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Seiko Type 19

Type 19 was a famous railway watch produced by Seiko from 1929 through 1971. It was a simple pocket watch with bold numerals.


As North America and Europe adopted standard time and railway watches, so too did Japan. Most early railway watches in Japan were provided by Waltham and Elgin in the United States or Omega and Zenith in Switzerland.

In 1929, Seikosha introduced their own railway watch, the famous Type 19. It used a 7-jewel 19 ligne movement in a 43.18 mm diameter case. The hours were marked with large black serif numerals, 1-5 and 7-12, with a small seconds subdial at 6 marked on 10-second intervals, 10-60. The dial was printed with “Seikosha”, and this helped establish the Tokyo brand across Japan. This was adopted as an officially approved railway watch by the Japan Ministry of Railways in November of that year and would remain so for many decades. Some models specifically say “Railway Watch” on the dial as well.

The Type 19 evolved over the years as the fortunes of Japan rose, fell, and rose again. Versions designed to be hung from the crown and for telephone exchanges were introduced in 1930, and a model with 24 hour markings (like the Canadian Railway Watch) came in 1931. By the mid 1930s, a 15-jewel movement was adopted, and a special Seikosha Precision version was produced by 1940, but these would not be adopted by the National Rail until 1960.

Seikosha began production of versions for the Japanese military in the 1940s, with an Army Precision and Navy Deck version added in 1941. The civilian railroad model resumed production (now called Ref. 91RW) after the war in October 1945, though initial quality and materials were rough.

In the 1950s, Seikosha refocused on quality, with an enamel dial version produced in 1952 and hacking seconds added in 1955. The printed name “Seiko” was used from 1959 onwards, reflecting the rise in popularity of Seiko wristwatches. Also that year, Seiko introduced a Diaflex mainspring and began printing “Second Setting Diaflex” on the dial above the small seconds.

Production of the Type 19 was ended in November 1971, with the center seconds 61RW model offered as a replacement.

seiko_type_19.txt · Last modified: 03.07.2022 15:38 by

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