Seiko Expands Its King Seiko Lineup With Two Brand-New Additions
Seiko brought back the King Seiko collection in 2020, reviving a name that Seiko aficionados around the world held dear. The limited-edition KSK SJE083 was succeeded by a collection of regular-production models at the beginning of this year. These were surprisingly faithful reproductions of the original King Seiko KSK from the ’60s.
I liked them a lot. So much, in fact, that I put my own money towards buying one, which I wear with joy. Now, Seiko releases two new expansions to the King Seiko collection.
King Seiko Limited Edition SJE087
The first addition to the collection is a spiritual successor to the SJE083 from 2020. This is a special edition, limited to 1,700 pieces. That makes it a bit rarer than its predecessor, which was limited to 3,000 pieces.
The SJE087 comes in a 38.1mm Zaratsu-polished case with all the sharp angles and facets that we’ve come to expect. It is also coated for extra scratch resistance. Unlike the non-limited King Seiko watches, the case back is fitted with a gold medallion, just like the vintage models were.
Powering the SJE087 is Seiko’s self-winding caliber 6L35. At 3.7mm thick, this is a rather slim movement with a date function and a frequency of eight beats per second. It has a power reserve of 45 hours, as well as hacking seconds for accurate time-setting. With 26 jewels, it has one more jewel than in the original movements in the KSK models from the ’60s.
The dial and hands
What differentiates this King Seiko model from the earlier SJE083 is the dial and handset. This time, we have a champagne-colored dial, fitted with gold-tone applied indices and hands. The resulting look is a little less timeless and more period-specific than the previous fully silver version. However, it does provide the new watch with quite a lot of character.
In a simple design like this, execution is everything. And I am happy to report that it is done right. The sunburst dial has a lovely subtle shimmer to it, and the hands and indices are razor-sharp.
King Seiko SPB291 — Wisteria of Kameido
The second new release is a dial variation on the current regular-production King Seiko watches. This one is a non-limited, boutique-only model.
Since we have covered the regular-production models extensively, I will refer you to our previous article for an in-depth look. I will limit myself to the dial here.
Seiko and Grand Seiko are both known to take inspiration from nature. This time, Seiko tried to capture the spirit of the Kameido area. This is the part of Tokyo where the King Seiko watches of old were produced. Near the old factory is the Shinto Kameido Tenjin shrine, known for its flowering wisteria in spring. These wisteria flowers inspired the pale lavender tone of this new dial.
The dial has a subtle fade from silver at its center to purple around its perimeter. The color isn’t very saturated, but it still has an intensity to it that does not translate well in photos. In reality, it has a sort of glow to it, similar to but much less pronounced than that of a neon marker.
Although I prefer my vertically brushed silver-dial version, the SPB291 certainly is a variant you can fall for. If lavender is your jam, this is for you. If not, luckily, there is a range of other colors to choose from.
The King Seiko collection of earlier this year triggered mixed responses. Detractors pointed out that the 6R31 caliber was perhaps a bit too pedestrian for this watch. I also feel that it does not really do justice to the spirit of the original King Seiko models. Perhaps a high-beat manually wound caliber would have been more appropriate.
Nevertheless, I absolutely love the design of these watches. The 37mm size is just perfect. The bracelet is beautiful and comfortable too. And you may know that I am a total sucker for dauphine hands combined with faceted, applied indices, especially when they are executed properly like they are here. There is no denying that these King Seikos are made to a high standard of finishing. The polished surfaces are near-perfect mirrors. The brushing is deep and pronounced, and the transitions are sharp.
As the resurrection of a historic exercise in high-end watchmaking, the current regular-production King Seikos might not excel. But as well-made, beautiful watches with decent, reliable movements, they do. This is a bit tough, then. In order to fully appreciate them, you have to not view them through a historic King Seiko lens. Nevertheless, they are marketed as King Seiko watches.
The new SJE087 does bring back the smooth sweep of a high-beat caliber and a ton of vintage charm. The SPB291 expands Seiko’s playful dial work in the King Seiko collection. So, all in all, this is a duo of solid releases that will surely hit home with Seiko aficionados.
The limited-edition SJE087 will retail for €3,300, while the boutique-only SPB291 will retail for €1,850 For more information, visit the Seiko website.