I open this present entry by paraphrasing the introduction to a post I made in June 2015 entitled A Kind of Blue. That post concerned the revival of a Seiko 5-branded 6119-8083 and for reasons that remain a mystery to me, is one of the most popular articles in this blog. In that introduction, I noted that the Seiko 5 sub-brand was conceived originally in 1963 to have 5 key attributes:
- Automatic winding
- Day/date displayed in a single window
- Water resistance
- Recessed crown at the 4 position
- Durable case and bracelet.
The introduction of the ‘5 Sports’ series five years later in 1968, was designed to bring the advantages of the Seiko 5 to more up-market watches, with, for example, the 5 Sports branding being used in some of the 6139 automatic chronographs (see here and here, for example).
The 5 Sports branding made its first appearance in the second edition of the 1968 Seiko Japan Domestic Market (JDM) catalogue. The 5 Sports section of that catalogue featured seven models in twenty variations, all of which were, as trumpeted in the marketing blurb: ‘waterproof to 70m; featured coloured dials to emphasize the sharp design; fitted with specially tempered glass (Hardlex) to resist scratching; and perfect for active young people’.
Five of the seven models in that list were produced in the Suwa factory in Nagano and were fitted with 6119 or 6106 automatic movements but the other two models came from the Daini factory in Tokyo and were the first sporty models to be fitted with the 5126A calibre, an altogether more sophisticated, and certainly much more complex, design than the simple 61 family. It does rather beg the question: Why market two lines of very similar watches produced in two factories, fitted with fundamentally different movement designs at the same price-point? The 6119 and 6106 series automatics were fitted with the venerable magic lever autowinder module and featured quickset day and date (and hacking in the case of the 6106); the 5126A as fitted to these Seiko 5 Sports models used an integrated autowinder mechanism and while it boasted quickset date (also activated by depressing the crown), it lacked day quickset or hacking.
By the second half of 1969, most of the 5 Sports models that had featured in the 1968 catalogue had been discontinued, to be replaced by a fresh line, with Daini’s selection expanding to include some very colourful and appealing models, some of which featuring internal rotatable bezels.
Within a year, Daini’s contribution expanded to include models fitted with the much more prosaic 7019 movement.
The logic in the Daini factory producing two series of Seiko 5 Sports models of very similar outward appearance but fitted with two completely different movement lines became clear in early 1971 when, with the exception of the quirky Presmatic series, all of the remaining 51-series watches had been purged from the catalogue. One might speculate why that decision had been taken without knowing anything about the relative technical merits of the two Daini-produced movements. However, one purpose of this, and the two posts to follow, will be to provide some additional insight into that question.
Time, I think, to introduce our protagonists: In the orange corner, the colourful and charismatic 5126-6010, dating from May 1969; in the black corner, the rather more sober contender, a 7019-6030 dating from precisely a year later – May 1970.
You may recognize the orange watch as the bottom-left-most model featured in the excerpt from the 1969 catalogue reproduced above and the black watch as the right-most model in the 1970 catalogue fragment.
Both of these watches are rough around the edges, displaying the marks of 40-odd years’ worth of life experience since they rolled off the production line. Nevertheless, they both also show (at least to these eyes), plenty of promise, the realisation of which will require a consideration of the extent to which we might sacrifice purism on the altar of pragmatism. Their dials and handsets suggest rather more of the latter will be required in one case than in the other. The luminous hour markers on the dial of the 5126 show a few spots of black funk but not so much to persuade me that a relume might be in order. Its hands on the other hand tip perhaps just a little too far from presentable and I will need to give them some thought when we get to the point of bringing everything back together. In the case of the 7019, however, both hour markers and hands are just too far gone and my mind is already made up to administer a full relume. In fact, the hands themselves on the 7019 look quite badly corroded and may be unsalvageable.
One additional problem presents itself prior to delving more deeply and that is the condition of the rotating inner bezel fitted to the 5126.
The rotating ring is split continuously between the 21 and 43 markers – about a third of its circumference, with some of the print flaking off to boot. Over the next two posts, I will dismantle, appraise, clean, oil, rebuild, repair and renovate, as required. And in doing so, I hope to come to a view about why Seiko Daini phased out the 51 series Seiko 5 Sports models so quickly in favour of the 70 series. Watch this space.