A FRUITFUL INTERNAL RIVALRYAs we’ve extensively explained in the hands-on review of the King Seiko KSK SJE083, both the Grand Seiko and King Seiko sub-brands are the result of the internal rivalry between the Daini Seikosha and Suwa Seikosha factories. We’ve said it then, and we’ll say it again; competition leads to a need to grow, evolve, rethink one’s purpose, and ultimately; change.
The first product to emerge from Seiko’s decision to put the Suwa Seikosha factory in charge of creating a luxurious, more precise type of wristwatch, was labelled Grand Seiko. A year later, and not to be deterred by Seiko’s aforementioned decision, the Daini Seikosha factory would present their own under the King Seiko name.An example of vintage King Seiko 44-9990 – image by vintagegsks.com.
Soon after, both would follow suit with the guidelines in design as determined by Taro Tanaka. Mr Tanaka set apart Seiko from the traditional (read; Swiss) style by defining a simple yet effective set of rules, the so-called “Grammar of Design”. In essence, this meant cases had to be shaped and finished free of distortion, bezels had to be simple, and hands had to be sharp and mainly flat. This is still very much part of Grand Seiko’s watchmaking ideology today and will go for King Seiko as well. The Seiko Re-creation of King Seiko KSK SJE083J1 limited edition of late 2020.
THE RETURN OF THE KINGThe King Seiko KSK SJE083 Limited Edition from late 2020 was modelled directly after the 1965 King Seiko 44-9990 albeit in a slightly more modern execution. While the shape of the case and the overall look and feel very much has that distinct 1960s style, Seiko has taken a few liberties with the SJE083. Liberties that are now more or less corrected with this King Seiko collection.
The King Seiko is outfitted with the in-house calibre 6R31, which is closely linked to the 6R35. Using the same mechanical architecture, the 6R31 uses 24 jewels and runs at a frequency of 21,600vph. The only difference between this and the 6R35 variant is the absence of the date indication, and as a result, the number of jewels is reduced by 2. The movement is accurate to run within +15/-25 seconds per day, just like its dated cousin, the 6R35.
BRACELET, AVAILABILITY & PRICETo complete the very retro-like appeal of the new King Seiko collection, it comes on a stainless steel multi-link bracelet very much like the one on the original 1965 model. The faceted links, tapering from case to folding buckle have a brushed finish with polished bevels. As an alternative option, each reference is also supplied with vintage-styled leather straps with a pin buckle bearing the King Seiko name.
Where the King Seiko SJE083 was priced perhaps a bit steep, the new King Seiko collection retails for a more reasonable EUR 1,700. This puts it directly between the average top-end of Seiko, and below Grand Seiko’s entry-level models.
Simply put, we love the fact Seiko has brought the King Seiko philosophy back from the past. And to do it in such a faithful and respectful way is all the more reason to be excited. Even on a wrist as big as our editor, Robin has (19cm in circumference) the 37mm sized case looks well proportioned. The dials are fun and offer a nice variety of colours. Go for the traditional silver one of the original, or a more daring burgundy red, and you will not be disappointed. The only slight complaint we have regards the accuracy of the automatic movement… As King Seiko, much like Grand Seiko, stems from the idea to build the best and most precise watch possible, the precision of the Calibre 6R31 is a bit of a let-down. Running within +25/-15 seconds per day simply means there’s a lot of room for improvement there. Other than that; very well done Seiko! Long live the King!
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS – SEIKO KING SEIKO COLLECTION
37mm diameter x 12.1mm height – stainless steel case, brushed and polished – faceted lugs – polished and bevelled bezel – crown with King Seiko emblem – solid caseback with King Seiko emblem – boxed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating – 100m water-resistance
Seiko Calibre 6R31, in-house – automatic winding – 24 jewels – 21,600vph – 70 hours of power reserve – accurate to +15/-25 seconds per day – central hours, minutes, seconds
Seven-link bracelet with bevelled edges – folding clasp with double push-button release – additional leather straps with steel King Seiko labelled pin buckle
Through Seiko Boutiques and selected retailers worldwide from February 2022 onwards
SPB279 – silver dial, sunray brushed
SPB281 – light-grey dial, vertically brushed
SPB283 – charcoal dial, sunray brushed
SPB285 – brown dial, sunray brushed
SPB287 – burgundy red dial, sunray brushed