When you concentrate on high-end watches produced by the Seiko Watch Company, you’ll actually come to conclusion that there’s one different to think about, and that’s Grand Seiko. And, in at present’s context, you’d be proper to assume so. However wanting again on the model’s previous, there’s one other title that has as soon as been synonymous of excellence in watchmaking and precision; King Seiko, an inside rival of Grand Seiko. If the latter has been round for many years, King Seiko was by some means dormant, till the top of final yr when, within the body of its one hundred and fortieth anniversary, Seiko decided to re-create an emblematic watch, the King Seiko KSK. It took us a while to get our palms on one in every of these SJE083, and I used to be wanting to see if it lived as much as its title. Let’s dig in.
The results of a wholesome rivalry…
Say what you need, however competitors could be a particularly wholesome problematic. There’s nothing good in being caught in your personal bubble, not taking a look at what the remainder of the world is doing. Competitors results in the necessity to develop, to evolve, to query who you might be and, consequently, to innovate and alter. That is true in all industries and watchmaking is not any stranger to this want of innovation and rivalry. This example has all the time been fairly pure for European producers, most of them being positioned in a small a part of Switzerland and thus very a lot conscious of what the neighbors had been doing… The Swiss watch trade, for a big a part of its historical past, has been constructed round an eco-system of suppliers and watch manufacturers, with horizontal integration and all sourcing elements from the identical firms.
Nevertheless, earlier than it turned the worldwide large we now know, Seiko was dealing with a difficulty well-known by most Islands, and that’s isolation from the remainder of the world. As such, Seiko has quickly developed the idea of vertical integration, with a lot of the parts produced in-house, because it couldn’t profit from the identical eco-system present in Germany or Switzerland. And the heads of the Group rapidly noticed the problem of not having this wholesome competitors as a driver for innovation. And right here comes the creation in 1960 of Grand Seiko. The corporate that was created in 1881 by Kintaro Hattori (you can read about the history of the brand here) determined to up its sport and to create a sub-brand chargeable for the manufacturing of essentially the most superior, exact and opulent watches of the model. However alone, one can do good. To do nice, you must be challenged… And this challenger will come a yr later, beneath the title King Seiko. Shocking, however this outcomes from Japan’s mentality, fairly completely different from occidentals…
Within the late Nineteen Fifties and early Sixties Seiko had two manufacturing websites: Suwa Seikosha and Daini Seikosha. Within the scope of this inside competitors to speed up innovation and push groups to do even higher, Suwa Seikosha might be chargeable for the manufacturing of Grand Seiko watches. By 1961, Daini Seikosha reacted with its personal imaginative and prescient of a high-end, ultra-precise watch, which was named King Seiko. The inner rivalry between the 2 wholly-owned subsidiaries had led to the race of changing into the corporate’s flagship model. The perfection of accuracy and precision was their widespread driving pressure for glory, so it was inevitable that each manufacturers culminated their achievements by every making a Hello-Beat timepiece. However that is one other subject that we’ve explored here.
With each firms having a formidable deal with precision, and the Sixties being an period when chronometry competitions had been nonetheless a factor for selling watches, each Grand Seiko and King Seiko will compete in a number of of those exams, together with the Neuchatel Observatory Competitions, each in 1964 and 1967 – and each got here again dwelling with fairly good outcomes!
The watch that actually is essentially the most notable from the King Seiko catalogue is the 1964 mannequin, the second era KS watch. Outfitted with the hand-wound calibre 44A beneath the reference 44-9990, this watch bore the title KSK, with KS which means King Seiko and the Ok on the finish being the acronym for Kisei-Tsuki, stop-seconds in Japanese. But, the yr 1969 will change drastically the course of issues, as Seiko launched the quartz know-how, placing a halt on the efforts of each King Seiko and Grand Seiko – quartz was so exact that the watches produced by these two entities turned out of date. And whereas Grand Seiko has been energetic nonetheless, KS has been dormant, till now.
The King Seiko KSK SJE083
Seiko has waited to be in a celebratory yr to have the emblematic title King Seiko again on the dial of a watch. No have to say, reviving this title creates excessive expectations, but additionally in at present’s context, the watch couldn’t cannibalize the manufacturing of Grand Seiko both. So the Seiko Re-Creation of King Seiko KSK is by some means a high-end Seiko, which but sits a bit beneath what Grand Seiko is at present…
Beginning with the case, we have now a right away connection between this new SJE083 and the second era King Seiko – and to make issues clear from the start, the entire watch is definitely a trustworthy re-edition of this reference 44-9990. Proportions are nice, with a compact diameter of 38.1mm and a top of 11.4mm, which includes a raised, box-shaped sapphire crystal (itself taking part in not less than 1.5mm of the peak). The watch is worn on a really (too) basic crocodile strap, which feels applicable although I’m positive future homeowners will simply discover one thing a bit extra informal and funky so as to add to this watch…
The design and the form of the case is typical of the early days of Grand Seiko and King Seiko, again at a time when the Group determined to rent an inside watch designer, Taro Tanaka – a person of significance as he merely outlined the model’s identification for the a long time to come back in what is called “The Grammar of Design.” What Tanaka did was radical and sophisticated, as he determined to set Seiko aside from the remainder of the manufacturing (perceive Swiss), by defining a number of guidelines for creating instances, particularly within the Grand Seiko and King Seiko strains. Utilizing gem slicing as a fundamental precept, he got here up in 1962 with 4 guidelines beneath the so-called “Grammar of Design” – in brief, instances, palms and dial needed to sharp and with flat surfaces to replicate gentle, bezels needed to be easy, instances needed to be completed in distortion-free sprucing and instances needed to be distinctive in form, and no extra easy spherical instances.
And looking out on the KSK, you instantly spot these guidelines. Despite the fact that the King Seiko KSK SJE083 is a reasonably easy watch, it stays however extremely graphic and much sharper than something Swiss again within the days – one thing particularly seen on the lugs. This case, manufactured from metal with super-hard coating, has crisp angles and sides throughout, reflecting gentle in all instructions. Moreover, in the identical vein as a Grand Seiko watch, the case is solely polished with the so-called Zaratsu approach, leading to pleasant distortion-free surfaces. This case is vintage-ish in its execution but additionally in its specs, with a water-resistance pretty restricted (at 50 meters, however in step with the general model).
Regardless of being a Seiko-only watch, the dial of the King Seiko KSK SJE083 wasn’t left aside. Certainly, the straightforward silvery-white base with sunray-brushed sample is nothing extraordinary, however a better look will reveal the eye to element on the palms and markers. All are solely Zaratsu polished, with the identical stage of workmanship because the case, and the super-sharp palms reveal a fantastically polished flat floor, in addition to massive bevels… One thing that appears very GS certainly (nothing flawed in that, quite the opposite). The 12 o’clock marker is particular, identical to it was within the 1964 watch, with a really nice pyramid sample on the highest floor.
One should see an evolution at 3 o’clock, as this King Seiko KSK SJE083 now encompasses a date… If not traditionally correct, not less than its integration is effectively carried out and the window is framed by a properly executed metallic factor. What does carry pleasure, however, is to see the historic “King Seiko” emblem again on the dial of a watch, subsequent to the indications of the jewel depend and Diashock.
Turning the watch over reveals a trustworthy replica of the gold emblem discovered on the unique KSK watches. A pleasant contact, this medallion, nevertheless, hides the view on the motion. Personally, I don’t thoughts because it is sensible on this historic context and a see-through caseback would have felt misplaced. Underneath this screwed again is the Seiko in-house calibre 6L35. Whereas the unique KSK was utilizing the hand-wound calibre 44A, this re-creation does issues in a contemporary method with an computerized engine – one more reason why an in depth again is extra related. A extra refined and high-end engine largely reserved for the model’s Presage restricted version, this calibre 6L35 was introduced in 2018 as a thinner different (solely 3.7mm in top), but additionally a motion with finer regulation. Beating at 4Hz and boasting 45 hours of energy reserve, it’s given for -10/+15 seconds/day.
With this Re-Creation of King Seiko KSK SJE083, the model pays a really good tribute to probably the most wonderful pages of its historical past. Certainly, one might simply level the slight lack of precision of the motion (not less than in comparison with what KS meant up to now), the presence of a date and even the very presence of an computerized winding, however all in all of the habillage just isn’t solely extraordinarily trustworthy to the unique watch but additionally finely executed – to a stage that isn’t that distant from what GS is producing. On that half, little doubt that the King Seiko KSK is lives as much as its title, nevertheless, the value (above 3K) just isn’t essentially the most accessible of the lot. Anyway, seeing the title King Seiko again on the dial of a watch is a joyful occasion!
Availability & Value
The Seiko Re-Creation of King Seiko KSK SJE083 is a restricted version of three,000 items and is now obtainable from Seiko boutiques (on-line included) and at chosen retail companions worldwide. It’s priced at EUR 3,400. For extra particulars, please go to www.seikowatches.com.