The Seiko Quartz LC Chronograph wasn’t my first watch. It was my first computer. Unlike my eventual Apple II, the Japanese digital watch didn’t overheat, crash or confuse me. There’s the time, day and date. M’kay? Here’s how the chrono function works . . .
Press the crown. The right button starts or stops the stopwatch. The left button gives you a lap time or resets the chrono. Press the crown again to return to your regularly scheduled wristwatch. Fifteen seconds messing around with the buttons and you’re good to go. Talk about Tempus fugit.
To master most of today’s G-SHOCKs you have to set aside some serious YouTube time. And when I say “master” I’m talking about people on the spectrum (no diss intended). The rest of us end up in sub-menu hell, never fully utilizing the G’s capabilities. On the other hand, there’s the Apple Watch’s no-brainer tech. You tell Siri what to do and call it good.
Despite this great leap forward, the Seiko Quartz LC Chronograph remains relevant. It’s still a brilliant stopwatch, superior to any four or five-handed chronograph. You can time an event within a tenth of a second and immediately see the result – without peering through a forest of watch hands. It’s as practical today as it was twenty-three years ago.
The LC Quartz Chronograph reminds us that the past sometimes was a better, simpler time. That said, the LC’s simplicity was more a matter of technology than marketing. Feature creep hit the LC series hard – new models added an alarm, world time, calendar, and, most famously, a miniature calculator.
The LC’s bracelet is another design element that’s stood the test of time (so to speak). Proudly stamped “all stainless steel Japan,” the LC’s wraps around your wrist for a secure fit. NOMOS’ new sports bracelet perfects the old Seiko’s window shutter design. Seiko’s automatic diver’s rubber strap makes you wonder when S&M replaced R&D.
The weak light on the Quartz LC Chronograph’s left side is my only quibble. That and the fact that it’s a digital watch. Just as my 16-year-old finds it difficult to read a clock, I have trouble with digital timekeeping. I can’t mentally process 10:56 as quickly or intuitively as eyeballing the big hand’s progress around the 60-minute pie.
I’m delighted to have “my” Seiko Quartz LC Chronograph back on my wrist. The pleasure is part nostalgia, part respect for Seiko’s horological history. But it mostly come from my appreciation of the LC’s minimalist design.
The LC chrono has the same no-frills aesthetic that draws me to retro-Casios and three-handed watches. Back to the future? As French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Seiko Quartz LC Chronograph (M159-5029)
Price: From $100 to $200 (excellent condition) from eBay, etc.
Date of manufacture: 1977
Case: Silver stainless steel
Dial: Digital display
Lug Width: 20mm
Band: Stainless steel deployment buckle
Weight: 2.7 ozs.
Functions: Chronograph, Backlight, Day/Date
RATINGS (out of five stars)
Design * * * * *
With the branding and user’s guide writing stacked neatly above the rectangular screen (within a rectangular case) and two buttons below, the LC is almost Amish in its simplicity. And almost as beautiful as Kelly McGilles (back in the day).
Legibility * * *
The LC’s LCD read-out is legible perfection during the day. At night, the weak light (by the left of the screen) doesn’t git ‘er done.
Tactility * * * * *
The buttons are a standout. Literally, making for confident stopwatch regulation.
Comfort * * * * *
When it comes to the LC’s stainless steel, multi-slat bracelet, “they don’t make them like they used to” is wistful truth, not wishful thinking. The bracelet provides a perfect wrap-around-the-wrist fit for a featherweight companion.
Overall * * * * *
Seiko’s groundbreaking LC Chronograph is a nothing-but-the-facts-M’am practical timepiece. Still.