Affordable Vintage: Seiko Lord Marvel 5740-8000 (LM5740) Hi-Beat

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What is and is not affordable, especially in the realm of vintage watches, is clearly subjective and has been much debated, including in the comments of one of my prior articles. However, some watches can be solidly placed in the “affordable vintage” category, especially when viewed through the lens of bang-for-your-buck value. The Seiko Lord Marvel 5740-8000 (LM5740) Hi-Beat is certainly one of those watches.

Seiko_LordMarvel-3Before the introduction of high-beat movements, the majority of watches operated at a frequency of 18,000 A/h, or 18,000 vibrations of the balance wheel per hour. In an attempt to improve accuracy, watch companies sought to create movements that beat at a higher frequency. Several Swiss brands set out to develop movements with a doubled rate of 36,000 A/h, and Girard Perregaux succeeded in bringing the first high-beat caliber to market in 1966.

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In 1967, Seiko introduced its own high-beat movement—the 23-jewel manual wind caliber 5740C. One might assume that Seiko would debut this achievement in one of its Grand or King Seiko watches, but that was not the case. Instead, Seiko put its new high-beat caliber inside the Lord Marvel 5740-8000 (LM5740). (It should be noted that the 5740C is the precursor to the caliber 44 found inside the King Seiko Chronometer.)

The Lord Marvel line debuted around 1959, and the Lord Marvel 5740-8000 (LM5740) was manufactured between circa 1967 and 1975, with the example featured here hailing from 1968. The LM5740 is considered the 3rd generation Lord Marvel model, and it represents the peak of that line. It is a quintessential dress watch, with clean lines, understated elegance, and of course a beautiful and technologically advanced in-house manual wind movement.

Seiko_LordMarvel-15

The case is stainless steel, although it was offered in a gold plated variant, too. It measures a respectable 35mm in width, 41mm lug-to-lug, and has a lug width of 19mm. I’m not sure why exactly, but Seiko seemed to be quite fond of the 19mm lug width back in the day. Regardless, the watch would have come on a leather strap, and I’ve seen no evidence that a steel bracelet was ever offered as an option.

The lugs are medium sized—not really fat or skinny—with a nice single bevel along the outer edges. As is the case with most Seikos, the angled bevels on the case and lugs are very delicate and prone to being ruined by polishing. My example has had a very light polish at some point in its past, and it’s apparent that the lug bevels aren’t quite as sharp as they would been when the watch was factory fresh.

Seiko_LordMarvel-7The screw-in case back features the standard “horse shoe” text arrangement. Some of the very earliest examples of this model came with a back that featured the famous Seiko seahorse logo, but those are few and far between. The crown is oversized at nearly 6mm in diameter, not uncommon since many of Seiko’s manual wind watches had larger crowns to make winding easier.

Seiko_LordMarvel-11

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The dial is another classic example of understated elegance, done in silver with a radial brushed finish, with elegant applied “stick” or “baton” markers in steel with black inlaid lines. Only the 12 is different, represented via two markers. There is an applied steel “Seiko” logo below the 12, and a printed “Lord Marvel” followed by “36000” right below that, and the Suwa factory “S” logo above six. This model did not come with a date or day/date option, and I for one prefer the simple symmetry of the no-date look. The dauphine hands are in steel, again with the black inlaid lines. Topping it all off is a nice domed acrylic crystal, surrounded and held in place by a slim single-bevel bezel.

There is another dial variation for this model, one with a linen finish and Arabic numerals. For those that like Arabic numeral dials it’s a great option, although I prefer this dial myself.

Seiko_LordMarvel-17All these elements come together to create a sleek and classic looking dress watch, and while at first glance it may appear to be aesthetically similar to what we see from other brands, Seiko executes in a way that only Seiko can. I’m a sucker for simple silver dialed watches with dauphine hands and minimalist baton markers. There’s a beauty to such simplicity, but Seiko’s touch undoubtedly elevates the aesthetic. And let us not forget the seamless sweep of the second hand.

Seiko_LordMarvel-9So, when one considers the prices that certain vintage King and Grand Seikos fetch these days, and the beautiful and technologically advanced movement, one might expect the Lord Marvel 5740-8000 to be a pricey watch, right? To be perfectly honest, it should be. However, these gems can easily be found in the $200-$500 range depending on the condition. Yep, you read that correctly! The LM5740 is not an uncommon watch at all, and it shows up on eBay regularly. With a little bit of patience and due diligence you can easily find a nice example for a few hundred dollars. If this same watch had a Swiss name on the dial, you’d be undoubtedly paying a couple grand for it. Happy hunting!

Images from this post:
Christoph (Instagram’s @vintagediver) is a long time collector and lover of all things vintage, starting with comic books when he was a kid (he still collects them). His passion for watches began in 1997 when he was gifted a family heirloom vintage Omega Genève by his step-father. That started him on the watch collecting path—buying and selling vintage watches of all sorts, with a special appreciation for vintage dive watches and Seiko.
vintagediver
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  • Kevin Lam

    The Lord Marvel is such a gem. It has such a clean, understated appearance that still looks relevant today. I found a similar King Seiko 4502 that I adore, but still want to pick up a Lord Marvel!

  • Peter D

    Very nice. My lord matic 5601-9000 is probably the best watch I have ever bought (budget up to £2k) beautiful linen dial, applied numerals, same dauphine hands. You can’t even hear the roter on the auto movement and it hacks and handwind beautifully. All set to the backdrop of a monocoque case and a beads of rice bracelet with spring loaded clasp adjustment. A superb Rolex OP alternative if you don’t have the money

  • chenpofu

    The high beat movement is cool. But I like the Lord Marvel with the 5740b movement better. It runs at an uncommon 19800 beats, but has nicer hands in my opinion (no black insert) and has the sea horse on the back as far as I can tell. But these are hard to find, likely because fewer of them were made.

  • Thomas E. Körp

    Dittoing Peter D, the Lord Marvel and Lord Matic both are incredible bang:buck budget pieces, and the latter could easily stand a dedicated write-up of its own! (For my own part, I recently picked up a c.1974 LM 5606-8031—with quickset intact!—for a song on the ‘Bay. Like most Seikos, its quality respective to its cost cannot be overstated.)

  • Brad Frank

    Thanks for a wonderful article. I purchased my 5470-8000 after drooling over the W&W affordable vintage post on the Grand Seiko, and couldn’t help but see a similar “grammar of style”. I can’t help but wonder if Taro Tanaka had any design input on the LM, since he had joined Seiko just before the 5470-8000 and variants appeared?

    Anyhow, do you have any thoughts on the puzzling tear-down of the 5470-c by Dr Seiko?
    http://seikoholics.yuku.com/topic/1188/Inside-the-Seiko-caliber-5740c-high-beat

    He posts a fascinating article about the Lord Marvel, but concludes, quite depressingly, that:
    “Now please, regardless of what I`v mentioned before and said in the post above: These watches are totally WORTHLESS, not of any horological value, and represent absolutely nothing extraordinary, and you should not rush out to go get one. At least wait until I`v had the opportunity to find one of my own before you go pushing the low prices of these up any further!!!!!”

    Irrespective of his view, I relish wearing my beloved 5470-8000, and always find an excuse to check the time when its on my wrist. 🙂

    • Thanks for the kind words, Brad.

      Unless I’m reading his post incorrectly, I believe Dr. Seiko meant the aforementioned portion in jest.

      best,
      Ilya

  • Ralph Nicolai Nasara

    Great article! I would like to ask information about the strap? It looks killer in the photos posted above! Any information about where to purchase the same strap (or something similar) would be greatly appreciated.

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