Monochrome Watches
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The All-New Seiko King Seiko Collection Brings Back the Flair of the KSK

Straight-up vintage looks with modern mechanics as King Seiko returns as a stand-alone collection.

| By Robin Nooy | 6 min read |
2022 Seiko King Seiko Collection SPB279

In late 2020, Seiko announced something very special, at least to people with some knowledge of the brand’s history and evolution through the decades. While Seiko was founded in 1881 and through the years saw immense prosperity, it has many fascinating chapters in that long history. Today it is one of the biggest watch manufacturers in the world, with a vast collection housed under various sub-labels or even as separate brands. The introduction of the King Seiko KSK SJE083 towards the end of 2020 revived the fabled internal rivalry with Grand Seiko. That watch left us wondering whether Seiko would do more with the King Seiko legacy than just this one-time limited edition? Surely not! So with a resounding “Long live the King”, we formally welcome back the King Seiko collection and the introduction of five new references. And they are non-limited, more compact and more accessible.

2022 Seiko King Seiko Collection SPB279 SPB287
The new Seiko King Seiko Collection SPB279 (silver) and SPB287 (red)

Like various other brands, Seiko has often relied on a sub-branded range of watches to target new audiences or present a substantially different style. By now, we’re all very familiar with Seiko, Grand Seiko and probably, to a lesser extent, King Seiko. The fact that this name returns in the permanent collection is a testament to the importance of King Seiko to the Seiko Corporation. Without it, the brand simply wouldn’t be where it is today.

A fruitful internal rivalry

As we explained in the hands-on review of the King Seiko KSK SJE083, both the Grand Seiko and King Seiko sub-brands result from the internal rivalry between the Daini Seikosha and Suwa Seikosha factories. We’ve said it then, and we’ll say it again: competition leads to growth, evolution and ultimately change.

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An example of the 1965 King Seiko KSK watch, with its calibre 44A

The first product following Seiko’s decision to put the Suwa Seikosha factory in charge of creating a luxurious, more precise type of wristwatch was labelled Grand Seiko. A year later, and not to be deterred by Seiko’s aforementioned decision, the Daini Seikosha factory would present their own under the King Seiko name.

An example of vintage King Seiko 44-9990 – image by

Soon after, both would follow suit with design guidelines determined by Taro Tanaka. Mr Tanaka set apart Seiko from the traditional (read Swiss) style by defining a simple yet effective set of rules, the so-called “Grammar of Design”. In essence, this meant cases had to be shaped and finished free of distortion, bezels had to be simple, and hands had to be sharp and mainly flat. This is still very much part of Grand Seiko’s watchmaking language and philosophy today and applies to King Seiko as well.

The Seiko Re-creation of King Seiko KSK SJE083J1 limited edition of late 2020

The Return of The King

The King Seiko KSK SJE083 Limited Edition from late 2020 was modelled directly after the 1965 King Seiko 44-9990, albeit in a slightly more modern execution. While the shape of the case and the overall look and feel very much has that distinct 1960s style, Seiko has taken a few liberties with the SJE083. Liberties that are now more or less corrected with this King Seiko collection.

2022 Seiko King Seiko Collection SPB279

The new range comes in five references, all featuring a 37mm sized case very close to the original King Seiko 44-9990. The sharp and angular case, with a height of 12.1mm and brushed and polished finishings, looks very close to the original. The faceted lugs, for instance, are directly taken from the 1965 model. The boxed sapphire crystal gives it that quintessential style of the 1960s. Both the crown and the caseback are finished with the King Seiko emblem that was introduced with the original one.

2022 Seiko King Seiko Collection SPB279

The King Seiko comes in five different dial colours, each with its own flair. The most accurate one in relation to the 44-9990 is the silver dial with sunray brushing, which is reference SPB279. Next, there’s also a silver, or actually light-grey dial with straight brushing, the SBP281. And then, there are three darker dials: charcoal grey (SPB283), brown (SPB285) or burgundy red (SPB287). All dials are finished with applied, polished indices. Just like the 44-9990, the marker at 12 is double the width of the rest and given a fine pyramid-like pattern on the top surface. And like the original,  it lacks a date indication, keeping the dial clean and balanced. In line with the “Grammar of Design”, the hour and minute hands are flat with a Zaratsu-polished, faceted finish (without the high-end bevels found on the limited SJE083, however) combined with a needle-thin seconds hand.

2022 Seiko King Seiko Collection SPB283

Modern Mechanics

The King Seiko is outfitted with the in-house calibre 6R31, which is closely linked to the 6R35. Using the same mechanical architecture, the 6R31 has 24 jewels and runs at a frequency of 21,600vph. The only difference between this and the 6R35 variant is the absence of the date indication, and as a result, the number of jewels is reduced by two. The movement is accurate to run within +15/-25 seconds per day, just like its dated cousin, the 6R35.

Bracelet, availability & price

To complete the very retro-like appeal of the new King Seiko collection, it comes on a stainless steel multi-link bracelet, very much like the one on the original 1965 model. The faceted links, tapering from case to folding buckle, have a brushed finish with polished bevels. As an alternative option, each reference is also supplied with vintage-styled leather straps with a pin buckle bearing the King Seiko name.

Where the King Seiko SJE083 was a bit pricey, the new King Seiko collection retails for a more reasonable EUR 1,700. This puts it directly between the average top-end of Seiko and below Grand Seiko’s entry-level models.

Final Thoughts

Simply put, we love the fact Seiko has brought the King Seiko philosophy back from the past. And to do it in such a faithful and respectful way is all the more reason to be excited. Even on a wrist as big as our editor (Robin has a 19cm wrist circumference), the 37mm sized case looks well proportioned. The dials are fun and offer an appealing variety of colours. Go for the traditional silver one of the original, or a more daring burgundy red, and you will not be disappointed.

2022 Seiko King Seiko Collection SPB279

The only slight complaint we have regards the accuracy of the automatic movement. As King Seiko, much like Grand Seiko, stems from the idea to build the best and most precise watch possible, the precision of the calibre 6R31 is a bit of a let-down. Running within +25/-15 seconds per day means there’s a lot of room for improvement. Other than that, very well done, Seiko! Long live the King!

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15 responses

  1. No its not but waterproof 100m. This is the best release from Seiko!!!

  2. +25/-15 … NOPE! Not me, never again. Massive let-down for me Robin.

  3. I would agree about the accuracy, an ETA powered watch at that price would do an awful lot better. Other than that, nice watches. I would happily wear one unlike Hublot et al

  4. It seems they have denigrated the name “King Seiko” with a pedestrian movement. To redeem themselves they should “tune” this movement with whatever of their bin of parts necessary to bring it in line with the Grand Seiko, then they would have a winner. Love the smaller size a move in the right direction. Right now it seems just a marketing ploy to trade on the famous “in fight” of the past. A slight rise in price would be acceptable if they would improve the accuracy of the movement.

  5. I like the look but it’s going to devalue the KS label (and ultimately probably the value of my vintage KS collection!). These are low-end mechanical watches with movements not worthy of the KS legacy, not real King Seikos.We would never see a Grand Seiko at this pricepoint / accuracy, so why a King Seiko? These aren’t even worthy of the Lordmatic badge.

  6. As a SDKA001/SJE083 (the proper reissue) and the ORIGINAL KS 44-9990 owner, i am quite disheartened that Seiko chose to cheapen “King Seiko” title by launching these half baked series. The only things that are good, are the dials and the 12 o’clock marker. The rest are just plain bad for King Seiko reputation and prestige.

    King Seiko is well known for its precision, finishing, and the ultimate quality. The one King to rule them all. But this series are nothing like that. In fact these are more like “Prince Seikos”.

    6R31 movement? 21600bph and such accuracy range is simply unacceptable. The caseback emblem is even worse than the 90s Seiko 5 Superior Lion emblem. Even the original 44-9990 is having gold plated and complicated emblem. Cheap bracelets and lugs + regular polishing are still fine for a 300-600$ presage, but at this price? NOPE.

    1700 Euro for such spec? Believe me, if i have that 1700 Euro, i do not mind to spend another 1400 euro for the KSK reissue. At least i get the best of the best with KSK reissue (limited edition some more)

    It is one of the biggest mistake Seiko ever made, using “King Seiko” to launched a series of Overpriced Presages. It should have been named other than “King Seiko”, because they are not, not at all. Right when I was thinking Seiko is heading to a right direction with their Gen 4 Samurais, they really mess their momentum again.

  7. 1,700 for a 21,600? Never ever! I take a second 1,700 and buy a used GS!

  8. Disappointed that they cheapened the higher-end rerelease. They could have pulled any one of a number of King references for these models, but they stayed with the same vintage reference. Why would you do that?

    Seiko really doesn’t have any strategy. The never ending limited editions and the polluting of premium vs standard brands. Grand Seiko should be >= King Seiko… but King Seiko should not be <= Presage.

  9. With the bracelet, design, and right proportions, I don’t care about the movement used here. 6R31 is still going to be super accurate on daily use. I see Longines to be the main competitor for this price which offers chronometer grade ultra thin movements with great finishing and a Swiss badge.

    My ultimate King Seiko would be this watch with chronometer certified 4Hz movement, and a bracelet held together by screws. The KS SPB279 bracelet design and the beads of rice bracelet from GS SBGW235 are the best bracelet designs made by Seiko so far.

  10. Agreed as for many of the comments here. I have a Seiko Presage (SARX055) with the 6R35 movement, and it was about $900 (US). Fundamentally, it’s not very different than this King Seiko model. I have been considering a Grand Seiko, spring drive model lately. A King Seiko with a high beat movement or an undecorated spring drive movement as Seiko has used in the past, might be a good upgrade for this watch. Add a screw down crown with a price point between a high end Presage and a Grand Seiko and I think you have a winner on your hands, er, wrist. I’ll wait for that. The burgundy dial is lovely.

  11. The watch looked a lot better in the photos than in real life. The bracelet felt delicate and flimsy. The dome crystal was cute, but overall it felt like a swatch in stainless steel.

  12. As a small point of possible interest. The Daini Seikosha factory that you mention… “Daini” (第二) merely means “number two”. It is in fact now called Seiko Epson Toyoshina Plant No. 2 Factory Building (セイコーエプソン豊科事業所第二工場棟) which is about a 30 minute drive north of the Suwa Seiko Epson headquarters, so also in Nagano Prefecture. I happen to live near a third factory, 30 minutes drive to the south of the Suwa headquarters, in a place called Fujimi.
    It appears that the new King Seiko is not popular in Japan, though the older generation models are, and fetch a high price (in reasonable condition 50% to 80% of a new generation watch). I agree that the mechanism could be a higher grade given the price (here it is ¥198,000). I also think that Seiko has lost its way with design, eg the dial of the expensive new limited Alpinist should have had “Alpinist” written instead of “Automatic”. Perhaps minor quibbles but these are the things that make or break a product.
    Best wishes from Japan.

  13. -15/+25 is extreme. In reality I get about +10/day which isn’t so bad. Besides, isn’t that the real charm of these mechanical watches?


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