Seiko revisits their sporting heritage with a new series – introducing the Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph.
Press Release information with commentary in italics.
This new release is a series of 6 watches, two automatic, and four models in solar powered quartz. This article focuses on the two automatic chronographs. The base underlining theme is these chronographs are inspired by Seiko’s 1969 Speedtimer Cal. 6139 and leverages on the brand’s rich tradition in sports timing. The new watches are part of the Prospex collection. The first series is the automatic chronograph Cal. 8R46, and comprise of 2 models. One is a limited edition of 1000 pieces, which is a tribute to the design of a 1964 stopwatch, and the other using the same caliber but with a different dial and case interpretation. And the second series comprise of 4 solar chronographs.
This release is significant, as Seiko is paying homage to their original Speedtimer, which they introduced in May 1969. The Speedtimer is one of the 3 chronographs which have legitimate claim to be the the world’s first automatic chronograph, released in 1969- together with Zenith and a Swiss group of collaborators known as Chronomatic. This was an exciting race, which resulted in 3 legit claims. 1969 was also interesting as it was also the race for the world’s first quartz movement – also one with multiple legit claims, but that is another story for another day.
Zenith had acquired chronograph maker Martel in 1960, and announced their new column wheel based automatic high beat (36,000 bph) movement in 1967, though they only showed the C.3019 PHC in October 1969. Chronomatic comprised of Brietling, Buren, Hamilton, Heuer and Dubois-Depraz. The project was called “Project 99” and showed a cam lever operated chronograph module. The watch was shown on various base movements of the collaborators in Baselworld 1969. And Seiko had the C.6139 which was released in Japan in May 1969. The watch was the original Speedtimer. The movement had an integrated column wheel chronograph with vertical clutch. Production references have suggested that early Speedtimers date back to a March 1969 serial production date.
It is interesting that despite this interesting historical circumstances, Seiko chose to release the new Seiko Prospex Speedtimer dial layout is based on their earlier stopwatch, from 1964.
The new watches have a rather fresh, clean look, despite the inspiration being drawn from nearly 60 years ago. The bi-compax layout, no doubt contributes to the excellent legibility. We find the white dialed limited edition to be particularly attractive. Pricing, as this is part of the Prospex collection is also modestly set at the EUR 3k ballpark.
New: Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph
Approximate recommended retail prices in Europe: €3,200 (SRQ035) / €3,000 (SRQ037)
In the 1960’s, Seiko announced itself on the international sports timing stage with a whole new generation of high-precision equipment that was enthusiastically endorsed by many international sports federations and used to capture elapsed time at many of the world’s leading sports events. Central to this success was a range of stopwatches that incorporated Seiko’s innovative “heart-shaped cam” mechanism, a feature which delivered a level of precision once thought unachievable by manual sports timing devices. Then, in 1969, Seiko introduced the Seiko Speedtimer with the innovative Caliber 6139. It was the world’s first automatic chronograph with a column wheel and vertical clutch, two devices that delivered real improvements in the measurement of elapsed time in a wristwatch and are still a prerequisite in high functionality chronographs.
The limited edition chronograph’s dial pays homage to the 1/5th second stopwatch from 1964 and every detail of its design inherits the precision and legibility that were crucial to the high performance of the original. The numerals at each ten-second mark and the markings stand out prominently against the plain white dial and guarantee the same high level of legibility.
The chronograph second hand is gently curved down towards the dial so that the tip of the hand is as close as possible to the dial’s markers and extends to the tachymeter markings at the very edge of the dial, thus ensuring that elapsed time can be read accurately at a glance. The large concave pushers ensure the high operability for which the original stopwatch was renowned.
The watch incorporates a new movement from Seiko’s most advanced chronograph 8R series, Caliber 8R46. It shares the same performance attributes as Caliber 8R48 but incorporates two sub-dials instead of three and has a date window at the six o’clock position. The vertical clutch and column wheel ensure the precision and durability which are the hallmarks of the 8R Caliber series. The escapement is lightweight and strong, thanks to the use of MEMS technology which enhances the stability of the watch’s precision. With the push of the reset button, the hands return back to zero instantly and in perfect synchronization.
The watch is presented on a stainless steel bracelet that is specially designed and constructed for the series. Its thickness, weight and low center of gravity ensure stability and a high level of comfort on the wrist. If the wearer chooses, the bracelet can be replaced with the black leather strap that is also included and whose stitching is designed to increase the durability of the strap.
The new Speedtimer is offered as a limited edition of 1,000.
In addition to the limited edition watch, a new creation with the same case and bracelet and also powered by Caliber 8R64 joins the main Prospex collection. The dial design is a subtle nod to Seiko’s and Japan’s first chronograph wristwatch, the Crown Chronograph from 1964. Its beveled hour markers, sharp hour and minute hands with colored Lumibrite, its chronograph pushers and the markers on the outer dial ring echo the design of the original.