When you consider high-end watches produced by the Seiko Watch Company, you’ll definitely come to conclusion that there’s one different to contemplate, and that’s Grand Seiko. And, in immediately’s context, you’d be proper to assume so. However wanting again on the model’s previous, there may be 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 12 months when, within the body of its a hundred and fortieth anniversary, Seiko determined to re-create an emblematic watch, the King Seiko KSK. It took us a while to get our arms on one in all these SJE083, and I used to be desirous 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 will 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’re and, in consequence, 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 slightly 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 have 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 components from the identical firms.
A second era King Seiko watch – picture by vintagegsks.com
Nonetheless, earlier than it grew to become the worldwide big we now know, Seiko was going through 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 elements produced in-house, because it couldn’t profit from the identical eco-system present in Germany or Switzerland. And the heads of the Group shortly 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’ll be able to learn in regards to the historical past of the model right here) determined to up its recreation and to create a sub-brand accountable for the manufacturing of essentially the most superior, exact and splendid watches of the model. However alone, one can do good. To do nice, it’s a must to be challenged… And this challenger will come a 12 months later, beneath the title King Seiko. Stunning, however this outcomes from Japan’s mentality, fairly totally different from occidentals…
The Suwa Seikosha (used on Grand Seiko, left) and Daini Seikosha (used on King Seiko, proper) logos, printed on the dial of VFA watches (Very Wonderful Adjusted) – picture thegrandseikoguy.com
Within the late Nineteen Fifties and early Nineteen 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 can be accountable 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 frequent 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 right here.
With each firms having a formidable deal with precision, and the Nineteen Sixties being an period when chronometry competitions have been nonetheless a factor for selling watches, each Grand Seiko and King Seiko will compete in a number of of those assessments, together with the Neuchatel Observatory Competitions, each in 1964 and 1967 – and each got here again residence with fairly good outcomes!
An instance of the 1965 King Seiko KSK watch, with its calibre 44A
The watch that definitely is essentially the most notable from the King Seiko catalogue is the 1964 mannequin, the second era KS watch. Geared up 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 Okay on the finish being the acronym for Kisei-Tsuki, stop-seconds in Japanese. But, the 12 months 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 grew to become out of date. And whereas Grand Seiko has been lively nonetheless, KS has been dormant, till now.
The King Seiko KSK SJE083
Seiko has waited to be in a celebratory 12 months 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 in addition in immediately’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 immediately…
Beginning with the case, now we have 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 no less than 1.5mm of the peak). The watch is worn on a really (too) traditional crocodile strap, which feels applicable though I’m certain 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 id for the a long time to return in what is called “The Grammar of Design.” What Tanaka did was radical and complicated, as he determined to set Seiko other than 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 reducing as a fundamental precept, he got here up in 1962 with 4 guidelines beneath the so-called “Grammar of Design” – briefly, instances, arms and dial needed to sharp and with flat surfaces to mirror mild, 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 searching on the KSK, you instantly spot these guidelines. Regardless 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, fabricated from metal with super-hard coating, has crisp angles and sides throughout, reflecting mild in all instructions. Moreover, in the identical vein as a Grand Seiko watch, the case is fully polished with the so-called Zaratsu method, leading to pleasant distortion-free surfaces. This case is vintage-ish in its execution but in addition in its specs, with a water-resistance pretty restricted (at 50 meters, however consistent with the general fashion).
Regardless of being a Seiko-only watch, the dial of the King Seiko KSK SJE083 wasn’t left aside. Absolutely, the easy silvery-white base with sunray-brushed sample is nothing extraordinary, however a better look will reveal the eye to element on the arms and markers. All are fully Zaratsu polished, with the identical stage of expertise because the case, and the super-sharp arms reveal a superbly polished flat floor, in addition to giant bevels… One thing that appears very GS certainly (nothing mistaken in that, quite the opposite). The 12 o’clock marker is particular, identical to it was within the 1964 watch, with a really high-quality pyramid sample on the highest floor.
One should see an evolution at 3 o’clock, as this King Seiko KSK SJE083 now incorporates a date… If not traditionally correct, no less than its integration is effectively carried out and the window is framed by a properly executed metallic ingredient. What does carry pleasure, then again, is to see the historic “King Seiko” brand 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, nonetheless, hides the view on the motion. Personally, I don’t thoughts because it is smart 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 – another excuse 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 offered in 2018 as a thinner different (solely 3.7mm in top), but in addition 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 one of the vital wonderful pages of its historical past. Absolutely, one might simply level the slight lack of precision of the motion (no less than in comparison with what KS meant previously), the presence of a date and even the very presence of an computerized winding, however all in all of the habillage is just not solely extraordinarily trustworthy to the unique watch but in addition 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, nonetheless, the value (above 3K) is just not 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 & Worth
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.