Monday, January 7, 2013


Another Seiko chronometer - this time a King Seiko High Beat Officially Certified Chronometer from 1969, fitted to a black leather Bund / deployant combination to highlight and showcase Taro Tanaka's "Grammar of Design" for high-end King and Grand Seiko of the 60's and 70's. This is a truly iconic example of Seiko design and technological capability from 1969 - the pinnacle of Seiko's mechanical capabilities - and the dawn of the quartz revolution with the introduction of the Seiko Astron in December 1969 - the world's first commercially available quartz-driven wristwatch.

Condition: Used, good working condition. Unpolished case retains original combination of brushed and highly polished surfaces. Some minor marks on case. Service history unknown but the movement is running accurately and with a good reserve.

Date: December 1969. This was a period of exceptional technical development: rising through the ranks since 1964, by 1968 SEIKO chronometers had secured 2nd and 3rd place in the International Chronometer Concours and, with the introduction of the first commercial quartz wristwatch movement by Seiko in December 1969 (the exact production date of my KS 5626 chronometer) -  the Observatory contests of Neuchatel ended. Also in 1969, Seiko lead the competition with the introduction of the world's first automatic chronograph, the caliber 6159.

Movement: Suwa cal. 5626B High-beat day-date (Kanji-English) chronometer certified, 28800 b/h, 25 jewels. Automatic, handwind capability, hacking. The 25 jewel 5626B movement is derived from the 5606A base movement (Seiko 5626B technical manual) and is again a refinement of the 23J 1968 5626A 21600b/h movement. The following video is best viewed in Full Screen mode, and clearly shows the distinct "ticking" of the low-beat 1964 GS chronometer versus the smooth "sweep" of the high-beat KS:

Comparable movements are the 5625 date only movements, where the fourth digit of the movement number denotes date ("5") or day-date ("6"). The movement is fitted with a rack and pinion regulation adjustment with external adjustment screw, to permit regulation without opening the case.

Chronometer certification:  During the early 1960s Seiko displayed the 'Chronometer' name on selected, precision watches which had passed the in-house Seiko chronometer standard testing, the equivalent of the BO (Basel Observatory) Chronometer standard, but stopped displaying the ‘Chronometer’ designation in 1966 due to the lack of independent CICC (Commission Internationale des Controles Chronometriques) Certification facilities in Japan. When the CICC-recognized JCA (Japan Chronometer Association) was established in 1968 in Japan, a few movements designated "Chronometer Officially Certified" (of which this KS caliber 5626 is one) appeared. From various sources, it appears that the non-chronometer 5626 was "A" accuracy graded with a mean daily rate of -6 to +9 secs/day, while the "officially certified" 5626 chronometer may have been manufactured to the entry-level Grand Seiko "AA" standard of -3 to +5 secs/day, or to the pre-1973 COSC standard of -1 to +10secs/day .

Case: width: 37 mm(excluded crown) / Length: 42 mm. Monocoque case (access to movement through dial). Case number 7040, stainless steel. Missing caseback medallion (I'm working on finding a replacement via Yahoo Japan). Lug width: 18mm.

"Grammar of Design": The 7040 case and bezel is a prime example of Seiko's "Grammar of Design" introduced by Taro Tanaka, who in 1962 noticed that Swiss watches "sparkled brilliantly" and realized that 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". This "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 60's and 70's. Although often over polished by restorers unaware of the "Grammar", the sharp planes and facets of the bezel and case as well as the alternating highly polished and brushed surfaces are retained in this watch. Extremely difficult to "capture" in a 2-dimensional photograph, the wrist shot below gives an idea of the almost sensual lines of the case, which reminds me of the lines of the iconic Citroen DS... designed by Flaminio Bertoni and named ‘most beautiful car of all time’ by Classic & Sports Car magazine.

Citroen photo source:

Strap: Bund strap with stainless steel deployant clasp. The Bund strap increases the wrist presence of this watch, while framing and highlighting the distinctive KS "Grammar of Design" case.

Crown: Original KS.

Glass: Original mineral glass, flat.

Dial: Silver with applied indices. Original, untouched. Some marking/damage at dial edge visible under loupe.

Hands: Original, stainless steel baton with black highlights.


Selected references:




4) Seiko, A Journey in Time, Chapter 8

1 comment:

  1. Hi there,

    Very informative post. Recently purchased the blue dialed version and am wanting to replace the crystal. Any tips on sourcing one without paying an arm and leg for it?

    Also to replace it, would I also need to replace any gaskets as well? Thanks for the response and wonderful write-up!