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 this full serviced 1969 KS 5625-7030 automatic – in the same breath. Seiko phased out the King Seiko in the 1970’s, virtually ensuring the Grand Seiko would remain more famous
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 watches.
That same year, Daini Seikosha hired a young designer by the name of Taro Tanaka, the man who would in the early 1960's create a set of design principles that he called “The Grammar of Design.” In 1962, Tanaka noticed Swiss watches "sparkled brilliantly" and realized the design of high-end Seiko watches could be radically improved through the implementation of "flat and conical surfaces perfectly smooth and free of distortion."
Seiko's Grammar of Design was implemented in Grand Seiko and King Seiko lines from 1967 and made these lines instantly recognizable as status symbols in the hierarchical Japanese business world of the 1960s and 1970s.
Tanaka’s 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 aesthetic, 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. In “A Journey in Time. The Remarkable Story of Seiko,” Tanaka’s approach to the new style is described as follows:
“He started by creating cases and dials that had a perfectly flat surface, with two-dimensional curves on the bezel as a secondary feature. Three-dimensional curves were not used, as a general rule. He also decided that all distortion should be eliminated from the dial, too, so that it could be finished with a mirror surface. This formed the basis for the new Seiko style.”
The 5625’s contoured case is pure Grammar of Design - the 5625 example here is also a chronometer model, with chronometer certification. The classically shaped KS case features movement removal through the front of the case, with regulation of the movement via a screw set into the case between the bottom lugs.
This King Seiko comes with its original bracelet, leather strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1969 King Seiko 5625-7030 Hi-Beat Automatic, w/Original Bracelet
DIAL: Silver King Seiko-signed dial, with raised hour indices. Matching hour, minute, and chronograph hands. This 5625 thankfully does not suffer from a rather common ailment for this model, namely, the infamously fragile plastic quickset date gear.
CASE: Original 38mm (w/o crown, 38.5mm with) x 44mm stainless-steel case. This is a monobloc case, with no caseback, which does not retain its "KS" medallion. Case edges are sharp, with no indication of machine polishing.
CRYSTAL: Correct King Seiko crystal, scratch-free.
BAND: This 5625 comes with its original HS-signed bracelet, which will fit up to an approx. 7.5 inch wrist; while links are tight, bracelet has limited wear evident. This KS also comes with a dark brown leather strap.
MOVEMENT: Seiko 5625A 25-jewel automatic movement, manufactured in July 1969, the “Hi-Beat” movement beats at 28,800 bph. Although most Swiss watches now beat at the same rate, this was considered “high beat” at the time of manufacture. We have performed a full service on this King Seiko.
CROWN: King Seiko-signed stainless-steel crown.