The Seiko Lord Matic - like the 1976 Seiko 5216-8020 LM Special "Kawasaki Heavy Industry" Anniversary automatic dress watch here, on a Seiko-signed bracelet and with its original price hang tag - has all the classic signs of Taro Tanaka’s “Grammar of Design” cues, to include razor sharp lines, angular case corners, circumspect textures, and highly reflective surfaces.
Couple this with a silver linen dial so nice it needs its own thread count, with its so-thin-its-almost-not-there seconds hand, and a unique contract between the silver dial, black/silver hands, and gold applied Lord Matic logo, and you’ve got an outstanding dress watch.
Per the kanji Japanese engravings on the case back, this Seiko 5216 LM Special was awarded in late 1977 to a loyal employee after three decades of work for Japanese conglomerate Kawasaki Heavy Industry (川崎重工業株式会社, aka Kawasaki). Founded in 1896, Kawasaki has expanded rapidly in the ensuring century plus to become a massive publicly held multinational corporation and manufacturer of goods in the wide-ranging fields of land, sea, air, and into outer space.
Kawasaki is a vertically integrated business conglomerate present in dozens of countries with tens of thousands of employees. Named after Kawasaki’s founder, Shōzō Kawasaki, it is one of the three largest heavy industrial manufacturers in Japan, alongside Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries.
It manufactures a diverse range of products for the Japanese Ministry of Defense, to include the C-1 and C-2 transport aircraft, T-4 intermediate jet trainer, P-3C antisubmarine warfare patrol airplane, and the P-1 maritime patrol aircraft. It also builds helicopters, including the CH-47/JA Chinook helicopter in cooperation with Boeing, as well as the OH-1 scout/attack helicopter (the first produced entirely in Japan) and multiple other helo airframes. Related, its aerospace division manufactures everything from aircraft to satellites, and develops reusable space launch vehicles, modules for the International Space Station and other space robotics projects.
Kawasaki is also active in diverse and high-level engineering technologies, including environmental and recycling plants, industrial plants, precision machinery, industrial robots, drones, and infrastructure equipment (like large tunnel boring machines). Its rolling stock division produces transportation equipment to include New York subway cars, high speed trains, and ships, from gas carriers to large tankers to submarines, while its energy division covers the spectrum from development and manufacture of energy equipment to management systems.
Finally (whew), the Tokyo-headquartered company produces industrial robots, gas turbines, pumps, boiler plants, and a range of other industrial products. But separate from being a Kawasaki gift to a loyal employee, what’s behind the “Special” nomenclature, which makes it stand out from other Seiko Lord Matic’s?
In the 1970s, Seiko used terms like “Hi-Beat,” “VFA” (Very Fine Adjusted), and “Special” for its automatic movements – Hi-Beat was used with movement frequencies of 28,800 or 36,000 beats per hour, and VFA was utilized for movements exceeding chronometer specifications (ie: +/- 1 minute per month).
The third term, “Special” was the VFA’s smaller sibling; while it didn’t feature the same precision, it was -3/+3 seconds a day when new. In the mid-1970s, when Seiko released the LM Special, it was wholly dedicated to quartz production, with a few minor exceptions – even the flagship mechanical lines had been discontinued, Grand and King Seiko, in the early 1970s. Of the mechanical exceptions was the LM Special, which was the top of what was left of Seiko’s mechanical lines.
The Ref. 5200 LM Special automatic movement was the last of the Seiko Daini movements – an upgrade on previous movements – and the improved movement incorporated hand winding, hacking, and a micro regulator for higher precision.
To the unversed, quick setting the date can be unsettling, as this also manually winds the mainspring, leading to wearer concern the force is damaging the date gear (it doesn’t). The 5200 line lives on to this day as the inspiration for Seiko’s 4S automatic movements, used in such legends as the SKX diver line and more.
This Seiko 5216 LM Special comes on a Seiko-signed stainless-steel bracelet, and with nylon strap, springbar tool, and rugged travel case.
top of page