Since its relaunch last year, King Seiko has emerged as something of a budget-friendly alternative to Grand Seiko with its straightforward, vintage-inspired designs. Continuing in the same direction are the latest additions to the line, the King Seiko SJE089 and SJE091.
Most notably, the new models boast a slimmer case compared to their predecessors, thanks to the higher-end cal. 6L35 inside. Despite the tweaks, both retain retro styling that pays homage to the King Seiko “KSK” from 1965.
While last year’s King Seiko models were executed well, I felt they were missing something, particularly in terms of case proportions. They were a little too thick for a vintage-style watch. Therefore, a slimmer version with the more precise cal. 6L35 movement is welcome.
The new King Seiko remains conservative in style and almost a vintage remake. However, the case is significantly slimmer at 10.7 mm, compared to over 12 mm for last year’s model. This was achieved with a flattened “box” sapphire crystal and a redesigned case middle with thinner lugs, giving it dimensions better suited to the design.
The only drawback is the price of US$3,300, which is almost double last year’s King Seiko models. While the difference is justified by the improved movement and better case proportions, it might be tough to stomach given the stylistic similarity between the two.
A slimmer case
The new additions are modelled on the “KSK” model of 1965. They have the same faceted lugs and a crosshatch-textured hour marker at 12 o’clock. They sport a case that measures 38.6 mm in diameter and 10.7 mm high, making them slimmer than last year’s model, but wider by 1.6 mm.
The new King Seikos are available in two colourways: silver (SJE089) and black (SJE091), with the silver-dial version being closest to the 1965 original. Both are three-handers that feature a date indicator at three o’clock, just like the 2020 remake (but not last year’s remake).
The pair vary very slightly beyond the dial colour. The black dial is fitted with matte, linearly-brushed hands for better legibility, while the silver dial gets mirror-finished hands.
The watches are powered by the cal. 6L35, one step up in terms of sophistication from the cal. 6R31 found in last year’s King Seiko. The cal. 6L35 is superior in two key respects, being thinner and operating at higher frequency than the cal. 6R31.
Having the same height as the ETA 2892 (considered the workhorse slim calibre in Swiss watchmaking), the cal. 6L35 operates at a higher beat rate of 4 Hz (as compared to the 3.5 Hz of the 6R31).
Key facts and price
Seiko King Seiko Collectoion
Ref. SJE089 (silver dial)
Ref. SJE091 (black dial)
Diameter: 38.6 mm
Thickness: 10.7 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 50 m
Movement: Cal. 6L35
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 45 hours
Strap: Matching bracelet
Limited edition: No
Availability: Starting June 2023 at Seiko boutiques and retailers
For more, visit seikowatches.com.