It is a practice that is unheard of today. In 1959 Seiko split its watchmaking business into two divisions – Suwa Seikosha and Daini Seikosha (daini literally means second in Japanese). The aim was to promote competition and consequently enhance the offerings that the umbrella Seiko brand could offer. While Suwa Seikosha introduced the now-legendary Grand Seiko in 1960 and the Ref. 6139, the world’s first automatic chronograph in 1969, the folks at Daini Seikosha were no slouches. In 1961, they presented their riposte to the Grand Seiko – a high mechanical dress watch they named King Seiko. To mark the Japanese watchmaker’s 140th anniversary in 2021, the company will launch a re-issue of a popular second series King Seiko model known as the King Seiko KSK.
The House of Seiko certainly benefited from the competition between the two factories. In their quest to make mechanical watches with high accuracy, Seiko would produce many technological feats during the 1960’s and would go on to dominate the Observatory Chronometer Competitions in Switzerland. Daini Seikosha is now known as Seiko Instruments Inc. and Suwa Seikosha is now the Seiko Epson Corporation.
The KSK model introduced in 1965 was powered by a manual-winding 25-jewel caliber. Unlike the early Grand Seiko Ref. 3180, which had soft rounded edges, the King Seiko’s design was all sharp angles, flat surfaces and multi-faceted corners that played off the ambient light well. In fact, Tara Tanaka, a designer who worked at Daini, created a set of principles known as the “Grammar of Design” which would go on to influence the creation of every Seiko timepiece.
The re-issue of the 1965 KSK (Ref. SJE083) is true to the details of the original watch. The stainless steel case has a super hard coating and is 38.1 mm wide (slightly wider than the original) and is topped by a box-shaped sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating. The sharp faceted lugs feature flat planes that are Zaratsu polished - a characteristic of Grand Seiko watches - for a distortion-free mirror finish and create some sharp angles around the case.
The flat dial has multi-faceted hour markers and the index at 12 o’ clock has a bright sparkle thanks to its textured surface. Unlike the original, there is a date window placed at 3 o' clock. The caseback carries the King Seiko name and the same shield design as the original and the buckle, too, is an accurate reproduction. The watch is powered by Caliber 6L35, a thinner and a more accurate update to the brand’s previous 6R15, and was last seen on the Presage SJE073.
The Seiko name and a “W” mark that signifies the KSK’s water-resistance appear on the crown. The King Seiko KSK re-creation will be available from January 2021 as a limited edition of 3,000 at Seiko boutiques and at selected retail partners worldwide and will retail at €3,400.