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 serviced and all original 1970 King Seiko 45-8010 chronometer example here - in the same breath. In 1959, Seiko split up their Suwa subsidiary into two separate entities—Suwa Seikosha and Daini Seikosha—to promote competition and product development within the company, with both operating separately under the idea this would incite competition and each would try to one-up each other and produce better products. 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. As per the venerable Fratello periodical, "Hi-Beat King Seiko (machine gunning at 36,000 bph)...quality is about 98% as good as a Grand Seiko. Translating that into Swiss terms, a King Seiko trumps just about everything out there from the neutral country from the same time frame of the late 60’s to mid 70’s." Production loosely lasted from 1968-1974, with Seiko introduction of its Astron, the first quartz watch, in 1969 ultimately spelling the death kneel of the King Seiko high frequency movement. 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. This King Seiko comes with a leather strap, NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1970 King Seiko 45-8010 Mechanical Chronometer
DIAL: Original King Seiko-signed dial, with original hour, minute, and second hands - no blemishes are present on dial. Of note, dial is "Superior Chronometer Officially Certified"-signed.
CASE: Original 38mm (w/o crown, 39mm with) x 41.5mm stainless-steel case. Matching original caseback, with fully intact gold Seiko chronometer medallion - these KS medallions are frequently degraded to the point of non-existence over the decades by sweat, so the presence of one in such condition is a bonus.
CRYSTAL: Original slightly-domed crystal, with several light scratches.
BAND: This 45-8010 comes with a brown leather strap, as well as a dark blue and orange nylon NATO strap, with stainless steel hardware.
MOVEMENT: Original 4500A Seiko 25-jewel manual-wind mechanical movement, manufactured in February 1970, which beats at 36,000 beats per hour. - chronometer test serial is clearly inscribed on movement. This KS was serviced in November 2020.
CROWN: Original KS-signed stainless-steel crown.