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 freshly full serviced July 1964 5719A/45899 mono-pusher chronograph here – of rather important historical note, this was Seiko’s first chronograph…ever!
The 5719 was released for a short period of time during and after the Olympics, and then discontinued. Seiko also released concurrently another variant of the 5719, the 5717; 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. Early 5719 examples – like the one we have for sale here – are more desirable, as they featured an embossed Olympic torch on the caseback to celebrate the Seiko role in the Summer Games. 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. Although the mono-pusher design was both efficient and easy to use, it remains rather difficult to find clean, original examples with the plastic bezel not worn down or even present at all - and the one for sale here features just that, an intact bezel in great legible condition.
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 5719, like the one on offer here. As such, it is an important piece of history with a place in any sophisticated collection.
This Seiko 5719 comes with a leather rally strap, nylon NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
July 1964 Seiko 5719A/45899 Mono-Pusher Olympic Chronograph
DIAL: Silver sunburst Seiko-signed dial with polished hour indices,; dolphin hour, minute, and second hands. Lume is original and has aged beautifully.
CASE: Original 38mm (41mm w/crown) x 44.5mm stainless steel case. Olympic torch commemorating the 1964 games, while faded (as happened frequently with these), remains visible – the 1964 Summer Olympics were held in Tokyo from October 10th to 24th, and later 5719 caseback’s featured the Seiko seahorse design or several other similar designs. Original bezel remains intact and in great condition, with all white highlights highly visable.
BAND: This 5719 comes a brown leather rally strap, with off-white/cream colored stitching and stainless-steel hardware. It also comes with a dark blue and orange nylon NATO strap.
CRYSTAL: Domed acrylic crystal in excellent condition – no scratches or blemishes.
MOVEMENT: Seiko 5719A 21-jewel manual-wind mechanical movement, which beats at 18,000 BPH and produced in July 1964; this was one of the first of this model to be produced. The 5719 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.