The Seiko 1968 Re-creation SLA025 watch hands-on
Seiko doesn't only craft diver's watches, but rather Seiko made the history of diver's watches
The history of diver's watches was officially born in Europe, but it is on the other side of the world, more precisely in the Pacific Ocean and in the Sea of Japan, that diver's watches have reached the peak of their development. Seiko contributed to the drafting of the ISO 6425 standard and it is still one of the few brands that craft authentic analog and digital tool watches (small computers for your wrist) that are well known by experts and used by professionals, but they are less known by those who are not too familiar with Seiko's history. The creation of a new site (there are a few ones around devoted to the history of the Prospex timepieces) and the campaign that includes a new diver, Fabien Cousteau, son of the great Jacques-Yves, as the new ambassador of the brand, point precisely towards the direction, whose aim is to emotionally and inspirationally present the Prospex watches series.
The Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025
The Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 is the perfect example of how Seiko is slowly recreating the different stages of its history starting from the first diver's watch that the brand created in 1965. Fifty years after the launch of the 1968 original watch, it is now time for the reference SLA025. The audience has shown already a great degree of appreciation for Seiko's heritage watches and that same audience will soon spread to Italy too, because Seiko is now present, through one of its branches, in our country too.
This will allow a more widespread distribution on to our market and will make available models that had been so far confined to the domestic market or to the American market. In the case of the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025, a watch that was inadvertently unveiled on the net in a forum two months before the official opening of the show and was then quickly taken off, we are now face to face with the most important re-edition of the Prospex line in the history of this brand.
What makes the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 so special
Seiko is the the only manufacturer in the world that is able to create diver's watches with a single-piece case. The monobloc type of construction is a very valuable architecture reserved for scuba's watches crafted at the turn of the 70s (the original PloProf, for example, featured a monobloc case too) and it represents an incredible product plus side; no seal is present (as well as no access to the movement except from the dial side), a perfect tightness and a design that speaks for itself. An authentic diver's watch and, when I use this term, I mean that this is a tool that is faithful to the original tool watch with a monobloc case and, if designed for helium saturation dives, it needs to feature no escape valve at all.
The Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 sports a beautiful monobloc case with a completely flat surface (it fits as a glove) and it faithfully replicates the proportions and mood of the colossal Seiko Diver's 300m from 1968. Although I cannot really say that I am the greatest promoter and fan of the vintage world, I have to admit that I envy those, who own an original 300m Seiko Diver's, because this watch belongs to that selected few that cannot miss in your collection.
The shape of the case (a good 44.8mm in diameter and 15.65mm in thickness) is extremely original. It clearly indicates the path that, from then on, the modern Marine Master would undertake, but with a touch of refinement unknown to the Marine Master. Seiko did well, when it decided to give this watch an interpretation that was as faithful as possible to the original version, while still preserving its proportions and introducing, at the same time, all the features that made the fortune of this timepiece and turned it into a living legend.
The Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 is a Seiko watch with the features of a Grand Seiko
The purity of the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 brings it closer to a Grand Seiko than a Seiko for two particular reasons - it features a Hi-Beat caliber (but there is already a Prospex Hi-Beat - the SBEX003) and its steel case was polished using the zaratsu technique of which we gave an example on our Instagram profile a few days ago. For those of you, who are familiar with the crafting of Seiko watches and its manufacture, this means that each of the 1500 Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 will be made at the Seiko's Shizukuishi Watch Studio (as you can see on the link, Seiko launched a site dedicated to the Studio itself).
True to the original, the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 is equipped with the 8L55 caliber that was customized for this watch and for its designed use, which is different from that of a Grand Seiko Hi-Beat. The watch boasts up to 55 hours of power reserve and the "hack seconds" function. When it comes to precision, the Hi-Beat caliber of Seiko in its original version is second only to the re-edition of the VFA (Very Fine Adjusted) that was just presented at Baselworld 2018 with the Grand Seiko brand.
What you wouldn't expect from the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025
The Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 is an exceptional dress-watch. I'm not a lifestyle journalist, but I like to dress properly and I'm a big fan of diver's watches, and one of the things that I have never really enjoyed much in a diver's watch (the real ones; the tool watches) is that this type of timepiece has obviously not been designed to be worn every day.
The Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 has that strong vintage taste that makes it perfect on more than one occasion (please make sure that you avoid a three-piece-suite though) and its silicone strap is so soft that it almost closes by itself and if you consider that I only wore a prototype at Baselworld, I am pretty sure that the final version delivered to the customers will be even better. Given the style of this diver's watch, I think that you can indulge yourself with more than one customization. Personally, however, I would have simplified the texture of the strap a bit more.
Final remarks (is it worth buying it or not?)
The Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 is the most beautiful Prospex that Seiko has ever crafted and it continues the process of trying to recreate the models that have made the brand's history, while featuring, at the same time, watches that are not just items for professionals, but something that can always be worn by anyone. The direction that the brand has taken is quite clear - the aim is to expand the customer range and talk to a wider audience by capturing fans in a price range and product range, in which the brand is not yet permanently present. This also explains the retail price of €5,500, which is given by its exceptional quality, its Hi-Beat caliber, its limited series and a reference that is likely to become a collector's piece, while raising the perception that fans have of the brand.
When a product can boast such features, I believe that 80% of the job has already been done, the remaining 20% is up to us journalists and a proper advertising campaign, in which I hope that Seiko is very careful, because the recent proliferation of partnerships and limited series has started to disorient even us writers and it tends to "dilute" the image of the brand over time. I'm quite interested in buying this watch, because I believe that a Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 should be part of my collection and a collection that feature milestones. This, like the 1968 model, is a milestone and when the 1500s are finished, they will no longer be crafted.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®