Seven years ago, I had the opportunity to buy an historic and iconic Seiko watch, the Seiko Crown 5719 chronograph, also called the Seiko one button or the Seiko one push chronograph. I started to know a little more about this watch and published a first review on the French Forum A Montres. The limited edition of a tribute collection to the Seiko Crown 5719 in 2020 by the Seiko company and the perspective of the coming Tokyo Olympic games in July 2021 seemed to me a quite good opportunity to dust off and update this article. In fact, it turned to be a real job for there were a lot to enhance. I hope you’ll have a good time reading what’s following. Or you can also just look at the pictures…
A few history: back to the 60’s
1960. Four years before the Summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo, the SEIKO firm tackled the challenge of becoming its official timekeeper. The goal was reached in 1962, when the company presented its project to the the Belgrade technical commission, who was in charge of choosing the official future Olympic games timekeeper. Capitalizing on the technical success of the 1959 “project 59A”, Seiko presented the “Seiko Crystal Chronometer” CQC-951, a very innovative timing system which convinced the Commission.
It was the beginning of the quartz revolution, that will change forever the watchmaking industry. The Astron, the first quartz wristwatch in history would come a few years, but however, would not be available to the public before December 25, 1969 at a production rythme of 10 copies per month. As expensive at that time as a Toyota automobile I have read …
To read: the CQC-951 presentation on Timezone
1963. Only one but essential event worth mentioning: by birth
1964. Opened by Emperor Hirohito, the Tokyo Summer Olympics games (October 10 to 24, 1964) were strategic for the country, and rich in symbols: they were the first games to take place in Asia and the torchbearer, Yoshinori Sakai, had been chosen because of his date of birth, August 6, 1945, the day of the bombing of Hiroshima. For Japan, these games were to demonstrate that the country had recovered from the war and was, once again, one of the world’s greatest powers.
SEIKO supplied 1278 timing devices for games. It was the end of the timekeeper’s “batteries” at the finish line.
This watch has been declined in several configurations, on which we will come back later. However, there are two main models: the 5717 (date) and the 5719 (no date). As you can guess on the catalog extract below, the 5717 was more qualitative than the 5719… and much more expensive: 12,500 Yens for the 5717, 8,500 Yens for the second. A gap of “only” 47% ! A that time, the average monthly revue for a japanese employee was about 37,500 Yens. Just to say these watches were not affordable for everyone.
You will have noticed, just below the 5717 and 5719 pictures, the famous first Japanese dive watch, the Seiko 6217.
I found multiple ways of qualifying this kind of chronograph: “one button”, “stop chronograph”, “mono-pusher”, “one push”, “stop second” and, of course, “chronostop” for the famous Omega that has been the official chronometer during the Pan American Games of Winnipeg in 1967, as during the Grenoble and Mexico Olympics games in 1968. All these names evoke that the three chronographic functions, start, stop and reset, are performed with a single push button located at 2 o’clock.
As far as I’m concerned, even if it’s not the most sophisticated (you can’t measure intermediary times), this is the most comfortable configuration for a wristwatch chronograph. Indeed, the button at 2 o’clock comes naturally under the index. It’s not the case when using your thumb to reset the chrono on a two pushers watch: you need at least to turn your hand.
Let’s end here the cultural and historical considerations. I don’t want to bore you… and I am, most of all, afraid that you will run away ! Just one last precision: the “crown” qualifier of this watch refers to its elder, the 1959 “Crown” Seiko watch, that made its reputation with its high precision.
My Chronograph: the SEIKO 5719 8992
This watch measures 38mm in diameter, 49mm lug to lug, 19mm lug width, 12mm thick.
The dial is silvery white with iridescent reflections, which are difficult to catch in a picture. The dauphine hands are well balanced and readable, with a good surface of luminescent paste. The very fine tachometer hand is made of steel, and monochrome. A questionable design choice, in my opinion, for a chrono supposed to promote the SEIKO’s know-how at the time of the Olympics: the hand movement is indeed a bit difficult to follow and to read when measuring the time, due to the lack of contrast. It is probably no coincidence that I have found configurations with a black hand, which is undoubtedly more readable. The watch is very bright and alive, thanks to the faceted indexs. The black bezel contributes to highlight the luminous dial.
A few details
The indexs are in relief, applied. Their 2 facets continuously project reflections that illuminate and bring the dial to life. For the night reading purpose, they are coupled with square luminescent points, underlined by a black and very “chic” painted edge. During my informations search, I also found round luminescent dots, without edge, on both the 5719 and the 5717. The steel indexs of the SEIKO 5717 have a different shape, bevelled on 4 sides.
The above photo highlights the iridescent reflections of the dial and the slight relief formed by the tachometric scale. Depending on the SEIKO Crown version, we find the latter in black print on a white background as on the picture, or white on a black background.
2. The bezel
The bidirectional bezel is made of steel with a black aluminum insert. The SEIKO 5719 was fitted with 2 bezels: the original one, in black plastic, which proved not to be very resistant to wear and friction, was replaced by a steel bezel with a black insert like mine. The 5717 was fitted with an engraved solid steel bezel with black engraved inscriptions, much more resistant and qualitative.
Below close-up of the three kinds of bezel: plastic, aluminum insert, steel.
3. The crown and the push button
Both the crown and the pusher, made of steel, have a quite unusual but very comfortable hollow face.
The aliasing of the crown is an echo to the original bezel design, with its characteristic flat segment, every 8 teeth, clearly visible on the steel bezel of the 5717 (top of the picture).
4. The lugs
Not much to tell about these lugs. They feature a beveled face, which is a quite common design on 60’s watches. Little reminder: 49mm lug to lug, 19mm lug width.
5. The caseback
The clipped caseback presents a characteristic engraving design that can be found on many SEIKOs of this period.
The serial number 881836 drives to the deduction of a production period around August 1968, if I have rightly understood the principle of dating of SEIKO watches: you have to know the decade of manufacture (60s for the 5719). Then the first number gives the year, the second the month (replaced by the first letter for the months of October, November, December which are 2 digits). The following correspond to the rank of manufacture. On this principle, mine should be the 1836th produced watch.
My caseback does not have any logo nor emblem. But during my investigation, I found various configurations. Here are the most common (Let’s keep a little suspens and a few suprises for later).
Asian Games logo
SEIKO Olympic Flame
According to the Seiko Branding dictionary on Watchuseek, The “SS” inscription could mean “Second Settings”. My hypothesis is that it could refer to the more common, “Stop Second” understanding. Technically speaking, this means that he second hands stops when you pull the crown to set the hour. This allows a perfect synchronisation with the minutes hand.
Check the SEIKO Crown Inventory for a comprehensive overview of
the 5717 an 5719 chronographs’ configuration
THE SEIKO 5719A CALIBER
A look at the movement
The SEIKO 5719A, the brand’s first mechanical caliber, is a column-wheel 3-stroke chronograph movement. The 3 chrono functions, start, stop and reset are controlled by a single push button.
I’m really fond of the design of this movement. At first glance it’s clean and aesthetic. It inspires solidity and reliability. The two different surface treatments of the bridges, striated and polished draw an interesting contrast with the raw metal of the mobile parts. The red painted and engraved letters bring the final and sportive touch to the whole.
The Movement parts
The above 2 pages gallery let you know the detail and references of the SEIKO 5717A movements spare parts. They are similar for the 5719 movement (date parts excepted). You can read on the first page (top right) the technical information: casing diameter 26,6mm; maximum height 45mm; vibration per hour 18,000 which is not very high. I would have expected a higher frequency for a sport chronograph. But anyway. To check my eggs cooking time, it’s more than enough!
How does it work ?
Now comes my favorite part of this article.
You will notice that the movement conception is quite simple and economical. Which often means solidity and reliability. The 2 steel wires act respectively as the pushrod and brake return spring for the first one, and as the clutch and hammer spring for the other. The second is held only by its constraint of “spring”. No screw.
All right. Let’s go further with an illustrated explanation of the three chronograph positions.  Zéro  Run  Stop
Step One. ZERO (Reset) position
Akira, judge on the final 100m race finish line is concentrated. He has been selected to be part of the official 1964 Olympic games judges! His whole family and his fiancée, Chihiro, perched in the stands, don’t take their eyes off him. He can’t disappoint them! His right hand is clenched on the Seiko brand knew and expensive chronograph with which he has been provided by the Olympic Games Organization…
In the “ZERO” position, the Chronograph is just waiting for being triggered. The clutch wheel, disengaged from the central chronograph, turns freely, driven by the central chronograph wheel (linked to the main wheels train of the movement).
Step two. RUN position
Only a few seconds left before the pistol shot. Akira’s hand is sweaty, his throat is dry, his hat keeps his head too hot, sweat beads on his forehead.. He has no right to make mistakes! The tension is at maximum. Pan! A clamor arises from the stadium as the runners set off. Akira’s index push he’s chronograph trigger. Run ! Run ! Run !
Pushing the trigger button has two simultaneous consequences:
- the brake and hammer noses climb on their respective columns. The opposite extremities move aside of the chronograph wheel and free it;
- the clutch nose falls between two columns. Under the action of the clutch spring, the clutch wheel makes contact with the chrono wheel and launches the tachymetric hand.
Step 3. STOP Position
All the judges’ heads are turned towards the runners who arrive from the left… or the right, depending on the picture (OK, I’m not proud of this one). Henrique Figuerola and Harry Jerome are neck and neck and run a perfect race. But today, Bob Hayes is the best ! He wins the race in 10.0 seconds. Akira has to wait 0.5 more seconds before crushing he’s chronograph stop button. Tom Robinson, wearing he 33 number, and who he was in charge to time out, is the last to cross the finish line…
The second activation of the chronograph leads the brake nose to fall between two columns. Simultaneously, the opposite side of this part, the brake side, comes into contact with the tachymetric wheel, and stop it. The user has now all he times he needs to take note of the measure.
Step 4. Reset
A last push : the hammer strikes the round side of the heart part of the chronographe wheel to reset. If motivated, you can now rewind to read again the step one picture comments.
Before going any further, take the time to watch this pretty cool video !
THE 2019 AND 2020 LIMITED PRESAGE SERIE
Seiko Chronograph 55th Anniversary SRQ03J1
In December 2019, 55 years after the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games, the Seiko company launched an homage and limited series to the 1964 Crown Tokyo Olympic games chronograph, in its Presage collection. The watch, under the SRQ031JI reference, was animated by the 2014 automatic 8R48 movement, and produced in only 1,000 pieces.
The Seiko SARX069
The 55th anniversary chronograph has been quickly followed by a more affordable watch, the SEIKO SARX069. It has been available in 3 variants: from left to right, the references SPB127J (white dial)1, SPB131J1 (black dial), SPB129J1 (grey dial). 1964 pieces were produced per color, in reference to the 1964 Tokyo Olymic games.
The automatic 6R35 caliber, with a 70h power reserve, was selected by the brand to give life to this watch
To be totally honest, despite the evident familiar design, this watch without any chronograph function doesn’t have the charm of its elder, and even more because of its 41 mm of diameter (far from the original 38mm!). Anyway, if I have had to choose, the grey dial version would have had my preference because this color offers something new and quite “select”.
Almost finished ! Stay a while…
I know, I know. If you’re reading this on your smartphone, crushed between two passengers in a crowded metro or bus, this reading may seem a bit long to you. Nevertheless, you might light the following.
Video presentation of the SEIKO 5718 chronograph
The 5718 is a collector graal. You will probably frenetically search about it on the web after having watched this video
Servicing of a SEIKO Crown 5717 8990
The illustrated servicing of a SEIKO 5717 by The Watch Bloke is really worth reading.
SEIKO News 1964 magazine Downloading
During my search about the Seiko crown, I unearthed these three 1964 Seiko magazines. They’re available bellow for up loading. Unfortunately, I didn’t take note of the original source. Sorry for that.
More pictures on Instagram
Do you want to see gorgeous pictures of vintage Seiko watches, and especially of the Seiko Crown 5719 ?
Follow the bertnet69 thread on Instagram, or check the #seiko5719 for a rich photos patchwork.
THE END ! I hope you spent a good time reading this.
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