The Seiko Prospex Green Sumo 50th Anniversary SPB031
The Seiko Sumo in its collectors' piece version
The year 2015 will go down in history as Seiko 's limited editions year. It totaled 9 fruitful months that started last March in Basel, when the Japanese manufacturer launched an aggressive marketing and product campaign (for the first time in the brand's history) to celebrate the first 50 years of the most famous diver's watches collection in the world; the Prospex collection. The Prospex watches have 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.
The process that has been devised to uniform the brand's different collections doesn't include some specific models that are solely sold on specific markets and that are quite difficult, if not even impossible, to find on the domestic Japanese market. A typical example of this is 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 . 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 will be featured on the dial of every timepiece of this kind – the year 2015 has seen Seiko launch numerous limited editions, the biggest release of limited edition timepieces in the manufacturer's history.
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 Yellow Seiko Sumo , the Silver Seiko Sumo (the first limited edition Seiko Sumo that has ever entered my personal collection) and the Green Seiko Sumo 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 items that you can find on Amazon , Ebay or Chrono24 ; 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 Swiss brand's creations – and some other aesthetic characteristics that are typical of the famous 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 Silver Sumo pays tribute to a big and famous Thai retailer, the Green Seiko Sumo (or “ Green Hornet ” as I renamed it), is basically a different version of the Silver Seiko Sumo that sports an iridescent green background and golden accents .
The main difference between this timepiece and the Silver Seiko Sumo is that the Green Seiko Sumo 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 Green Seiko Sumo , 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 golden 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 .
It is 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 method 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. 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. 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. This is my impression if I take a look from three-quarter at the effect generated by the light on the dial.
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 retail price of the Seiko Prospex Green Sumo SPB031 is at least 200 USD higher than the retail price of the Silver Seiko Sumo and it totals about 1,400 USD; that is the exact threshold that I am trying to stick to when I buy watches coming from Japan, since import duty fees on these items are about 250 USD. I am ready to pay that amount of money because only 820 pieces of the Green Seiko Sumo have been released, whereas there are 1,900 pieces of the Silver Sumo available, and also because I find it a good retail price if I consider the collector value of the Green Seiko Sumo , 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 I am more than positive that the retail price of timepieces like the Green , the Silver and the Yellow (if the manufacturer will ever decide to re-release it) Seiko Sumo will soon go up and will easily break the 2,000 USD threshold.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter