Earlier this year King Seiko released two non-limited edition and higher-end watches, the SJE089 and SJE091, to start rounding out the relatively newly-revived portion of the Seiko brand. The watches were slightly upsized from previous King Seiko limited edition releases –38.6mm in diameter versus 38.1mm – and slightly thinner too – 10.7mm compared to 11.4mm but otherwise stuck to the heritage and design language of the original 1965 King Seiko icon.
Now King Seiko is back with the SJE095 “chrysanthemum” dial in a limited edition of 600 pieces for €3,500. The chrysanthemum is one of Japan’s national flowers, with great significance in Japanese culture, representing longevity and rejuvenation – an apt pick for a newly rejuvenated brand. The dial design is done with a pattern of finely intersecting lines called kiku tsunagi-mon which is especially associated with edo-kiriko glassware, a form of traditional cut glass considered to be one of the most popular craftworks from Japan. The watch features the same Caliber 6L35 in-house slimline movement often found in Seiko Presage series watches, with 45 hours of power reserve and a date at three o’clock. Also the same is the sharp, angular stainless steel case with high polish (but not Zaratsu) surfaces, 50m of water resistance, and theKing Seiko emblem on the caseback. The watch comes on a seven-link stainless steel bracelet with a grey leather strap is included. If you’re interested in picking one up, you can do so at Seiko boutiques and select retailers in a few months, starting October 2023. While I’ve never gone brand-by-brand through every single SKU released in a year, I have to imagine that Seiko might be one of the most active brands in the market. Across the board, I’m generally a fan of the finishing and design across Seiko and Grand Seiko, but like a lot of enthusiasts was curious to see what would happen when Grand Seiko started to move more upmarket. With the King Seiko line reintroduced in 2021 and its permanent collection in 2022, Seiko covered even more ground, and gave me hope for the kind of value proposition I was looking for. But unfortunately, I’m still waiting to be blown away. The company is obviously taking cues from King Seiko’s sister brands. Here we have what amounts to a fine nature-inspired dial that is otherwise just a variation on the existing King Seiko SJE089 and SJE09 that were announced a few months ago, a move straight out of the Grand Seiko playbook. While the price should theoretically be positioned between the average Seiko and GS, at $3,400 it’s also dangerously close to GS’s line, especially since that’s far more than the entry-level SBGX Grand Seiko quartz line. Time will tell if King Seiko can start to find its footing as its own distinct brand among its more established siblings.