Ahead of Grand Seiko’s first foray into Watches & Wonders at Geneva, parent company Seiko has just launched fresh timepieces for their Prospex and Presage brands.
Explaining the two brands, Seiko president Akio Naito shares, “I believe these two collections best express the essence of Seiko. Prospex has proven itself time and time again in the most challenging environments on Earth, which we continue to develop with new materials, technologies, and designs. Presage is very different. It’s an all-mechanical watch whose design is inspired by the culture of Japan, both traditional and modern. Together, Prospex and Presage tell the Seiko story through their technology, their design and their heritage.”
Prospex: Back to its Polar Roots
Starting off with Prospex, two new series are being introduced that will become available later in June of 2022. The first of these series is a trio of divers that should be familiar to everyone. Shares Teruyo Ishimaru, director and Senior Vice President of Seiko Watch Coperation, “In the 1960s and 70s, adventurers wore these watches on expeditions to the north and south poles.” She goes on to explain that in nod to this piece of history, the new has been given, “…dials [which] show a different shade of ice found in glaciers at the poles. The one with the deep blue dial is based on Japan’s first divers watch, our 62MAS, made in 1965. The original watch proved itself under harsh conditions with the Japanese Antarctic research expedition, from 1966 to 1969.
“A light blue dial graces our modern interpretation of the landmark 1968 diver’s watch. This was the first Seiko watch to offer 300m water-resistance. It was also the first diver’s watch to be equipped with a 10-beat automatic movement. And here, a white dial is encased in the same distinctive case of the 1970 Prospex, that happened to have proved its strength and endurance, almost half a century ago, when Japanese adventurer, Naomi Uemura completed a brutal 2,500-kilometer snow dog sled run from Greenland to Alaska. All three new watches are powered by our calibre 6R35, which delivers a power reserve of 70 hours. They are water resistant to 200m.”
But it’s not just new watches for new watches sake. Ishimaru-san goes on, “Ever since Seiko’s first diver’s watch in 1965, the demands of the ocean have led us to constantly improve Prospex, making it stronger, more functional and more reliable. In that sense, the evolution of Prospex is due to the fact that we have learned from the ocean. Now it is our turn to give back to the ocean by helping to preserve and protect it for future generations. Until now, our Save the Ocean Series watches were our flagship models in contributing to marine conservation. We have provided financial; and other support to selected marine charities. However, starting in April, the entire Prospex collection will support [our] Save the Ocean activities.”
Seiko Prospex Save the Ocean Special Editions
Movement: Automatic Calibre 6R35; 70-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Cases: Stainless steel; 1965 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation: SPB297 – diameter 40.5mm, thickness: 13.2mm; 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation: SPB299 – diameter 42.0mm, thickness: 12.5mm; 1970 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation: SPB301 – diameter 42.7mm, thickness: 13.2mm; water resistant to 200m
Dials: Brushed dials with lumibrite on hands and indexes
Bracelets: Stainless steel bracelet with three-fold clasp with push button release, secure lock and extender
Prices: 1965 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation: SPB297 – €1,100; 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation: SPB299 – €1,100; 1970 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation: SPB301 – €1,200
Prospex Speedtimer at the 2022 World Athletics Championships
Moving on from the diver’s watches, we now come to speak of the Prospex Speedtimer series, which was introduced in September of 2021. Says Ishimaru-san, “The series takes its name from the 1969 Speedtimer, which was the world’s first chronograph to incorporate both a column wheel and a vertical clutch. These two devices significantly improve the accuracy of elapsed time measurement in a wristwatch.”
However, the Speedtimer story starts a little earlier than its 1969 launch. Ishimaru-san shares, “Seiko’s heritage as a pioneer in sports timing began in the 1960s. Back then the company introduced a range of timing devices to an international sporting competition, which set a new global standard for precision. This tradition of highly precise measurement of elapsed time has continued to this day. Since 1985, Seiko has been the official timekeeper for the World Athletic Championships. And in July of this year, Seiko will provide its state-of-the-art timing services to the World Athletic Championships in Eugene, Oregon.” This would be the 17th time that the brand has served as the official timekeeper for the competition.
Says Ishimaru-san, “Today, I’m very happy to introduce a new Speedtimer that celebrates our sports timing heritage and year’s championship games. Every detail of this watch shows the high performance of Seiko’s sports timekeeping and capture the spirit of the event. The sand pattern dial suggests the texture of a running track and the chronograph seconds hand and the 30-minute counter at nine o’clock are in yellow, which is the color used for all Seiko sports timing devices. The buttons are prominent and hover well over the upper surface to ensure that they can be pressed accurately. Just push the reset button and the hands go back to zero instantly in perfect synchronization ready for the next race. The chronograph is powered by calibre 8R46, which is hand assembled by Seiko’s skilled watchmakers, like the caliber 6139, used in the original Speedtimer. The movement incorporates a vertical clutch and column wheel to ensure the highest possible levels of precision and durability. This new Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph will be available as a limited edition of 400 from June this year, at Seiko boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide.”
Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph World Athletics Championships Oregon22 Limited Edition: SRQ041
Movement: Automatic chronograph Calibre 8R46; 45-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, small running seconds and date; chronograph with central seconds hand and 30-minute totalizer
Case: Stainless steel; diameter: 42.5mm thickness: 15.1mm; water-resistant to 100m
Dial: Black textured dial
Bracelet: Three-fold clasp with push button release; additional calfskin strap included
Price & availability: Limited edition of 400 pieces; €2,740
Presage Sharp Edged
Alongside the new suite of action-oriented Prospex models, the two-year-old Presage Sharp Edged series saw some meaningful updates, with five new models, new calibres and even a new case design.
First up, a new version of the well-received Sharp Edged GMT, SPB303. Limited to 900 pieces, this 42mm steel watch, which, like the entire collections straddles the line between dressy and sporty features the textile pattern stamped dial. This time it is in a rich deep blue, inspired by the hue Ukiyoe artists used to represent Mt Fuji in the summer. The bezel matches the dark tone, and along with the generally serious steel vibes, adds up to a watch that looks like it means business and has the stats to back it up. Calibre 6R64 offers twin timezones and 45 hours of power reserve, in a case that comes in at 13.7mm, and is rated to 100M. In addition to the bracelet with polished centre links, it comes with an additional Cordovan strap.
Next, there are two new Sharp Edged Open Hearts (SPB309 and SPB311), and two new calendar models (SPB305 and SPB307). All four boast a new case design, which is even sharper than before, with mirror finishing on the tops and side, an inward tapering case and the addition of bezelled edges on the flanks for a more sophisticated feel. Dimensions are 40.2mm across and 11.8mm tall.
For the two Open Heart models, there’s also a new calibre for the collection, 6R38, which has been adapted to ensure a clear view of the beating escapement at nine. On top of that, the power reserve of 70 hours is nothing to sneeze at. These models come with two new colour variants; the indigo blue is Aisumi, and Shironeri is a colour taken from the white of unbleached silk.
Continuing onto the calendar models, the colours at play are Geppaku — the white of the full moon, and Kuritobi — taken from the black of a kite. The unusual calendar layout of these specifically coloured dials is appealing too, with a pointer date subdial at six, a day subdial at three and a power reserve at nine completing the trifecta.
The Presage Shar Edged line is one full of promise, offering a compelling middle ground between elegance and action. The style and value proposition of these watches was already strong, but with a further refined case, and mechanical improvements, they’re only getting better with time.
Seiko Presage Sharp Edged GMT SPB303
Movement: Calibre 6R64, 45-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, date, second time zone and power reserve
Case: Stainless steel with super-hard coating, 42.2mm by 13.7mm tall, water-resistant to 100m
Bracelet: Stainless steel with three-fold clasp and additional cordovan strap
Price & availability: Limited edition of 900 pieces; €1,320
Seiko Presage Sharp Edged Calendar SPB305 and SPB307
Movement: Calibre 6R21, 45-hour power reserve
Functions: Hour, minutes, seconds, day, date and power reserve
Case: Stainless steel with super-hard coating, 40.2mm by 11.8mm tall, water-resistant to 100M
Dial: White or black
Strap: Stainless steel with three-fold clasp
Seiko Presage Sharp Edged Open Heart SPB309 and SPB311
Movement: Calibre 6R38, 70-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Case: Stainless steel with super-hard coating, 40.2mm by 11.8mm tall, water-resistant to 100M
Dial: White or Blue with aperture at nine.
Bracelet: Stainless steel with three-fold clasp (SPB309), calf strap (SPB311)