko who launched the worlds first Quartz wristwatch in 1969 in Japan...the 35 series Astron.
Only a 100 pieces were available and at an astronomical retail price of 450,000 yen, equal to that of a medium sized Toyota of the time.
It is evident though that Seiko rushed these to launch in an effort to beat the swiss.
They were, in reality, no more than lab prototypes and had major issues from the outset.
I always wonder what would have happened if the Swiss had done the same, would quartz have ended up as dominant in overall sales?
Because of this, many consider that the CEH developed Beta 21 was in fact the world first production Quartz.
CEH was set up in around 68, with 20 major Swiss brands of the time signed up.
Though only 18 would launch models with the beta 21 in 1970, the Omega Electroquartz and the Rolex 5100 Oysterquartz being the most well known I expect.
The others, including Patek Philippe, IWC, Bucherer, are barely seen now if ever, and I suspect many of the others never really put any effort into marketing and sales.
In fact several were already developing their own quartz movements, or were to ditch the idea all together.
Despite the arguments of who was really first, it should be noted that it was Seiko who created the first production Quartz with a stepper motor that would eventually become the model for the majority of future quartz.
The brilliant but flawed Astron was followed in 1970 by the 35SQW ( 1800 units ) coming from the Suwa factory, paralleled with the 36 series ( 1000 units ), consisting of 5 cals from the Daini factory.
The development of the quartz models very much mirrored that of the mechanicals with each factory producing different calibres side by side.
Next came the 38 series, launched in 1971, and IMO is the first proper mass produced quartz calibres from Seiko.
My example from 1972 , is a 3823 VFA model rated at -/+ 5spm and was priced at 150,000 yen. Compare this to the most expensive mechanical Seiko watch in 1971, a GS VFA which cost a mere 100,000 yen in comparison. Though still a third of the cost of the original Astron from 3 yrs previous.
The movement is 7 jeweled and of a TC type, with a small stepping motor and external coil.
(Note the jeweled backlash pawl in the last pic.)
Seiko spared no expense on development nor the build quality for these early quartz models which featured all the details that the High-end mechnicals did... indices are applied, the crystal has a AR coating.
The VFA tag, standing for Very Fine Adjustment was reserved for only the very finest of Seikos models at the time, as they were considered Superior to all the others, and indeed VFA was soon dropped in favour of the tag Superior to identify these models.
It is worth noting that some models featurning this calibre do not have VFA on the dial, the reason for this is not known to me.
This particual version is a 7000 case, and is opened through the bezel. The movement is locked in by an internal ring that is slid round, its a very well engineered design which was made to last and was well sealed, as proven by the amazing condition of the inside and movement.
The costs of developing the early quartz calibres was huge, though in the next decades most of the companies involved would reap the rewards as the tech got more affordable enabling the accuracy benefits of the quartz watch to become available to almost all
Much Info gleaned from various sources on the internet. I have cross referneced it so hope it is relatively accurate.