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The watchmakers at Grand Seiko’s Micro Artists Studio once again display their technical and artistic expertise with a new platinum-cased Spring Drive masterpiece.

The new Masterpiece Collection
 Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition is a beautiful example of the brand’s nature-based aesthetic with a dial and engraved case meant to recall the night skies above Achi, a Japanese mountain village famous for its both its remoteness and its clean air.

Grand Seiko’s new Masterpiece Collection Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition.

Grand Seiko artisans use a variety of manufacturing and finishing techniques to create the dial, including stamping, plating and hand painting.  

Artisans use a variety of manufacturing and finishing techniques to create the dial, including stamping, plating and hand painting.

Named to celebrate Seiko’s 140th anniversary, the watch’s stunning and highly engraved 38.5mm platinum case also expresses the natural clarity of Achi’s night skies. Pleasing groups of leaf-like patterns cover the entire case, repeated in varying directions to capture “the exquisite order and ever-changing aspect of Achi’s starry skies,” according to Grand Seiko.

Inside Grand Seiko fits it superb Spring Drive manual-winding caliber 9R02, a movement first seen in 2019 when it marked the 20th anniversary of Spring Drive.  

The movement itself continues Grand Seiko’s ode to natural beauty. For example, the barrel is shaped to echo the bellflower that is the symbol of the Shiojiri region, home to the Micro Artists Studio. Next to the barrel is the power reserve indicator.

The power reserve here is an impressive eighty-four hours, largely thanks to the Caliber 9R02’s Dual Spring Barrel. Not surprisingly, Grand Seiko expertly hand polishes the rims of all the bridges, the holes for the rubies and the screws.

Note the 18-karat yellow gold plaque on the lower bridge. While it is marked with the engraved words “Micro Artist,” Grand Seiko allows the owner of the watch the option to replace these words with a phrase of his or her choice.  Available starting in August, the watch is a limited edition of fifty. Price: $79,000.

Specifications: Grand Seiko Masterpiece Collection 
Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition (Limited edition of 50)

Movement: Caliber 9R02 manual-winding Spring Drive with power reserve of 84 hours. Accuracy: ± 1 second per day (± 15 seconds per month). Dual-Spring Barrel and torque return system, 
power reserve indicator.

Case: 38.5mm by 9.8mm
platinum with clasp, hand-engraved, dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, see-through screw case back. 
Water resistance: 30 meters. Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m.

Dial: Blue with sparkles made with stamping, plating and hand painting.

Strap: Crocodile strap with three-fold clasp with push button release.

Price: $79,000.

 

The dial on the latest elegant Grand Seiko Spring Drive watch beautifully mimics the undulations of lake Suwa when its surface is frozen, a natural phenomenon called Omiwatari.

Grand Seiko says its watchmakers and dial designers were inspired by the lake to create the ice-blue dial on the new SBGY007, a 38.5mm steel watch.

The new Grand Seiko SBGY007.

To make the dial, Grand Seiko artisans at the Shinshu Watch Studio near Lake Suwa hammered the dial’s mold to create the visible edges and the round shape, then polished the indexes and sharpened the hands.

Thanks to these angles and colors, light glimmers across the hands and dial, a result said to reflect Grand Seiko’s Nature of Time design philosophy.

Grand Seiko powers the watch with its own hybrid, super-precise Spring Drive Caliber 9R31, with dual barrels that deliver a power reserve of 72 hours when fully wound. Turning the watch over, viewers can eye the nicely finished Spring Drive movement, beautifully flecked with tempered blue screws and its power reserve indicator.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Caliber 9R31

Grand Seiko expects this new SBGY007 to be made available in early July at Grand Seiko Boutiques and retail partners. Price: $8,300.

Specifications: Grand Seiko Elegance Collection SBGY007

Movement: Manual-winding Spring Drive Caliber 9R31. 
Driving system: Spring Drive with accuracy: ±1 second per day / ±15 seconds per month (average) power reserve: 72 Hours.  

Dial: Hand-hammered ice blue, polished and faceted hands and markers.

Case: 38.5mm by 10.2mm steel, water resistant to 30 meters.

Strap: Black crocodile with blue stitching.

Price: $8,300.

Among Seiko’s wide-ranging 2021 debuts, two new Prospex models stand out for near-perfect fidelity to the original Seiko watches that inspired their re-interpretation. One, the Seiko Prospex Alpinist, revisits a Seiko sport model from 1959, while a second, the new Seiko Prospex Naomi Uemura 80th Anniversary Limited Edition, revisits a historic dive watch Seiko made in 1970.

What makes both these debuts even more vital for Seiko collectors, and sports watch enthusiasts in general, are the updated collections based on these historic designs.

First, let’s take a look at the diver’s watch.

The Seiko Prospex Naomi Uemura 80th Anniversary Limited Edition watch, showing blue silicone strap.

Seiko Prospex Naomi Uemura 80th Anniversary Limited Edition

As worn by Japanese adventurer Naomi Uemura in the mid-1970s when he completed a 12,500-kilometer solo dog-sled run from Greenland to Alaska, a 1970 Seiko dive watch offered both reliability and protection. The watch was also notable for its unusual asymmetrical extension that protected the crown at the four o’clock position.

The curved extension of the case fully protects the screw-down crown.

Revisiting that 1970 design, Seiko in 2021 offers two new 44mm steel models. One (Reference SLA049) is a limited edition of 1,200 watches that echo the case’s original shape, high-visibility and three-hand dial, but now offer a special ‘mountain-pattern’ blue dial and blue bezel, said to recall the “blue tones of the earth’s upper atmospheric layers.” 

The original Seiko 1970 divers watch.

Seiko of course has modernized the tribute watch in several ways, primarily with the updated movement. Inside you’ll find Seiko’s dive-centric Caliber 8L35, made at the Seiko Shizukuishi Watch Studio in northern Japan.

The dial is also extra luminous, with all hands and all hour markers coated generously with Lumibrite. Seiko has also coated the case with a protective, anti-scratch layer, and has placed an anti-reflective coating on the dual-curved sapphire crystal.

The caseback is engraved with Uemura’s name and the watch’s number.

Finally, Seiko has increased the watch’s water resistance, now rated to 200 meters. For this limited model, Seiko includes a blue silicone strap that has the same train-track pattern as the original model.

Seiko Prospex 1970 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation.

In addition to the blue-dialed limited edition that commemorates the 80th anniversary of Naomi Uemura’s birth, Seiko adds a gray dialed version to the Prospex collection. The watch shares the same textured pattern dial as the limited edition but is in a charcoal gray color that is similar to the 1970 original. It shares the same case design, features and specifications as the commemorative watch and will also be available at the Seiko Boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide in July 2021.

Prices: $3,100 (Ref. SLA049–limited to 1,200 pieces), $2,900 (With gray dial, Ref. SLA051)
 

The Alpinist

Seiko introduced its first watch made for mountain climbers in 1959. Called the Seiko Laurel Alpinist, it marked the start of Seiko’s march into the much broader sports watch market. Seiko followed that debut model with a series of watches specifically tailored for sports, including stopwatches and diver’s watches.

The original Seiko Laurel Alpinist, circa 1959.

For 2021 Seiko revives that debut 1959 design with two odes to the original. One, the Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Re-creation, is a 36.6mm limited edition that retains the original’s dial markings and its sporty leather cuff. A second model, the Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation, is slightly larger, at 38mm, is fitted with a different movement and is offered on steel bracelet (and two dial options) and on a leather strap.

The new Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Re-creation (Reference SJE085), a limited edition of 1,200.

Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Re-creation

The re-creation brings back the black dial and large markers found on the original, but now adds a date window and stronger water resistant (to 100 meters). In addition, its box-shaped sapphire crystal is now treated with an anti-reflective coating on the inner surface. Finally, the movement is updated with Seiko’s thin automatic Caliber 6L35, which has a power reserve of 45 hours. Despite the addition of a date and the new automatic caliber, the case is just 1.0mm thicker (11.1mm) than the original model. And of course, Seiko has faithfully reproduced the leather strap and cuff, using the same jagged stitch design as its predecessor.

Seiko’s slimline Caliber 6L35 has a power reserve of 45 hours.

The re-creation will be available as a limited edition of 1,959 at the Seiko Boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide in August. Price: $2,900.

Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation (below)

One of two steel-bracelet models in the new Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation collection (Reference SPB243).

The three other new watches that pay homage to the 1959 Alpinist sport a more contemporary dial treatment and offer a choice among two steel bracelet models and one attached to a leather strap. This collection of three models is one of Seiko’s best values among all its 2021 debuts.

The green-dialed Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation collection comes on a leather strap.

Their slightly larger (38mm) polished cases are notably more modern than the Re-creation, and the Caliber 6R35 offers a stronger power reserve, at 70 hours. In addition, the water resistance is to 200 meters, twice the rating of the Re-creation. Two watches (cream-colored dial and black dial) are offered on stainless steel bracelets while the green dial version comes with a leather strap.

The new Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation, Reference SPB241.

All three of these Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation watches will be available at the Seiko Boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide in August. Prices: $750 and $725 (leather strap).

Among its range of 2021 debuts, Grand Seiko adds a new 40mm platinum-cased model within its vintage-inspired Heritage collection. The new watch, called the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection
 Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition (SLGH007), features the Caliber 9SA5, the brand’s superb new high-beat movement, and a dial meant to echo the beauty of tree grain, or rings.   

The new Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition.

The watch debuts amid a 2021 Grand Seiko launch that also includes a new Spring Drive chronograph, a set of Elegance dress watches with dials inspired by the seasons, and a Spring Drive high jewelry model. We’ll show you details about these pieces in upcoming posts. 

Platinum model

With its intricate depiction of tree grain, the new limited edition is meant to embody Seiko-founder Kintaro Hattori’s spirit and vision. “As if stretching back to reveal the very roots of Kintaro’s story, a series of delicate and organic lines echo the intricate rings that denote each year’s growth,” according to the brand.

Grand Seiko artisans have devised a dial with a three-dimensional appearance enhanced by how light plays off textural undulations. The wood grain effect appears realistic thanks to a subtle use of dark and light tones across the dial.

Grand Seiko says it plans to echo the design of this new model in the future, dubbing it Series 9, which will feature the larger hands designed to align exactly with grooved hour markers. In addition, this model offers its platinum case finished with a hairline pattern matched with a mirror finish.

As an anniversary piece, the watch’s precious metal is celebrated. On the dial, Grand Seiko places a star at six o’clock to indicate that the indexes are solid gold, as are the GS letters, the calendar frame and the buckle.

Inside, the Grand Seiko Caliber 9SA5 is billed by the brand as its finest – and for many reasons. Primarily, the movement is thinner and is more efficient than earlier automatic calibers, attributes driven in part by a wholly new Dual Impulse Escapement. This Grand Seiko invention combines direct impulse, where power is transferred directly from the escape wheel to the balance, with conventional indirect impulse. Twin barrels also enhance the caliber’s top-rate 80-hour power reserve.

Caliber 9SA5 is the thinnest Grand Seiko high-beat movement.

The Grand Seiko Heritage Collection
 Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition will be available as a limited edition of 140 at the Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected Grand Seiko retailers worldwide in July 2021. Price: $59,000.

The beauty of the Caliber 9SA5 high-beat movement finish is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback.

Specifications: Grand Seiko Heritage Collection
 Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition (140 watches)

Movement: Automatic ‘Hi-Beat’ 36000 80 Hours Caliber 9SA5
, 36,000 vph (10 beats per second), accuracy (mean daily rate): +5 to –3 seconds per day, power reserve of 80 hours.

Case: 40mm by 11.7mm platinum 950 case and clasp, box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, see-through screw caseback, water resistance to 100 meters, magnetic resistance of 4,800 A/m.

Strap: Crocodile with three-fold clasp with push-button release.

Price: $59,000

 

By Marc Frankel

It goes without saying that Dive Watches are one of the most popular styles of men’s watches sold today. But what many don’t know is that invoking the “dive” moniker actually has legal implications. Writing the word “Divers 200M” or any similar mark with “Diver” written on the dial or case back immediately invokes ISO 6425. The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an international body that writes standards for the commercial industry.

Before we get into ISO 6425, let’s talk about dive watches first. In modern times, very few SCUBA divers actually rely exclusively on a wristwatch while underwater. As an example, my own dive master had a beautiful Rolex Submariner on his wrist during classroom lessons, but once we hit the water, the Rolex was replaced with a dive computer.

The newest Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon NEDU features 600 meters of water resistance, enhanced shock resistance and strong anti-magnetic properties.

Pre-computer

Before the advent of these modern and multi-function computers, divers relied on their mechanical watches to keep track of the key data points of total time submerged as well as bottom time in order to calculate residual nitrogen in the blood, and determine when, how many, and how long decompression stops should be if needed.

The dive watch, in this case, was performing a critical function, where a malfunction could spell disaster for the diver. This is why the ISO spec was developed, because dive watches were so critically important as instruments that protected the user’s health and safety. Today the analog dive watch continues to be worn while diving, but is more of a fashionable backup in the unlikely case the computer fails.

The Seiko Prospex SPB189 features a silicone strap or a titanium bracelet with super-hard coating and tri-fold push button release clasp with secure lock and extender. 

ISO 6425 is a rigorous specification titled “Horology – Divers’ watches” that supersedes older specs first released in the mid 1990s. In essence, it spells out what qualities a Dive Watch must have, and the methods with which to test them.

ISO Tests

Among the tests that ISO 6425 calls for includes, but is not limited to; temperature extremes, day and night visibility, magnetic resistance, salt spray, shock resistance and of course, water resistance. Obviously, we all expect water resistance to be one of the parameters checked. However, since water resistance is so important to the function of the dive watch, the actual pressure (depth) to which the watch is tested is 25% beyond the stated water resistance limit of a particular watch.

The Ulysse Nardin Diver X Nemo Point limited edition.

For example, a dive watch rated to 200 meters (20atm) is actually tested to 250 meters in order to meet ISO 6425.  And it’s not a dry air test. It is a true wet test, with a follow up condensation test to see if any moisture has found its way into the watchcase.

Furthermore, ISO 6425 states that EVERY watch certified to the spec needs to have its own water resistance individually tested. This means that if you are wearing a watch bearing the “Divers” mark on the dial or case back, that particular watch has been tested to 25% beyond the depth stated on the dial. Not a sample, but the very piece you are wearing. This is the ONLY way to ensure it will perform flawlessly under the stresses of diving.

The new TAG Heuer Aquaracer 43mm Tortoise Shell Effect Special Edition.

On my YouTube channel I discuss ISO in detail in my Watch and Learn series. In addition to water resistance, another ISO test that was actually quite fun to perform was the requirement that the strap needs to withstand about forty pounds of pull (simulating getting snagged on something) without the spring bars popping or tearing the strap itself. It was a great test to replicate, and the results were pretty eye opening.

One of several new models within the Torgoen T43 Diver watch collection.

So the next time you see the word “Dive” on watch dial, you’ll know that you are looking at an individually proven and tested dive watch that meets or exceeds the ISO 6425 quality standard!

Thank you for reading, and thank you for watching.

Marc Frankel, Video Editor, About Time

Founder, Long Island Watch

 

 

As Grand Seiko celebrates its sixtieth birthday in 2020 (and specifically on December 18) the watchmaker’s U.S. division is releasing a new Spring Drive GMT sport watch, the latest variant of the Grand Seiko series we first saw this summer, but newly decorated with a dial color inspired by the American eagle.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT ‘Eagle’ U.S. Limited Edition SBGE263.

Grand Seiko artisans have applied the deep brown color of the eagle’s feathers to the dial and bezel of the Spring Drive GMT SBGE263, which the brand says are meant to recall the “warm tones of the earth – reliable and dignified.”

Continuing its ode to the eagle, Grand Seiko also devised the watch’s radiating dial pattern to represent the bird’s flight, while the gold arrow of the GMT hand is “reminiscent of the eagle’s powerful beak.” The watch’s 40.5mm steel case features a contrasting mix of Zaratsu-polished and hairline surfaces.

As a GMT watch in the truest sense, powered by Spring Drive Caliber 9R66, the watch allows the wearer quick access to a second time zone. With the caliber, the local hour hand is independently adjustable while the GMT hand remains fixed to home time. This means that when the wearer arrives at new location in a different time zone, he or she can simply jump the hour hand to the correct hour without having to reset the watch.

The watch is offered as a U.S. limited edition of 110 and will be available in January at Grand Seiko Boutiques and for members of the newly expanded GS9 Club, now open to members in United States. Price: $6,700.

Specifications: Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT ‘Eagle’ U.S. Limited Edition SBGE263

(Limited edition of 110)

Movement: Caliber 9R66 Spring Drive, accurate to +/-15 seconds month (when static), power reserve of 72 hours.

Case: 40.5mm by 14.7mm steel, brown ceramic bezel, dual curve sapphire crystal, water resistant to 200 meters.

Dial: Ridged pattern brown, raised and beveled markers.

Bracelet: Steel with micro-adjustable clasp.

Price: $6,700.

Two brand-new releases from Seiko Prospex recall historic diver’s models from 1968 while a third new diver’s watch, offered on a silicone strap or a titanium bracelet, features a lighter titanium dial and a bracelet built with references to a Shogun’s helmet and armor.

The Seiko Prospex SPB189 ‘Shogun’ features a titanium bracelet with super-hard coating and tri-fold push button release clasp with secure lock and extender.

The movement

Seiko has updated both models with the solid 6R35 automatic mechanical movement, which is appreciated for both its robust nature as well as its 70-hour power reserve.

Bi-directional winding via the magic finger system adds power to the movement while wearing the watch, but you can also manually wind it as well. Also, for all the watch “hacks” out there fixated on stopping the second hand in order to coordinate their next mission, the 6R35 does in-fact offer this over-appreciated feature.

While critics may search for other depredations in the fact that the frequency of the caliber 6R35 at 21,600 vph is a bit slower than other Japanese options, accuracy is the same or similar to those slightly faster mechanical heartbeats. One wonders if the internet’s instant experts have considered that putting less stress on a system that will inevitably need service and/or repair down the road might actually be a benefit rather than a detriment.

The Seiko Prospex SPB191 ‘Shogun’ ($1,350 on silicone strap).

Shogun debuts

Seiko fits this movement into its Propex “Shogun” series (SPB189 and SPB191) are crafted in a 43.5 mm hardened titanium case rated to 200 meters of water resistance with the crown at the traditional 3 o’clock position. A super-huge date display is made even larger by a magnifying cyclops window, with a uni-directional diver’s bezel atop. The sapphire crystal over the dial will be difficult to mar or scratch unless you shatter it entirely.

Side view of the Seiko Prospex SPB191 ‘Shogun.’

Like its sister dive models, the Seiko Prospex ‘Shogun’ could not be any easier to read; Broad hands coated in a thick layer of LumiBrite glow brightly – just like the hour markers. Time is clearly of the essence with these masterful classics. Offered with a choice of a silicone strap at $1,350, or a titanium bracelet for an extra $200, the Shogun will be a fan favorite for both real and “desk” divers.

Side view of the SPB189 Seiko Prospex ‘Shogun.’

For Japanese warrior fans, Seiko says the triangular notches in the rotating bezel on this model resemble the ornaments of a traditional Shogun helmet. The yabane or “arrow feather” link shape of the bracelet version, according to the brand, calls to mind weapons and armor.

The Seiko Prospex SPB185 is a contemporary interpretation of Seiko’s famous Diver from 1968.

Steel Sixties

Bringing us back to 1968, the Seiko Prospex Diver SPB185 and SPB187 are slightly smaller at 42mm, slightly heavier as they are cast in steel, and slightly less expensive due to the aforementioned reasons.

The new Seiko Prospex SPD187 is a new interpretation of Seiko’s famous Diver from 1968.

Broader shoulders separate the sister-types, as does a crown migrated slightly south to the 4 o’clock position. Other nuances of design define each as the hands, markers, and bezel are endemic to each design. Otherwise these are very similar in the chassis build quality. Available only on a solid link steel bracelet, the 185 and 187 retail for $1,200. 

 

 

 

By Cordwainer Byrd

Seiko’s rich legacy of products that represent absolute real estate in the rich tapestry of wristwatch history lend themselves to recreations and homages, with 2020 delivering a singular treat in the release of a three-watch edition that charts the story of Seiko’s indelible mark on adventure, diving and outdoor sports.

Released this September, Seiko’s Prospex “Built for the Ice Diver” collection represents a material homage to Seiko’s 55-year history of producing sports diving watches, beginning in 1965 with the release of Japan’s first dive watch, the 62MAS.

The Original Seiko Diver’s watches. From left we see the 1968 Hi-Beat Diver’s 300m, the famed 1965 62MAS and the 1975 Professional Diver’s 600m.

New classics

The new collection is comprised of recreations of highly desirable classics that represent modern technology brought to bear on a vintage subject.

“Built for the Ice Diver” is a reference to Seiko’s position as Japan’s watch for the adventurer, tested in extreme conditions both underwater and as a companion to high mountaineers. The 62MAS set the standard for many subsequent Seiko dive watches, with an automatic movement, quickset date and 37mm stainless steel case capped with a plexiglass crystal and rectangular tritium minute markers, ratcheted bezel and broad hands. Vintage examples sell for more than $4,000.

This particular watch, of the many, many variations of Seiko’s developed across multiple markets, grew to prominence because of two men, one real and one fictional. The first, acclaimed Japanese Adventurer Naomi Uemura, chose the original Seiko 62MAS because it was a robust, waterproof watch, and made in Japan to boot.

Japanese Adventurer Naomi Uemura, pictured with the historical Seiko dive watches.

Sure, he could have picked a Rolex Explorer or Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, like any other run-of-the-mill international adventurer, but Uemura was a standard bearer for his country and selected that most Japanese of all brands, Seiko. He (probably) wore the watch throughout many of his treks, which included a one-man dog sled run from Greenland to Alaska, the first solo walk to the North Pole and ascension of the North American Denali Mountain, which marked his last adventure. He disappeared on the Denali hike, presumably with a Seiko on his wrist.

The second man in the Seiko storybook is the legendary “Captain Willard” from Francis Coppola’s film, “Apocalypse Now.” Willard, played by Martin Sheen, wore a Seiko in the same dive watch family, which gave rise to the watch’s status among collectors, (we love our little tribute names, don’t we), and its value on the secondary vintage watch market.

The legendary “Captain Willard” from Francis Coppola’s 1979 film “Apocalypse Now” wearing his Seiko diver.

Seiko has re-issued this watch in several variants over the years, and at varying price points, creating secondary and tertiary collectors’ markets for the multiple iterations of this product.

The new collection

For the uninitiated collector, deciphering the complicated soup of Seiko designations, per market, is itself a treasure hunt and the stuff many lengthy Seiko forum discussions. Suffice to say, the current Prospex Ice collection is alluring enough to satisfy anyone interested in wearing a tough watch that looks like a classic from the analogue era. So, let’s get on with now.

The Ice Diver collection is comprised of three watches, each with its own twist on our theme. Shop for SKUs SPB175 (grey dial/bezel), SPB177 (green dial/bezel) and SPB179 (blue dial/bezel), packaged in the Seiko Sumo case, released exclusively in the North American market and priced at a very competitive $900.

The Sumo variant is a wide (44mm), thin (12mm) all stainless watch case and signed bracelet, powered by a Seiko automatic caliber 6R35 movement, beating at a frequency of 21,600 BPH, pivoting on 24 jewels, with a 70-hour power reserve. It’s water resistant to 600 feet and has a dual curved sapphire crystal. It has a date indicator, rotating bezel, Lumibrite hands and markers and a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Seiko Prospex Ice Diver SPB175, priced at $900.
Seiko Prospex Ice Diver SPB177, priced at $900.

And if that’s not enough, it’s supplied to the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE), which means that the homage on an homage on an homage is now itself a bona fide collectible with its own nascent back story. Face it folks, for $900 this is one hell of a watch – and by the time you read this it will probably be sold out anyway, and headed to become a $1,500 watch on the collector’s market. And so it goes with Seiko.

Seiko Prospex Ice Diver SPB179, priced at $900.

Prospex is Seiko’s mid-range sports watch brand, with its own higher end LX series. It’s fascinating to watch Seiko grow and prune their brands into unique shapes, like an artistic gardener tending to a Bonsai tree.

With the chain-sawing of brands across many U.S. distribution points in 2019, Seiko drew a line in the sand: cut broad distribution, cut SKU’s, focus heavily on retailers and educate the consumer on the products to create new demand.

This release reflects that tactic in action. The Ice Diver collection plays off the perception of heritage, coupled with limited availability, backed by a lot of watch for the money. Instant collectible equals increased market desire for subsequent releases. Hats off to the company for delivering sales during a time period when we’re seeing other companies disappear into the vanity fueled, limited edition, lofty priced abyss.

Seiko Extra: The Spring Drive Prospex LX SNR029

For those seeking a classic-looking Seiko homage with all the attributes of current issue Seiko technology, take a look at the GPHG-award-winning Seiko Prospex LX SNR029.

Seiko Prospex LX SNR029

This watch literally straddles both of our planet’s unknown universes: space and water. At a list price of $6,000, this watch gives its Grand Seiko cousin a run for the money. This Prospex LX is titanium, with a case developed by Porsche designer Ken Okuyama and powered by Seiko’s 5R65 Spring Drive movement that is less susceptible to atmospheric deviations than a standard automatic watch.

 

The movement is found in Grand Seiko models and was actually worn in space by video game designer Richard Garriott, a citizen who paid the Russians to make him the sixth non-astronaut to travel to space. Needless to say, he wore a Seiko Spring Drive watch (whaddya think about that, Omega, Breitling, Casio, Rolex and Fortis). If you can get your hands on this classic – grab it!

 

Eight years after Seiko debuted its GPS-connected, light-powered Astron, the Tokyo-based watchmaker launches a new Astron dedicated to Seiko’s founder Kintaro Hattori. The new Seiko Astron GPS Solar Kintaro Hattori 160th Anniversary watch commemorates Hattori with a special sixteen-facet zirconia ceramic bezel, representing one facet for each decade since Hattori’s birth.

The new Seiko Astron GPS Solar Kintaro Hattori 160th Anniversary Limited Edition.

This latest Astron, powered by the GPS-controlled Caliber 5X53, is a dual timer with automatic high-speed timezone adjustment (including Daylight Savings Time) while traveling in any time zone, with accuracy to 15 seconds per month even without receiving the GPS signal. The watch’s 42.8mm case and bracelet are made of titanium with a scratch-resistant coating. The watch’s dark hue, accented in gold, is meant to honor Seiko’s heritage.

 

Seiko has placed Hattori’s name and three reminders of his legacy on the case back, including the trademark “S” that he registered in 1900.  His motto “One step ahead of the rest” appears above it near the name Seiko, which the company first used in 1924.

Seiko is offering the watch, a limited edition of 2,500, in a presentation box with a commemorative “S” mark badge and includes a card carrying a message from Kintaro’s great-grandson and the company’s current Chairman & CEO, Shinji Hattori.

The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Kintaro Hattori 160th Anniversary Limited Edition will be available in October, the month of Kintaro’s birth, at Seiko Boutiques and at selected retail partners worldwide. Price: $3,900.

Specifications: Seiko Astron GPS Solar Kintaro Hattori 160th Anniversary Limited Edition (Limited edition of 2,500)

Movement: Caliber 5X53
GPS controlled time and time zone adjustment, dual-time with AM/PM indication, perpetual calendar correct to Feb 2100
, automatic DST adjustment, high speed time zone adjustment
, time transfer function
, signal reception result indication, world time function (39 time zones), power save function. 
Accuracy: ±15 seconds per month (without receiving a GPS signal and at temperatures between 5°C and 35°C)

Case: 42.8mm x 15.6 mm titanium case with super-hard black coating zirconia ceramic bezel, dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, water resistance to 200 meters, magnetic resistance to 4,800 A/m,

Bracelet: Titanium with three-fold clasp with push button release. 
A crocodile strap is also included.

Price: $3,900.

Grand Seiko continues its yearlong celebration of the first Grand Seiko collection it debuted six decades ago with a new Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition powered by automatic Caliber 9S65, the impressive technical upgrade of the Caliber 9S55.

Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition

The dial and layout of the steel-cased watch echoes the 60th anniversary models presented earlier this year, with their blue dials and historically referenced hands and markers. Here, however, Grand Seiko adds a standard-beat automatic model to the anniversary lineup (the previously announced example features a Hi-Beat 36000 caliber).

Caliber 9S65 beats at a more traditional 28,800 bph and delivers a power reserve of 72 hours and a precision rate of +5 to –3 seconds a day.

Oxidation blue

The automatic caliber here is also marked on its visible rotor with a special shimmering blue color, created using an oxidation process that both echoes the blue dial and is meant to mirror light seen in the morning through the windows of the new Grand Seiko’s Shizukuishi and Shinshu studios.

The Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi.

Grand Seiko has applied the blue hue to the titanium sections of the oscillating weight, adding anniversary text and date and the Grand Seiko logo. All of this, framed in a red ring (to recall the “red of the morning sun”) is visible through the watch’s sapphire crystal caseback.

Caliber 9S65. Grand Seiko has significantly enhanced the basic performance of this caliber, and has also redesigned the way in which the oscillating weight winds the mainspring.

This new Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition watch is offered as limited edition of 2,500. Price: $5,200.

Specifications: Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition (SBGR321)

Movement: Caliber 9S65, 28,800 vibrations per hour (8 beats per second) Accuracy (mean daily rate): +5 to –3 seconds per day. Power reserve: 72 hours.

Dial: Blue with date and red-tipped seconds hand.

Case: 40mm by 13mm
steel case and bracelet, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, see-through screw case back, rotor with blue color and grand Seiko lion logo, screw-down crown. 
Water resistance to 100 meters. Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m

Bracelet: Three-fold steel clasp with push button release.

Price: $5,200 (Limited edition of 2,500)