1964 marked the resurgence of a post-war Japan onto the world stage as a first-rate economic power, most readily apparent in Tokyo hosting the Summer Olympics that same year. Seiko – despite having no prior experience in sports timing (much to Heuer’s chagrin, we are sure) – was named the official timekeeper, and began research and development in preparation for the games in 1961.
As part of Seiko’s R&D, and to commemorate its upcoming role in the summer games, it developed several advanced wristwatches for the Olympics, such as the December 1964 5717-8990 mono-pusher chronograph here – of rather important historical note, this was Seiko’s first chronograph…ever!
The 5717 was released for a short period of time during and after the Olympics, and then discontinued. Seiko also released concurrently another variant of the 5717, the 5719; the ultra rare 5718 (the ultimate grail of most Seiko collectors); and its first World Time GMT, Ref 6217-7000 - all for for the Olympics. Never one to pass up on an advertising opportunity, Seiko naturally advertised and associated the 571x and GMTs with the games.
Seiko’s 5719 chronograph is powered by a smoothly operating column-wheel movement and operated by a single mono-pusher, which starts, stops, and resets the sweeping-seconds hand – while minutes are timed on the rotating bezel.
Of historical note, according to the Official Report of the Organizing Committee for the Games of the XVIII Olympiad 1964, 50 “Seiko Crown Chronographs” were presented as commemorative Torch Relay gifts. While the record doesn’t specify Seiko model numbers, it’s an easy assessment to make that the watches presented were likely the 5717, like the one on offer here. As such, it is an important piece of history with a place in any sophisticated collection.
This Seiko 5717 comes with a leather rally strap, nylon NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1964 Seiko 5717-8990 Mono-Pusher Olympic Chronograph
DIAL: Silver sunburst Seiko-signed dial with polished hour indices,; dolphin hour, minute, and second hands.
CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 38mm (41mm w/crown) x 44.5mm, with the Seiko seahorse logo faintly present on case back. Bezel remains intact and in great condition, with all black highlights highly visable.
BAND: This 5717 comes a brown leather rally strap, with off-white/cream colored stitching and stainless-steel hardware. It also comes with a dark blue and gray nylon NATO strap.
CRYSTAL: Domed acrylic crystal in excellent condition – no scratches or blemishes.
MOVEMENT: Seiko 5717 21-jewel manual-wind mechanical movement, which beats at 18,000 BPH and produced in December 1964; this was one of the first of this model to be produced. The 5717 movements are a column wheel type, with drive engaged and disengaged by a coupling wheel, as opposed to the vertical clutch that Seiko favored with its later chronographs (such as the famed 6139).
CROWN: Unsigned crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHER: Mono-pusher depresses with satisfying click, no stick. Chronograph hand snaps back and resets to zero with no issue.