“The King (Seiko) is dead, long live the King (Seiko)!”
You had to know this line was coming, right? With the revival of the King Seiko name as part of another sub-brand within Seiko’s ranks instead of a limited run (looking at you KSK SJE083) model, the KS collection truly is alive and kicking! In any case, the King Seiko range kicks off with five references. All of them are identical under the skin with the only differences being purely on the aesthetic side.
With that said, let’s dive in.
“First, the numbers!”
As mentioned, all five models come in a 37 mm stainless steel case that stands at 12.1 mm. The mix of brushed and polished finishing has been, in true Seiko fashion, used to devastating effect. The lugs are faceted and broad, an element that’s clearly inspired by the ’65 original, while the bezel itself is polished. Can anyone say “Grammar of Design” done right? In terms of wearability, the lug to lug length of 43.6 mm means this watch sits very nicely on my 6-inch wrist.
There’s a boxed sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective coating) which further adds to the retro vibe of the KS. Elsewhere, the screw-down crown has the King Seiko emblem etched in while the same shield can be seen on the solid, screw-down caseback as well.
As for the movement, it’s Seiko’s automatic 6R31 calibre beating within the case. The 24-jeweled movement beats at 3 Hz and has a power reserve of 70 hours plus hacking and hand-winding. It’s essentially the same unit as the 6R35 but without a date window (yes!). Accuracy gets rated at +25/-15 secs per day and water resistance is rated at 100 m.
“Now, what sets these Kings apart?”
As mentioned, there are five variants. For now.
First off, the SBP281. This, unlike the other four, features vertical brushing as opposed to a sunray burst-type of dial texture. While some may say it’s silver, to my eyes at least, it looks like a flat grey instead. There’s no lume as well but with the amount of light play the KS has, you have to find yourself in pitch black darkness to lose track of time.
Text is kept minimal with only ‘King Seiko’ and ‘Automatic’ at the 6 o’clock-mark. Elsewhere, it’s all polished, faceted and applied hour markers and logo. Echoing the original, the 12 o’clock marker has a ‘double baton’ with a grained texture. In keeping with the ‘Grammar’, the dauphine hands are faceted, flat and Zaratsu-polished.
Moving on to the other silver/light grey sunray burst option, we have the SPB279. At first, this one may seem like the most conservative choice but spend more time with it and I reckon it’ll begin to grow on you. The fact that this dial is reduced to the bare minimum but with the same level of finishing as any of the rest will also mean that it’s going to age the best.
SPB279 (left) and SPB281 (right).
The ones looking for more daring choices might wanna’ check out the SPB283 with its deep, charcoal dial or the SPB285 with a dark amber dial. I’m still pretty bitter that the SPB287 with its burgundy, wine-red dial wasn’t around when we checked in for photos.
My personal pick of the bunch? If you asked me earlier, I would’ve gone with the SPB281 but life is short, right? Live a little, right? I’ll have the SPB285 instead.
“Leather or steel?”
All references come as standard with a brushed stainless steel, multi-link bracelet that apes the original 1965 KS model, further bolstering the retro looks. Securing and releasing is done via a folding clasp with push-button release.
Alternatively, you can have it on a vintage-ish calf leather strap or even an artificial suede one with a King Seiko-branded pin buckle. The latter comes in light grey while opting for the leather strap opens up options to four colours. There’s grey, black, dark brown and light brown. Trouble envisioning the whole thing? Seiko has a configurator to help with that. Careful though, once you’ve locked on to your dream combo, it’s hard to let it sit on your screen.
“How much?” “Wait. Does a King even bargain?”
Yes, he does. Otherwise, how would he have been able to gain that much in one lifetime? Now before we go off on a tangent, how much for this King? The King Seiko collection kicks off at RM7,700. That basically puts it on a range that’s higher than what most Seikos costs but a lot lower than even your entry level Grand Seiko.
Sounds like a potential win to me. Would I ever consider adding one to the collection? YES. In fact, I’d go as far to say that this can be a one-watch… err, watch should your lifestyle lean on the more relaxed, non-sporty side of things. Spend a majority of your time in executive clothes and/or smart casual outfits? It’s just a strap swap away.
Now, I’ll stop before I convince myself to commit to another nonsensical financial decision.