You may not have been round around in 1964, but Seiko certainly was. In that year Seiko first created the “Crown” chronograph. It was Japan’s first-ever chronograph watch.
To celebrate this landmark Seiko has just released limited edition chronograph models under its Presage label. The Presage Crown Chronograph celebrates the achievement of what was Japan’s first chronograph watch introduced in 1964. Just to confuse things as the brand is sometimes apt to do, Seiko released SRQ031 last year, another three-hander celebrating the 55th Anniversary of the 1964 original.
The new 2020 Presage Crown Chronograph line up is a mechanical 3-hander with calendar at 3 o’clock that once again pays homage to the design of the original Crown Chronograph from 1964. The Crown Chronograph was a hand-wound model with a stopwatch function and was originally developed to celebrate the first major international sports event ever held in Japan; the 1964 Summer Olympics. At the time, with the impending excitement of the Games, Seiko was appointed as the official watch of the tournament and every aspect of the piece was designed from scratch. It was a notable release at the time because it hailed the start of Seiko’s widely admired chronograph wristwatch manufacturing. The stopwatch function was operated by means of a simple yet accurate one-push mechanism powered by a column wheel movement to control the start, stop and reset functions.
The new Presage Crown Chronograph limited edition series is a faithful reproduction of the original, but, as with many Swiss brands revisiting their catalogs these days, Seiko has taken the opportunity to introduce modern innovations to the watch, some of which you may appreciate, others you may not. Each model comes in a limited edition of, not surprisingly, 1,964 units. Water-resistant to 100 meters, the original design of the 1964 Crown Chronograph has been reproduced as faithfully as possible, but it has to be said, the original still looks better without the Presage logo and without the clutter of the newly added date function. Seiko has recreated the Arabic numerals applied to the narrow bezel and the minute gradations highlighted on the dial.
The new and of course larger 41.3mm watch (the original was considered large at 38mm) comes in three colors; black (SPB127J1), cream (SPB131J1), and green (SPB129J1). It’s unlikely there was a green or a black version knocking around in 1964. The movement has been updated to the modern-day 6R35 automatic with date function and 70 hours of power reserve. The case has an inwardly tilted shape so that it rests securely on the wrist. Another modern touch is the use of Lumibrite on the indexes. There’s also a non-reflective coating applied to the inner surface of the sapphire glass to improve legibility even further. Turn the watch over and the letters “Limited Edition” and the serial number 0001/1964-1964/1964 are inscribed on the case back as proof of the limited quantity edition.
As for the bracelet, it could yet prove to be a ‘grain’ of contention among collectors. The original was a charming rice grain pattern, but Seiko has opted for a more traditional oyster style bracelet for the new series.
These new Seiko Presage Crown Chronographs sell for US$825, but we can only wait and see what Seiko will have lined up for the 2020 Olympics to be staged once more in Tokyo.
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