Classic Swiss

Lanco Electronic – The Quick Fix in the Face of The Japanese Invasion

I’m a sucker for project watches. Something lying in a drawer, in need of TLC, or simply unloved, slightly dusty and PX-ed in the shop against something shiny n new-ish.

This Lanco Electronic was a mystery to me, so I took a chance having shaken the watch and seen a few seconds of ticking from the second hand, before it fell lifeless again. Cash offer accepted. But the owner said it needed a battery – odd, I thought, as it said antimagnetic on the caseback, so there was a balance wheel in there. How could a watch need both battery and a balance assembly fettling?

Hmmm, intriguing as a case for Jason King and Department S you may say.

Lanco electronic 1

OK, back at the ranch and I prised the back off, only to see a bizarre arrangement of electronic calculator parts, plus a chunky balance assembly and circlip type adjustment lever, similar to an Omega. Interesting.

Ten minutes Google clicking later I discovered this Electronic was launched in the mid-1970s, no doubt to help the Tissot/Lanco empire strike back against the Seiko/Casio guys busily taking the world watch market by storm with digital models.

But there’s no quartz crystal being vibrated in the Lanco, instead an electronic impulse tells the balance to get busy and the circuit board wizardry sees to the accuracy of the time. A gentle clean up ensued, and to be honest, I didn’t fancy taking it apart as resistors and wires bore me to tears, plus I know bog-all about them, having ditched physics at school in favour of art after the third year. The physics teacher had extremely hairy hands, and it put me off frankly…but that’s another story.

pixl lanco 2

So, long story short, I slotted in a 395 battery and away it went. Magic. Just spinning like a top and happy a sLarry after about 40 years. Bloody marvellous. One new strap and a set of pins later and she’s looking good. Not a museum piece in A1 condition, but a fine example of a rare watch that’s part of the Swiss industry’s roller-coaster story during the supersonic Seventies.

Yours for a mere £75. Probably cost almost that much back in the day. There y’go, not every Swiss watch is a fantastic long term investment. No, some wristwatches are just for fun, and you buy them because you like the look of its shape-shifting browny-gold dial, and the word `Electronic’ emblazoned on it, shouting to the world that Lanco were suddenly hip, with-it, getting on down with Kool and The Gang. Hell yeah.

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