Introducing: The Classy Brown-Dial King Seiko SPB365 — Celebrating 110 Years Of Seiko Watchmaking
It has been only 12 months since Seiko reintroduced the King Seiko name. Since early last year, we have seen a limited number of new releases added to the collection. It’s good to see that the King Seiko line is not growing exponentially, which makes it easy to keep an eye out for any new references. An early new addition for 2023 comes in the form of the King Seiko SPB365. The watch comes with a special dial to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Seiko watchmaking. The dial features a unique pattern inspired by the Japanese geometric pattern known as “kikkoumon.” Time to find out more.
The new King Seiko SPB365(J1) is definitely an attention grabber. The moment that dial catches your eye, it draws you in. There is no escaping it. When I first laid eyes on the watch, I was intrigued to see it up close. First of all, I love the renewed King Seiko pieces that came last year. It was great to see the King Seiko name come back to life. And seeing our own Thomas van Straaten wear his King Seiko SPB281 with the silver dial made the watches really grow on me. They look brilliant on the wrist and wear like an absolute charm.
The King Seiko SPB365 is the same but different
That’s why I was more than happy to pick up this new SPB365 and take it for a spin. Essentially, this new 1,200-piece limited edition is the same watch as the watches that came out last year. The big difference is that unique brown dial. That’s where the true story of this watch lies. As I mentioned, the timepiece celebrates the 110th anniversary of Seiko watchmaking. This year, it has been 110 years since Kintaro Hattori’s Seikosha factory introduced the famous Laurel watch. During 2023, therefore, we will likely see a string of different releases celebrating that fact.
For this new King Seiko, a special dial was produced with a traditional geometric pattern known in Japan as kikkoumon (亀甲文). The hexagonal motif is based on the recurring pattern found on a tortoise shell. In Japanese culture, tortoises represent longevity and prosperity, making the pattern quite fitting for the occasion. On top of that, the six-sided shape is associated with the armor of the famous samurai warriors. When used in the armor of the samurai, the pattern signifies strength and victory. So overall, this pattern is more than a visually exciting addition to the design.
A dial inspired by the Kameido area of Tokyo
But that’s not where the story ends. Kikkoumon is also a nod to the origins of the King Seiko line. In the 1960s, King Seiko watches were produced in the Kameido area of Tokyo. As you might remember, last year saw the release of the King Seiko “Kameido.” Thomas van Straaten wrote about the watch, which features a soft purple dial inspired by the wisteria flowers that grow in spring at the Shinto Kameido Tenjin Shrine.
The inspiration for this new dial comes from Tokyo’s Kameido section once more. Bounded by rivers and streams, the area was once known as Kameshima (亀島), literally, “Tortoise Island.” Thus, the tortoise-shell pattern also links back to the birthplace of King Seiko, and I am sure we will see more releases in a similar vein in the future.
It’s all a matter of perspective
What the Seiko designers have come up with is a brown gradient dial that prominently features the kikkoumon pattern. As you can see, the color is slightly lighter in the center of the dial and fades to a darker brown on the edges. Furthermore, the pattern is intricate because if you look closely, you will see that each hexagon shape consists of three hexagons. This creates great depth and adds a lot of texture to the dial.
While the dial may look busy at first glance, it’s all a matter of perspective. Depending on how the dial catches the light, the pattern will either jump out immediately or add a nice level of sophistication to the watch. When wearing the watch, I was drawn in repeatedly to see if I could find a new perspective. A nice touch to the design is the gold-colored Seiko logo and the almost bronze-colored seconds hand. They work well together with the dauphine hands and hour markers and are a great match for the unique dial and complete the classy presence of this special piece.
The specs of the King Seiko SPB365
When it comes to the overall specs, they match those of the previously released models. The watch features the same angular case inspired by the classic 1965 King Seiko KSK. The case has a 37mm diameter and is 12.1mm thick with a lug-to-lug span of 42.5mm. The watch is water resistant to 100 meters and comes fitted with the same bracelet as the previous models. This bracelet is very comfortable to wear, and it looks great as well.
Inside the case, there’s nothing new either. The watch runs on the same in-house Seiko 6R31 caliber that powers the other King Seiko models. This automatic movement operates at 21,600vph and provides a 70-hour power reserve.
Wearing the King Seiko SPB365
Wearing the new King Seiko proved to be the crux of this new release for me. First off, when I put the watch on my wrist, I was quickly reminded of how comfortable the new King Seiko watches are. The case shape not only looks spectacular because of the sharp angles and great finishing, but it also wears like a charm. The integration of the bracelet into the case is also nicely done, giving it a sophisticated look and feel.
This brings me to the dial. While you might think the dial is a bit much in the studio pictures, in regular daylight, it is more restrained, and there is a great depth to it that works miracles. Granted, you have to have a soft spot for dials with intricate patterns, but if you do, you will see this new dial is quite stunning.
My impressions of the new King Seiko SPB365
Overall, I was really impressed by the new King Seiko SPB365. With the regular brown-dial version being one of my favorites in the collection, I was initially a bit apprehensive about this one. I feared the dial might come across as too busy and illegible. But as usual, wearing the watch made all the difference. This new dial simply adds a lot of depth and visual style to the King Seiko blueprint. I loved every second of wearing the watch, and that dial drew me back in every time.
As I mentioned, this new King Seiko will be produced in a limited run of 1,200 pieces and will be available this month for €2,000. That price is slightly more expensive than the purple-dial “Kameido,” which came in at €1,850, and the regular models, which are €1,700. Considering that this is a limited-edition model with a special dial, that price makes sense. And if you like your King Seiko with a spectacular dial, this might be the perfect option for you.
The new 39mm King Seiko SPB369, SPB371, and SPB373
In a surprise twist, Seiko also releases its first 39mm King Seiko watches today. The King Seiko SPB369, SPB371, and SPB373 build on the design of the 37mm version and increase the case size by 2mm. The new case features the same handsome looks as its smaller brother, and at 39mm and 11.9mm thick, it will be the perfect size for many people who thought the 37mm version was too modest. The bigger 39mm version comes with either a dark blue or green sunray dial or a spectacular white linen dial. That last one in particular hints back at some of the spectacular pieces from the past.
The three watches feature the same case style as the smaller models but have wider lugs with a hairline finish on top and polished facets. The bezel echoes this finish too with a hairline finish on top and a mirror-polished, sloped side. The dials of the watches have increased in size and thus have received larger hour markers. They are bolder and feature an extra facet for even greater visual impact. These watches come with the same seven-row bracelet as the 37mm models, making them interchangeable with the smaller versions.
The new Seiko 6R55 movement
Inside these new 39mm versions, you will find Seiko’s caliber 6R55. This updated version of the 6R35 operates at 21,600vph, has 24 jewels, and delivers a slightly increased power reserve of 72 hours. The three-day power reserve is also mentioned on the lower part of the dial. These three new models will join the regular King Seiko lineup and will be available from March 2023 for €1,950. It’s a slight premium over the 37mm version, but I am sure people who want the larger model will pay the difference. Keep an eye out for a comparison between the two models here on Fratello.
For more information, visit the official Seiko website, and let us know your thoughts on these new King Seiko releases in the comments.