In the Japanese language, Seiko means exquisite or success, either of which can definitely be applied to this well-known watch brand. While they are not necessary famous for high end, luxury watches, they do have a couple of notable exceptions within their range, namely the Grand Seiko and the King Seiko.
The King Seiko was first released in the early 60s. It featured a hand winder and an unnumbered 25 jewel movement and was available in stainless steel or gold plated. Later iterations were made entirely of stainless steel, and the introduction of a screw back case provided water resistance to a depth of 50 metres.
Seiko split their operations into two factory sites in 1959, hoping to foster competition between the two arms of the business. Each of these locations stamped their watches with different branding information to indicate where they had been made. This accounts for some of the subtle differences between various models of the King Seiko.
The Quartz Movement Revolution
Seiko was not the only watchmaker using quartz movements in the 1960s, but they were the first. And the model they released in 1969, the Ashton, ultimately spelled the end of the reign for mechanical, hand wound King Seikos. They ceased production in 1975.
Over the years, watchmakers who worked on repairs to the King Seiko line often polished up the various parts, losing the high-end details such as facets on the lugs, and the contrasting finishes on the case for which the model had become known.
A Great Investment Today
King Seiko watches were never reinstated into production as the Grand Seiko was around 2000. But they are still available to buy from collectors and sellers of vintage watches. If you can find one with the original features untouched, they will be quite valuable and highly desirable.
If you are lucky enough to find one of these sought-after King Seiko watches on eBay, be sure to grab it with both hands.