Seiko are one of the most versatile watchmakers around, spanning the full gamut from tool watches that cost a few hundred pounds like the Monster and Baby Tuna to the refinement of the Presage collection and the elaborate artistry of Grand Seiko with the White Birch Spring Drive SLGA009. And now they’ve introduced a new collection to fill yet another watchmaking niche, that of the vintage inspired daily wearer. This is the King Seiko collection.
Anyone familiar with Seiko’s long history will probably be familiar with the name King Seiko, it was last used over 57 years ago, although its context was rather different than today. Originally, King Seiko was a rival Grand Seiko, both sub-brands associated with the finest watchmaking abilities of their respective factories. Grand Seiko was the darling of Seiko’s first factory and King Seiko of their second and unfortunately the second child didn’t receive as much love as the first, leading the sub-brand’s decline.
Now though, King Seiko is back as its own unique collection under the Seiko brand, sitting alongside the likes of Presage and Prospex. It’s worth noting there was a limited edition King Seiko revival in 2020 but that was a one-off special edition at double the cost, a test run to see if there was any love left for King Seiko. Which there was. Now the design has been expanded into a collection consisting of that signature case shape with five different dial / strap combinations.
That case is a 37mm diameter, stainless steel affair inspired by the 1965 King Seiko KSK, which was the second model ever produced by King Seiko. Other than the distinctly vintage proportions, that inspiration can also be seen in the broad, facetted surfaces of the case and its signature sharp angled lugs that look virtually squared off. Over the top is a boxed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating that brings the height to 12.1mm. It makes for a compact design ideal for a comfortable daily beater. Nothing too eccentric, just solid and appreciable watchmaking.
The same could be said of the dials, of which there are charcoal grey, brown, red and two silver version available. Four of them share sunray finishing while the second silver version offers an alternative hairline finish. The hands and hour markers are sharp edged and facetted in keeping with the rest of the watch. For a little extra embellishment, the baton marker at 12 o’clock has been widened and given a subtle patterning.
Inside, the tendency towards simple but classy continues with the automatic calibre 6R31. It’s a time only movement with a superb 70-hour power reserve, stripping the watch back to the essentials of timekeeping while also providing all the utility you could want. The movement is hidden away behind a solid engraved caseback depicting King Seiko’s updated shield logo. Diehard Seiko enthusiasts might be miffed that there’s no manual wind option to match the original 1965 KSK, but ultimately that’s a minor issue.
For strap and bracelet options, there’s a new steel bracelet specially designed to capture the essence of the original. It’s pretty stylish with a plethora of bevelled edges, although it runs pretty thick on the wrist the whole way round, whereas many people prefer a nice taper towards the clasp. There’s also a mix and match of King Seiko leather and suede straps in a variety of sensible colours.
A lot of people are rolling their eyes at yet another retro revival piece, especially one in the vein of a daily beater when Seiko already produce so many fantastic ones. However, to that I say you can never have too much of a good thing and a classy, time only watch with a 70-hour power reserve for £1,470 is certainly a good thing.
Price & Specs:
Model: Seiko King Seiko Collection
Reference: SPB279J1 (sunray brushed silver dial)
SPB281J1 (vertically brushed light-grey dial)
SPB283J1 (sunray brushed charcoal dial)
SPB285J1 (sunray brushed brown dial)
SPB287J1 (sunray brushed burgundy red dial)
Case/dial: 37mm diameter x 12.10mm height, stainless steel case, silver, light-grey, charcoal, brown or burgundy red dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Seiko 6R31 calibre, automatic with manual winding, 24 jewels
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 70h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Strap: Stainless steel with five additional exclusive straps
Price/availability: £1,470, available from February 2022
More details at Seiko.