The Seiko Presage Shippo Enamel Limited Edition watches hands-on
For some years now, Seiko has been offered its own interpretation of the enameled dial - a feature that quickly brought the 2016 Presage collection to its current fame. In its chrono version, with a white dial, this collection was met with incredible critical acclaim – it sports an extremely clean style, a symmetrical case, pump buttons and a no frills but prestigious crafting technique. All these characteristics, coupled with a competitive price, have decreted the immediate success of this collection.
About the Presage collection.
Seiko "since 1881" (the editing of the pay-off is not random, as it aims to highlight the noble origins of the great Japanese integrated manufacturing company) continues to invest in the development of the Presage collection that, today, represents one of the milestones in the brand's offer, due to its rare mix of crafting quality, reliable mechanics (one of Seiko’s creeds) and its measured style. The Seiko Presage timepieces are great value for money, and they are an excellent opportunity to treat yourself to a classic Seiko watch that draws its inspiration from the best of Japanese culture.
Japanese tradition in the enameling technique.
One of the strengths of the Seiko Presage is its ability to originally convey the best of the Japanese artistic tradition - if the Prospex timepieces represent the quintessence of that technological research applied to the world of professional diving, the Seiko Presage timepieces, on the other hand, debuted showing what the art of Japanese enamelling really is. This is a special type of art that Seiko is familiar with and that was used already, when the manufacturing company crafted its complicated high-end watches branded Credor (Seiko’s top of the range collection that has not reached Europe yet and that is almost unknown in Italy). The now so common blue dial, which is found in millions of different pantones on the watch market, features its own special interpretation on the new Seiko Presage Shippo Enamel Limited Edition.
Seiko brought back to life the 17th century Shippo enameling technique crafted according to tradition by Ando Cloisonné - an ancient Japanese company founded in 1800 and specialized in the creation of items (especially vases) using the Cloisonné technique. Ando Cloisonné is one of the very few historic Japanese companies that is still active in this sector and that still uses the Cloisonné technique (called Shippo in Japanese), it is headquartered in Nagoya, where the brand's museum is also located.
Wataru Totani - an expert master in the Cloisonné technique – enameled by hand each one of the 5,000 dials of the two versions of the Seiko Presage Shippo Enamel Limited Edition; the Seiko Presage Shippo Enamel Limited Edition Power Reserve SPB073 and the Seiko Presage Shippo Enamel Limited Edition SPB075. Once crafted, the enameled dial is baked in the oven at 800° C, this process is then repeated (enameling and baking) until Wataru has obtained the desired finishing level and a perfectly uniform surface.
The end result is a wave motif very similar to what we know in Europe with the term "Flinqué", but much more vivid, due to the effects of the Shippo technique. Seiko’s goal is to obtain a motif that reminds us of the waves moving in the oceans, while the blue color represents the depths of the oceans.
Case and dial.
The dial of the Seiko Presage Shippo Enamel Limited Edition features elongated Roman numerals applied to a blue dial and the classic central seconds hand with an half-moon shaped balance wheel. Both are distinctive marks of the Presage collection. Below, you can enjoy a video from the official presentation held by Seiko at Baselworld 2018, where the entire process of enameling is reproduced.
Inserted between the dial and the glass lies a big inclined seconds ring crafted in an opaque blue color that adds great depth to the dial. The only drawback is the "Automatic" writing found on the Power Reserve version as it makes it look slightly cluttered.
The case’s size is below 41mm (40.6mm to be more precise) on the Power Reserve version (the case is 14.1mm thick), while it measures 40mm on the Automatic version (12.4mm on the wrist). Both versions come with a blue alligator leather strap with a folding clasp and a buckle featuring an engraved Seiko logo.
Retail price, availability and my personal evaluation.
Whether you are or not a fan of Seiko and of its strong dials, these timepieces are well-proportioned and objectively fascinating, The Seiko Presage Shippo Enamel Limited Edition retail at €1,450 and €1,650, respectively. The dial is hypnotic, the two calibers (the 6R15 and the 6R27) are two powerful mechanical movements running at a frequency of 4Hz and 3Hz, respectively, with an acceptable power reserve. What is most important, however, is that they can withstand magnetic fields up to 4800 A/m - an increasingly useful feature in a world, where interactions with magnetic fields are increasing by the day.
Everything is condensed within two limited series that are now accessible to everybody – if I were to interpret the growth of positioning and offer that Seiko is currently implementing, I am sure that these timepieces will be sold out in no time and will be proposed again, in their next edition, at a higher retail price.
(Photo credit: Google, Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®