Grand Seiko’s First (the 3180) is lore among Japanese horology. Perhaps slightly lesser known, King Seiko also had their debut aimed against Swiss haute horology. The King Seiko First was available in variety of metals and many dial variations. The variant I present today is probably the most attractive to today’s market. In steel and with a ‘special’ sun logo silver dial, this First deserves a shot at being the ‘first First’ in your collection whether you’re into Lord Marvels, Seiko, Grand Seiko, or King Seiko.
As the story goes, Seiko was divided into two manufacturing factories in the early 1960s. There was the Suwa factory in Nagano and the Kameido factory in Tokyo. In an effort to increase quality and innovation, the two factories were made to take part in friendly, productive competition. Suwa created Grand Seiko. A few years later, in an effort to match their luxury offering, the Kameido factory created this: the King Seiko First. While Grand Seiko today are famed for their Grammar of design today, you may have heard of it. It is lesser known that these principles were developed by Taro Tanaka within King Seiko. He wanted to outshine the Swiss, not just emulate them. The lasting influence of those tenets began with the factory we see here.
This coveted ‘special’ dial (technically referred to as the 15 ligne 15034) features a small sun logo above the six and 14k white gold indices. Its steel case shows light wear but with case proportion and edges still clearly visible. It is not abused. Everything is original and its movement has been recently serviced to +9.2 seconds / day. The watch is a spectacular and rare example of a genuinely interesting bit from Japan’s watchmaking history. I do not expect these to remain relatively-attainable for the decade to come.
Find this King Seiko First here from Special Dial for 1620 USD.