To mark the end of the school’s Easter holiday period, three quarters of my immediate family went to see the movie ‘A Quiet Place’ at our local Everyman cinema (having first taken out a second mortgage to pay for the tickets). Beautifully shot, very nicely paced and unrelentingly tense throughout. I’d say it largely deserves its 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating. One plot device, however, left me feeling unsatisfied and unsettled (plot spoiler alert): surely, when bringing up from the basement a bag of laundry which then snags on a nail on one of the steps, you don’t just keep pulling on the bag until the nail bends upwards, directing its apex skyward for the unsuspecting Emily Blunt to step on at a critical point later in the narrative? What any reasonable person would do, is to investigate the source of the snag, unhook the laundry bag and then not step on the nail unnecessarily when in any case you are at that point in the throws of labour.
I mention this not because it has a great deal of direct relevance to the matter of horology, but because this narrative flaw resonates in a timely way with two design flaws that blight what should otherwise be one of the crowning glories (please forgive the pun) of Seiko’s output from the early 1970’s: the high beat automatic King Seiko.
In spite of the fact that I knew full well of the reputation of the 56 series movement for its brittle day-date corrector wheel rocker (surely there must be a snappier name that they could have chosen for this part), as well as the chronic shortage in supply of 30 mm V-type bonded frame crystals, I still find myself having acquired three of the blighters, two of which I’ve been sitting on for well over two years. They’ve since asserted a sort of menacing presence, taunting me to tackle their revivals, knowing full well that I would likely flounder in the face of temperamental quick-settery and the infuriating prospect of dinged up frame-bonded Hardlex.
In the spirit of the best traditions of how best to enter the English channel for a brisk dip, I propose to jump in head first, and tackle two of the blighters at once. I do this not just to kill two birds with one stone, but because the two watches in question are both very similar but also fundamentally different. My hope is that the contrasts between the two might prove to be of some interest.
Let’s introduce our pair of Kings: to the right we have a 5626-7000 KS Hi-beat dating from June 1970, an early example of the breed and housed in a classic grammar-of-design case. To the left, we have a 5626-7111, younger by two and a half years, and in spite of the superficial similarity in design cues, noticeable evolved in its development of what is essentially the same design brief.
The earlier watch is almost indistinguishable in its frontal aspect from the 45-series watch we met a couple of years ago but, in addition to the transplantation of a hand wind 36000 bph 4502 with a 28800 bph automatic, the case has morphed into a monocoque front-loader, gaining a little height in the process to accommodate the rotor.
The 1972 watch has a case that appears a little more refined to my eye with finer lugs and a slightly more open aspect to the dial. Crucially, it also differs from the ’70 watch in that its case is a conventional rear loader and, presumably in the interests of cost cutting, no longer sports the gold medallion at the centre of the case back.
Rather than running the accounts of the two watches in parallel I propose to split this post into three parts: Part I will deal with the earlier 5626-7000, covering proceedings up to the point where we have to deal with the crystal; I’ll then shift to the 5626-7111, focusing on the differences and any points of particular note; and then we’ll draw everything together by taking a look at how to deal with the crystals before wrapping things up.
A King Seiko 5626-7000 from June 1970
This is not, admittedly, quite as nice an example as I was hoping for when I lobbed in my bid about three years back. Superficially, it looks fine – rather handsome in fact.
But with the bezel and crystal removed, we notice that the periphery of the dial between 10 and 1 is stained yellow, the result I think of a past ingress of water.
The crystal, as I’ve alluded to above, is of the bonded V-type in which a tempered mineral (Hardlex) crystal is bonded into a metal frame which itself sits upon a rubber gasket of rather complex profile.
I suggested earlier that the design is flawed but if it is, then it is only so from the perspective of someone having to deal with the dearth of spare parts nearly 50 years after the fact. In terms of aesthetics and function I have no quibble at all. The flaw as it exists derives from the fact that these crystals were designed to be replaced as a single unit at service; it was never intended that the glass itself could be separated from the frame for replacement. Consequently, in the absence of a new replacement part, there is the potential that the revival of otherwise serviceable watches stall. I’ll leave further discussion of the crystal ‘till later and so for the moment, let’s press on.
In order to better see what is required to extract the movement from the case, we need first to remove the glass gasket back-up ring.
There now follows a two-step routine: first depress the setting lever, as indicated in the photo below, and remove the crown and stem. Next, with a pair of tweezers, rotate the snap ring (indicated) in an anti-clockwise direction until its end aligns with the 2 marker. At this point, the other end of the snap ring will align with the 4 marker.
The movement should now be free of its shackles and can be carefully tipped out of the case.
This is probably a good moment to note one additional distinguishing feature of the case: between the lugs, we find a hole, filled with a screw positioned between the 5 and 6 o’clock markers.
The purpose of this hole is to provide access to a micro-adjuster axle that allows regulation of the movement in situ. When I first saw this feature, I assumed that the screw head provides the means to regulate the movement directly but it is in fact simply an access hatch through which you insert a flat bladed screwdriver to adjust the axle. Obviously, the external threaded screw needs to be sealed and to that end, a gasket maintains the water resistance credentials of the case.
Clearly, this particular example is long past the point at which it might be trusted to resist ingress of water.
The following photo provides a means both to appraise the condition movement now that it is free from the case as well as to note the position of the aforementioned micro-adjuster axle.
As we’ve worked through the servicing of a 56 series movement fairly recently in the form of the 5606, I’ll hop and skip through the process this time, pausing only to note key differences and other points of interest.
I alluded in the preamble to the infamous fragility of the day-date corrector wheel rocker, but here we have once more an exception to prove the rule. The rocker fitted to this particular watch features a wheel made of metal rather than plastic and needless to say, it functions. I am now two from two in encountering 56 series movements with working day-date quicksets!
The external movement regulation in this watch distinguishes it from the uni-body-cased Lord Matic 5606 discussed previously. Let’s take a little time to see how the micro-adjusting axle interfaces with the regulator arm of the balance.
You should be able to see in the photo above that the end of the regulation arm on the balance is forked with the fork sitting astride a pin mounted on a rotary stage. The lower half of that stage features a pinion that meshes with the teeth at the end of the micro-adjuster axle (below).
Neat! 23 jewels in the 5606 plays 25 in the 5626. Where does that difference lie?
A jeweled barrel arbor that’s where: one jewel in the barrel bridge, and one in the main plate. Having dismantled the movement, I can report no obvious areas of woe, no broken parts nor excessive wear and so all that is required is to clean and reassemble. We start as usual with the mainspring and Diafix settings.
I am becoming sufficiently adept at Diafix, that they no longer cause sleepless nights.
And mainsprings, where they have not been previously abused, are generally routine business.
By far the most complex and time-consuming part of the reassembly of these movements is tied up in the keyless works and setting parts. But with familiarity comes appreciation for what is I think is one of the most brilliant of Seiko movements of the period.
This is exemplified nicely in the beautiful design of the automatic winding mechanism, an integrated part of the barrel bridge, allowing for a compact and slim movement. Interested readers can find more on the workings of this mechanism here.
The process continues and soon we find ourselves with a running movement, initial regulation complete and with a flat timing curve reporting negligible beat error and about 225 degrees of amplitude on a full wind. This seems about par for the Seiko Hi-beat movements and so for the moment I am content.
Before re-casing the movement, I attend to the small matter of the micro adjuster window. That hardened gasket needed replacing but I can find no information at all about the gasket number, nor can I measure the outgoing gasket because it is in several small fragments, having crumbled during removal. After a bit of trial and error, involving needless purchase of gaskets I may never find a use for, I finally settle upon what appears to be the perfect size.
With that job done and the screw fitted to the case, we are now ready to re-case the movement prior to tackling the issue of the crystal.
We’ll take a pause there, and pick things up in a day or two with the second of our two King Seiko automatics.
Le français à sapporo said:
Exciting post! I can not wait to see part 2 and part 3 even more.
I have the 5625-7110 (1971) and it has the medallion by the way. So I don’t think it is a cost cutting… but I believe the buyer could chose to have it or not (cost varied probably). So 7110 with medallion and 7111 without. (5625 day only, 5626 day/date).
I got it in 2015 as well… I think we are pretty much buying the same thing (see SBGV009) at the same time on YA me and you (hehe)… If only I had your watchfettling skills !
It is funny because at first I also thought that the micro-adjustment screw was directly adjusting the watch and I spent time trying to adjust it without any result until I found out that there is another tiny screw behind that screw itself.
By chance would you have the measurement of this tiny tiny gasket you managed to fit in and/or information how you obtained it (cousins?). That might help many other as well !
Thank you for this. Until your post, I had assumed that the 7110 variations were simply market related but some investigation reveals that it is in fact a monocoque-cased version of the 7111 and so a distinct model in its own right.
On the subject of medallions, I also noticed that the 5625/6-7110’s produced in 1972 seem not to have them but watches produced in 1971 do. So perhaps cost cutting related to the upswing in quartz and a shift in priorities.
And finally, the dimensions of the gasket I used for the micro-adjuster hole are as follows: 2.05 x 1.10 x 0.30 Micro Flat Gasket, part number G30896.
Le français à sapporo said:
Thank you Martin!
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Mel Rodriguez said:
Very good series on the KS 5626’s!
I recently acquired a Apr’ 72 KS 5625-7110 which is a top loader and the quick-set date is not working, I suspect it’s the corrector rocker wheel.
I see you used a Seiko S-14 case opener on the LM 5606, did you use this on the KS 5626-7000?
Also I haven’t been able to find the crystal part number for this watch, being a top loader does it use the 300V04 or since it’s a -7110 use the 300V16?
I have a lead on a 300V20GNS and was wondering if it’s the same crystal profile so I can attempt to swap it into my existing crystal frame?
Hi Mel, the S-14 is designed to work with compression fit acrylic crystals not gasket-mounted glass. To remove the crystal from your 5625-7110, you will need first to remove the bezel and then carefully lever the complete metal frame and crystal away from the case.
The correct crystal for the 5626-7110 is the 300V16 not the 300V04. And I don’t know what crystal shape the 300V20GNS has but from the photos of examples I’ve seen on the web, it is not faceted and so may be a contender.
Mel Rodriguez said:
Thanks for the quick response, setting me straight on the proper use of the S-14 and the correct crystal for my watch. I’ll let you know if the 300V20 is the same profile as the V16’s.
By the way, would you mind sharing which V type crystal did you use for your V16 frame?
Just to confirm, after installing the movement and securing with the snap ring I install the “glass back-up gasket ring”, then the crystal and frame assembly with attached rubber gasket, and finally press on the outer bezel, correct?
My -7110’s movement also appears to be loose so I’ll see if it’s the snap ring?
Lastly, where did you source the crown stem gaskets, are they the D-style DJ0060B’s?
Thanks again and keep up the fabulous work!
Hi Mel, I used a 300V11, having managed to bye two or three before stock disappeared. The order of play you describe sounds correct. Basically, the reverse of disassembly, assuming the rubber gasket remained attached to the frame when you removed the frame.
Crown gaskets were probably from Cousins.
All the best
I was able to source a corrector wheel rocker with a metal wheel to remedy the quick-set issue. Also, the 300V20GNS’ crystal profile is a dead ringer for the V16 so I was able to acquire it for a reasonable sum, $20USD.
Looking over my 5625-7110 I don’t see a bezel notch/cutout between the lugs. Shouldn’t I see one at 6 or 12 o’clock?
I was thinking of maybe trimming down a single edge razor blade to the appropriate width and wedging it under the bezel to get it started off enough to get a case opener in there.
Greatly appreciate any suggestions you can think of on getting the bezel off without damaging/scarring the bezel or case.
It sounds like a previous watchmaker has refitted the crystal in the wrong orientation. I don’t really have a good suggestion other than to take care! All too easy to damage the case.
Hey Martin nice work here,
I have been following your articles.
Compared to the 5626B, Would it be safe to say the 5626A movements are void of the dreaded plastic rockers failing as they don’t use it here?
I am not aware of systematic differences between the two in terms of whether or not they use plastic rockers. And so I don’t think is is safe to assume anything when buying a watch with one variation compared to another.
Ah dang… Its a pity, I have been putting off the purchase of these beauties, and the three hands only model are quite hard to come by. Keep up the good work Martin! I have learnt Alot through your articles.
I would not take my word for it though. I am not aware of differences but that does not mean that none exist!
I really enjoyed reading your article as i have just gotten a King Seiko Cosc. Now sorry if i dont understand this correct, but if my watch is running fast, does that mean that i cannot use the external screw to adjust the precision?
Hi Peter, the external screw is simply an access hatch and will not regulate the movement at all. Removing that screw provides access to another screw inside which can be used to either slow down or speed up the movement. However, you really need a timegrapher to observe the effect in real time. It would be a very tedious process without. And you only need very small adjustments to achieve quite large changes in timekeeping.
Wallace Choi said:
Thanks for all the technical info. I was scared to touch the hatch until I read this page. After finally getting the hatch off and the deteriorating gasket….. My screwdrivers are too big! Do watchmakers have something this tiny to get through the threaded hole to adjust the regulation? Is there a size I can buy to do this myself? Last time I brought the watch to the maker and asked for a overhaul service and regulation I got a watch running -23s /day back.
Yes, watchmakers will have a set of screwdrivers starting at about 0.6mm and up. You can buy sets in the usual places – eBay, Amazon or watch parts supply houses.
Wallace Choi said:
Thank you very much! Turns out my watch is missing the regulation screw after it came back from “service”. Unfortunately I can’t prove this against the watchmaker now my hunt is to find a screw and to learn how to take the movement out the help of your technical blog! Thank you again!
No problem Wallace. I’m glad you got to the bottom of it but still some effort required to resolve the issue. Good luck!
Michael Jordan said:
I have two similar watches, the KS 5626-7040 and the KS 5246-6000. Both front loaders with the setting screw accessible from the case. I am engineer and I love this feature! My watch maker here in France could set both for little money to +- 2 sec/day, with the help of his machine (!) of course. I think that all 28800 beats King Seiko’s should be able to match this mark, they are designed to do so. The screw drivers are 2.0 mm to remove the case screw, and 0.6 mm to turn the regulator screw under it (bigger ones don’t enter). You can buy them in internet. Its difficult to regulate it without the machine, I tried. A lot of patience required (trial and error….) to get the feeling for how much to turn the screw in relation of how much it goes faster or slower. I think its easier and maybe better to leave it for the well equipped and experienced watch smith. But its more fun to try yourself and of course we have the ambition to see how far one could go with your watch, means how good it is in reality. If it is well regulated, you must wear the watch a while in normal use, and then maybe regulate it a bit again. Because it will deviate a bit from initial set up, according how and in which position you wear it at daily life (for the watch its different that you sit on a desk for 8 h than if you walk around the whole day). In Seiko, a couple of talented ladies did the regulation job in the factory, and they even got a price from the Swiss accuracy contest for it! If you don’t find elsewhere, i have a spare case and could give you the screw. I think the seize is standard for KS, so it should fit. You will need a very small rubber gasket for the case screw, maybe 0.8 mm diameter x 0,5 mm thickness around.
Thanks to Martin for his excellent block, without it I maybe would never have bought an old King Seiko! You have a lot to teach. So, continue teaching us please!
Leong Siew Khee said:
It is nice to read all your insights into this wonderful movement. Unfortunately i acquired one same watch without the micro-adjuster axle lately. I can’t seem to find the part online. Appreciate if you can point me in the right direction to get it. Thank you.
The part number is 793561 and at the time of writing, there is one for sale on Yahoo Japan. https://buyee.jp/item/search/query/793561?translationType=1&suggest=1
Ryan Le said:
I am relatively new to vintage King Seiko. I finally landed a job after college so I decided to hunt for a King Seiko to celebrate. Having found your article is truly a blessing. Can I ask your opinion on which (4502-7000 or 5626-7000) is better for daily wear in office? I don’t mind winding my watch everyday so either automatic or manual winding is not an issue but rather practicality and reliability.
Thank you for a wonderful series regarding King Seiko.
They are pretty similar looking watches outwardly, the 56 series a little thicker to accommodate an automatic movement and so it would boil down to whether you can deal with hand-winding every day. For me, the 45 is the superior movement but the 56b potentially more convenient. There are also a greater number of potential faults to encounter with the 56 than 45 but if you were able to find fully working examples of both, then it really just comes down to your preferences for small differences in external presentation and hand-wind vs auto.