In 2021, Seiko will commemorate 140 years in the watch business since its first launch in 1881, and as a result, the next year is slated to be one of the biggest yet for the Japanese watchmaker. To kick off the celebrations, the brand this week unveiled possibly its least expected revival of a vintage model, which it has dubbed the Re-creation of King Seiko KSK.
The new model is based upon the King Seiko KSK (vintage model pictured below) released in 1965, and represents a very faithful re-creation. The original vintage watch was produced, as its name indicates, under the King Seiko label, which was one of two luxury lines produced by Seiko during the mid-20th century — the other, of course, being the famous Grand Seiko collection, which still exists today as its own independent brand.
The existence of both King Seiko and Grand Seiko during the era came about a result of friendly-ish competition within the larger Seiko brand, itself made up of two large subsidiaries at the time, Suwa Seikosha and Daini Seikosha. These two subsidiaries were separated in 1959, with the express purpose of driving competition between them and, by extension, innovation in the brand. Today it is mostly Suwa’s creations that the market remembers — among them the Grand Seiko — but Daini also made many significant contributions, most notably the luxury-focused King Seiko collection.
Seiko’s introduction of the Re-creation of King Seiko KSK is significant not only because it is the company’s first explicit recognition of the King Seiko line during the modern era, but also because it comes at a time when Seiko is once again made up of two semi-independent parts: Seiko and Grand Seiko. It also comes at a time when Seiko continues to expand its own luxury offerings, bridging further into traditionally Grand Seiko space. Grand Seiko has itself already released its first 140th Anniversary watch at the start of last month, namely a special rose-gold edition re-creating the first Grand Seiko. The possibility that this King Seiko release signifies a renewed intra-company rivalry seems unlikely, but the parallels are apparent.
The steel case of the Re-creation of King Seiko KSK measures 38.1 by 11.4 mm and is finished throughout with Seiko’s signature “Zaratsu” polishing for a mirror-like shine. The case features thick lugs, beveled on their edges for a tapered look; a large, deeply grooved right-side crown; and a thin, polished bezel surrounding the boxed-shaped sapphire crystal. The case is secured to the wrist via a black crocodile strap with a vintage-style signed buckle. Interestingly — and as a testament to Seiko’s detail-oriented efforts in producing the watch — both the crown and buckle are exact re-creations of the 1965 originals.
On the dial, we find a style very familiar to Seiko fans, and what is likely to come as a major point of intrigue for fans of vintage King Seikos. The dial uses a sunray silver finish throughout, with an outer, black-dotted minute track, highlighted at each hour by applied and faceted hour markers. The 12 o’clock index is double-faceted and textured, as it was on the vintage model. At the 3 o’clock position is a beveled, outlined date window that blends casually into the overall design, while an applied Seiko logo occupies space at the top of the dial. The King Seiko logo, along with some other dial details, balances it out above 6 o’clock. Two center-mounted dauphine-style hands pass over the face, indicating the hours and minutes, accompanied by a thin seconds pointer.
Another vintage-inspired feature can be found on the solid caseback, upon which some of the watch’s various descriptors appear to be laser engraved. In the very center is a gold King Seiko emblem, in the same shield style seen on the originals. The emblem is significant in that it was produced as an alternative to the now famous lion emblem seen on Grand Seikos. Obviously, the lion emblem won out in that competition, so it’s very eye-catching to see the historical shield design on a modern watch, and it’s certain to be appreciated by collectors of both vintage and modern watches.
Behind the shield emblem, and inside the 50-meter water-resistant polished case, beats the most modern element of the “Re-creation” model: its movement. The new King Seiko KSK houses the Seiko Caliber 6L35, introduced in 2018, one of the brand’s more luxuriously appointed mechanisms. The automatic movement features a frequency of 28,800 vph, is magnetic-resistant to 4,800 A/m, hosts 26 jewels, and holds a 45-hour power reserve.
Price and Availability
The new Seiko Re-creation of King Seiko KSK will be available in January 2021, and is slated to be limited to 3,000 total editions. Currently, Seiko has announced only the European pricing of €3,400, or about $4,116 at the time of this article’s publishing.
For more information, you can visit Seiko’s website, here.