These informations were gathered through my own experience, from watches I actually had in hands (more than 70 Sportsmatics so far). They reflect what I observed and are not the holy truth. Page last modified September, 13th 2022 (Seikomatic Self Dater added).
Text & Pictures : D. Broglin – Watch & Vintage
Sportsmatic was the entry level range of automatic watches introduced by Seiko in the early 60’s. Entry level won’t mean that these watches were of low quality, some of them were even very well built compared to models from other manufacturers. They partly replaced the Gyro Marvel range, beside (or under) the Seikomatic range.
List of all Sportsmartic models : Sportsmatic Calendar, 5 Sportsmatic, Sportsmatic Deluxe
The first years
The first Sportmatics were time only (Seikosha 2451 movement) or date only watches (Sportsmatic Self Dater, Seikosha 820 movement). In 1963-1964, Seiko marketed its first day/date calibre, the Seikosha 410 and fitted it in the first Seiko 5 range, still called Sportsmatic. These first “5” had a chromed case and no date quickset. We can recognize these early models to their specific Sportsmatic logo (exception : the Calendar 820 kept this logo until 1967). It is very commonly admitted that the “5” range has been introduced in 1963 but I didn’t have so far a 5 from this year. The older I had was from the spring of 1964.
The following ones, from the end of 64, begin of 65 all had a stainless steel case or a gold plated one and were generally fitted with the 6619 movement (with date quickset by pressing the crown) or more seldomly the 6606 movement (ex Seikosha 410, without quickset).
Ca 1964, Seiko launched the 5 Sportsmatic Deluxe, which was an enhanced version of the 5 Sportsmatic. All the Deluxe had a stainless steel case and a dedicated pusher to set the date. The position of the crown and the pusher can be slightly different and the first models had their pushers slitted. At that time, Seiko modified its way to name their movements and adopted a 4-digit naming convention.
Dial, case, hands and markers variations
Generally speaking, most models were available with a white, silver, champagne or black dial (black dials are quite rare, only a few percentage of the production had one) and the cases were available in steel or gold plated. Dials and cases can be mixed up, for instance, there are Sportsmatics with a black dial and a golden case. Hands and markers, in the contrary, are always matching the case : a golden case goes with golden hands and markers. As far as I know, there were no gold filled or 18k gold cases on this range of watches and all cases had a snap back, except maybe some late models. Finally, probably all Sportsmatic originally had a metal bracelet. They generally didn’t survive the watches, their quality wasn’t very good.
If you ever see a coloured dial, it is definitely not original, it has been repainted. We often see such horrors on many websites and generally for a very high price.
From 1964 on, the reference at the back follows the generic Seiko rule : Calibre ID – Case ID (ex : 6619-9010). Appearently, the same calibre/case combination can have different dials (slightly different writings for ex), different hour markers, different hands and different inner and outer bezels (regular, fluted). Before (and at the beginning of) 1964, the reference on the caseback refers to the case and follows this scheme : JXXXXX (for example J14001).
From 1964 to 1967-68, Seiko produced quite a lot of Sportsmatic models and we can sum up the production like this :
Sportsmatic “time-only”, 6601 movement (ex 2451)
Sportsmatic Calendar, Calendar 820, later simply Sportsmatic , 7625 movement (ex 820)
Sportsmatic Deluxe, 7605 movement
5 Sportsmatic, 6606 & 6619 movement (ex 410)
5 Sportsmatic Deluxe, 7606 and 7619 movement
Special models and successors
Some models were unusual, for example the Sportsmatic “SilverWave”, water resistant with a screwed crown. These ones are rare and sought after.
Finally, the very last Sportsmatics only had their name engraved on the case back, with a 7625 calibre (1968).
The Seiko 5 range will of course survive the Sportsmatic era, and from 1968 on, the range will use many different movements at the same time : 5126, 5139 & 6119 until 1969 and then 6106 & 7019 until 1975.
You can read this interesting article on the Sportsmatic, on the Ginza Seiko Museum website.
Ive just read your article on the first Seiko 5. Great write up.
Ive got a gold plate 418970 with cal 410 movement on its original 2-tone bracelet (as shown in the first marketing photograph of the Seiko 5).
Ive just bid on and won a black dial with cal 410 movement. The reference on the inside of the caseback is 41798 but there is no date reference. the only other thing written on the inside of the caseback is (I think) ’39JO’. The internal ring is black to match the dial, rather than white on the 418970. Its on its original ss bracelet (like the one that Anthony Kable donated to the Seiko museum). Ive never seen another one of these bracelets.
I’m Craig Henn on Seiko Passion and Vintage Watches, and/or horacehenn on Instagram.
Perhaps it was a prototype? What do you think? I’d be interested to know your thoughts.
You are very lucky to have the original bracelets, they are very seldom.
It’s hard to say, the production of the early Seiko 5 and generally speaking the production of Seiko before 1964, before the changing of the naming convention of the movements and case was less consistent in terms of serial numbers. Sometimes it’s missing, sometimes the first two digits are switched (the month in first position, the year in second position), sometimes it is engraved inside, sometimes outside the case back. Maybe their industrial production tool was less performant at that time ?