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KING SEIKO (KS) 56 Automatic “HI-BEAT”

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  • KING SEIKO (KS) 56 Automatic “HI-BEAT”

    This is a past For Sale post from the Market Place section of the forum. The timepiece has been sold, and the post has been edited and moved here for the purpose of providing reference material for forum members.






    A sub-brand of Seiko high grade movement-equipped watches during the 1960s and 70s, KING SEIKO (KS) bridged the gap between the mid-range Lord Matic (LM), and upper-range Grand Seiko (GS). While some see Seiko Brightz and Ananta as being the KING SEIKO’s modern equivalent, neither offer the junior-GS proposition that KS was.

    KS, more than anything else, denotes a Seiko accuracy grade, i.e. “A” Accuracy Grade, which was -6/+9 sec per day. The BO Chronometer was, at that time, -3/+8 sec per day. The two ranges are very close, and as a result, Seiko submitted some of their KS movement for Chronometer certification in the late 60s and 70s. These certified KS were marked as KS Chronometer.

    Grand Seiko were produced by both subsidiary companies of Seiko—Daini Seikosha and Suwa Seikosha—with each developing different technologies and strong internal rivalries between the two were promoted to push for excellence. KING SEIKO, however, was the Daini Seikosha’s territory from when the name was first introduced in 1964, and was offered with hand wound movements only. Again, it was due to the internal competition between Daini and Suwa that pushed the latter, whose stronghold has been the GS, to launch a new attack on its sibling. The assault came in the form of the high-grade automatic Calibre 56.

    In base form, Cal. 5606 equipped Suwa’s Lord Matic (LM) which, at the time, was Seiko’s mid-range offering, similar to the role 6R15 watches now fill. Within the same year, a higher grade version of the 5606, Cal. 5626A 23j equipped Suwa’s first (and only) KING SEIKO, the 56KS, and giving the sub-brand its first automatic calibre.





    The second generation 5626B, now 25 jewels, is a 28’800 A/hr Hi-Beat movement, and powers the KING SEIKO 56 Automatic Hi-Beat (56KAW) on offer. The 5626B has high-grade movement features such as micro-regulator, auxiliary manual-winding, hacking, and utilizes technology that is superior to other Seiko high-grade movements at the time (i.e. Cal. 51 and 52 streams). It is essential the same movement as found in the KS Chronometer (56KCW), with the exception of the adjustment and certification. The movement is also very similar to the Cal. 5645 that equips the Grand Seiko 56.















    SPECIFICATIONS

    Model: 56KAW
    Reference: 5626-7113
    Movement: Seiko Automatic Cal. 5626B “Hi-Beat”, 25 Jewels, 28’800 A/hr, Micro-Regulator, Auxiliary hand-winding, Hacking, “A” Accuracy grade (-6/+9 sec per day)
    Case: Stainless steel (diameter: 35 mm excl. crown, lug-to-lug: 41 mm, lug-width 18 mm)
    Dial: Silver with applied indices
    Crystal: Mineral, raised
    Manufactured: In Japan, July 1974


    What is the significance of KING SEIKO to the modern collector?

    First, to consider its accuracy range, KS was built to a specification of -6/+9 sec per day. To buy a current Seiko mechanical watch that out-performs this piece, you’d need a Grand Seiko Automatic, equipped with Cal. 9S55. The entry level GS Automatic is priced at 367,500 Yen (NZ$6,050). Even then, you’ll only obtain -3/+5 sec per day.

    Second, while there have been many case and dial variations in all the KS timepieces, there can be no doubt as to which is the most classic, the most iconic. 5626-711x have a following all on their own. The unmistakable reverse slope of the case, along with the pointed lugs, defines the KING SEIKO in the modern conscience. Perhaps this is why, when Seiko resurrected the KS in 2000 with the KING SEIKO 4S15 Historical Re-issue Limited Edition, the design was base on this KS -711x.

















    Despite KS's popularity in current Seiko collecting frenzy, they are still accessible to most people, while vintage GS prices are moving upwards at an incredible rate in the last few years. In the mid-1970s, the retail price of the 56KS in Japan was 68% that of the 61GS. Their market value now is around a third of a vintage 61GS. However, this does not change the fact that the quality of a KS is not that far off its big brother. It will not be long until KS accelerates in value in pursuit of the vintage GS.











    On the instruments we entrust to pace our lives, to bear witness to our days, and to be the keepers of the most precious thing we have... time.

  • #2
    Very helpful info and photos, thanks for posting here for reference. So many similar variations in case shape leading up to the 5626-711x yet this is the one that's considered the ultimate expression of the line... Such a great era for Seiko.

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    • #3

      Very helpful info and photos, thanks for posting here for reference. So many similar variations in case shape leading up to the 5626-711x yet this is the one that's considered the ultimate expression of the line...


      It’s good to be appreciated, 78clicks. Thank you.

      Actually, the 56KS’s -711x case has a fascinating story in that the Seiko division who designed and manufactured this case reference, Suwa Seikosha, only made watches up to the mid-1980s. The 63 Series, of which the popular 6309 was a part of, was I think, their last mechanical movement. Seiko watches from the mid-80s to the present day has been produced by Suwa’s arch rival, Daini Seikosha—the division responsible for such masterpiece family of movements as the 45 and 52 Series ( https://www.timekeeper.co.nz/viewtop...p=57313#p57313 ), and today, for the Cal 6R15 like the one in your avatar.

      However, despite their internal rivalry during the 60s to much of the 80s, when it came time for Daini Seikosha to build their King Seiko Historical Re-Issue LE in 2000, they chose to honour their past rival’s KS 5625-711x over their own historical KS.




      Such a great era for Seiko.

      It still is.
      On the instruments we entrust to pace our lives, to bear witness to our days, and to be the keepers of the most precious thing we have... time.

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