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Seiko unveils the new King Seiko collection

Inspired by the success of the limited-edition King Seiko KSK SJE083 released last year, Seiko's new core-range collection introduces new colourways at a more affordable price point

With an enviable heritage even by watchmaking standards that can be overlooked in favour of its legendary value proposition, Seiko is a brand that's always balanced cult and mainstream appeal.

And that history isn't just a side note – rather it's something that continues to drive the brand's output in the present day, as evidenced by the brand's 140th anniversary in 2021 and a flurry of exciting new releases across its collections.

As we've written about before, while the brand has deep roots stretching back to the 19th century and plenty to write home about in the development of battery-powered quartz models becoming the staple for ultra-affordable watches in the 1970s up to the present day, it's the previous decade that saw Seiko lay down a marker as one of the biggest innovators in mechanical watchmaking.

1960 saw the release of the first Grand Seiko (created first as a signature piece, and then expanded into a brand of its own), while in 1965 the brand created its first dive watch, now commonly referred to as the 62MAS, before creating a similar version three years later and integrating its unique Hi Beat movement.

Both of the latter two were reissued as part of the Prospex collection to celebrate part of last year's 140th anniversary (we reviewed the 1968 Diver's Reinterpretation here), and both were hugely well received, with the 1965 Diver's Reinterpretation in particular thought of as a modern classic in many circles. But among last year's releases, there was also another reissue from Seiko's golden era that stood out: the King Seiko KSK, or SJE083, released as a limited run of 3,000 pieces that faithfully rebuilt the original King Seiko dress watch from 1965 with only a scant few modernisations.

The release was taken to heart by Seiko's fans – to be expected for a reissue as good-looking as the King Seiko KSK

It seems the release was taken to heart by Seiko's fans – to be expected for a reissue from the era, and especially one as good-looking as the King Seiko KSK – because today marks the triumphant return of King Seiko right into the core range, and as the start of a new eponymous collection, rather than just one individual watch.

The King Seiko collection, as you can imagine, takes many of the design elements fans loved about the limited-edition version and modifies them just a touch, with a new, slightly smaller case size of 37m (down from the KSK's 38.1mm). Beyond that, the sunray dial on the SPB279 colourway is almost identical, with plenty to like in the finishing for those who loved the KSK but couldn't get hold of one. The time-only movement – the calibre 6R31, rather than the 6L35 – is, of course, proprietary, and gives an impressive 70 hours of power reserve.

But that's only one of the new collection's colourways, which is one of the most intriguing bits of news for fans of the original and last year's reissue: its classic dressy look is reinvented in four other dial colours, including black and even an eye-catching dark red. And another point of difference is the introduction of a bracelet across the core range – a high-gloss, polished, bevelled bracelet more akin to genre-topping integrated sports watches including Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak – keeps things dressier than the more standard brushed Seiko bracelet found on the 1965 Diver's Reinterpretation and others.

But the collection doesn't eschew straps either, with five different leather options available – and, in a pleasingly modern touch, a Rolex-style configuration for each model available on the website, to play with the options and decide on a look and feel.

The King Seiko SPB283J1

Perhaps the most game-changing development? The price. While the King Seiko KSK was sold for £3,050 last year as a limited edition, the new collection will be available for, at the time of writing, a guideline RRP of €1,700 in Europe, and widely available through the brand's boutiques.

For those who lusted after the KSK but were waiting for something priced more in line with the classic Seiko value proposition – brilliantly made watches with proprietary movements between £1,000 and £1,500 – it might be the release that gets them spending. And either way, coming as it does at the beginning of the year, it's a good barometer of the Seiko mission in 2022 after the fanfare around the 140th anniversary subsides, and shows a brand certainly not resting on its laurels.

Available in the UK exclusively from the Seiko Boutique in Knightsbridge, or online at seikoboutique.co.uk

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