Buying a timepiece is a rite of passage for many. But for those who have already ventured into the path of watch collecting, there is another rite of passage, a sub-culture if you will, that many collectors will partake in: owning a Seiko watch.
A Seiko timepiece is the cornerstone of many watch collections. We dare say that many collectors started their watch collecting journey with a humble Seiko timepiece. The same Seiko that they had received from their parents during their college days, or bought with the first paycheck that they had made. Sounds familiar? Your mileage may vary, but this is a real scenario for many of us.
Well, there are certainly many interesting stories that collectors can share about the Seiko timepieces that they have in their collection. But for today’s Throwback Sunday’s article, we take a look at the brand, and find out what are some of the timepieces in our archives that we think are worthy to be in a watch collection.
A brief history of Seiko
Seiko was founded way back in 1881, by a man named Kintarō Hattori. The company, interestingly, only had the name “Seiko” incorporated only in 1983, when the company renamed itself into “Hattori Seiko Co., Ltd.”. Prior to that, the company was known as “K. Hattori & Co., Ltd.”.
The first timepieces that began the heritage were clocks produced from 1892. These were called the “Seikosha”, which loosely translates to “House of Exquisite Workmanship”. “Seiko”, is a Japanese word that suggests success, or exquisiteness.
In the company’s illustrious history, Seiko produced some very important innovations. For instance, in 1969, Seiko produced the world’s first quartz watch – the Seiko Quartz Astron. In 1975, Seiko made the world’s first multi-function digital watch, the first Spring Drive movement (a fusion of both mechanical and quartz components) followed in 1999. And the first GPS solar watch in 2012. A list of their achievements is long, and a tabulated for reference in this link here.
Currently, the Seiko collections comprise of 7 series: Seiko 5, Prospex, Astron, Premier, Presage, Grand Seiko, and Credor. Each of them features their own unique characteristics, with different levels of finishing and price points. Despite their differences, one key commonality is that all the watches feature in-house movements. In fact the value addition on Seiko watches are probably the highest in the industry, and tucked away in Japan, far from Switzerland, they are truly independent of the rest of the industry.
We now showcase six wonderful Seiko watches from our archives that we think is worth taking a look.
Seiko Astron GPS Solar Worldtime
The Astron collection was conceived back in 1969, and was the world’s first Quartz timepiece. More recently, in 2012, the Astron collection distinguished itself once again for being the first solar powered watch that used GPS technology to for automatic time synchronization.
The latest iteration, which runs on the new Calibre 8X22, was launched in Baselworld 2016. It features the same GPS technology function, in which it synchronizes the time with just one touch of a button or automatically once a day within GPS signal reach. In addition, it also recognizes all 40 timezones automatically, and it is said that the watch achieves an accuracy of 1 second every 100,000 years. Incredible stuff.
The new watch also features a noticeably slimmer and smaller case profile. The hardened Titanium case, which has a dimension of 44.8mm by 12.4mm, feels deceptively light on the wrist. There are a total of 7 new variants, with the SSE091 as the flagship model with a stunning Mother-of-Pearl dial. The watch is priced at ¥180,000 before taxes in Japan (converting to SGD$2,300 incl GST), and we reckon this is the perfect timepiece for a traveler who wants something that is functional and not attention-seeking.
Seiko Presage 60th Anniversary Automatic Limited Edition Chronograph
Next up, we have the Seiko Presage 60th Anniversary Automatic Limited Edition Chronograph.
The watch, as its nomenclature suggests, pays homage to the first automatic timepiece that Seiko had produced six decades ago. There are two limited edition pieces that are produced each with a different dial. One of them, as shown above, is fitted with a gorgeous black Urushi lacquer dial. The other, as mentioned in our review article, comes with an equally stunning white enamel dial. These two pieces are powered by Seiko’s 8R48 calibre, which has both the vertical clutch and column wheel system to operate the chronograph. In addition, it also features the signature “three-pointed hammer”, which is Seiko’s very own chronograph resetting mechanism.
These two pieces are priced at €2,800 (converting to approximately S$4,200) each, and they are limited to 1,000 pieces for each model. At this price point, we reckon it offers good value for money for a timepiece that comes with both an in-house chronograph movement, as well as a hand-finished Urushi lacquer/enamel dial.
Seiko Marinemaster Professional 1000m Diver’s
When it comes to Seiko watches, the Marinemaster remains one of the most recognized and iconic pieces from the Japanese watchmaker. This is thanks to its distinctive shroud, which is also the reason why it is affectionately known either as the “Tuna” or “Tuna Can”.
This particular model, reference SBDX014, was produced to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Seiko Diver’s Watch. The timepiece features a rose gold color case that is produced from Titanium, paired beautifully with a contrasting black ceramic shroud. The combination is simply alluring, and it definitely gives the watch a different sort of character. Besides the aesthetics, the timepiece is a solid workhorse as well. The case, for instance, is a one piece structure that ensures rigidity and water-proofing. On top of that, the watch is also fitted with Seiko’s Calibre 8L35. The movement is version of Grand Seiko’s Calibre 9S55, but with lower finishing specifications.
Due to its limited production size and the choice of material used for this Marinemaster, it is definitely going a premium over other Seiko Diver’s Watches. Other equally robust and more affordable options exist. We will recommend either the more basic timepieces from the Marinemaster collection, or the reissue of the “Turtle” from the Prospex line.
Grand Seiko SBGD001 Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve
When it comes to watches, we reckon that there are very few brands that can actually match up to what Grand Seiko is capable of achieving. For the longest time, we think that this brand has been extremely underrated and undervalued by many, but recently, it has begun to catch the attention of discerning collectors.
The Grand Seiko SBGD001 Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve perhaps encapsulates what Grand Seiko is all about. The latest timepiece from the Japanese watchmaker features a very classic and timeless design, together with an extremely well-made Spring Drive movement. The Spring Drive movement was created in 1999, and it was touted as the movement that contains the best of both worlds: the intricacies and tradition of a mechanical movement, as well as the accuracy of a quartz movement. This particular iteration is a new caliber. The Calibre 9R01 is fitted with three barrels to produce a power reserve of around eight days. And Seiko have chosen to throw in everything they have into the finishing, making it one of the best finished movements in the world.
Priced at ¥6,000,000 (approximately S$74,800), this platinum Grand Seiko is not something that we will remotely consider as affordable, but yet, we cannot help but feel that is is perhaps quite well worth the money. Read our full review to understand why the level of detail, finishing and fine craftsmanship makes it so.
Credor Eichi II
The Eichi II, redefines the art of watchmaking. In terms of aesthetics, the watch looks simple. Clean. But simple is good. After all, it looks like a three-hand dress watch with no other complications. However, the amount of effort that goes into producing this watch is unbelievable. Take the dial and hands for instance. Each of the detail/indices are hand-painted with the utmost care and precision, and the hands of the timepiece are flame blued in person to ensure that the color matches the indices closely.
The attention to detail on the movement is amazingl. The Eichi II is fitted with the Calibre 7R14, which is a manual-winding Spring Drive movement. Interestingly, the movements of the Eichi II are fully assembled atelier style by a master watchmaker named Yoshifusa Nakazawa. There are several interesting features, such as the use of untreated maillechort for its bridges, as well as the choice of using in-house manufactured jewels for the movement. The finishing is impeccable too.
However, the watch comes with a hefty price tag at ¥ 5,700,000 (before taxes in Japan), but yet again, we feel it is a reasonable ransom. We highly recommend reading our full review here to understand.
Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater
Saving perhaps the best for the last, we have the legendary Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater.
The Minute Repeater is arguably one of the finest timepieces that is produced in Japan, or the world. This skeletonized style timepiece follows a design cue that was inspired by an earlier Credor Sonnerie, with an openwork barrel for the mainspring which is designed in the motif of a bell flower, the symbol of Shiojiri.
The main highlight of this timepiece, needless to say, is the movement itself. The watch is powered by Seiko’s Calibre 7R11, which is a Spring Drive movement that features a decimal repeater complication. Interestingly, the watchmakers at the Micro Artist Studio worked closely with the blacksmiths from a traditional Japanese manufacturer of wind chimes: the house of Myochin. The Myochin family have produced their famous wind chimes for 850 years, and used their expertise in forging the gongs. After much research, they have managed to achieve it by isolating the gongs in a separate chamber, with the strike pins contacting the gongs with each strike of the hammer. The end result is a clear and crisp sound, with a long decay and then the silence of the Spring Drive movement providing a black canvass for the strikes.
The Minute Repeater comes at a price. It costs a cool ¥34,650,000 (approximately US$410,000). But for those who can afford it, we think its a bargain.
Well, we have seen some of the best horological offerings from Seiko. We think the watches provide an interesting alternative to the traditional Swiss and German watchmakers, especially with its finishing and price proposition (at least for most of their pieces, aside from the Credor range).
Do you share the same sentiments as us? Have we missed some which you think deserves a spot in this list? Let us know in the comments section below.
We hope that you have enjoyed this week’s installment of Throwback Sundays, and till the next article, cheers!