A King of Seikos
In 1968, at the last of the Chronometre competitions of the 'Accuracy Observatory Trials at Neuchatel', watches from Seiko's Daini and Suwa factories triumphed over all what the rest of the world had to offer. In fact, they still do under their Grand Seiko (GS) - High Beat, Springdrive and Quartz - line today. Then, as now, Grand Seiko and their VFA Very Fine Adjusted chronometers were the best of the best, for a reason however not very widely known. The Japanese are very competitive and even more so internally, Daini and Suwa factories were setup to compete with each other and both made Grand Seikos. Only Daini made King Seikos though, sadly a defunct product line since the mid seventies.
Apart from all that, these high end watches were reliable and precise luxury watches without elaboration or decoration, just pure watchmaking raised to the level of an art form further bolstered by Tanaka’s Grammar of design. To warrant all this Grand Seikos had chronometer certificates and were adjusted to higher accuracy in multiple positions , King Seikos were not certified but did not differ all that much internally.
In 1975 the Grand Seiko line and the King Seiko line ceased production, due to the quartz crises they could not remain profitable. Of course, in 1988, they simply revived the Grand Seiko line with high end quartz watches - neatly tying in with the defunct Grand Quartzes of the early eighties. And in 1998, the mechanical GS were re-introduced, one might expect due to popular demand.
Back to the King Seiko now, the early 4402-8000 hacking caliber with 25 Jewels and manual wind only. It was actually a low beat movement with a frequency of 18,000 bph, but after more than 50 years of service that is actually an advantage as the high beats wear and tear much more easily. To this day it remains a modern timepiece, the indices are beautifully faceted and even have different surface treatments catching the light at different angles and going from a dark black look to a light silver. Again, after 50 years of service one should expect some aging of the dial, but this is also part of the Japanese esthetic of wabi sabi and the slow progression of time.
The dauphine hands of course are also faceted to catch the light without lume and are just like modern day GS, the date window has a beveled silver frame. Well, that is about it one might say upon first viewing, but it is the little details that keep getting your attention. Before you know it you will want to use your loupe to fully appreciate what Seiko has to offer.