The 1970 Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition: SLA033
When the original 1970’s Seiko diver’s watch was created, its designers had only one thought in mind; to build a diver’s watch that delivered the reliability, durability, precision and legibility that serious adventurers required. Little did they know that a subsequent version of the watch with this same characteristic case design was destined to develop a worldwide following and earn the affectionate and unforgettable nickname of the “turtle”.
The Case and Dial
A unique profile and a proud history The uniqueness of the design of the 1970 stemmed largely from the way that the crown, moved to the 4 o’clock position, was protected by the extension of the case around it. The rationale behind a 4 o’clock crown is to prevent the back of the wrist from being dug into when a wearer flexes his wrist towards himself. Other concerns in particular for a diver’s watch, is the accidental impact on the crown if it is exposed.
The new Prospex re-creation of this 1970 diver’s watch is slightly larger than the original but faithful in every other respect to its design. But proportionate to its increased dimensions, is its better materials and technology used.
The stainless steel case now has a super-hard coating and a dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and is 200 meter water resistant. It measures 45 mm in diameter and 13 mm in thickness. This is an extra 50 m depth in water resistance compared to the original 1970 model.The dial is an unsurprising black dial with applied hour indices filled with luminous material. A date function is made available as well, and the other aspects of the dial and hands are identical to the original 1970s model.
The upper surface of the bezel rim is Zaratsu polished to a perfect mirror finish. Presented on a high strength silicone strap, this Prospex timepiece is assembled by hand in the Shizukuishi Watch Studio in northern Japan.
The SLA 033 Diver uses the caliber 8L35; a caliber which was specially designed for use in diver’s watches. The automatic movement beats at 28,800 vph and has a power reserve of 50 hours. It is also frequently referred to as a Grand Seiko movement without the finishing. It is said to have a timekeeping range of -10/+15s per day.
The watch is offered as a limited edition of 2,500 pieces and will be available from July in Seiko Boutiques and leading Seiko retail partners worldwide. It has a sticker price of €4,350 in Europe. Seiko seems to be filling every single price point available with its multitude of product offerings. A homage limited edition for its cult followers commands a higher price tag in the prospex range. One level lower and you encounter the Marine Masters. A step up meets Grand Seiko or if one considers only divers, then a Spring Drive Diver.
While many used to or still consider Grand Seiko or Seiko as a value buy, it is increasingly difficult to perpetuate this narrative. At this price point – and even for its latest marinemaster, several other brands within this price range provide good alternatives. Take Tudor for instance, with its Black Bays and Pelagos, with both the looks, high quality build and materials, history and strong branding; the Pelagos has a full titanium case, 500m water resistance and a 3 days COSC movement. And we can also consider a Omega Seamaster 300. While the most expensive among the three, at US$6600 before taxes, the Omega has an impressive co-axial movement with 60 hours power reserve and anti-magnetism of 15,000 Gauss. The co-axial movement is frequently reviewed by watchmakers as some of the best movements available in terms of accuracy and durability. Both these watches mentioned also have a full bracelet which point to higher costs of production.
That said, while it is apparent that competition within this segment is stiff, lovers of this popularized icon – the grandfather of the turtle case, will inevitably still fall for this 1970s reedition SLA033.