1967 King Seiko cal 4402 VS 1969 Rolex cal 1225

Head-to-head! In this comparison, I’m going to determine a winner based on a grand total of points awarded strictly on technical merit. The watches will be judged on build quality, innovation and special features. I’m not judging the watch on appearance, aesthetics nor personal preference. 

Points range from 1-10, with 10 being the best rating.

A watch can gain extra bonus points for unique or particularly functional features. Every bonus point feature can add up to 5 extra points.

But first a short description of our competitors’ key features and specifications…

Rolex Cal 1225

  • Power reserve: 58 hours
  • 17 Jewels 
  • Micro regulation
  • Adjustable beat error lever
  • Adjustable weights on balance spokes 
  • Date 
  • 21600 B/A

Seiko Cal 4402

  • Power reserve: 46 hours
  • 25 Jewels
  • Micro regulator 
  • Adjustable beat error lever
  • Date with quick set
  • Hacking lever
  • 18000 B/A

First Contender: the Rolex calibre 1225.

Surface finish is of high quality. All screws are highly polished and of excellent finish. The bridges are nicely finished with rhodium plating and gold plating in the lettering. Capped escape wheels. Ratchet wheel and crown wheels are finely finished. Standard jewel count. 

Top surface finish on plates: 8 Points

Surface finish on screws: 10 Points

Surface finish on ratchet and ratchet wheel: 8 Points

Movement Jeweling: 7 Points

Movement is basically an upgraded Cal 1215 that is based again on the 1200. The balance is upgraded and modified. Like the 1215, the sweep second setup is an add-on to the basic sub-second version (1220). The construction works well when perfect, but is flimsy and can easily create issues if any part deforms when removed or fitted.

Movement design innovation (for 1969):  5 points

A quality feature that I always appreciate is a guard plate, to protect the bridge surface from the ratchet wheel. 

3 extra bonus points 

Balance wheel is very nicely executed on the Rolex, with adjustable weight spokes and Breguete hairspring. The fine adjuster screw is also pretty nifty.

4 extra bonus points

Total bonus points: 7

The Rolex base plate is nicely decorated and has an overall good finish. Winding, date and setting mechanisms are nicely finished, with a high finish on the screws. Gear train has a good finish. Setting the time feels balanced and smooth; however, the winding is a little hard towards fully wound (due to high gear ratio).

Base plate finish: 7 Points

Setting and winding mechanism: 6 Points

Date change snappiness: 6 Points 

Gear-train finish: 8 Points

Movement durability: 7 Points

The Rolex movement in question is very accurate and keeping close to COSC time, even after 50 years.

 

Accuracy: 9 points 

Power reserve of 58 hours is impressive on this movement 

Power reserve: 10 Points

Case, dial and hands. 

The Rolex dial and hands have a very nice finish. The Oyster case is a robust and sturdy construction. I would consider bonus points for screw down crown, but on a manual wind the benefit is nulled out by the practical aspect of constant winding with the crown.

Dial finish: 9 points

Hand finish: 8 points 

Case quality: 10 points 

Case finish: 8 points

Next contender: the Seiko calibre 4402. 

Surface finish is of high quality. All screws are highly polished to a decent finish. The bridges are nicely finished with rhodium plating, but with yellow varnish in lettering rather than gold plating. Gear train is fully cap-jeweled, and the movement features an impressive 25 jewels. Ratchet wheel has a impressive design and finish. 

Top surface finish on plates: 8 Points

Surface finish on screws: 8 Points

Surface finish on ratchet and ratchet wheel: 9 Points

 Movement jeweling: 9 Points

The movement is the date version of Seiko Cal 44. This movement was introduced in the 1960s, designed as a sweep second movement, and is very robust. Beat rate is a reliable, but a little conservative 18,000 B/A

Movement innovation standard (for 1967): 8 points

A quality feature that I always appreciate is a hacking lever. 

3 extra bonus points 

A very nice bonus feature on the Seiko KS is the quick-set date function; easy to use and well enginered.

5 extra bonus points

Balance bridge is of a very nice design with a nifty micro regulator.

2 Extra bonus points 

Jeweling on this movement is exceptional. I have already rated it high on jewel count; however, the jeweled barrel is a very nice detail on a part otherwise prone to wear. 

3 Extra bonus points 

Total bonus score: 13

The Seiko base plate has a fair finish. Winding, date and setting mechanism have an acceptable finish. Gear train has a good finish. Winding and setting feels nicely balanced.

Base plate finish: 5 Points

Setting and winding mechanism: 7 Points

Date change snappiness: 7 Points 

Gear train finish: 7 Points

Movement durability: 7 Points

The Seiko movement in question was very accurate and keeping close to COSC time during testing, even after 50 years.

Accuracy: 8 points 

Power reserve of 46 hours is good. 

Power reserve: 8 Points

Case, dial and hands. 

The Seiko KS dial and hands have a very sharp finish. The 8000 case is robust and beautifully finished. One weakness on these cases, however, is a case back medallion that can corrode.

Dial finish: 8 points

Hand finish: 8 points 

Case quality : 7 points 

Case finish: 9 points

Rolex points summary: 

Top surface finish on plates: 8 

Surface finish on screws: 10 

Surface finish on ratchet and ratchet wheel: 8 

Movement Jeweling: 7 

Movement innovative design for 1969: 5 

Total bonus points: 7

Base plate finish: 7 

Setting and winding mechanism: 6 

Date change snappiness: 6  

Gear-train finish: 8

Movement durability: 7

Accuracy: 9 

Power reserve: 10

Total points movement: 98

Dial finish: 9

Hand finish: 8 

Case quality: 10

Case finish: 8 

Grand total: 133 points

King Seiko points summary:

Top surface finish on plates: 8 

Surface finish on screws: 8 

Surface finish on ratchet and ratchet wheel: 9

Movement Jeweling: 9

Movement innovative design for 1969: 8 

Total bonus points: 13

Base plate finish: 5 

Setting and winding mechanism: 8

Date change snappiness: 7

Gear-train finish: 7

Movement durability: 7

Accuracy: 8 

Power reserve: 8

Total points movement: 106

Dial finish: 8

Hand finish: 8 

Case quality: 7

Case finish: 9 

Grand total: 137 points

It’s a close call – both contenders are well designed and well executed. But in the end, the “King” wears the crown!  The Rolex scored higher in finishing, but was beat out by the Seiko’s advanced design and features. 

I would like to find the original “new” price of these watches when they where sold, as that also will affect the scoring system respecting overall value relative to innovation, design and execution. 

Thanks to Scott Burton for editing supportfollow on Instagram @rex.tempus

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