Saturday, December 3, 2011

Runners high - on the road with a 1964 Seiko cal. 5717 Olympic Chronograph

Runners high - on the road with a 1964 Seiko cal. 5717 Olympic Chronograph 

The men's marathon was part of the Athletics at the 1964 Summer Olympics program in Tokyo (Wikipedia). It was held on 21 October 1964. 79 athletes from 41 nations entered, with 68 starting and 58 finishing. Abebe Bikila from Ethiopia won the race in a world-record time of 2h12m and became the first athlete in history to win the Olympic marathon twice. Third place went to Kokichi Tsuburaya of Japan (possibly the runner in the Seiko brochure above) in a time of 2h16min. For the occasion of the Tokyo Olympics, Seiko introduced the caliber 5717 One-button chronograph, and almost certainly this chronograph would have been used by spectators to time this race.

On December 3, 2011 Harry, Denmark decided to run 5km against time on a particularly stormy afternoon wearing an almost perfect 1964 caliber 5717 One-button chronograph, although this race would be different: this time, the Seiko was on a non-original bracelet:

Essential to any good run are the right shoes. Not your daughters shoes, or the brown leather shoes you got last Christmas and never wore, but your own favorite running shoes you eventually find under your son's bed:

Properly kitted, the next stage of a successful run usually takes place outside, where you wonder whether it would not in fact be better to get out of the rain and watch some sport on TV instead:

At this stage its worth looking at your watch to see if there is any daylight left, which there unfortunately was. Thus starts the Loneliness of the Overweight Runner. Turn the bezel (the same as on the 62MAS diver) to the minute hand, fire up the iPod and you're off! Exactly 5km later you stop the chrono in a blaze of pain and read off your time - 33m19s:

A new personal record (by 7s) which brings you one step closer to being in reasonable physical form (for a 47-year old). I felt a small tinge of pride as I remembered starting to run regularly a few months ago, and not being able to complete more than a single km without stopping to walk!

Its a great feeling to have a dedicated vintage running watch from your birth year, a Seiko and from the year of the Tokyo Olympics at that! As a collector, I really enjoy using this 47-year old watch for its intended purpose, and having it work as precisely and elegantly as the day it was sold. There is some wear on the caseback, revealing that this watch has been worn and used, while at the same time it has been cared for and appreciated by its original owner. Case lines, dial and brushed finished are pristine, and only the caseback and a few scratches on the bezel indicate that this watch has ever been used:

Finally a shot of two Olympian timekeepers, the 1964 caliber 5717 One-button chronograph and its bigger counterpart, the 1964 caliber 9011 (90ST) 1/10s Olympic stopwatch:

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