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The Seiko 5 was born in 1963, a sub-brand of accessibly priced mechanical watches created, according to Seiko, to be ‘a watch whose performance would serve the demanding needs of the 1960’s generation’.

Sportsmatic 5

The watches were conceived to have 5 key attributes:

  1. Automatic winding
  2. Day/date displayed in a single window
  3. Water resistance
  4. Recessed crown at the 4 position
  5. Durable case and bracelet.

The accessibly-priced element might reasonably suggest that compromises had been made in their construction but this is often not at all obvious when handling examples of these watches. The introduction of the ‘5 Sports’ series in 1968, was designed to bring the so-called advantages of the 5 to more up-market watches, with, for example, the 5 Sports branding being used in some of the 6139 automatic chronographs.

The lack of evident compromises achieved in producing an accessibly priced watch for the vigorous ’60’s generation is perhaps no better exemplified than in the example we consider today, a handsome 6119-8083 from October 1971, fitted with a rather dazzling blue dial.   I’ve featured a close relation of this watch here before (see here), but the dial on that watch was irretrievably damaged and I elected to give it a new identity. This example though is really rather nice, and deserves a more sympathetic treatment. Here it is in the state received:

Seiko 5 6119

Seiko 6119 case

Obviously, a great deal of the impression of knackered-ness lies in the condition of the crystal and the sheer quantity of grot plastered over its exterior but experience suggests this one will clean up rather well.

As usual then, we start by removing the case back and taking a look the movement, a C generation 21 jewel 6119 fitted with the quickset day/date.

Seiko 6119C winder

The movement looks dirty but tidy and importantly, the balance hairspring looks unmolested, retaining a faithful shape that suggests regulating the cleaned movement later on should be straightforward. The crown and stem though are not properly engaged and simply slide out without need to depress the setting lever. With the movement out and the automatic winding mechanism removed, we get a clearer impression of just how badly the movement needs a clean.

Dirty 6119C

Flipping the movement over, and without the opaque crystal obscuring our view, we get an unimpeded impression of what turns out to be a really very striking dial. What you can’t appreciate in this shot is that the radial sunburst finish creates two opposing arcs of turquoise that rotate about the central axis of the dial as you move it about against the light.

Seiko 5 blue dial

The jammed keyless works has left the hands stuck at an inconvenient position for removal and so I have to remove first the seconds hand and then carefully lever off the minute and hour hands separately. With this accomplished and the dial removed, we see evidence of past maintenance conducted by someone unfamiliar with Seiko ways. The snap C-ring that keeps the day wheel in place has been fitted upside down which means that its removal needs particular care to avoid damaging the disk beneath (in fact you can see past damage to the inner ring on the day star around its periphery).

6119C calendar

Removing the calendar rings and date dial guard permits investigation of the reason for the inoperative stem and crown:

6119 setting lever

The end of the yoke should sit against the end of the setting lever but instead it has become lodged beneath, preventing the setting lever from moving and the clutch from engaging with the stem. A better view is provided once the setting lever spring is out of the way

6119 jammed yoke

The dismantling of the movement proceeded without incident and so all that remains before swinging into reverse is to separate the case into its constituent parts. The first step is to locate the cutout in the bezel, to aid its removal

Removing bezel

before levering it off, prior to pushing the acrylic crystal out from the rear.

Seiko plexi crystal

I elected to sort out the case before the movement on this occasion because I was waiting for a new mainspring winder to arrive with a drum more appropriately sized for the larger barrel used in the 61 series movements. We’ll get to that shortly but in the meantime, a jolly good clean to the mid case

Seikok 6119 mid case

a fresh Sternkreuz acrylic crystal, correct for this case

Seikok 6119 acrylic

followed by a brand new bezel,

Seiko 6119 bezel

to give the case a bit of extra pop.

6119 case

Turning our attention back to the movement, we start as usual with the freshly cleaned mainplate, installing the diafix and lower balance diashock settings

Seiko 6119 mainplate

followed by the keyless works parts, setting and minute wheels.

6119 calendar side

The centre wheel and centre wheel bridge normally come next but when I inspected the centre wheel following cleaning I discovered the teeth decorated with swarf, generated presumably from wear to the centre wheel from the third wheel pinion:

Centre wheel swarf

The swarf was still partially attached to the teeth and rather than attempting to laboriously clear it from each tooth, I elected instead to source a new wheel

Seiko 6119 centre wheel

which can now assume its position centre stage, secured in position by its bridge:

6119 centre wheel bridge

In the meantime, the new mainspring winder has arrived, and I’m all set to clean the mainspring

Seiko 6119 mainspring

Given the fact that Seiko tend to use molybdenum grease in their mainsprings, I prefer to clean the spring and barrel separately from the rest of the movement parts to eliminate the possibility of contamination. Here’s the cleaned barrel and mainspring sitting next to the new mainspring winder

Bergeon mainspring winder

I’ve opted for a number 7 winder, drum and arbor in spite of the fact that the arbor is rather broader of beam than the barrel arbor itself. This is necessarily a compromise because the Bergeon winders are designed for ETA movements and there seems not to be a happy combination of winder/arbor size that sits comfortably with the larger drum but smaller arbor required for the 6119 barrel and mainspring. In the end, my slight concerns about using an arbor larger than the size of the natural curl of the mainspring at that point proves unwarranted. The mainspring winds in happily and the arbor releases afterwards without drama.

Mainspring wound

The walls of the barrel lubricated with braking grease and the base with 8201 and in pops the mainspring

Seiko 6119 mainspring cleaned

The reassembly from this point is straightforward, so I’ll not cover ground we’ve been over on numerous occasions before other than to pause at the calendar side to point out the neat design of the day/date quickset mechanism:

Seiko 6119 quickset

The quickset works by pushing in the crown against a sprung load. The operation is two stage, a lighter push sets the date and the full Monty progresses both day and date. The spring loading is provided by the date corrector spring highlighted above whilst the quickset operation works from the interlocking action of the stem > setting lever > date corrector > day-date finger (see above and schematic below):

6119 quickset

The date advances as the upper part of the finger finds purchase on one of the inner teeth of the date ring whilst the day advances as the lower arm of the finger [sic!] swings up and acts upon one of the teeth on the day star. All rather slick, particularly given that these movements were being produced at a time when Rolex were still using non-quickset movements in their Datejusts and Submariners.

With that done, we are all set to refit the dial and hands

Seiko 6119-8083 dial

fit a fresh gasket to the crown, pop the movement into the case

6119 refitted

regulate,

Timing

and refit the autowinding mechanism

Seiko 6119 autowinding

before closing her up and admiring the completed watch.

Seiko 6119-8083

A couple of days waiting for a Navy blue NATO to arrive, and we are ready to put this one to bed.

Seiko 6119-8083 on blue NATOSeiko 5

6119-8083 on NATOA bit of a result this one.  Lovely.

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