February 10, 2023
Although Seiko was founded way back in 1881, the brand didn’t actually produce its first wristwatch until 1913. Named the Laurel, this inaugural model wasn’t just Seiko’s first-ever wristwatch, but it was also the first watch made in Japan. This year marks the 110th anniversary of Seiko watchmaking, and as part of the brand’s ongoing celebrations, the fan-favorite Japanese watch manufacturer is releasing a series of special edition models that pay tribute to various elements from its rich history and heritage. The latest release is part of the more-premium King Seiko collection, which was revived last year and offers a happy mid-point between the standard budget-friendly Seiko models and the luxury-oriented Grand Seiko lineup. Along with the new limited edition Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary King Seiko SPB365, the brand is also adding a trio of standard-production Kind Seiko models that feature the same core case design but with a larger 39mm diameter and a date-displaying format.
The new limited edition Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary King Seiko SPB365 uses the same stainless steel case that can be found throughout the rest of the modern King Seiko lineup, which measures 37mm in diameter by 12.1mm-thick with broad and angular lugs that embody Seiko’s signature “Grammar of Design” styling. Like its siblings, the dial is protected by a box-shaped sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating, while the reverse side of the case is protected by a solid screw-down stainless steel caseback, which helps create 100 meters of water resistance and is engraved with each watch’s individual limited edition number. A signed crown at 3 o’clock offers access to the movement – in this case, the Seiko 6R31, which runs at a rate of 21,600vph (3 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 70 hours. Realistically speaking, the watch itself is very much in-line with the rest of the current collection, although the primary point of interest here is the dial fitted to this limited edition model.
The time-only dial is a deep brown color with a subtle gradient effect that turns to black along the outer edge. The surface is adorned with a traditional Japanese geometric pattern known as “Kikkoumon” embossed into its surface, which is based on the hexagonal shape of a tortoise shell. Aside from looking rather lovely, this specific design was chosen as a nod to the origins of King Seiko, which was born during the 1960s at a facility in the Kameido section of Tokyo that is bounded by rivers and streams and was once known as “Tortoise Island.” The applied baton-style hour markers feature polished bevels and linear finished top surfaces, while the double marker at 12 o’clock receives a unique textured finish for added contrast and a unique aesthetic flourish. At the center of the dial are a trio of hands, with the hour and minute hands appearing in Seiko’s signature wide dauphine shape, while the thin seconds hand is finished gold to match the applied Seiko logo at the top of the dial.
Fitted to the lugs is the same vintage-inspired stainless steel bracelet that can be found throughout the rest of the revived King Seiko series, which features a solid-link structure with a flattened seven-link design and a machined folding clasp. In addition to the standard stainless steel bracelet, the new Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary King Seiko SPB365 model also comes with an additional black leather strap, which is manufactured by a tannery that is certified by the Leather Working Group (a non-profit dedicated to building a sustainable future with responsible leather production practices). Additionally, rather than being fitted with a standard pin-buckle, the additional leather strap for the SPB365 receives a matching stainless steel deployant clasp that features a double push-button release and is signed with the King Seiko name.
Alongside the limited edition SPB365, Seiko is also adding a trio of standard production King Seiko watches that offer much of the same core styling as the existing current-production models, but in a larger 39mm format. Additionally, rather than just being slightly bigger versions of the current 37mm models, the new 39mm King Seiko watches also embrace a date-displaying format with small rectangular apertures at the 3 o’clock location on their dials. Despite the fact that these new 39mm models are larger than their 37mm siblings and also feature box-shaped sapphire crystals with solid screw-down casebacks, they are actually slightly thinner than their smaller counterparts and measure 11.9mm-thick, while still offering the same 100 meters of water resistance.
Given that the new 39mm King Seiko watches are all date-displaying models, the movements used to power them are slightly different than what can be found throughout the rest of the time-only collection. Inside the new trio of 39mm watches is the Seiko 6R55, which runs at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz) with a slightly longer power reserve of approximately 72 hours. Despite being larger in size, the core aesthetic of these new 39mm King Seiko models is very much in-line with the rest of the collection, and it features the same case shape with a thin fixed bezel and angular faceted lugs. Similarly, the new 39mm King Seiko watches are all fitted with the exact same seven-link stainless steel bracelet that can be found on the rest of the modern 37mm King Seiko lineup, despite the fact they offer a larger case size.
The only difference between the new trio of 39mm King Seiko watches is the dial fitted to them, and all three of the models feature the same polished dauphine-style hands. The SPB369 features a silver dial with a subtle linen texture finish, while the SPB371 is fitted with a blue sunburst dial, and the SPB373 features a green version of the sunburst dial found on its blue sibling. In addition to having a metallic frame for their date windows, the hour markers for the dials fitted to these new 39mm models all feature an additional bevel along their interior edges, which was done to better reflect light and promote legibility. Just like the smaller 37mm models, the dials fitted to the larger 39mm King Seiko watches also feature applied Seiko logos below the 12 o’clock marker, along with the “King Seiko” name printed on the lower half of the dial.
The new Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary King Seiko SPB365 will be produced as a limited edition of 1,200 examples, while the new trio of 39mm watches will be joining the collection as standard-production models and will remain part of the brand’s catalog for the foreseeable future. Despite their differences and the additional leather strap included with the new limited edition model, all four of these new King Seiko watches will be accompanied by an official retail price of $1,800 USD. While the classic time-only 37mm models will likely remain most popular among die-hard enthusiasts, the new 39mm editions are the perfect alternative for the more mainstream buyer who wants something a bit larger and with the added utility of a date display. For more information on these new King Seiko watches, please visit the brand’s website.