Ricoh’s Automatic Watch Movements

Ricoh? Sure, they produce copiers, printers and cameras, but mechanical movements and watches? In fact, Ricoh was the number four Japanese manufacturer of self-developed mechanical watch movements, after Seiko, Citizen and Orient.

Ricoh World Timer, approx. 1970

Before we start with the watch movements, let’s have a little excursion into the history of Ricoh: it begins in 1936 with the founding of Riken Kankoshi Co. Ltd. As early as 1938 it became the Riken Optical Co. Ltd., which manufactured optical devices, including cameras. In 1963, it became Ricoh Co. Ltd., which is still active as a multinational corporation.

The origins of the watch division of Ricoh, however, come from another Japanese company, the Takano Seimitsu Kogyo Co., which was founded in 1938.

About Takano and their movements, I have already reported here in detail: Takano, the Phantom Japanese Watch Manufacturer

On May 8, 1962, the president of Riken Optical Co. Ltd. took office as president of Takano. In August 1962, Takano Seimitsu Kogyo Co. became Ricoh Tokei Co. Ltd., which, being renamed again to Ricoh Elemex Corporation in 1986, still exists today.

Now, this is about the automatic watch movements of Ricoh. A short time ago, I still thought that there are only two variants, the Ricoh 61 for men’s watches and the 251 for ladies’ watches.

The reality, however, is much more complex. There were not only different types of these two movements, which also have different caliber numbers, but also quite different families of movements.

The decisive clues to the Ricoh watch movement families and their variants were provided by the 2019 published book 森年樹: 国産腕時計タカノ・リコー (Domestic Watches: Takano・Ricoh), トンボ出版 (Dragonfly Publishing), Year: 2019, ISBN 9784887161191. Unfortunately, this book is only available in Japanese!

Here we will focus on the automatic movements of Ricoh, so let the hand-wound ones aside. I was able to identify the following automatic movement families from Ricoh:

The Ricoh 54 Series

The first automatic movements from Ricoh use the Takano caliber 544, which was supplemented in 1962 with an automatic module. The family includes three variants, which have the following features in common:

  • Size: 12 3/4´´´ (French lignes, 1 ligne = 2.26 mm)
  • Beat rate: 18.000 bph (beats per hour)
  • Hour, minute, sweep second
  • Rotor with ball bearings

Caliber Year Jewels Date Day Shock protection Remarks
54610 1963 33 KIF 210 Trior Ball bearing rotor with metal balls
54710 1962 33 X KIF 210 Trior Ball bearing rotor with metal balls
54722 1962 45 X   KIF Flector Ball bearing rotor with ruby balls

Here we have a 54710 in a Ricoh Dynamic Auto:

Ricoh Dynamic Auto
Ricoh Caliber 54710

These movements are, to my knowledge, not labeled with the caliber number, but they can easily be compared to other Ricoh movements by the shape of the balance cock, the position of the balance in relation to the winding stem, the functions (day yes/no) and the number of jewels ( 33/45).

The Ricoh 1200 series

This family of works does not seem to have a Takano base, so it was probably created under the aegis of Ricoh. This family also includes three variants which have the following features in common:

  • Size: 11 1/2´´´ (French lignes)
  • Beat rate: 18.000 bph (beats per hour)
  • Hour, minute, sweep second
  • Rotor without ball bearings

Caliber Year Jewels Date Day Shock protection Remarks
1216 1963 21 KIF 210 Trior
1217 1963 21 X KIF 210 Trior
1218 1964 21 X X KIF 210 Trior,
Monorex

Here a caliber 1218 in a Ricoh Auto Deluxe:

Ricoh Auto Deluxe 8
Ricoh Caliber 1218

These movements are easily recognized by the balance bridge (two attachment points) instead of a balance cock (a point of attachment). Together with the functions (date/day), these calibers can be distinguished, since these movements are not marked with the caliber number.

The Ricoh 2000 series

Again, a new family of movements, of which there are only two versions that have the following features in common:

  • Size: 12 3/4´´´ (French lignes)
  • Beat rate: 18.000 bph (beats per hour)
  • Hour, minute, sweep second
  • Rotor without ball bearings, but with a ruby bearing

Caliber Year Jewels Date Day Shock protection Remarks
2337 1964 33 X KIF 210 Trior
2338 1964 33 X X KIF 210 Trior

 

These movements were used in watches named Ricoh Punch and Ricoh Auto Just. They seem to be quite rare though.

Ricoh Punch with caliber 2337
Ricoh caliber 2337
Ricoh Auto Just with caliber 2338

Based on the rounded shape of the balance cock and the function (date / day), these movements are very easy to identify.

The Ricoh 30 series

THE automatic family of Ricoh, as movements from this family are most often found in Ricoh watches. Unfortunately, this family has many members, which are visually hardly distinguishable from each other.

But let’s first look at the similarities of these movements:

  • Size: 12 3/4´´´ (French lignes)
  • Beat rate: 18.000 bph (beats per hour)
  • Hour, minute, sweep second
  • Rotor with ball bearings

Caliber Year Jewels Date Date fast
correction
Day Day
fast
correction
Shock protection Remarks
30 1966 21, 25
X Pull crown
Outer or inner ring
Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
31 1966 21, 25, 28, 30 X Pull crown Outer or inner ring Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
32
 1966 21
X
Repeatedly move hour hand backwards and forwards over 0h? Inner ring, but day name spelled out
Monorex  Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
33
1967
35
X
Push button
Outer ring
X
Monorex
Rotor with slit and heavy metal rim, ball bearings with ruby balls
 34 1966
30
X
Push button
Outer ring
Monorex  Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with ruby balls 
36
?
 17 X
Pull crown Outer ring
Monorex  Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls 
38
?
17
X
Pull crown Outer ring
Monorex  Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
 39 1966
21, 30
X
Pull crown Inner ring, but day name spelled out
Monorex  Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
40
1970?
21
X
Pull crown Outer ring
Monorex New Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
41
1970?
21
X
Pull crown Inner ring
Monorex New Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
42
 1968 26
 X  Push button
Outer ring X
Monorex Rotor with slit and heavy metal rim, ball bearings with ruby or metal balls
44
1966
21
X
Pull crown

Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
48
?
21
X
Pull crown

Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
49
1968
30
X
Pull crown Outer or inner ring
Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
50
?
30
X
Pull crown X
Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
 61 1970
21
X
 Push button
Outer or inner ring
Monorex New
Rotor with slit and heavy metal rim, ball bearings with metal balls 
63
?
25
X
Pull crown X
Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
65
?
25
X
Pull crown X
Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
66
?
28
X
Pull crown Inner ring

Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
67
1970?
30
X
Push button
Inner ring
Monorex Rotor with slit and heavy metal rim, ball bearings with ruby balls
68
1970
35
X
Push button
X
X
Monorex Rotor with slit and heavy metal rim, ball bearings with ruby balls
71
?
30
X
Pull crown Inner ring
Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
72
1969
28
X
Pull crown X

Monorex Massive rotor
without slit,
Ball bearings with metal balls
74 1969
26
X
Push button
X
X
Monorex Rotor with slit and heavy metal rim, ball bearings with  metal balls
75 ?
21
X
Push button
Inner ring
Monorex New
Rotor with slit and heavy metal rim, ball bearings with metal balls, day/date always at 6H instead of 3H?
84 1969
21
X
Pull crown X

Monorex Rotor with slit and heavy metal rim, ball bearings with metal balls

Initially, all the movements of the 30 series were equipped with a Monorex shock protection. Around 1970, this was replaced by the Monorex New.

left: Monorex, right: Monorex New

Here are the two different variants of the rotor:

Left: massive rotor without slit / Right: rotor with slit and heavy metal rim

Unfortunately, the unambiguous identification of these many variants is not always easy, since the movements are never labeled with the caliber number. The assignment with the table above is not always unique, so there are probably more details to consider, that I could not identify yet. Such a further feature could be the winding wheels of the automatic module, which (presumably) have holes in older movements, but none in newer variants:

Automatic winding wheels with / without holes

The good news is that the movements can very often be identified by the reference number on the caseback of the watch. This usually begins with the caliber number, occasionally it has a leading zero, so e. g. 61xxx or 061xxx:

The caliber 61 is by far the most common variant of this family. It can be found in the Ricoh World Timer shown at the very top and in this watch which dates around 1970:

Watch with Ricoh caliber 61

In the picture above you can see a push button at 2 o’clock, which serves to quickly adjust the date. For the day display, there is no quickset mechanism, so here the hands must be rotated clockwise until the correct day is displayed.

Ricoh 61

In the 1970s, Ricoh movements were also used in watches of the brand RonTic of the German silverware manufacturer Robbe & Berking. They were equipped with the caliber 67. I suspect that Ricoh produced the whole watch and did not only provide the movement.

RonTic Eurodata L with Ricoh 67
Ricoh 67

This watch also has a push button at 2 o’clock for quick adjustment of the date. Here the button lies so deep that he is not visible in the picture.

The Ricoh 67 has 30 jewels, of which nine are used as ball bearings of the rotor.

Ricoh 67 ball bearings with ruby balls

And another German manufacturer, Dugena, has used Ricoh movements as well:

Dugena-Matic with Ricoh 41

The Dugena 5400 is a Ricoh 41. The bottom of the dial of this watch is labeled with R41.

Dugena 5400 = Ricoh 41

In this movement, the quickset of the date is done by repeatedly pulling the crown, thus the caliber 41 does not need an extra push button for that.

Here you can see the difference between the two variants of the quickset mechanisms. The red arrow marks the position where the pusher attaches:

Date quickset: left with pusher, right by pulling the crown

By the way, there are also at least two members of the 30 series family with manual instead of automatic winding: the Ricoh 53 with date and day and the Ricoh 55 with date display only.

Now we have dealt with the automatic movements for men’s watches. But there are also two families of movements for ladies’ watches:

The Ricoh series 25

Movements for ladies’ watches that have the following features in common:

  • Size: 7 3/4´´´ (French lignes)
  • Beat rate: 21.600 bph (beats per hour)
  • Hour, minute, sweep second
  • Rotor without ball bearings

Caliber Year Jewels Date Day Shock protection Remarks
251 ~1975 21, 22 X Monorex New
259 ~1975 17 X Monorex New

Except for the number of jewels, these variants are technically identical. Without automatic module, the same movement base does also exist as manual winding calibers: the caliber 252 with date and the 253 without date.

Ricoh ladies’ watch with caliber Ricoh 251, 21 Jewels
Ricoh 251, 21 Jewels
Ricoh 251, 22 Jewels

At least the movement with 22 jewels is also available with a different rotor shape:

Ricoh 251, 22 Jewels, different rotor shape

The caliber number is not found anywhere on these movements, but as the beginning of the reference number on the caseback of the movement. In contrast to Ricoh’s series 30 family, the few variants of the series 25 can be easily distinguished.

The Ricoh series 29

Movements for ladies’ watches that were not developed by Ricoh but sourced from third-party manufacturers. Interestingly, Ricoh also used movements from Switzerland. It is striking that these ladies’ watches have both a date and day display. Ricoh did not have a self-developed ladies’ watch movement with both displays.

Caliber Size Year Jewels Date Day A/h Remarks
293 8´´´ ~1975? 17 X X 28.800 = Seiko 2906A
(Japan)
294 8 3/4´´´ ~1979? 17 X X 21.600 = AS 530.622
(Switzerland)

There may be more 29x movements belonging to this family.

Ricoh Caliber 293 = Seiko 2906A
Ricoh Caliber 294 = AS 530.622

Wie bei den Serien 30 und 25 findet sich auch hier die Ricoh-Kalibernummer meist nur als Beginn der Referenznummer auf dem Bodendeckel der Uhr:

As with the series 30 and 25, the Ricoh caliber number is usually only found as the beginning of the reference number on the caseback of the watch:

Caseback with reference number 294…

Back to the starting point of this article, which started with the assumption that there are only two different automatic movements from Ricoh, the caliber 61 for men’s watches and the 251 for ladies’ watches. Now we have identified six movement families with a total of 38 variants. Admittedly, the variants of the 30 series family, to which the caliber 61 belongs, often differ only in trifles.

But I suspect that there are more variants of the Ricoh movements in the 30 and 29 series!

 

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