The Seiko Prospex Green Sumo 50th Anniversary SPB031
The year 2015 will go down in history as Seiko's limited editions year. Why 2015? Because Seiko celebrated, three years ago, the first 50 years of the most famous diver's watches collection in the world; the Prospex collection. Back then, the Prospex watches slowly started to conquer Europe, a big leap forward from the time when you could only get them in Tokyo or New York or by paying exorbitant import duty fees. Today, Seiko has a rep office in Italy too. Timepieces like the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-Creation Limited Edition SLA025 or the Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition are now available worldwide.
2015: the Seiko Sumo officially becomes a Prospex
The process that has been devised to uniform the brand's different collections include some specific models that are solely sold on specific markets (e.g. the recent Green Sumo) and that are quite difficult, if not impossible, to find even on the domestic Japanese market. Let's talk about the Seiko Sumo, the most accessible and bourgeois-like professional diver's watch for every business man that Seiko sells all over the world and mainly in two different versions: one version sports a black dial and bezel while the other version features a blue dial and bezel (a Pepsi Sumo is also available today along with other color options). On top of officially welcoming the “X logo” of the Prospex series across the entire professional diver's collections – from the year 2016 onward the logo featured on the dial of every Prospex timepiece – the year 2015 saw Seiko launch numerous limited editions, perhaps the biggest release of limited edition timepieces in the manufacturer's history before 2017 and the launch of the partnership with PADI.
The highly sought-after Limited Edition Sumo you can find on the Thai market
The Thai market plays a central role in the Japanese manufacturer's strategic expansion and marketing plans and, every year, many special models are crafted to be sold specifically on this exclusive market, a real heaven for every watch collector. The Seiko Sumo Yellow, the Seiko Prospex Sumo Silver Limited Edition SPB029 (the first limited edition Seiko Sumo that has ever entered my personal collection) and the Seiko Sumo Green are three timepieces that those collectors who are always looking for “something special and rare” are very familiar with. These watches are definitely different from those timepieces that you can find at your nearest retailer; they sport a sapphire glass instead of the usual Hardlex crystal, a cyclope lens on the sapphire glass – not exactly the best feature, it seems as if the manufacturer were trying to imitate some renowned Swiss brand's creations – and some other aesthetic characteristics that are typical of the Japanese watchmaking tradition. The Seiko Prospex Green Sumo SPB031 is the second Green Sumo watch in the history of the Prospex Seiko Sumo collection that has been specifically designed for the Thai market. While the Seiko Sumo Silver pays tribute to a big and famous Thai retailer, the Seiko Sumo Green (or “Green Hornet” as I renamed it), is basically a different version of the Seiko Sumo Silver that sports an iridescent green background and gold accents.
What makes a Seiko Sumo Green different from a Seiko Sumo SIlver
The main difference between this timepiece and the Seiko Sumo Silver is that the Seiko Sumo Green is a celebration model that was specifically crafted to pay homage to the 50-year-anniversary of the Prospex series. The no-depth wavy background that seems almost flat on the Silver model has been completely redesigned on the Seiko Sumo Green, here it creates the illusion of an incredible three-dimensional effect, a particularly strong characteristic that is coupled with an exterior smokey gray finishing towards the central part, a wave pattern and gold accents on the bezel (on the scale and on the ring) and winding crown. The contrast on the dial is accentuated even more by the presence of a golden edge around the indexes that have been filled with Lumibrite.
About the dial
The Seiko Prospex Green Sumo SPB031 has definitely a very particular and personal design, it is full of details and, despite being extremely unique, it might not be everybody's cup of tea. I couldn't get hold of the official technical paper of this timepiece and I am not even sure whether Seiko has ever released one, therefore I am not sure of the technique that the manufacturer used to craft the dial. At first sight, the aesthetic look is similar to that of a Presage “Enamelled Dial” with its painted dial, something we have seen at Baselworld this year with the Seiko Presage Shippo Enamel Limited Edition. Seiko is known for using some special techniques to craft the dial of some of their limited edition models that are clearly inspired by the traditional techniques of Japanese painting and the Seiko Presage Shippo Enamel Limited Edition is a perfect example. As sported on the models featuring an “Urushi” finishing (a special type of hand lacquering on a printed background), the same technique has been applied here.
The remaining features of this timepiece are the same as every other Seiko Sumo watch's; an automatic 6R15 caliber that ensures up to 50 hours of power reserve, a declared precision value that ranges between +25 and -15 seconds per day and the seconds stop function that is used to perfectly synchronize the watch. This is Seiko's second limited edition watch specifically created for the Thai market that I have bought online at Shoppinginjapan.net, the Japanese website devoted to the most original Prospex editions (where I also bought the Seiko Prospex Silver Sumo).
The Seiko Prospex Green Sumo SPB031 has today almost doubled its value
The retail price of the Seiko Prospex Green Sumo SPB031 was at least 200 USD higher than the retail price of the Seiko Sumo Silver at the time and it totaled about 1,400USD; that is the exact threshold that I am trying to stick to when I buy watches coming from Japan, since import duty fees on this watch were about 250USD. I was ready to pay that amount of money because only 820 pieces of the Seiko Sumo Green were released, whereas there were 1,900 pieces of the Seiko Sumo Silver available, and also because I found it a good retail price if I consider the collector value of a LE Seiko Sumo Green, one of the best investments that you can make if you want to enter the world of collectors. The quality, the polishing finishing and the crafting of the Sumo are excellent and the price of timepieces like the Green, the Silver and the Yellow (if the manufacturer will ever decide to re-release it) Seiko Sumo has gone up and already break, today and with the Sumo Green, the 2,000 USD threshold.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®