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within flaw the matic seiko lord 5606 one

Review Seiko Lord Matic 5606 - The one flaw within
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.


Clockwise from top left: The Seiko Marvel, Lord Marvel, Cronos and Crown.

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. 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.

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.


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.
To sum it all up, 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 pretentions, 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.

Thanks Martin
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  • Collectionist
What a find, an animation of the said plastic corrector wheel... Now we know what it actually looks like.
Yes, what on earth possessed Seiko to make that in plastic?
(08-11-2017, 08:56 PM)ImmediateIgor Wrote: Yes, what on earth possessed Seiko to make that in plastic?

I never got that too....  Designed to fail?
So, what I get out of this is that the King Seiko 5626 has the same time bomb inside...?!

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