This Singular Seiko Vintage Reference Points To Japan’s Incredible Olympic History
It was a punch in the gut to fulfill executives’ desire to become a truly global brand. Shortly after the 1960 Rome Olympics, Seiko made preparations for the ’64 Games a top priority, with extensive engineering, production of many timepieces, clocks, and replica watches, and a thorough marketing effort to promote Seiko worldwide. plus9time’s Anthony Kable’s excellent analysis of the various timing devices involved in the ’64 Olympics is well worth a read.
While anything related to Seiko and the ’64 Summer Olympics is well worth collecting, there is one single reference that takes the gold medal in terms of desirability, and that is the Seiko 5718-8000 Counter Chronograph. What makes this watch stand out is its unusual feature of a two-digit counter at 12 o’clock controlled by two pushers on the left side of the case. The button at 10 o’clock advances the counter by one digit and the one at 7 o’clock advances the counter by a full 10 digits. This is a unique feature, and the only Seiko watch with this complication.
The 5718-8000 uses Seiko’s first chronograph movement, the 5719, and adds the complication to it. 5719 is known as the Crown Chronograph. According to the book “History of the Seiko Quick Timer” written by Sadao Ryugo, it was not Toshihiko Ohki, the father of the Crown Chronograph, who added the complication to the 5719 movements, thus creating the Olympic timer, but his superior Tsuneyoshi Ono.
The fake watch was made in very limited numbers. Exact production figures do not exist, but expert Erik Strickland, who owns two 5718s – the executive version with silver and gray dials – speculates that there were about 100 of them. It was only sold for 15 days, so there would not have been a large production run.
Strickland has both known executions, but finding them won’t be easy.” Diligence and time – it took about three years for the charcoal set – to check the saved searches and stay engaged,” he said of his hunt.” It sounds long, but when you’re hunting a bunch of stuff and learning, the time doesn’t really drag.” Two of his examples were shot for this story.
For him, the replica watch represents not only years of searching, but one of Seiko’s most thoughtful designs.” The chronograph hands are a different color than the running hands and have more contrast with the dial, so you read them first. White on gray, black on white. Designers often get this wrong. Also, any time you look at it, some polished hand, applied detail, or angled track will catch the light. In a way, it was the grand rise of Japan on the global stage, and for Seiko, it was the time when the brand became the “Seiko of the World” as we know it today.