Seiko Revives the King Seiko

More affordable, less grand.

Introduced just over a year ago, the King Seiko KSK “44KS” Re-creation SJE083 was the surprise comeback of the King Seiko label that had been dormant for decades.

Though it was a limited edition, the SJE083 hinted at the possibility of King Seiko returning as a regular production offering. Perhaps quicker than expected, that has happened with the introduction of the King Seiko.

A single model that’s in four variants, the new King Seiko is effectively vintage in both size and style, being modelled on the original KSK of 1965.

The original King Seiko KSK of 1965

Initial thoughts

Sitting in between Grand Seiko and the Seiko Presage in both price and positioning, King Seiko is the brand’s affordable entry into vintage-inspired design – while incorporating Grand Seiko vibes – with its sharply faceted case and, for the first time, a bracelet.

The bracelet gives the new King Seiko something of an integrated-bracelet feel, which puts it in competition with more modern offerings, including the Citizen Series 8.

But the new King Seiko stands out for its old-school design that’s faithful to the original. The strict adherence to historical design is the norm for Seiko remakes, although most of the brand’s remakes have been limited editions. Because King Seiko a regular production offering, it is far more accessible, both in terms of price and availability.

It does away with the date, unlike the earlier SJE083

The only possible drawback is repositioning of King Seiko, which now sits lower in the Seiko brand hierarchy than the vintage original.

While King Seiko was originally conceived as a rival to Grand Seiko – and it was in the 1960s -today’s King Seiko is far more entry level. It’s powered by the 6R31 movement, a basic workhorse that’s also found in watches that cost far less like the Presage and Prospex.

That said, it makes sense to debut a mid-range line up so the 6R31 movement is inevitable, but it’s also possible that higher-end models will be introduced later on.

New faces for an old look

Though the King Seiko is vintage in design, it is available with five different dials, including the classic, “sunray” silver that’s straight out of the 1965 KSK. The rest are striking, contemporary colours, including brown or red.

The modern colours are clearly an important aspect of the King Seiko as Seiko has built a strap simulator that allows for experimenting with various strap and dial combinations for the King Seiko – a plus for potential owners as this does look good with a leather band.

The “aged” leather strap that’s fitted with a vintage-style buckle

Faceted from end to end

At a glance, the case of the new King Seiko is almost identical to that of the original, save for subtle differences. One being the lugs, which flow outwards more smoothly from the case band, endowing it with a more organic form. In contrast, on the vintage original the lugs are wider and straighter.

The steel case isn’t finished with Zaratsu – a technique of flat polishing – meaning it will not have the same shine as Grand Seiko cases, but fair considering the price

But the King Seiko is still appealing for its compact format, as the 37 mm size is uncommon for a modern Seiko.

That said, the real highlight is arguably the bracelet, an unusual, faceted construction that’s five links wide and evidently vintage inspired.

It is perhaps a first for a modern-day Seiko. In comparison to the case, the bracelet is more interesting because it’s different from Seiko’s other offerings, which helps the King Seiko’s value proposition.

The back is relief-engraved with the vintage King Seiko emblem

Key Facts and Price

Seiko King Seiko Collection
Ref. SPB279 (silver)
Ref. SPB281 (light grey)
Ref. SPB283 (charcoal grey)
Ref. SPB285 (brown)
Ref. SPB287 (red)

Diameter: 37 mm
Height: 12.1 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 6R31
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Bracelet

Limited edition: No
At boutiques and authorised retailers
: US$1,700, or 198,000 Japanese yen including taxes

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