While it may not qualify as one of those ‘where were you when…’ moments, the forthcoming launch of the Seiko Prospex 55th Anniversary Collection is certainly a milestone for Seiko and its ardent global tribe of dive watch collectors.
Two years ago, Seiko launched the 1968 Automatic Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025. Now they raid the vaults once more to reproduce models from 1965, 1968 again, and 1975.
It was 55 years ago that Seiko released Japan’s first-ever diver’s watch. In 1965 watches with high levels of water-resistance were pretty rare. Tell me about it. My Oris watch steamed up and never worked again in that year when I forgot to take it off and leaped into a swimming pool.
Seiko’s first dive watch was fitted with an automatic mechanical caliber and was water-resistant to a remarkably resilient 150 meters. It wasn’t long before the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition adopted it as its official watch from 1966 to 1969.
Diving as a leisure pursuit had started to become increasingly popular more than a decade earlier. Throughout Europe and the States, it was first catered for by the likes of Rolex, Omega and Blancpain. So, while a latecomer, Seiko’s dive watches soon found favor due to their quality and affordability. Encouraged by the quick take up, in the years that followed, Seiko developed a lasting following among professional divers, desk divers, and adventurers.
To celebrate 55 years, Seiko has lovingly and accurately recreated three of their landmark divers from their first decade in the business of making dive watches. Each model in its own way as a game-changer.
As with many a vintage model revisit, Seiko has taken the opportunity to update both the materials and the mechanics. The new collection is forged from what they like to call “Ever-Brilliant Steel,” so named because of the brilliant white hue. Seiko claims the steel is more corrosion resistant than the steel used even on some of the most high-end watches in the modern era.
Brilliant white steel is used in the 1965 and 1968 re-creations and in the bezel of the 1975 re-creation. For the 1975 model as with the original, the case is made from titanium, chosen for its strength, lightness, and resistance to corrosion.
Let’s take a closer look at the 3 versions.
1965 Diver’s Re-creation SLA037
Powered by the 10-beat 8L55 movement, the 39.9mm Prospex re-creation of this 1965 model is virtually identical to the original, but its diameter has been increased slightly by just 1.9mm. Now fitted with a scratchproof sapphire crystal the watch has water resistance increased by a whole 50 meters to 200 meters. The watch is protected by a super-hard coating to avoid those pesky coral scratches while diving. The case back bears the same dolphin emblem as the 1965 original. This watch has been re-created before as model number SLA017, but this new version features a blue-grey dial and that “Ever-Brilliant Steel.” It’s a higher grade watch for sure. US$$6,300
1968 Professional Diver’s 300m Re-creation SLA039
At the time this was Seiko’s first high-beat diver’s watch. It runs on the same 10-beat 8L55 movement as the new 1965 version, which of course was not fitted with a hi-beat movement back in 1965. It’s a one-piece structure, a mono-directional rotating bezel with a screw-down crown. This imposing 44.8mm watch is water-resistant to 300 meters. Once again, don’t confuse this version with 2018’s SLA025 re-creation. This new version has the hi-beat movement upgrade and the anti-pitting ‘Ever-Brilliant’ steel casing. US$$6,800
1975 Professional Diver’s 600m Re-creation SLA041
Known in professional offshore dive circles as the Tuna due to its physical appearance of a can of tuna, this is indeed a mighty 52.4mm dive watch designed for the professional diver. Again, limited to 1,100 pieces, this re-creation runs on the 8L35, which is employed in several of Seiko’s current divers as well as Grand Seiko watches. This watch is made from titanium while the dial has an increased anti-magnetic resistance of 40,000 a/m thanks to being made of pure iron. The red wording of this fact just above 6 o’clock is a cheeky stylistic dig at the Rolex Submariner and Rolex Sea-Dweller. US$$4,500
Each limited to 1,100 pieces, the 1965, 1968, and 1975 re-creations will be released in July, August, and September 2020 respectively. They will be available at select Seiko authorized dealers worldwide and the Seiko Boutique network.
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