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 early 1969 King Seiko 4502-8000 chronometer here - 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 good-natured one-upmanship to produce better products.
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.
For a brief period in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, some Seiko’s were certified chronometers by Bureaux officiels de contrôle de la marche des montres (precursor to COSC). Seiko's history with the Swiss official chronometer rating is an interesting one, from Seiko's first participation in 1963 to its entry of the 45 calibre here in 1968. Seiko nearly always placed rather well vis-a-vis its Swiss competition - almost certainly to the embarassment of the Swiss. When the successor to the chronometer contest was established, the COSC standard, the Swiss made the odd decision that "all parts used to build the movement must be made within Europe”...jealous much?
Seiko would eventually eschew the Swiss-based chronometer certification in favor of their own, more stringent, standard, thusly beating the Swiss at their own game. And Seiko would go on to be the first to invent the automatic movement...but thats another story. King Seiko production lasted loosely from 1968-1974, with the Seiko introduction of its Astron, the first quartz watch, in 1969 ultimately spelling the death kneel of the KS high frequency movement.
This King Seiko comes with a vintage mesh bracelet, nylon NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1969 King Seiko 4502-8000 Mechanical Chronometer
DIAL: King Seiko-signed dial, with hour, minute, and second hands. Dial has ever so slight patina, only seen under certain light, and at specific angles.
CASE: Square-ish stainless-steel case measures 38mm (w/o crown, 39mm with) x 41.5mm. Matching caseback, with a wholy intact gold Seiko chronometer medallion - these KS medallions are frequently degraded to the point of non-existence over the decades by sweat.
CRYSTAL: Slightly-domed crystal, with no scratches.
BAND: This 4502-8000 comes with a vintage stainless-steel bracelet, which will fit up to slightly over a 7.5 inch wrist. This KS also comes with a dark blue, white, and orange nylon NATO strap, with stainless steel hardware.
MOVEMENT: 4500A Seiko 25-jewel hacking manual-wind mechanical chronometer-rated movement, manufactured in April 1969, which beats at 36,000 beats per hour - chronometer test serial is inscribed on movement. We have performed a full service on this King Seiko.
CROWN: KS-signed stainless-steel crown.