The Japanese aspired to build something that could compete with (and surpass) the greatest Swiss watches, which is how the Grand Seiko project began life. Not Rolex in particular, but rather what the Swiss stood for generally and how they might compete with it, was their point of reference. Bear with me even if I know it’s odd to begin a watch introduction concerning King Seiko watches by beginning with Grand Seiko. Grand Seiko and King Seiko were largely equivalent in the 1960s. They were designed to compete with one another, to surpass the Swiss at their own game, and to be the first watchmakers outside of Europe to attain Swiss Chronometric brilliance. Both of them were components of one whole.
The two watch-making factories—Daini Seikosha for the King Seiko line and Suwa Seikosha for the Grand Seiko line—were then converted into Seiko Instruments and Seiko Epson, respectively, once they had fulfilled their duties. Sadly, King Seiko’s reign came to an end in 1975, and the moniker King Seiko would slip into slumber. Seiko revived the King Seiko KSK with a limited edition model in 2020, then in 2021 a regular production model, which was based on the King Seiko KSK vintage model, to commemorate the company’s 140th anniversary in the watch industry since its initial debut in 1881. Now Seiko Watch Corporation has unveiled two new self-winding mechanical watches in the prestigious King Seiko line.
King Seiko Reference SJE087 features a champagne silver dial and gold color hands and hour markers, it still hits that vintage look and feel. The SJE087 has a 38.1mm x 11.4mm Zaratsu-polished case with all the fine facets and angles that go back to the traditional series’ exquisite brilliance. Retaining the slim profile of the original, owning to the ultra-thin Caliber 6L35, the 26 jewel movement of this piece has a power reserve of 45 hours while displaying the hour, minute, and seconds readings with three center hands and the date at 3 o’clock. The King Seiko name and shield design are printed on the screw-in steel case back with water-resistance of 5 bar (50 meters). The Caliber 6L35 beats at 28,800 vph and offers a 45 hours autonomy. Offered on a Crocodile strap and priced at $3,300, a limited edition of 1,700 King Seiko Reference SJE087 watches will be made available beginning in July 2022 at selected Seiko boutiques and retail partners across the world.
The dial of the King Seiko Reference SPB291 features a sunray finish and a subdued fade from silver at the center to purple around the periphery in a muted purple color. The Kameido region of Tokyo, where the vintage King Seiko watches were made, served as inspiration for SPB291, whose case is also constructed from stainless steel in 37mm x 12.1mm size. This watch is protected by a steel screw-in case back and is 10 bar water-resistant (100 meters). The movement Caliber 6R31 beats at lower frequency of 21,600 vph, thus offers a much larger power reserve of 70 hours. It comes on a bracelet with additional option for a light gray leather strap with purple stitching. From July 2022, King Seiko Reference SPB291 will exclusively be offered at Seiko boutiques across the world with MSRP of $1,850.
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