Type 38RW was the first quartz railway watch produced by Seiko. It was only offered in 1976 and failed to gain adoption. Instead, Seiko's mechanical Type 61RW was replaced by the quartz Type 75RW in 1980.
Seiko had produced railway watches since 1929, with the Type 19 becoming famous across Japan and seen in every railway cabin. It had been updated over the years, notably from 7 to 15 jewels and with hacking seconds, but was outdated by the 1970s. The Type 19 was discontinued in November, 1971. In 1972, Seiko began producing a railway watch using Cal. 6110A, and this was the standard until 1980.
As Seiko gained confidence in their quartz movements, they began developing a railway watch. The result was the 38RW, which used Cal. 3870. This was a descendant of Seiko's first mass-market quartz movement and represented a significant upgrade to the 21,600 A/h mechanical Type 61RW. Accuracy was rated at +/- 10 seconds per month.
The Type 38RW was not adopted by the National Railway, however, and production soon ended. Seiko turned to the new Cal. 7550A in the Type 75RW for their next quartz railway watch, and this would replace the Type 61RW soon after introduction in March, 1978.