Seiko’s 100th Anniversary Starts with This Watch
With an enamel dial just like the original, the Japanese watchmaker reaches back a century for its latest vintage reissue. And it’s only the beginning.
Seiko traces its founding to 1881, but it’s making 2024 a 100th anniversary celebration. Anniversary of what, then? The Seiko name itself. In 1924 “Seiko” was first used on a wristwatch and became the brand’s registered name. Before then the company had gone by such names as Seikosha and K. Hattori & Co.
Look, every year is an anniversary of something for a lot of brands, but the significance of this for watch fans is as a reminder of Seiko’s history—and an indication that the centenary theme will color Seiko releases in 2024. We can expect a mix of vintage reissues alongside the brand’s familiar approach of “reinterpreting” old designs as contemporary watches. That said, Seiko always manages to surprise us.
For now, though: the watch at hand. Dubbed the SPB441, Seiko places it in its Presage sub-brand (and in its Craftsmanship Series), and refers to it as the “Seiko Brand 100th Anniversary Kintaro Hattori Limited Edition.” (Just “SPB441” is easier, we think.) With a look that you’d probably describe as “antique” rather than even just “vintage,” it recalls previous models at a similar price point ( USD 1,900, in this case) in the Presage collection featuring enamel dials.
Seiko materials say that “the new watch revives the form and design of the original in every detail.” That original is an example of one of the watches from 1924 which first bore the Seiko name. Naturally, various elements are modern, such as materials like sapphire crystal, but the original also had an enamel dial, it seems. Emphasis for this release being on the brand name, it’s a cool touch that the original wordmark used in 1924 is replicated exactly.
At only 35mm wide, it’s also proportioned much like the original would have been (though we can’t confirm the original’s measurements). That’s smallish, even with the current trend for smaller watch sizes, but its bulbous profile with a 12.3mm thickness as well as its “pull-through” leather strap (much like a bund strap) will help it wear more prominently.
One detail in which the new model is updated is its lugs. The original had wire lugs, like so many watches of the era, but Seiko has reinterpreted the design nicely with articulating lugs that should help the watch wear even more comfortably. This kind of lug design isn’t found on many current Seiko watches, but it was featured on last year’s SPB359 which celebrated the brand’s (and the nation’s) first ever wristwatch from 1913, the Laurel.
Another little difference? While the original 1924 model featured a seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, Seiko kept the design but replaced it with a 24-hour display. The original watch looks like it would have had a hinged caseback to access the clockwork inside, but here the new 6R5H automatic movement is hidden behind a screwed caseback that’s decorated with tributes to Seiko founder Kintaro Hattori. The old Seiko “S” logo is found on the caseback as well as the crown.
While vintage reissues and retro style are very in right now, not many brands are reaching quite this far back in history. The 1960s and ‘70s offer the bulk of the current vintage inspiration in watches, but it’s also cool to recall other eras watchmaking that are sometimes overlooked—and for brand devotees to feel all the more connected to Seiko history.
Learn more on Seiko’s website.
Seiko Presage 100th Anniversary SPB441 Specs
Movement: 6R5H automatic; 72 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, 24-hour indicator
Case: 35mm x 12.3 mm; steel (super hard coating); water resistant to 50m
Availability: Limited to 1,000 examples
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