intaro Hattori opened a shop in Ginza to sell timepieces in 1881, thus beginning the history of Seiko. His company produced Japan’s first wristwatch in 1913 and has since advanced the art of watchmaking through both technology and craft.
This year, Seiko will celebrate the 110th anniversary of its, and Japan’s, first wristwatch, the Laurel, with the release of a series of commemorative timepieces including a new King Seiko watch that draws inspiration from Seiko’s rich technological and design heritage. It comes a year after the return of the vintage-influenced King Seiko collection, which quickly captivated watch enthusiasts around the world thanks to its sharp lines, elegant wrist presence, and winning heritage design.
At first glance, the gradient dial enchantingly plays with light, but a closer examination reveals a design inspired by a traditional Japanese geometric pattern known as Kikkoumon, which is based on the hexagonal shape of the tortoise shell. In Japanese culture, the tortoise symbolizes longevity and prosperity, and the six-sided chelonian shape is further associated with samurai armor, as an auspicious pattern signifying strength and victory.
Moreover, the Kikkoumon is a nod to the 1960s origins of King Seiko, which was born at a facility in the Kameido section of Tokyo, once known as Kameshima, an area bounded by rivers and streams and known as “Tortoise Island.” The dial pattern has tremendous depth and texture – each hexagon is in fact series of three inset hexagons, each deeper than the last – and this depth is further expressed on the entire dial through a gradual darkening from the center to the edges.
It features the same elegant 37mm case and a seven-link bracelet seen in other King Seiko watches over the past year. The sharpness and angularity are inspired by the classic 1965 King Seiko KSK – the second King Seiko series and the one that defined the collection’s character.
The patterned dial, in combination with the faceted indexes and razor-edged hands, endows the anniversary King Seiko with a refined and striking presence, and the bold, angular lugs feature both mirror polished and hairline finishing, providing ample visual contrast as well as a sense of precision in manufacturing. It’s a fitting tribute to the place and time that gave rise to a horological classic, but with all the expected attributes of a premium watch made in the modern era. These include a box-shaped sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating and a state-of-the-art automatic movement with 70 hours of power reserve.
This Kameido-inspired commemorative watch is available as a limited edition of 1,200 at select Seiko Boutiques and retail partners worldwide.
However, the anniversary limited edition isn’t the only news.
A year after its successful relaunch, Seiko introduces into the King Seiko collection an entirely new 39mm size for the storied design. Though the dials are larger than those of their 37mm predecessors, subtle refinements to the design and manufacturing maintain the graceful feel of the three new watches. For example, the indexes are bolder and include an additional facet to better reflect light, enhancing legibility. The lugs are wider, but the upper surface now has a hairline finish while the angular sides are polished, enhancing the contrast of the case. Additionally, the top of the bezel now has a hairline finish and the side is mirror polished. Each comes with the same seven-link bracelet seen in 37mm King Seiko watches, so these bracelets are interchangeable between the two watch sizes.
The new series features three creations in stainless steel with white, dark blue, and green dials. The white dial is graced with a subtle pattern created through a combination of vertical and horizontal hairline finishing techniques, effectively channeling the dials of certain vintage King Seiko watches. The dark blue and green dials have a sunray finish for a rich, luxurious feel that benefits from the new case diameter.
The 39mm size uses the new Caliber 6R55, which comes with an increased power reserve of three full days (72 hours) as indicated on the six o’clock position of the dial. All three watches join the main King Seiko collection and will be available from March 2023 at select Seiko Boutiques and retail partners worldwide.