Seiko had produced railway watches since 1929, with the Type 19 becoming famous across Japan and seen in every railway cabin. It had been updated over the years, notably from 7 to 15 jewels and with hacking seconds, but was outdated by the 1970s. The Type 19 was discontinued in November, 1971.
In 1972, Seiko began producing a railway watch using a hand-winding version of their automatic Cal. 6110A, a 21-jewel central seconds movement used from mid-grade watches from Seiko to high-end King Seiko and Grand Seiko models. The dial used serif hour numerals 1-12, with “Seiko Precision 21 Jewels” printed above “Second Setting”, indicating the hacking seconds feature. Sales of this model started in April, and it was offered to railway employees and the general public. But the the unfamiliarity of a center-seconds railway watch and the rising popularity of quartz watches slowed adoption.
A quartz model, Seiko 38RW, was offered in 1976 but this was short-lived and remains rare. It was another quartz model, Seiko 75RW, that replaced the mechanical 61RW after its introduction in March, 1978. Production of the 61RW ended in 1980.