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're 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 May 1964 5719A/45899 mono-pusher chronograph for sale 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 intact - the one for sale here features an exact, quality bezel copy made by a known specialist in Paris (no cheap Feiko here!).
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 black leather strap, funky NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
May 1964 Seiko 5719A/45899 Mono-Pusher Olympic Chronograph
DIAL: Silver sunburst Seiko-signed dial with polished hour indices, evident patina; matching hour, minute, and second hands. Lume has aged beautifully.
CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 38mm (41mm w/crown) x 44.5mm. 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. The bezel is an exact, quality copy made by a known specialist in Paris - this is not a cheap aftermarket copy (these mono-pusher chronographs are entirely too uncommon for this!).
BAND: This 5719 comes a new black leather strap, with off-white/cream colored stitching and stainless-steel hardware. It also comes with a second funky nylon NATO strap, with stainless-steel hardware, which plays off the uncomplicated silver dial of the watch.
CRYSTAL: Domed acrylic crystal in excellent condition – no scratches or blemishes. That said, there exists a small crack on side of the crystal (not on the face) between 10 and 11 o'clock positions.
MOVEMENT: Seiko 5719A 21-jewel manual-wind mechanical movement, which beats at 18,000 BPH and produced in May 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, almost certainly from a 1964 Seiko 6217-7000, which is rather close - but not exact - in appearance to the original.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHER: Mono-pusher depresses with satisfying click, no stick. Chronograph hand snaps back and resets to zero with no issue.