Monochrome Watches
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The New, Non-Limited & Higher-End King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091 (Live Pics & Price)

Slimmer and refined takes on the historical KSK concept, now part of the permanent collection.

| By Brice Goulard | 6 min read |
King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091

King Seiko is a name that has long resonated high in the mind of collectors and enthusiasts of Japanese watches. The result of internal rivalry with Grand Seiko, the latter made it multiple steps further by becoming its own, stand-alone brand, while King Seiko somehow fell into oblivion. Up until 2020, when the Seiko Watch Corporation decided it was time to bring back this name under the spotlights. This has been done with two distinct collections; first high-end recreations released in limited numbers; then more accessible & modernized models with the taste of the past, but not the same mechanical panache. Today, Seiko expands the KSK-inspired collection with two slimmer, high-end and non-limited models, the SJE089 and SJE091. 

King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091

Here is not the place to remake the entire history of King Seiko. This has been done already in this article, which we encourage you to read if you want to increase your Japanese watchmaking knowledge. What’s important to know about King Seiko, in addition to the internal rivalry with Grand Seiko back in the early 1960s, is what these watches were. It resulted from the decision to make a sub-brand capable of creating the most advanced, precise and luxurious watches of the brand. The Suwa Seikosha production site will propose Grand Seiko in 1960. The Daini Seikosha site reacted with its own vision of a high-end, ultra-precise watch, which was named King Seiko. The internal rivalry between the two wholly-owned subsidiaries had led to the race of becoming the company’s flagship brand, and Grand Seiko, knowing its current position, surely won the title.

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King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091

Yet, back in the day, King Seiko’s watches were rather impressive, whether for their execution or the precision of their movements. They even competed in several chronometry tests, including the Neuchatel Observatory Competitions, both in 1964 and 1967, with seriously good results. The most notable of all watches produced by KS was the reference 44-9990, with its hand-wound calibre 44A. Also known as the KSK (KS meaning King Seiko and the K at the end being the acronym for Kisei-Tsuki, stop-seconds in Japanese), it will serve as an inspiration for the comeback of the name in late 2020.

King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091

The return of the name has been done in two distinct manners. First, a series of limited edition models with a faithful recreation of the design and higher-end calibres – seen in two iterations, either with a silver dial (SJE083) or a champagne dial (SJE087). All other King Seiko watches that we’ve covered (such as the 37mm no-date and the 39mm date) are not playing in the same league and are to be seen as evocations of the style, without the mechanical prestige.

Today, Seiko expands the higher-end collection with two non-limited models, continuations to the SJE083 and SJE087. Playing in the same price range, these are some of the most refined watches in the brand’s portfolio, even though you’ll need a trained eye and a close encounter to differentiate them from a more accessible version from the SPBxxx range. In fact, these could also be seen as bigger brothers to these aforementioned lower-end versions… It’s all a bit confusing, I know. Visually, they are indeed closer to the SPBxxx models and don’t try too hard to recreate the original KSK models, and at the same time, they share their specifications, movement and refinement with the two limited editions above.

King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091

What has Seiko done with these new King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091? First of all, the brand has reworked the case. If the look is unmistakably that of the original 1965 watch, with its signature faceted lugs and flat flanks, these two watches are both slightly larger than the 2020 and 2022 limited editions – now 38.6mm in diameter vs. 38.1mm before – and yet slightly slimmer – 10.7mm in height vs. 11.4mm before. This is due to a combination of slimmer lugs, which are still faceted, with large, flat planes and sharp angles, enhancements in the case construction and the boxed-shaped crystal whose height has been reduced. In fact, these are thinner then the original hand-wound 1965 watch.

King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091

The finishing of the case is fairly pleasant, with mostly distortion-free, mirror-polished surfaces (Zaratsu-like) and nicely executed hairlines on top areas. The back, screwed and in solid steel, is decorated with the King Seiko emblem, but gone is the nice golden medallion of the two limited editions. Water-resistance is still rated at 50m. For the first time in this higher-end range, these two watches are now offered on a steel bracelet. It does participate greatly in the appeal of these watches, with a combination of technicality and vintage charm. Composed of 7 links, the flat surfaces are brushed and all the links are deeply faceted for a nice depth effect on the wrist.

As for the dials, we can also see a streamlined take. Available in silver (SJE089) or black (SJE091), they now have more classic literature at 6 o’clock, with the Diashock mention replaced by a slightly too generic Automatic text. It’s not all negative though, as there’s a real sense of refinement on these dials. It’s all very discreetly executed, but surely, with a lot of care. The hands and markers have strong polished bevels on the sides and the dials have been reworked with a more understated and delicate sunray finishing technique that’s closer to the original watch. A small difference can be seen between the two dials; the silver edition has entirely polished hands and markers, while the black edition features a fine hairline finish on top of the hands and markers to heighten the level of contrast with the dial’s dark surface.

King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091

Under the hood is the calibre 6L35, a slimline in-house movement often reserved for the brand’s Presage limited edition. This calibre 6L35 was presented in 2018 as a thinner alternative (3.7mm in height), but also a movement with finer regulation than the other calibre of the brand. Beating at 4Hz and boasting 45 hours of power reserve, it is given for -10/+15 seconds/day.

King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091

But… Combined with the presence of a date window (which wasn’t part of the original watch), this generic, slightly disappointing accuracy range is the main complaint we’ve expressed and continue to express regarding these higher-end editions. After all, King Seiko was all about utmost accuracy. Why not push the envelope further and fine-tune this very capable calibre 6L35 to a higher, chronometer-like grade…? That would be a relevant tribute to King Seiko’s name, and in line with the asked price.

Availability & Price

Launched as part of the permanent collection, the King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091 are not limited and will be available in July 2023. They will be priced at EUR 3,400. More details at

23 responses

  1. If you have 3.400€ for this King Seiko, you’re probably better stretching yourself to a “real” Grand Seiko like the SBGW231 (4.600€).

  2. Thank you!! For the comment about the mediocre accuracy for this price point. The GS SBGWs are manual, but yeah…how about the 281, 283, or 285 at $4600. Come on
    , Seiko, that accuracy spec is basically the same as an Elabore 2824, and not as good as a 2892…with only slightly better PR. Not good enough for the asking price.

  3. sorry, but that price … is just wrong. I would always rather pick up a used GS at this price.

  4. A nice looking watch but at that price you are very close to Tudor territory with a quantum leap in time keeping.

  5. Lovely, but I still prefer the details of the SJE083 (gold medallion case back/polished lugs/crocodile strap/thicker boxed sapphire) and was able to pick up a new one for considerably less than the list price of these versions. As for stretching for Grand Seiko, as a long time Seiko fan that can afford GS at this stage of my modest existence, I prefer to fly under the radar and appreciate not having the GS logo on the watch. Fit and finish on the SJE083 (and I assume this newer models) is certainly up there with entry level GS. Accuracy is not the reason that these watches exist so if that’s a concern Seiko offers plenty of SD/quartz options to address that focus.

  6. Why would you spend Tudor money on a watch that has such wide accuracy specs? You can buy watches from Oris, Longines etc which all have COSC specs. Or pay a bit extra for a GS. I don’t understand what market they are aiming at here? If the price was 1500 to 2000 then possibly, but even then I am not sure who it appeals to. The 50 m water resistance is another nail in the coffin of what seems like a poorly thought out product. There is so much more out there.

  7. Wow I’d be really interested to hear what Seiko marketing department had in mind when they issued this. In this price range only Seiko collectors and enthusiasts would consider buying it, but those same enthusiasts know very well what King Seiko stood for and I doubt they will be too crazy about this. I love Seiko and have several high end pieces, but would never consider this watch, not even for <500 Eur.

  8. I just came for the well deserved price and accuracy comments 🙂

  9. Some people said Seiko were pushing their luck a bit with the ~£800 SPB range with the 6R35. Then with the SPB KSK, the feedback was they were pushing it even more at ~£1500 with the same class of movement

    So the answer is the same class of movement again, but at ~£3000. Perhaps slightly better regulated but even so.

    Most of my watch collection is made up of Seiko but this makes no sense to me at all. For the price it has to be an 8R movement or what’s the point. And for some reason I prefer the looks of the SPB KSK

  10. With this pricing Seiko is trying to push consumers to Grand Seiko.

    Amazing design though…

  11. Read carefully, It is 6L move not 6R. 6L is high-end movement like 8L but needed to be regulated better by Seiko. But once regulated, both 6L and 8L are impressively stable and almost no variation at any position. I.e. my 8L stays at 1sec/d at any position on timegrapher. For those who think MT5402 is a better movement, I just LoL. Put my MT5402 on timegrapher, it was all over the place, i.e. +4s/d dial up, -3s/d crown down +6s/d 12 down etc. Yea sure overall it performs +2s/d on wrist. But on timegrapher you could see MT5402 performs just like a top grade ETA2824. You know the original smiley BB was using ETA until Swatch threatened to stop supplying them outside of the group. So MT5402 is merely a replacement to ETA so it performs like a top grade ETA with better PR, that all. Even its finishing is just like top grade ETA. Try open up the BB58 and look at the MT5402, and compare it to 8L35B, you will see the difference on the finishing. 6L is also better finished than MT5402.

  12. I wonder if all these accuracy people walk around with a timegrapher strapped to their other wrist? 🤔

  13. I must admit I took the 6L35 to be a slimline 6R35. It’s an unfortunate name. Have done a bit more reading and can appreciate that the movement is different, but the overall proposition is still not ideal for the price tag.

  14. @Z Thank you for the information. I wonder why Seiko says that the accuracy is between -10 to 15 seconds when the actual accuracy is much better.

  15. Anyway, the comments regarding the accuracy are way overblown. -10 to +15 seconds per day is still very accurate for mechanical watches, and in practice it isn’t much different from chronometer. Let’s say, it’s 15 seconds fast per day. If you wear it for a week, it’ll be 63 seconds or about 1 minute faster than a chronometer certified watch that runs 6 seconds fast per day. Obviously, it’ll be better if it’s more accurate. There are many much more expensive watches that aren’t chronometer certified, though.

  16. My SPB369 (champagne linen dial 39mm) runs +0.5 s/d, but my other 6R’s tend to run significantly slow.
    I struggle to see who would buy this over the 6R versions at a third the price.

  17. @JamesL +0.5 second per day is impressive. Is the SPB369 a King Seiko model? How slow your other watches run?

  18. I am fascinated by people defending this piece. The retro design is undermined by the date window. The movement is disappointing. The finish is just okay. And the price tag is laughable, especially when you consider what else you could buy at that pricepoint. I’m sure it will be rare, but not for any good reason.

  19. @Chris If you mean the accuracy, there are many much more expensive watches that aren’t chronometer certified as I said. Do you complain about those watches? Regarding the date, I prefer no-date watches, but I don’t see how having a date undermines retro design of watches. A date window is an ancient design. It was introduced more than 90 years ago.

  20. By the way, on the whole, the case and bracelet finishing and the quality of the hands and indices are on the same level as those of much more expensive watches such as Rolex and Omega watches.

  21. Grand Seiko and King Seiko owner here. My thoughts: I’m not sure why Seiko reports this movement with such wide accuracy specs. On the timegrapher, the watch at the 12 o’clock position, it was at 0 seconds and with the watch laying down, it was +6 seconds which falls in line with a chronometer grade movement. I wish Seiko would be more truthful in reporting the accuracy specs. They turn away more customers by doing this. Also, a chronometer grade movement MUST be manufactured in Switzerland or COSC will not test the movement. This sounds reminiscent of what these Swiss snobs did to Seiko is the late 60’s. I have the Cherry Blossom SBGA413 and I am selling it because the dial is hard to read and it is a scratch monster, The was the titanium is finished and the lack of a super hard coating makes it very easy to accrue scratches. These King Seikos (SJE083, SJE089, SJE091) have dials that are easy to read, have a super hard coating on the case and bracelets and have finishing that is on par with Grand Seikos. Also, I love the 38 millimeter case size and the case width is perfect too.

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