Diving Watches: From Sports Watches to Certified Icons
Every Baselworld sees Seiko add a string of new models to their rich family of watches, much to the delight of the Japanese brand’s vast fan base. This year, Seiko announced a brand new line of Prospex LX watches. Other introductions included a limited edition in commemoration of their iconic diving watch from 1970 and a salute to Japanese craftsmanship in their Presage series.
One of the biggest news stories to come from the first official day of Baselworld 2019 was the release of the Seiko Prospex LX series. The Seiko Prospex collection dates back all the way to brand’s first diving watch in 1965. Seiko has been a favorite among divers and explorers ever since. In 1968, the brand debuted its iconic Seiko Professional Diver’s watch. It would go on to transcend generational differences thanks to its robust design and functional character. At Baselworld 2018, Seiko announced a Prospex tribute to the 1968 Professional Diver’s watch, demonstrating just how relevant its 50-year-old design remains.
That same vintage watch inspired the Prospex LX series. These watches are built for life on land, at sea, and in the sky. Their design puts a clever, modern twist on the timeless features of the 1968 Professional Diver’s. The collection was announced with three base models, all made of titanium: There’s the land version (SNR025) with a GMT function and a compass bezel, the sky version (SNR033) with a GMT hand and a bidirectional bezel for showing time in a third time zone, and the sea version (SNR029) with a unidirectional diving bezel.
Seiko also revealed a beautiful, all-black edition for each of the three base models. These no-frills watches are devoid of color and protected by a hard black coating. Every flat surface has been polished using the Zaratsu process. The sky (SNR035) and land (SNR027) versions come on a leather strap, while the sea version (SNR031) is paired with a silicone strap more befitting of a diving watch. It’s truly a stroke of genius from Seiko, as it highlights just how unique each timepiece is beyond its external design elements.
Seiko brought a fresh set of eyes into the development process by partnering with Ken Okuyama Design. Okuyama is a well-known industrial designer who’s made a name for himself in the automotive industry. He’s worked for Porsche and General Motors but is perhaps best known for supervising Pininfarina when designing the now legendary Ferrari Enzo. Together, Seiko and Okuyama decided to lower the case’s center of gravity to make the watch more comfortable on any wrist. Another clever detail is the steeper angle of the upper side of the case, drawing more attention to the Zaratsu-polished surfaces.
Seiko’s 5R Spring Drive caliber powers each Seiko Prospex LX watch. This movement is a perfect fit since it’s already proven its ability to withstand heavy blows and extreme temperatures. The final result is a high-quality, sharp-looking sports/adventure watch. The recommended European retail prices for the Prospex LX are €5,100 (approx. $5,800) for both land versions (SNR025, 027), €6,100 (approx. $6,900) for the sea versions (SNR029, 031) and €5,600 (approx. $6,400) for the sky versions (SNR033, 035). That’s some serious money, but that also gets you a serious watch from the successful Seiko Prospex series. It can be yours after it arrives at retailers in July 2019.
Baselworld 2019 also saw Seiko present a remake of the classic Seiko diving watch commonly known as the Seiko 6105. The Seiko 1970 Diver’s Re-Creation Limited Edition (SLA033) is a beautiful rendition of the original watch Seiko first developed in the late 1960s. Seiko’s aim for the 6105 was to create a watch focused purely on functionality. One example is the use of a wider case to better protect the crown at 4 o’clock. The 6105’s direct successor is another iconic Seiko diving watch, which many fans lovingly call the Seiko “Turtle” due to its distinctive shape.
This re-creation of the original Seiko 1970 Diver’s Watch has been done very tastefully and is faithful to the original design. The only aesthetic difference is the size: The original 6105 measures 41 mm in diameter, while the new SLA033 is slightly larger at 45 mm. Unlike the retro design, the technology is completely state of the art. The Seiko caliber 8L35 ticks away inside this timepiece, which is water resistant to 200 m (656 ft) and comes on a silicone strap.
The Seiko 1970 Diver’s Re-Creation is limited to a run of 2,500 pieces, each of which will be assembled at the Shizukuishi Watch Studio in northern Japan. You can call one your own for $4,250.
The Presage is yet another successful Seiko collection. These watches combine traditional watchmaking with Japanese craftsmanship. At Baselworld 2019, Seiko announced two watches that follow in the footsteps of other Presage timepieces with beautiful dials. It’s time to say hello to the Seiko Presage Arita Porcelain Dial.
Both new releases feature dials made of Arita porcelain. Arita is a small town in southern Japan with over 400 years of porcelain-making history. This heritage is reflected in the dials, which themselves are made in Arita. These white dials have a trace of the same blue used in the earliest examples of Arita porcelain. The final result is two stunning timepieces that perfectly blend the history and craftsmanship of Arita with the modern techniques of Seiko watchmaking.
Both watches are powered by Seiko 6R series calibers. The SPB093 uses the Seiko Caliber 6R27 with a 45-hour power reserve, power reserve indicator 9 o’clock position, date display at 6. The other model, the SPB095, relies on the new caliber 6R35. This timepiece has an even more understated design and boasts a 70-hour power reserve. Both watches represent the next step for the Seiko Presage series.
Overall, Seiko’s Baselworld 2019 press conference showed that the brand is as relevant as ever and has something to offer for everyone. However, the true star of the show was the Prospex collection. Both the Prospex LX series and 1970 Diver’s Watch are sure to catch the eye of many watch enthusiasts.