Seiko's first Olympic Watch and First ever chronograph
2020 is a challenging year for the world, especially for the economy of Japan. The Olympic game always has a strong economic meaning for Japanese, as its a showcase of how mature the economy of a country is and also a dose of adrenalin into the country's development speed. As Japan is in full speed preparing for their second Olympic Game in Tokyo this year, the Coronavirus hits the world was shocking infection speed and have driven the world into a chaotic situation.
P.S. Dear readers, please Stay Home and Stay Safe.
The Japanese government finally decided to delay the Olympic Games to 2021. While the delay will surely bring a huge economic impact to the economy of Japan, it also means that all watch lovers will need to wait one more year till the watch companies announce their limited edition watches for the Olympics. Therefore, we decided to bring us travel back in time to the year Tokyo hosted their first Olympic game 1964.
The 1964 Tokyo Olympics served as a celebration of Japan’s reemergence onto the world stage as a first-tier world economic power after the world war two. It shows the world how fast Japan can recover from the war and build sufficient traction on its economic development. The game is a catalyst for a hugely ambitious program of infrastructure modernization including the Tokaido Shinkansen, the construction of subway and highway networks across the Tokyo Metropolitan area and the modernization of Haneda International Airport. And of course, it is a catalyst for Japanese domestic watchmaking companies. Seiko as the official timekeeper for the 1964 Olympic, has lots to catch up with the standard as they have no official experience in sports event timekeeping.
Work started in 1961 with each of the three Seiko divisions taking on different responsibilities for the project.
The large timing instruments were the responsibility of the Seikosha Clock Factory together with the Suwa division for the printing timers for cycling, modern pentathlon and equestrian events.
The Suwa division was responsible for crystal chronometers.
The crystal chronometers was an epic technical breakthrough by Seiko. In 1959, Seiko's quartz clock was 2.1 m high and as big as a wardrobe, with just four years of development, they have developed this new quartz chronometer just 20cm high and portable for any event in the 1964 Olympic. Combined with a digital quartz stop clock, a digital printing timer, and an electric scoreboard, this device allowed the SEIKO timing team to use electronic systems for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games.
The Daini Seikosha took on the development of stopwatches, electronic timing instruments for swimming and printing timers for rowing, canoeing, swimming and athletics events.
But the highlight of today is the watch Seiko made for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Game. Their first ever chronograph watch Seiko Crown ref. 45899: a one pusher chronograph watch. It was powered by the 12-ligne, hand-wound Caliber 5719. The salient features of this 6.1mm-thick movement included a single button to trigger the chronograph’s functions, horizontal coupling, and a column wheel to control the start, stop and return-to-zero functions. The black bezel on the watch indicate the seconds of a minute, unlike other chronograph watches, no tachymeter bezel was found showing the watch is for recording time only.
The case back was engraved with a Tokyo Olympic 1964 Logo, it makes this watch even more collectible.
The Olympic Game, started Seiko's technical development on chronograph technology and brought us legendary watches including the 6139 and 6138 which developed soon after this single pusher chronograph watch. We are looking forward to the development this Olympic Game will bing to the Japanese watchmaking industry. Surely we will keep you all posted.
Thank you and see you next week!