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Mention high-end Seiko, and relative newcomers to Seiko will assert Grand Seiko as the be-all end-all, but experienced Seiko hands will always mention King Seiko - like the full serviced 1966 King Seiiko 44-9990 Chronometer here, on a premium leather Strap Geeks strap - in the same breath.

 

In 1959, Seiko split up their Suwa subsidiary into two separate entities—Suwa Seikosha and Daini Seikosha—to promote friendly competition and product development within the company, with both operating separately under the idea this would incite competition and good-natured one-upmanship to produce better products. In the race to compete with Swiss watchmaking, the Suwa factory started producing its famous Grand Seiko line, and the Daini, their King Seiko.

 

Well…it worked.

 

In 1959, Daini Seikosha hired a young designer by the name of Taro Tanaka, the man who would in 1962 create a set of design principles that he called “The Grammar of Design.” His rules would go on to fundamentally change Seiko’s design language.

 

All surfaces and angles of the case, dial, indices and hands had to be flat and geometrically perfect to best reflect light. Following this, the bezels were to be simple, two-dimensional faceted curves. And third, no visual distortion from any angle was allowed, and all cases and dials had to be mirror-finished.

 

The sequel to the original King Seiko, the 44-9990, would benefit from the Grammar of Design rules to become one of the best-looking watches Seiko has ever made. Produced from 1964 to 1968, it proved so popular Seiko re-released it in late 2020 at the much higher price point of nearly $4k.

 

Seemingly unrelated, Seiko's Grand Seiko 44 model - introduced in 1967 - is widely considered to be the progenitor of the classic Grand Seiko look, and it set the trend of "Grand Seiko Style" for decades of Seiko watches.

 

But this watch was derived not from a GS but none other than the King Seiko 44 series. The Daini-made KS 44 series was so accurate that, with a revised case, it was accepted into a three-watch Grand Seiko model lineup in 1967. Truly, with the 44 series you have the best of KS and GS, all in one gorgeous watch.

 

This King Seiko comes on a premium leather strap, and with nylon strap, rugged travel case, and springbar tool.

1966 King Seiko 44-9990 Chronometer Manual Wind Watch

$1,199.99Price
  • DIAL: King Seiko-signed dial, with correct dauphin hour, minute, and second hands.  No patina on dial edge - quite common for King Seiko - but missing here, thankfully.

     

    CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 38mm (w/o crown, 39.5mm with) x 40.5mm.  Matching caseback, with a detailed gold aftermarket King Seiko medallion.

     

    CRYSTAL: Steeply sharp domed acrylic KS 44-9990 crystal, no imperfections or cracks.

     

    BAND: This 44-9990 comes on a premium light brown leather Strap Geeks strap; it also comes with a maroon nylon strap.

     

    MOVEMENT: 44A Seiko 25-jewel manual wind movement, manufactured in November 1966, which beats at 18,000 beats per hour.  Stenciled on the movement is its chronometer serial number.  We have performed a full service on this KS 44-9990.

     

    CROWN: Non-original stainless-steel crown.

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