The Seiko Prospex Silver Sumo Limited Edition SPB029
Buying watches...from Japan
The story goes, and it is 100% true, that I was surfing the net in search of one of those Seiko divers that, for some unknown reasons, we are not allowed to get in Europe and, even less, in Italy. A second story goes that the current amount of online shops that provide original products from Japan is growing at a very fast rate and thanks to the Internet, enthusiasts across the globe, are given direct and real time access to everything and they are slowly becoming more and more aware that there are a lot of differences between what's on offer in different countries or continents like Japan or the USA and Europe, even if this gap is reducing because Seiko has officially opened an Italian subsidiary and we will finally be able to buy here watches such as for example the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver's Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025. When it comes to diver's watches and Seiko's products, the product offering between markets can change a lot. Thailand, for some unspecified reasons, has a special place in Seiko's heart and since I have known this brand they have already created two exclusive limited edition watches for this specific market: the Seiko Prospex Tuna Baby Monster Limited Edition (also known as Seiko Thailand Limited Edition Sumo) and the Seiko Prospex Silver Sumo Limited Edition SPB029 (also known as Seiko Thailand Limited Edition Sumo). Other exclusive Limited Edition models have joined the party, such as for example the glorious Seiko Prospex Green Sumo 50th Anniversary SPB031.
If you're not a watch-geek and you’re not spending much time on the Internet, it is quite hard to get information about this well kept secret and about other Seiko special edition models but rest assured that any online Japanese e-commerce website will always have on display the coolest JDM (Japan Domestic Market) or Limited Edition models you could ever think of. I was browsing at the time the pages of ShoppinginJapan, a premium online shop of Japanese electronic and watch-related items, and, out of curiosity, I started checking the website's offer of Prospex watches. In that section of the site I came across this Seiko Prospex, that was actually out of stock at that moment.
Three years ago, at the end of August, while on vacation, I received an email from the online shop saying that this watch had been restocked, I took then my smartphone out and clicked on the link provided in the email to immediately place the order. After one working week, a delivery man knocked at my door with a parcel in his hands and I was asked to pay about 200€ in import duty and taxes (a cost that I knew already that I would incur because I was custom clearing an item imported from Japan) on top of the about 1000€ that I had paid for the watch already. Let's take a quick moment to talk about my buying experience: all in all it was a good one, the watch was safely delivered wrapped inside a sturdy package and all the relevant tags were in the right place as it should always be (but is not) when you're buying a new timepiece at your nearest dealer. Besides, a sales representative contacted me soon after placing the order to assist me and make sure that transaction would go smoothly given the distance (I’m, however, an experienced online buyer). Thumbs up to a very good service, the best one that I have received so far since I have started buying watches from Japan (this was not my first time).
According to my sources, The Seiko Prospex Silver Sumo Limited Edition SPB029 sold exclusively in Thailand, wasn't created to celebrate Thailand, but, instead, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the presence in Thailand of the King of Power Duty Free (a renowned duty free retailer). The launch of this timepiece a few years ago has been followed in 2015 by the release, as highlighted above, of a last limited edition watch inspired to the standard Seiko Sumo, the Seiko Prospex Sumo SBDC027 50th Anniversary that was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Seiko divers and, if compared to the Seiko Prospex Silver Sumo Limited Edition SPB029, it is less on the dressy and sober side.
Generally speaking, the Seiko Prospex Sumo is one of Seiko’s hot selling watches and its standard versions (the Seiko Prospex Scuba SBDC003 and the Seiko Prospex Scuba SBDC001) are sold all across Europe (Italy included) at quite a competitive price, given their quality. The first one features a blue dial and a blue matching bezel, the second one features the very same but all in black instead. After signing a partnership with the renowned American PADI Diving Company, the Seiko Prospex Sumo was also realized with the PADI logo, as it happened two years ago with the launch of the Seiko Prospex Turtle PADI Special Edition SRPA21K1. Overall, it is perhaps the best diver’s watch for everyday wear from the famous Prospex line-up, it is a Prospex (Professional Specification) and that means that it sports all the features that a true diver’s watch from the Japanese manufacturer would boast, such as the ISO 6425 specification.
Besides, the Seiko Prospex Silver Sumo Limited Edition SPB029 owns a style and a package of widely appreciated features like an acceptable 13mm thickness matched with a 44mm wide case, which is definitely an important width but it means it won't look that big once you have placed it around your wrist. Case and bracelet are in stainless steel and the lugs have been slightly curved so as to fit your wrist and have a style that reminds me of the Grand Seiko’s case style, including the holes created so that you can easily remove the bracelet to change it with a replacement rubber strap, something that is usually badly needed during those hot summer days (the Sumo's stainless steel bracelet is heavy). The main difference between the two brands is that the polishing and brushing processes are, on a Sumo, carried out using industrial machines, whereas on a Grand Seiko, they are completely hand-performed via the zaratsu polishing technique that has been extended this year to a few selected Seiko timepieces too.
So where exactly does a Seiko Prospex Silver Sumo Limited Edition SPB029 differ from any other standard Sumo? I cannot provide you with any official detail but, as you can easily see, the dial is silvery with a wavey pattern sporting the red “Limited Edition” lettering and is carefully protected by a sapphire crystal (instead of the Hardlex crystal that is usually applied to standard models). On top of that, above the date window at 3 o' clock, there is a cyclope lens, something that I would have personally avoided inserting so that the glass could preserve the full silvery “frozen” effect of the dial and the bezel, and its tech-savvy style also. The wavey pattern gives this timepiece a somehow crazy and shining effect that is missing in every other Sumo watch but is this feature really worth an increase of more than 600 euros over the market price of this watch's standard version?
My brain replied with a big fat YES to that question and so did my eyes and hands too when I eventually received the watch by post. For that price I now own a cool limited edition timepiece (mine is number 1584 out of 1965 produced ones) that comes in a very stylish small metal box and also with a pair of goggles. The quality of this product is high (the only tiny flaw is the bracelet that has a little gap versus case and lugs), it makes a nice ratcheting sound and its mechanic features are top-notch. The automatic caliber, hence the 6R15 movement, features a hand-wound mechanism with hack seconds, two very good reasons alone to to buy a mechanical Seiko Prospex. Am I curious to find out which the next Seiko Prospex Sumo in the pipeline is? I definitely am, but to satisfy my curiosity, I would need to take a trip to Japan in search of the Yellow Sumo and that task could prove a very hard one indeed. Meanwhile, in July, I will get my hands-on the 2018 Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver's Commemoration Marinemaster 1968 SLA019J1. I was one of the lucky few to buy a watch that is already a crazy collector's item.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®
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