It is a rare occasion to come across a good 1969 King Seiko Chronometer. This one has the classic case design from the first series. On the back the golden seal.
The Daini designed Kings never even had gold seals, the Suwa King Seikos then, with seals, were produced actually for a rather short period, until 1972. One can usually identify original seals from good photographs. One clue is the boundary between the edge of the seal and the case – the original seals have a narrow, flat margin that sits slightly lower than the edge of the recess in the case and without any gap visible.
Interestingly, there is some lug variation in individual examples of these watches in the relative width of the side surfaces and of the very narrow flat surfaces on the inside top that does not appear to be due to refinishing. Also, in 1971 Seiko undertook a major redesign of the case and dial of the “standard” KS 5626-7000, resulting in the 5626-7110.
The ultimate King Seiko
For many people the best King Seiko is labeled chronometer. As mentioned, later production runs of the 5626-7040 chronometer lost the seal, substituting an engraved “KS” roundel instead. Pity the poor Japanese businessman, who, probably sometime in 1972, was gifted a second series 5626-7041 as a retirement present and discovered that it lacked the coveted golden seal!
By far the biggest change (in late 1972) was when the one-piece monobloc case was abandoned in favor of a screw-back design. The case is otherwise practically identical, although in side profile the top surfaces of the lugs slope very slightly less far down, and the side surfaces are correspondingly a little wider. The movement was also changed slightly to replace the external regulator with a standard one, with this designated by a “B” on the rotor (5626B) instead of an “A” as on the externally regulated version. At the same time, the 5626-7110 was replaced with the 5626-7111 and the 5626-7040 chronometer with the 5626-7041, with the same case-back font style as the standard KS 5626-7111.
The end of the line
In the following year, 1973, the case number for the standard KS was changed again, resulting in the 5626-7113. This watch was produced from 1973 all of the way through until the “end of the line” in 1975.
With the 5626-7113, the “Seiko KS” in large letters on the case-back is replaced with a simple “Seiko” in smaller letters, the ultimate end-point of the trend in the 1970s away from decorative case-backs towards a simple, industrial style. The signed crown on the 5626-7113 is slightly different from the one on the 5626-7110, with most 5626-7111s seemingly having the 5626-7113 type(?) – perhaps the change in the crown design occurred during the 5626-7111 production run, and of course this is a part that is often swapped in old watches or may even have varied in new ones depending on parts availability at the factory.