I’m no Mike Stockton when it comes to vintage Japanese watches. My knowledge ends where his starts. There is no shame in admitting that, either. He knows his stuff when it comes to Seiko, Citizen, and the rest. I do, however, love to read about them, search the usual auction sites, compare models, and put together an imaginary vintage Seiko wish list. Also, I have Mike as a friend, and from time to time, that pays off. One example is this watch on my wrist, a vintage King Seiko reference 45-7001. It’s my latest acquisition and addition to my very modest Seiko collection.
Now, it is worth mentioning that I don’t own any modern Seiko watches. My recent trip to Tokyo and especially to the Seiko Museum might change that, but for now, I’m stuck with a bunch of oldies. I love them all for different reasons. My other KS was the first one in the flock. To date, the 5646-7010 is my only GS, and the 6138 and 6139 chronographs are an unbeatable pair that go well together. But now there’s a new kid on the block.
“No more vintage Seiko”
My last Seiko purchase was the GS, which was back in 2018. I had wanted one since I saw Mike’s years ago in London. And when I got it, I felt that my modest little Seiko family was perfect. I have both of Seiko’s iconic chronographs, a King Seiko, and a Grand Seiko. “I’m good,” I thought. Yes, you could argue that if you love vintage Seiko, there are so many chronographs to add, like the 7016 “Monaco”, and I’m sure one will make it into the collection someday. Still, I was happy with my lineup until one day when I received a message from Mike. He had such a model already (you can read about it here), but he is constantly scanning auction sites, and he shot me a note when this example came up. I wasn’t too into it, but I had learned my lesson earlier. If Mike says go for it, you’d better do so.
King Seiko 45-7001 — From Japan to Germany
Visually, the watch seemed to be in excellent condition. It was even possible that it had never been polished. It was listed in Japan, which made things a bit more complicated, but with the help of a dear friend, we managed to get it. I had some other watches coming in, as always. My main love is chronographs, so while I was happy about my new King Seiko, the thrill was not there, to say the least. Well, this changed the very moment I received my King Seiko 45-7001. I must say (and not because I own one) that this watch is a thing of beauty and extremely comfortable on the wrist. To begin with, we have a hand-winding caliber, the Seiko 45(00). My other KS and GS are automatics, so having a thinner, manual KS was refreshingly new to me.
Of course, as the dial suggests, it’s a “Hi-Beat” movement with a frequency of 36,000vph, three hands, and no date. If you’ve read Mike’s article, you’ll know that the 45-7001 was only made for about six years. According to the reference and serial numbers, mine comes from the middle of 1970. That’s pretty cool, as it shows the watch to be a relatively early production. However, that means nothing, as the real test is how it feels on the wrist. My other KS has a similar case, and I had worn it enough to know that this watch would be awesome despite its relatively small size. The width is 36mm, and the lug-to-lug is 41.2mm. Indeed, it is not the most significant watch in my collection, but it wears just great on a thin leather strap.
Why do I need it?
If you’re not into vintage Seiko dress watches yet but are interested, I can certainly suggest the King Seiko 45-7001. It’s a great way to get a taste of what it is like to own a vintage King Seiko and not necessarily only for dress-watch lovers. I wear mine with shorts and a T-shirt. While some might disagree with the pairing, that doesn’t bother me. I feel that this watch is neutral enough to be a good fit for most outfits.
I enjoy the watch. It’s super light, the movement is trusty, and the overall look on the wrist is magnificent. At the time of writing, I’ve returned from a weekend trip to Basel, and my King Seiko was my go-to watch for the evening and the second day. I suggest keeping your eye out for a decent example, and with time and patience, I’m sure you’ll manage to find one. Interestingly enough, the prices Mike mentioned in his article are still in the ballpark, but you should prepare to pay a bit more for one in better condition.
What do you think of vintage King Seiko watches? Do you own or want any, and which ones are your favorites? Let me know in the comments.