Navigating one’s way around the vintage Seiko model hierarchy is in one sense straightforward but in another extremely perplexing. Our perspective in this regard has been rooted predominantly in the positioning of the various members of the Seikomatic lines with the path up the greasy pole taking us from the modest but still rather splendid 6206 Weekdaters, through highly jewelled Seikomatic middle management to great pretenders and all the way up to something rather Grand. But that route somehow bypasses a chronological path that begins in 1956 with the Seiko Marvel, the first Seiko watch with a movement designed in house from scratch. The Seiko Marvel sired the Seiko Crown three years later, featuring an up-scaled version of the Marvel movement, and which went on to form the basis of the first Grand Seiko the following year. The Cronos model of 1958 similarly featured a Seiko movement of the same diameter as the Marvel, the 54A, but at only 4mm thick, considerably slimmer. The Cronos went on to give rise to the 44 series King Seiko and Grand Seiko watches of the 1960’s.
Meanwhile, the Marvel line continued, initially in the form of the Gyro Marvel of 1959 featuring the first self-winding movement equipped with Seiko’s proprietary “magic lever” system. By the early 1960’s, Marvel had evolved into Lord Marvel whose honorable title was bestowed on account of its higher jewel count, lovely detailing and, in some versions, a gold filled case. Meanwhile, its game attempt to assert its aristocratic credentials was usurped by the emergence of the King Seiko and Grand Seiko lines occupying the upper two tiers of the Seiko product catalogue. In 1967, the Lord Marvel name revived in a burst of glory in the form of the Lord Marvel 36000, Japan’s first pukka high beat watch, featuring the 5740C movement running at the furious rate of 10 beats per second.
The Lord Marvel in turn sired the Lord Matic series whose model positioning beneath the King Seiko was maintained, but with a very sophisticated new automatic movement and high quality case design and finishing, clearly a cut above the hoi polloi sitting further down the pecking order.
By 1968 then, the Lord Matic line had taken off, and its movement, the 5606 became one of the most ubiquitous Seiko mechanical movements of the time. It also formed the basis of higher beat variants fitted to many of the automatic King Seiko and Grand Seiko models of the early to mid 1970’s.
That meandering path has taken us to a view of the late 1960’s status quo of LM, KS and GS, arguably occupying the top three tiers of the Seiko model line-up. Lords, Kings and well, let’s say Gods.
So, if the Lord Matic is a mid-to-upper echelon watch, then how on earth has it come to be regarded as bargain bin fodder? Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of that little conundrum by examining exhibit A: one Seiko Lord Matic 5606-8010 from March 1970.
The photo above comes from the original auction and goes some way to explaining how I managed to secure it for the princely sum of £14.50. And yet, it holds a certain dour appeal combined with a streak of the exotic in that the mid case is a monocoque design with the movement accessed from the front.
This gives me an opportunity to put my Seiko S-14 one-piece case opener to some use. We gain access to the movement by placing a suitably sized compression ring into the tool aperture, placing the tool over the acrylic crystal and squeezing the lever to compress the crystal to the point that it can be lifted away from the case.
In order to extract the movement we need to remove the crown and then rotate the movement retaining spring anticlockwise by about 30 degrees. Crown removal requires us to depress the setting lever and then pull out the crown and stem.
Rotate the retaining ring to its stop, tip the case over and the movement falls out.
You will have noticed no doubt that the bezel is still in position. This is because a previous watchmaker had thoughtfully refitted the bezel with its cutout at the 6 o’clock position, thus rendering it inaccessible without damaging the case. The only way I could remove the bezel was to insert a case knife from the inside once the crystal, dial and hands had been removed.
The dial is in lovely shape barring one flaw, likely inflicted at a previous service. Head on it is not so obvious, but you may just be able to make out a prang in the region of the 9 o’clock marker.
A side view reveals the damage much more clearly.
I am struggling to think how this might have happened but would guess that an attempt to fit the crystal may have been made with the movement not properly located in the case. It is time to start digging beneath the surface and discover the charms of the 56 series movements for the first time. For the uninitiated, the 5606A sets itself apart from the run of the mill of the time in boasting the following features:
- 23 or 25 jewels
- 21,600 bph
- automatic winding mechanism with …
- … hand-winding facility
- Hacking seconds
- Day/date calendar with bilingual day and quickset to both
All of that lot packed into a compact 11.5” movement only 4.45 mm thick. The calendar deconstruction is uncomplicated, as illustrated in the sequence below:
Everything looks straightforward enough until you realise that the cannon pinion is not driven by a centrally mounted centre wheel but sits on a calked axle and is driven by an off-centre driving wheel mounted to the reverse of the movement and whose central pinion – effectively a cannon pinion in its own right – protrudes through to the calendar side. We’ll get a clearer view of how this works later on but for the moment we can take a closer look at the calked axle on which sits the cannon pinion, still caked in somewhat congealed oil.
We shall also see that lurking in there somewhere lies a design flaw that afflicts the majority of watches fitted with 56 series movements, but curiously not this one. Anyway, I digress. Let’s swap sides and survey the rear of the movement, which thus far has been hidden from view by virtue of the front-loading nature of the case.
The automatic winding mechanism is integrated into the train wheel bridge rather than being a separate module which is what makes it such a thin movement. The motion of the rotor is transmitted to the ratchet wheel atop the barrel via a train of wheels starting with the first reverser idler which we can see to the left of the rotor axle in the photo above. With the rotor removed, we can access the idler and remove it by first extracting the reverser idler bolt, which we see partially removed in the shot below.
Another nice feature of the movement is the fine adjuster screw on the balance, allowing for precise regulation.
Moving on and we see more evidence of the slightly unusual approach taken to the design of this movement: rather than a pair of banking pins regulating the motion of the pallet, this function is instead served by a notch cut out of the pallet cock within which sits a pin sat at the centre of he forked part of the pallet:
And the pallet itself has a very strange lopsided design, presumably to fit within the more compact dimensions of the movement.
We are very nearly at the point where the train bridge comes off but first we need to remove the hacking lever spring.
And then the ratchet wheel and its spring.
Finally, we can remove the train wheel bridge to reveal a slightly unconventionally arranged going train.
The unconventional aspect in this case is the presence of a driving wheel and cannon pinion that transmits power to the cannon pinion proper through the main plate via the sprung minute wheel on the other side of the movement.
During the normal running of the watch the cannon pinion (off-centre) rotates with the large driving wheel but during hand setting and operation via the crown, the cannon pinion rotates independently of the driving wheel, slipping against the driving wheel shaft in the same way that a conventional centrally mounted cannon pinion operates in relation to a centre wheel shaft (see reassembly later on).
The other two wheels you see sitting on the main plate are the differential wheel and second reverser idler, both of which form part of the compact autowinding mechanism.
The motion of the winding weight is transmitted via the first reverser idler we met earlier to the second reverser idler and then on to the differential wheel (shown above). The job of the differential wheel is to feed power into the mainspring regardless of the direction of rotation of the winding weight. The differential wheel communicates with the ratchet wheel mounted on the barrel via the transmission wheel mounted on the reverse side of the train wheel bridge. Phew!
The balance side of the main plate is now almost naked, barring the barrel and hacking lever, both of which depart stage left before we turn attention back to the calendar side for the home stretch.
I’ll pause at this point to draw attention to the notorious day-date corrector wheel rocker, the small but critically fragile component that is single-handedly responsible for holding this movement back from true greatness. It is also largely responsible for the trepidation with which potential buyers of vintage 56 series LM and KS watches approach their transactions. In particular, the Lord Matics have suffered to the point that I suspect many buyers pick them up in the hope that they might supply working corrector levers to fit to 56 powered King Seikos.
The flaw in the design of this part is that the wheel is made of plastic and over time it fractures under the torque applied when called into action to quickset either the day or date. This is a real shame because these are beautiful, very high quality movements. Happily though, the corrector in this watch looks healthy and performs its task without complaint. At some point in the future we shall revisit this issue with a watch whose corrector has failed as advertised.
Our parting view of the main plate is to note the presence of the minute wheel spring sitting in the centre, there to regular the force with which the minute wheel presses against the central cannon pinion.
Last order of business is to open up the barrel and inspect the main spring.
Nothing here to cause concern. Everything into the ultrasonic bath, followed by extensive agitation cycles in the watch cleaning machine and we can contribute in some vanishingly small way to resisting entropic inevitability. We start by assembling the setting parts, noting the setting lever design variation, there to allow removal of the crown and stem for case designs in which the movement is accessed from the front.
That potentially troublesome corrector wheel rocker goes in next.
Once secured into position by the minute wheel bridge (the minute wheel also having been fitted) we can observe how the corrector wheel rocker works.
You should be able to see from the animated gif above that with the crown at the first position, rotation in either direction moves the corrector wheel to mesh either with the inner teeth on the date wheel (once that is fitted) or with the intermediate wheel for day correction (once that is in place). Somehow this one has survived 47 years without breaking and so I am reasonably confident that it will continue to function satisfactorily from this point onwards.
In go the two pesky Diafix settings on the train bridge, followed by lubrication with an automatic oiler.
Refit and lubricate the mainspring, fit the train wheels, lubricate the differential wheel and fit it and the second reduction wheel.
In refitting the train wheels it is essential to remember to lubricate the cannon pinion (off-centre).
If you omit this step, then it is likely that the cannon pinion will bind and not slip as designed when the crown is operated at the setting position. In such circumstances, your only recourse will be to strip down the movement again, extract the driving wheel and reassemble. You have been warned! Reassembly of the remaining components on this side is simply the reverse of disassembly and so we can skip to the moment of truth, wind in some power and see if she runs.
The hairspring had needed some work to even out the spacing between the coils but with some rudimentary regulation, the watch is pushing 260 degrees amplitude with a noise free timing curve and negligible beat error.
The calendar parts come together without incident and all of the functions appear to work satisfactorily.
I straighten out that bend to the dial as best I can, fit the dial, clean the hands and refit and we seem to be getting close to the end of play.
The only remaining task before final regulation and testing is to fit the reverser idler, its retaining bolt and the winding weight.
With that done, and the case having been forensically cleaned, we set the movement holding spring into its unlocked position, drop in the movement, fit the crown (with fresh gasket) and stem, and lock the ring into position.
With a new acrylic crystal pressed into place, followed by the bezel, its cutout now positioned at the 9 o’clock position, a suitable 19mm leather strap fitted and we are finished.
I was drawn to this one because of its slightly unusual shape, its dour demeanour and of course its bargain basement price. But more than that, I like this watch because, in spite of its lack of flamboyance, there lurks within a movement of very high quality, notwithstanding its one major design flaw, all wrapped up in a quietly exotic package. From the Western perspective, a watch with the moniker ‘Lord’ smacks somewhat of naïve far Eastern pretensions, an aristocratic title that jars, in a way that ‘King’ or ‘Grand’ does not and so perhaps that is another reason why these lovely little watches are somewhat overlooked. I however, have come to appreciate their charms, and perhaps you have too.
Two parting shots: one at an angle that reveals the still slightly deformed dial:
And one, slightly more sinister – the Lord of Darkness perhaps?
If you put together the scratches on the case at nine and the damage to the dial I’d say some klutz removed the bezel with the movement still in situ.
Ah, but the movement has to come out via the crystal aperture so on these movements, you have to remove both bezel and then crystal before the movement. However, I suspect you may be right in that an incorrect approach to removing the crystal may have resulted in the damage, perhaps by attempting to lever it out from the 9 o’clock position.
I have an idea about the bend at 9; If it isn’t entirely clear that there is a movement retaining ring, one might attempt to pry the movement out by leveraging the dial against against the case. I’d guessing the servicer was either left handed or held the movement upside down.
I’ve had the same thought myself. It seems a likely and plausible explanation.
Dan O'Connor said:
I look forward to your future post on the flawed day date rocker. I have overhauled 2 of these, the first rocker was flawed and my attempted repair has failed. I used super glue on hand and should have used epoxy. The second has an all metal part and works perfectly.
From what I’ve read, the metal wheeled parts may not be original Seiko components but were manufactured by a third party. I have one sourced as a spare for one of the King Seiko’s I have with non-functioning day/date quickset.
I purchased two LM for parts, both from Russia (same seller). Both had working metal day date rockers and even had metal day fingers. The serial numbers indicate a later production date so it’s likely that Seiko corrected the issue on later runs. Considering the metal day fingers, Seiko replaced all/most plastic parts with metal ones.
I have no idea whether these parts were aftermarket or Seiko-produced but the problem either way is that neither plastic nor metal are freely available which is why LM’s are now viewed as a commodity to be purchased in the hope that they might offer up a part that can be used in a 56 series King Seiko. A shame really because they are such interesting watches in their own right.
Can you share a source for either a metal or oem plastic day/date rocker? I have the same issue and want to have it repaired proper. I have heard that some experienced watch makers can fabricate a new one. Thank you
Vintage Time Australia sell metal stars but they need staking back into the rocker. I know of no other suppliers of the complete part though.
Another great post. I throughly enjoy reading every word and appreciate the time and skill expended to the interweb’s eternal benefit, Thanks!
Douglas Scott said:
So fascinating and informative. As I await my KS 5626-7000 from Japan I’m fairly anxious that the day/date doesn’t quite work, despite claims to the contrary in the Y!Japan auction description. If so I may fabricate a replacement for a faulty part by 3-D printing via the engineering students at my University (free labor). Or I may try casting the teeny, tiny piece myself. That’s a moderate sized “if”, however.
Favorite line from the classic Caddyshack: “Ahoy, Polloi! What did you just come from, a scotch ad?”
Thank you sir!
Douglas Scott said:
King Seiko showed up in perfect working order! Thank you for everything you do Martin. Very happy to read your articles.
Peter André Kristoffersen said:
Just purchased a LM 5606-7000 from Ebay with day/date working flawlessly. The watch have no service history. I hope as you do to be “reasonably confident that it will continue to function satisfactorily from this point onwards.”… or that maybe the 73-model had the plastic replaced by metal. Btw: do you take in watches for service? Would feel very secure with your work on my LM 5606!
Hi Peter, I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason to which models have which type of corrector lever. I have a 1970 KS with a metal-type and a 1972 KS with plastic, both of which working.
As to whether I take in work, I’m afraid not. You can read more under ‘About’. I am just an amateur with no time or inclination to offer a service – at least for the moment. Sorry!
Fantastic post. Very informative. I have a 5606 8010 on the way from Japan. Any ideas on where I could find replacement crystal and what is be looking for?
The crystal for your watch is the 310T16ANS. Original Seiko crystals appear thin on the ground but Sternkreuz make a replacement whose model number is XAC 311.569. These are cheap and freely available. No need to pay the ludicrous amounts being asked on eBay!
Thank you so much!!!!
Also I’ve downloaded a brochure from 1971. It looks like the cushion was brushed. Do you know if this was the case with the 1970 version 5606 8010. Oh and I snapped up two original Seiko crystals, thanks for help on that!
Mine has a horizontal brushing that follows the curve of the case. Well done on finding some original crystals. I hope you didn’t pay too much!
I got the from urdelar.se they weren’t too expensive, about 20AUD each, so I figured I’d get two, just in case you know!
Joe C. said:
I enjoyed your post and knowledge of the 5606 watch. I have a 5606-6000 given to me as a gift by an uncle who traveled to Japan on business in the early 70’s, 1971, I believe. I started wearing it again after some years, had it serviced and the crystal replaced and it’s still a beautiful watch. I get many compliments, more than my Swiss Army.
But alas, it long ago fell prey to the Day/Date corrector problem. So I have a question: If I were to (somehow) obtain a working 5606 with a good wheel, can the wheel itself be removed, or does the wheel and lever need to be changed? I would have this done by a professional, obviously, and would like to know if there is someone you would recommend in the USA. BTW, if you ever hear of someone making replacements, the information would be invaluable to many. Thank you again!
Hi Joe, the wheel is riveted on and so replacement is not straightforward. There are sellers of reclaimed working parts on Yahoo Japan but frequently at asking prices similar to what it would cost to buy a sacrificial LM. I believe that Vintage Time Australia were trying to develop a solution at one point but I’ve not seen any updates on that project. As for USA recommendations, you might give Spencer Klein a try (based in Colorado I believe). Best if luck. Martin
Joe C. said:
Thank you very much for your reply. If I find a solution, I will let you know. Joe
John Rabe said:
“and we can contribute in some vanishingly small way to resisting entropic inevitability.”
This makes me smile. Keep at it. Small, sure, but certainly appreciated.
gregory k lester said:
Thank you for the information.
Obviously i would like to have you service my Seiko Lord Matic and will endeavor to locate you.
gregory k. lester
I’m afraid that I do not take in work for other people. I only work on my own watches. Sorry about that!
Alex A Bogomaz said:
Hi Martin, did you replace stem gasket on this 5606? If you did, can you let me know what size fits? Thank you!
Hi Alex, yes I replaced the crown gasket with a DJ0060B01.
Thank you! Just in case you know right away – is there a closest ETA gasket to DJ0060B01? I have access to cheap ETA parts so I wanted to ask. Anyways, thank you for amazing post! It’s truly an amazing movement.
I’m afraid I don’t know what the equivalent might be – Cousins in the UK used to supply these and I’ve got plenty stock-piled. Glad you enjoyed the post.
david wall said:
Martin Many thanks for a great run through of this watch. I have several LMs about half having the broken date corrector. Someone out there must be making these with 3D printers by now. Ive got a kanji day showing at present in the window. Is there a trick way of moving this on to english without taking off the dial and physically moving around a tooth?
You can get the metal quickset star from hal0eight on eBay but you have then to restake it yourself to the old rocker. I’ve not tried this as I think I have enough spares to see out my remaining 56’s. I think the only way to switch between languages is the quickest but you could try cycling through midnight a couple of times perhaps.
david wall said:
I did purchase this metal star from hal0eight on the auction site in September. It shipped from Australia to the USA quickly and was only about $30 USD. It comes with instructions. It was installed locally by a watchmaker and as of today my 5606-6000 LM day/date works perfectly. At this point, 6 months in, I recommend it.
Thanks for the useful feedback Joe.
Marcos Vazquez said:
Inspired by your post, I’ve purchased a bargain 5606 7030 from Japan. Fortunately, the day-date corrector wheel rocker seems to be in working order since I’m able to quick-set both day and date. However, the date wheel seems to rotate freely after being set. In other words, it doesn’t stay in place. My guess is that the date jumper spring might be either highly deformed and therefore unable to exert enough pressure on the date wheel to keep it from moving, or simply broken.
I have been looking everywhere for the parts list of the 5606A movement to see what the part number is and track one down on the webs, but apart from the technical guide, I have yet to be able to find anything. Do you have a lead as to where I could be able to find the parts list?
As with all your posts, wonderfully in-depth post! I am a big fan of your not-at-all-amateur work.
Hi Marcos, the date jumper has its own integral spring and the part number is 810560. It is not immediately obvious to me how this might have become dislodged but if your date wheel is not clicking into position as the time transitions through midnight, then perhaps there is a problem with it. It is held in position by the day-date corrector wheel rocking lever spring (!) and that is secured by a screw.
I have not done any exhaustive searches for part list for the 56 series because I have the paper copies in one of my watch parts catalogues. However, you can find many of the part numbers on the Jules Borel site. Take a look at: http://cgi.julesborel.com/cgi-bin/matcgi2?ref=SEK_5606A
All the best
Marcos Vazquez said:
Thank you for the reply, Martin.
Actually after some more hours of searching, I managed to find the complete technical guide which included the parts list. Even so, the link provided was very helpful!
It is clear to me that the date jumper and the day-date corrector wheel, lever, and lever spring all work in tandem. So my best option is to wait until the crystal lift I ordered arrives so I can dig into the movement and see with my own eyes what the problem is rather than trying to asses it from the outside.
In case the day-date corrector wheel happens to be broken or damaged, I’ll try to make a CAD model of it and 3D print a replacement. It should be an interesting challenge.
Thank you once again for your kind help.
Yes, until you can get under the lid, there is not really a great deal to be achieved. I’ll be interested to hear what the problem is when you get to that point. Best of luck.
Marcos Vazquez said:
Finally got under the hood and my initial suspicion was right. The date jumper was broken. the spring part of if fell off as soon as I uncased the movement. Luckily they are still to be found and I’ve got one on the way.
And, of course, the day-date corrector wheel was broken, so I’ll do my best to recreate it with my 3D printer. Will come back once that is done!
Thanks for the update Marcos. I’ll be interested to see how you get on with your 3D printing.
Martin, did you replace or clean the mainspring. Looks like the inner wall is 10.6 or close to that and the Bergeon mainspring winders come in a 10.8 or 9.8 wondering if you know what works. Also, your site continues to serve as a very useful resource.
Yes, I did clean and refit the mainspring but I can’t recall which drum size I used. I have a number of different mainspring winders and will have selected the closest size but I don’t know if I got away with marginally oversized or went for the next size down. I’ve not yet looked but you could take a look at one of the King Seiko 56 series posts to see if the winder features in any of the images there. I’m glad to hear you find the site useful.
May I ask a question with this movement? Accidentally I lost hack lever spring, is it OK to operate the watch without that spring? (except stop second hand while setting time). Thanks in advance
If it were me, I’d be trying to source a replacement spring, even if that meant buying a complete spare movement. There are plenty of cannibalised 5606’s about or even whole watches that can be had for a few tens of dollars/pounds. However, if you want to reassemble the movement without the spring then I would also remove the lever itself.
Many thanks for your recommendation. Happy New Year!
Jake Lewis said:
Or try one of these: https://www.cousinsuk.com/product/straight-springs-wristwatch?code=W36105
Does the 5606 dial fit the NH36 movement?
No, it is generally the case that dials are not interchangeable between different movement families. The NH36 is a development of the old 7000 series that date from the 1970s and has a completely different design, architecture and dimensions to the 56 series.
Jake Lewis said:
Thanks for the guidance on this movement. Sadly my day/date rocker is broken….
I just saw on this video that the off-center cannon pinion is serviceable, see around 50 seconds in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_PEON8-RHQ&ab_channel=TimeCheckChannel
Marcos Vazquez said:
Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a solution. Sure, if the off-center cannon pinion was completely stuck, by disassembling the gear from the post and lubricating it, you’ll be able to move the hands again. However, you’ll lose the friction necessary to drive the hands over the day-date changes.
david wall said:
Very good articles.. all of them. Highest praise from me.
Do you know what the difference is between the 5606 and the 5606A??
Reason for asking is that Im having difficulty with getting one of my LM movements to run after replacing the balance complete.. The balance staff seems too short as the hairspring screw is touching the balance rim when installed. Maybe I havent got the correct bottom jewels in the bottom holes? but again maybe this is the difference between the 5606 and the 5606A variety ??
I did have a `not unusual Seiko problem` of the top plate central post, for screw mounting the oscillating weight, having been pushed in/ dislodged presumably by someone.pushing down on the osc weight too much. Ive had this probvlem before with 7009s which appear to be seized. So I got the staking set out and tapped the post base back flush with the underside of the top plate and all wheels now run.
But the balance wont run. Ive got a good `snap` on the pallet but the balance is not wanting to run. I have small end shake on the balance staff so its not too tight. But something is amiss?? Ill strip the movement and try the balance wheel in between the plates as a bare component and see if it wants to rotate.
Any ideas out there??
Thanks again for such inspirational articles.
Hi David, I had a similar problem with a Lord Marvel 5740B. The answer in that case was an incorrect balance Diashock frame that had been fitted by a previous watchmaker (documented in the blog) but you say the end shake on yours is ok. The only other explanation that occurs to me is a broken balance arbor but I imagine you’ve ruled that out already (and again, you would see some end shake). As for the 5606 vs 5606A, the A designates the first variant of the 5606 calibre. I am not actually sure if there was ever a B variant. All of mine are A. Sorry not to be of more help. Best of luck!
Ill investigate further and let everyone know what the problem is/was.
Hi, it’s a great article, thank you for showing it to us. I was wondering what tool did you use to wind and fit the main spring back into barrel for this vintage Seiko? Thank you
I have a couple of vintage mainspring winders plus a small selection of Bergeon handles and drums. But mostly, I use my old winder which you will see featured on numerous occasions in the blog.