Seiko Diver’s Watch 55th Anniversary Limited Editions
Introducing three new, and stunning, commemorative Limited Edition watches.
To celebrate the Prospex 55th Anniversary, Seiko has released three Limited Edition timepieces, which draw inspiration from some of the most iconic vintage pieces, primarily those who belong to the decade from 1965 to 1975. The original ones were rugged wristwatches conceived to meet the strictest criteria required by professional diving.
After Seiko introduced the first automatic Japanese diving watch, back in 1965, that timepiece underwent severe testing during the Japanese Antarctic Expedition held between 1966 and 1969; additional models then followed and soon turned Seiko into a respected manufacturer among professional diving experts. The story of the Seiko Prospex continued with the introduction of an outstanding and not ordinary diving watch, whose case featured an inner body, crafted in titanium, paired to an external shell. The Seiko Tuna was born. The Tuna is a milestone in watchmaking and set new standards. Nonetheless, Seiko has played a vital role in creating the ISO standards for diving watches.
The Japanese brand has opened the 2020 celebrations by launching the Prospex Black Series earlier this year (I just got my hands-on a Seiko Sumo Black Series). During last week, the brand has pulled the trigger and officially presented three new commemorative models which, not only pay tribute to the originals (grouped in the picture above) but introduce new features that make the Prospex collection dramatically step up from a performance standpoint.
The three new watches come equipped with top-notch calibers (two adopt the Seiko 8L55, one comes equipped with the Seiko 8L35, instead), yet there's something new and unexpected in how the case and the caliber are coupled, in comparison to previous vintage Seiko reissues. Talking product innovation, Seiko has debuted a new material called "Ever-Brilliant Steel," a new proprietary stainless steel boasting superior performance, in the benchmark, according to the brand.
Seiko declares its "Ever-Brilliant Steel" guarantees a PREN (Pitting Resistance Equivalent Number) value of 1,7 times higher than that of any standard steel in the industry (most brands adopt the AISI 316L). Among its features, the Ever-Brilliant Steel offers superior corrosion resistance, a claim that virtually places Seiko in competition with Rolex's high-corrosion resistant 904L. Isn't it? Each of these three new wristwatches adopts this steel; the Seiko 1965 Diver's Re-creation and the Seiko 1968 Diver's Re-creation for their case, while the Seiko 1975 Diver's Re-creation, whose design is specific, has the rotating bezel crafted in the new steel.
Blue dial and matching strap have a pale blue-gray tone, which, according to Seiko, draws inspiration from nature and deep-sea environments. Each strap mimics the same pattern you can find on a vintage piece and comes in silicon, thus offering exceptional comfort and enhanced resistance to wear.
The Seiko 1965 Diver's Re-creation.
The first model of this trilogy, in chronological order, is the reissue of the very first Seiko diver's watch and first Japanese diving watch, too, introduced in 1965. The current one is not the first-ever modern reissue; three years ago, Seiko launched the Seiko SLA017. Back then, two entry-level models, coded as references SPB051 and SPB053, followed the launch of the one-to-one replica. If you can't (or won't) get your hands-on a Seiko SLA037J1, you can buy the more accessible SPB149J1 at 1/5 of the SLA037J1's price.
As with the Seiko SLA017, the Seiko SLA037J1 is a very accurate reproduction of the 1965 model but features a bigger case along with an up to 200m water resistance. In comparison to an SLA017, the most significant change is that the SLA037J1 is powered by the Hi-Beat caliber 8L55 instead of the 8L35.
This product specification, along with the adoption of new steel, helps (partially) explain why has the price skyrocketed from € 3,800 (SLA017) to a whopping € 6,500 (SLA037J1). Both models have the signature dolphin-shaped hallmark on the case-back.
The 1968 Professional Diver’s 300m Re-creation.
Following next is the Seiko 1968 Professional Diver's 300m Re-creation, which reaffirms Seiko's leadership in making professional tool watches: featuring a Hi-Beat movement, a single-piece case, the 1968 model sets new standards among diving watches. The Seiko SLA039J1 is the second release of the Hi-Beat and keeps preserving the style of the original.
Among those features that make the reissue unique in the industry, are the single-piece zaratsu polished "Ever-Brilliant Steel" case showcasing sharp edges. We are curious to discover how the Zaratsu polishing process is performing when paired with the new steel. We wrote a detailed review of the first modern re-edition, the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025, during Baselworld 2018. Among other pros, I would highlight the flat case back, which enhances comfort in comparison to a Marine Master's one, for instance, and superior resistance to corrosion. It will retail for € 7.000.
The Seiko 1975 Professional Diver’s 600m Re-creation.
Last but not least is the Seiko SLA041J1, that brings the Tuna watch to new heights: the titanium core case comes with an Ever-Brilliant Steel made bezel and, also, a dial crafted in soft iron to improve magnetic fields resistance from 4,800 A/m to 40,000 A/m, thus making the Seiko SLA041J1 the tool watch par excellence among the three.
The price of the new Seiko SLA041J1 is €4,500. Interestingly, both calibers, the Seiko 8L55 and the 8L35 are assembled at the Shizukuishi Studio, where all the Grand Seikos are made. Finally, please keep an eye on each of these timepieces' dial: there's no Prospex logo, thus leaving the dial cleaner, something that makes them even more attractive, in my opinion.
The Seiko 1965, 1968, and 1975 Re-creations watches all come as an 1100-piece Limited Edition collection, each, and will be available from June to August 2020. If you are the ultimate hardcore Seiko fan, you are also allowed to purchase a commemorative box that contains the three timepieces along with three black replacement straps. All the 100 boxes produced will hit boutiques from May 2020.
Last but not least, as stated above, Seiko adds a more accessible and modern take on the Seiko SLA037, called 1965 Diver's Modern Re-interpretation and coded as Seiko SPB149, equipped with the 6R35 caliber running for 70 hours when fully wound. It measures 40,5mm across. Five thousand five hundred units will be built, each at a retail price of € 1,350.
(Photo credit: courtesy of SEIKO)
Francesco Falcone @Horbiter®