Grand Seiko & King Seiko

30 November 2020

Grand Seiko & King Seiko are both higher-end Seiko watches. Seiko is known by many as one of the world’s greatest watchmakers and distinguishes itself by producing decent watches at low prices. However, Seiko was not content with this position in the 1950s, Seiko also wanted to produce high-end watches and perhaps even compete with the Swiss luxury watch industry.

When did Grand Seiko & King Seiko come into being?

To participate in the high-end watch market, Seiko split off two of its factories into independent entities in 1959. Grand Seiko and King Seiko were created, each with a different factory and a different logo. These brands started competing with each other, Seiko believed that this would lead to innovation and inspiration. In principle, the plan was to beat the Swiss by pitting two of their own factories against each other. By the mid-1960s, both brands had developed into the brands we know today with high-end vintage watches of distinctive design.

-King Seiko 44KS
-Grand Seiko 44GS

Both brands started with highly modified Seiko calibres, which they have improved in quality and precision. Both were produced as hand winders and automatons. Grand Seiko and King Seiko are known for their vintage high-beat watches, which have a higher beat rate than most vintage watches and as such are more accurate and have a smoother seconds hand. Unfortunately, this type of watch is slightly more susceptible to wear and tear because it basically does everything faster than other watches.

The Swiss watch competitions

King Seiko and Grand Seiko both participated in the Swiss observatory chronometry trials, which were basically watch competitions. The world’s best brands were fighting here for a coveted first place. Grand Seiko and King Seiko hoped to beat the Swiss in making precise mechanical watches. They achieved this in the late 1960s. The Grand Seiko 44GS was chosen that year as the most precise mechanical watch of its time. As such, it can be said that Grand Seiko won the competition between the two factories. Both brands continued to perform very well on the trails in the following years, until the trials were cancelled in the early 1970s. Grand Seiko and King Seiko continued production for a few more years until the mid-1970s, eventually succumbing to the Quartz crisis.

Which is better, King Seiko or Grand Seiko?

King Seiko and Grand Seiko watches are incredibly similar in both quality and design, with a few minor differences between them. Grand Seiko watches were more expensive at the time, and are still more expensive today. If you are looking for a great budget option, look for King Seiko. If you want the best vintage Seiko on the market, go for Grand Seiko. At the beginning of this decade, Grand Seiko made a comeback and started producing watches again. They are known for their relatively cheap luxury watches that feature a finish similar to watches that are several times more expensive. This is similar to the main plus point of Vintage Grand Seiko and King Seiko watches, you get a great Japanese design with unmatched quality at a reasonably affordable price.

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