Back in late 2020, Seiko released their recreation of the King Seiko KSK, a limited edition version of the second ever King Seiko. At the time of that release, many wondered about what this meant for the future of the King Seiko name. I think many expected that in short order we’d see more King Seiko releases, perhaps modeled after other important references in the brand’s history, and maybe some modern interpretations of vintage references, which is so common in today’s watch world. Well, a year passed, and if the barrage of releases from Seiko and Grand Seiko hasn’t made you nearly forget that they really did in fact bring King Seiko back for a fleeting moment, perhaps this new release is for you. Marking what appears to be a newly permanent presence in the Seiko catalog, today we’ve got the all new King Seiko Collection, a new series of watches heavily indebted to the King Seiko aesthetic of the past.
If you’re new to all this and wondering what King Seiko even is, and why we care about it, it’s worth stopping for a moment and remembering how we got here. The tale of King Seiko is often told with the same verve as a superhero origin story, and for some collectors and enthusiasts it’s foundational to Seiko and its various offshoots and sub brands are understood to this day. Basically, the brand was launched to compete with Grand Seiko, a new high-end marque under the Seiko umbrella meant to compete with the luxury Swiss houses. The thinking was that two brands charged with the same mission would spur competition and make eachother better in the process. Throughout the 60s, both brands produced some designs that have become genuine classics, but Grand Seiko has been favored by history, leaving King Seiko to sit undiscovered until you stumble upon a very specific pocket of Seiko lore. That’s all well and good for collectors, though. Vintage King Seiko remains one of the absolute best buys on the secondhand market.
What we have here are five new watches, all modeled after the original King Seiko KSK. Yes, so was that earlier limited edition from 2020, but these new releases are more directly vintage inspired in size and proportion, coming in at just 37mm in diameter (and 12mm thick) with case lines that mimic the original a little more closely than the 2020 LE. The lug profile appears to be exactly the same, and the bracelet is a modern recreation of the vintage style that was common on original King Seiko references. A box sapphire crystal is another detail that gives these new King Seikos some additional 60s charm.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of this release is that it’s not just a single watch – we’re getting a total of five King Seikos. Dial colors include silver (SPB279) as well as light gray (SPB281), charcoal gray (SPB283), red (SPB287), and brown (SPB285). We know: earth tone fans have already stopped reading and placed a call to their AD. Are we really getting multiple shades of gray, here? Yes, it appears we are.
The new King Seiko collection is powered by Seiko’s 6R31 movement, which offers 70 hours of power reserve. It’s not the most luxurious or high end Seiko caliber, but it’s a proven entity that will get the job done, which is important for a watch that, based on its appealing size, owners will actually want to wear frequently.
This is an exciting release for Seiko collectors, but it also raises even more questions about what, exactly, King Seiko is in 2022. Time will tell as more watches see the light of day whether this new Seiko category exists to pick releases from an extensive back catalog of vintage gems (similar to what Longines has been doing so well in recent years) or if we’ll see some contemporary, original designs mixed in as well. There’s a lot of potential either way, and of course the powers that be don’t have to actually choose – they can elect to do a little of both. For now, we’re excited to get a look at the newest King Seikos in the metal, hopefully soon.
Retail pricing is set at $1,700 and availability is expected in February. Seiko