About a year ago, Seiko presented a new range of watches in the Presage collection, once again paying tribute to traditional Japanese craftsmanship. Following watches with enamel, Urushi lacquer, and guilloché with translucent enamel (Shippo) dials, these featured Arita porcelain dials. This year, Seiko continues with this theme and presents the new Presage Arita Porcelain Dial Limited Edition SPB171, this time with a very elegant white and blue colour scheme – so-called Suigetsu.
What is Arita Porcelain and why has Seiko chosen to use it? Arita is a small town located on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Towards the end of the 16th century, porcelain clay was found in the vicinity transforming the area into a hub for Japanese porcelain. Early wares used underglaze blue decoration, but by the mid-17th century, Arita was at the forefront as Japan developed overglaze “enamelled” decoration in a range of bright colours. It wasn’t long before the porcelain products made in Arita became prized all over Japan for the high quality of their artistry. By the 19th century, it was being exported all around the world, dispatched by sea from Arita’s port of Imari. Although porcelain is also made elsewhere, porcelain made in Arita is uniquely Japanese, and so it seems fitting that Seiko has chosen to use this material for the dials of its new Presage watches.
Following the 2019 editions, for instance, the SPB093 we went hands-on with here, Seiko enlarges its Arita Porcelain themed collection with a new model in slightly different colours than the previous versions. The 2019 edition had a white porcelain dial with black indexes/tracks/hands and a red accent at 12 o’clock. The 2020 reference SPB171 takes the best of its predecessor and adds (at least to me) an even more elegant white-and-blue colour scheme.
The design of the new Seiko Presage Arita Porcelain Dial Limited Edition SPB171 is inspired by the Japanese tradition of Suigetsu, which celebrates the beauty of the Moon when it is reflected in water. As a result, the white porcelain dial, with its pronounced sunken sub-dials, has been decorated with blue hands and markers, perfectly contrasting with the milky-white and delicate background. Also new to this model is a railroad minute track, which is executed in silver.
The Arita porcelain dials are produced by master craftsman Hiroyuki Hashiguchi and his colleagues at an experienced manufacturer in Arita that has been making porcelain since 1830. To give the dials the strength required for a watch, the craftsmen use a type of Arita porcelain specially formulated to be harder and more durable than traditional porcelain. A very precise casting mould is used to achieve the difficult task of giving each dial the precise dimensions required to fit inside a wristwatch. While in traditional Arita porcelain a special glaze is applied to create its distinctive subtle blue sheen, a clear, transparent glaze is used for the dial of this new watch to reveal the natural whiteness of the porcelain material. This creates a sharp contrast with the blue hands, Roman numerals and sub-dials. And to complete this look, the crocodile strap is also dark blue.
For the rest, the specifications are the same as most Presage watches, with a stainless steel case measuring 40.6mm in diameter with brushed and polished surfaces. The watch is powered by the automatic calibre 6R27, with a 4Hz frequency and a 45h power reserve. It displays the time (H-M-S) as well as the date at 6 o’clock and a power reserve indication at 9 o’clock. The movement is visible through the caseback and the watch is protected by a sapphire crystal.
Price and availability
The new Seiko Presage Arita Porcelain Dial Limited Edition SPB171 is a limited edition of 2,000, available worldwide from Seiko Boutiques and selected Seiko retail partners, as of June 2020. It will be priced at EUR 2,100. More details at www.seikowatches.com.