Some things are as sure as the rising sun, and in the Land of the Rising Sun, that means nature-inspired dials from Seiko…King Seiko, to be exact. As friendly divisional rivals in the 60s and early 70s, the workshops of King Seiko and Grand Seiko challenged one another while pushing the technical and aesthetic envelope of Japanese watchmaking. While some consider GS victorious as the KS name was sunsetted in 1975, the reality is that both were instrumental in establishing Seiko’s mid-century identity. More recently, Grand Seiko has spun off as a high-end, independent brand, and the King Seiko nameplate was rebooted in February of last year as a more premium offering within Seiko. Today, we take a look at a watch that isn’t entirely new yet brings an interesting flourish to the recently resurrected collection.
The SJE095’s specifications are reasonable for the average wrist: 38.6mm x 45.8mm x 10.7mm, 5 bar water resistance, and powered by in-house caliber 6L35 (28,800 vph, 45 hour power reserve, +15/-10s a day) with a date complication and boxed sapphire crystal. Like the other SJE and SPB-reference King Seikos, it features a striking stainless steel case, sharp angles, and expansive flat surfaces, attributes of the original 1965 KSK on which the entire modern KS line is based.
This new dial features a self-repeating pattern of circles and fine lines known as kiku tsunagi-mon. This particular design holds special significance in Japanese culture for several reasons. First, it is symbolic of the Chrysanthemum, a flower considered lucky, and to my knowledge, Seiko has not used this motif on any other watch to date. Kiku tsunagi-mon is also associated with Japanese glassware known as edo-kiriko, which translates to “faceted objects of Edo”. This form of glassmaking is so popular that the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry declared it an official Traditional Craft of Japan. Considering the fact that the city called Edo was eventually renamed Tokyo, edo-kiriko is quite the appropriate descriptor of many Seiko and Grand Seiko watches today.
Setting you back $3,400 USD, the SJE095 is twice as expensive as the King Seiko SPB series, slightly smaller and thicker watches with lower-tier 6R35 movements. Further, there are numerous COSC certified watches out there for far less money, and +15/-10s a day simply isn’t impressive. This price also happens to be the entry point into Grand Seiko’s Heritage Collection, but given the SJE095’s unique dial, numbered production, and distinct KS design language, it is a wholly different proposition. If the lore of King Seiko intrigues you, and this new Chrysanthemum sounds (or smells) good to you, be sure to inquire at your nearest Seiko retailer. These will be available in select stores in October as a limited run of 600 pieces. Learn more at Seikowatches.com.