First thing to mention is that this is not a Tamiya product. No maker is mentioned anywhere on the outside or inside of the case, on the lanyard, on the plain white box, or on the rather poorly printed A6 size instruction sheet.
Internet sources suggest that these were a promotional item from the Beatties (“Beatties of London”, but they seem to have the most nostalgic appeal to those from the English North & Midlands) toy chain as part of Tamiya RC “deal” packages, possibly just on harder to shift buggies, and probably just for a short while in the very early 1990s.
Collectability And Value
Compared to the apparent collectability of the Beatties holdalls (several versions of which exist, from the earliest blue with white trim & print examples, to multiple later black with yellow trim & print varieties), these stopwatches don’t seem to get much love.
That most nebulous of words, “rare”, can be applied, but I’m not sure they’re sought after. I paid 7.50 GBP (posted) for mine over 10 years ago, and the one sold most recently on eBay UK went for just under 22 GBP (posted). The one before that, a more impressive 40 GBP.
I didn’t feel mine was that accurate, drifting by a minute or so a year, but apparently that’s not bad for cheap digital mechanisms.
The Casio F91W for example, which is considered a byword for accuracy on a budget (thanks to it allegedly being the watch of choice for, ahem, a “certain group” - although that may have more to do with its price and availability) is claimed by the manufacturer to have an accuracy of up to +/- 30 seconds a month.
The Tamiya Sports Timer boasts, if that’s the right word:
- Hours (either 24 hour, or 12 hour with an additional “A” or “P”), minutes, seconds in “Time” mode, with a bar over the day of the week;
- Day, month and date in “calendar” mode;
- Stopwatch with split & gap timer;
- A rather quiet (and basic) “beep beep … beep beep” alarm;
- plus time/date and alarm setting modes.
I’m positive I managed to engage an annoying (especially as the accuracy drifted over a number of years) hourly chime function – but have not managed to duplicate it since changing the battery after the first time, and it’s not in the instruction sheet.
Note that the “gap” timer seems to be an awkward afterthought, and enabling/disabling the alarm is undocumented (press & hold the “C” button and press the “B” button when in “time” mode).
In fact, using the thing in general is a bit of a faff, not helped by the instructions referring to the buttons as “A”, “B” and “C”, and having them arranged “C”, “A” and “B” from left to right on the timer itself.
There is a rubber seal on the inside of the case, but water resistance and/or waterproofness is not stated. There is no form of illumination.
Who Made It?
It’s not clear who made these stopwatches, most likely they were generic Chinese made items, tampo printed with whatever their customer desired, either by the original manufacturers or a third party that specialise in personalisation.
It’s very likely to be cheap copy of a Casio 3-button stopwatch as I found any number of 3-button units – some even have the same display and case, usually just moulded in a different colour & branded differently, though some have different (easier) battery access.
Apparently not much has moved on in the world of cheap promotional stopwatches, as the current “810012” model has the same case moulded in yellow with a slightly different display, and is sold unbranded with a “SPORT” inlay on the lanyard adjuster, and also under a variety of brand names (commonly “Sper Scientific”), at anywhere between 6 GBP and 15 USD.
The Fisher Scientific M-803153-3784 on the other hand has a more rounded shape & is moulded in grey with black and orange highlights, but has the same 3-button layout and appears to have the same display, and a whopping price tag of 55 USD. It may well be the same movement too, as a .01% tolerance is claimed for it. It’s an odd way of expressing it, but anyway: there are 84600 seconds in a day, so that equates to + or - 8.46 seconds in a day, which is frankly poor for any digital timer, especially a “scientific” one – although it should be noted that figure is the worst it could be, and it should do better in practice.
No maker is mentioned inside the case either, but what I would assume to be the production date is badly stamped across the sounder on the inside back of the case – “9 SEP 199” here, with the final digit missing due to the different levels, but surely 1990 something.
It takes an LR54 cell, for a good quality one you can expect 4 to 5 years of operation. It’s not the easiest thing to get at, requiring 4 screws to be removed to split the case, then some delicate winkling out of the old cell. The new one can easily (in comparison) be pushed in at an angle then popped down.
Rolling The Dice
It feels a little cheap, there’s no illumination, the alarm is too quiet, and it’s not particularly accurate – all about par for a value oriented digital stopwatch.
However, if you’re a massive Tamiya (or Beatties of London) fanboy, and your collection already has things like a huge flag, banner, illuminated sign or tote/carrier bags, then this is probably right up your alley – so overall I think it warrants a 4 out of 6 score.
Written by TB member Jonny Retro