Seiko’s reputation as a leader in dive watches makes simply no debate. Wether we talk affordable pieces or professional tools, the Japanese brand masters watches for divers since now over 50 years. Actually, the whole story about the Seiko divers started in 1965, with a watch that now became an icon of watchmaking, the 62Mas (ref. 6217). And it is with a strong excitement that we are about to present you the piece that collectors were waiting for so many years: the Seiko 62Mas Reedition Ref. SLA017, a perfect reinterpretation of Seiko’s first ever dive watch, modernized to meet Prospex standards. And it doesn’t come alone, as a pair of contemporary re-interpretations will also be part of the package (ref. SPB051, SPB053) – but this will come in a second article.
Seiko, the Dive Watch Concept and Seiko’s first dive watch, the 62Mas
Seiko’s reputation in terms of dive watches is indeed unquestionable. The brand benefits from an incredible aura and respect amongst collectors first, but mainly amongst professional divers, who know about the efficiency and reliability of these watches. And this reputation is no accident of fate. It is the result of over 50 years of innovation, a period during which Seiko demonstrated its superiority, being responsible for creating many of the features that are now widely accepted as the industry norms. Indeed, The ISO 6425 standards have been based, in part, on aspects of Seiko’s diver’s watches. Seiko inventions like the accordion-style strap, the use of titanium as a case material and the extra wide hands have helped to define the world’s expectations of what a diver’s watch should be.
The watch that actually created this whole reputation is now unanimously recognized as an icon. This watch is the Seiko 6217-8000/1, nicknamed the “62Mas”. This watch came at a time Swiss already introduced many watches made for divers. Yet, the 1965 Seiko 62Mas had strong arguments: an automatic movement (calibre 6217A), a 150m water resistance, a large (at that time) 37mm case with a mono-bloc shape (rather massive integrated lugs, which guarantee the solidity of the case) for maximum protection and a dark grey dial with large indexes and hands, of course all luminous. The bezel was already featuring a perfectly readable 60-minute insert, with all the required markings, but was still bi-directional.
The Seiko 62Mas was so reliable that it was used by the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition from 1966 to 1969. The influence of this watch on later models of the brand is undeniable – look at the hands, the markers, the shape of the case. All are perfectly actual and even recent watches from the brand still have some design clues of Seiko’s first professional dive watch.
The Seiko 62Mas Reedition SLA017
No more suspens… here it is. For Baselworld 2017, Seiko indeed reedits the 62Mas in an extremely faithful way – at least visually – with the ref. SLA017. And let’s get straight to the point: this new watch is simply great. First of all, it features a relatively small case (39.9mm diameter x 14.1mm height), which changes from the usual 44mm or plus of Seiko’s professional dive watches. Clearly, the vintage intention is well present. Then, the case itself is a perfect reinterpretation of the old 62Mas, with the exact (and really exact) same shape and finish: integrated and angular lugs, large unprotected crown, circular brushing on all flat surfaces. Everything is there.
Then, the dial and the bezel of this Seiko 62Mas Reedition SLA017 are also extremely faithful to the 1965 version: same 3D embossed rectangular indexes (made in the same way as the old version), with large dimensions and a lot of luminous paint for night readability, same straight hands, same date window circled by a metallic ring (to match with the indexes… Seiko already had the sense of design, by integrating the date in a stylish way), the same kind of inscriptions on the dial. Even the “Diashock” mention is here. The narrow bezel, now unidirectional of course, retains the same slim profile and identical markers, numerals and dots. Visually, the resemblance between this new Seiko 62Mas Reedition SLA017 and its ancestor is simply baffling.
Yet, this Seiko 62Mas Reedition SLA017 makes some concessions to modernity, but only where it’s necessary. First of all, it now meets with the Prospex standards. Then, modern construction obliges, it can now withstand a pressure of 20 bars (equivalent to a 200m water resistance). In the same vein, the Plexiglas crystal has been replaced by a modern and scratch-resistant sapphire, yet with a vintage box-shaped profile (recalling the domed-shape of the vintage Plexiglas).
Finally, the watch is equipped with a high-end Seiko movement, calibre 8L35, which was specially designed for dive watches and is made by Seiko’s skilled craftsmen and women in the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio in Morioka in the north of Japan – we’re not talking about an entry-level movement here, not at all. This movement is based on the architecture of the Grand Seiko 9S55, is finished in a very pleasant way, boasts 50h of power reserve, beats faster than standard Seiko movements (28,800 vibrations per hour) and is hand-assembled and hand-adjusted (rated to -10/+15 sec/day).
It is delivered on an also faithful rubber strap, with the same diamond-like pattern as some editions of the old Seiko 62Mas. A stainless steel bracelet is also included in the box.
Now come the bad news… Two of them actually. First thing to know is that you’ll need to be fast to get your hands on one, as only 2,000 pieces of this Seiko 62Mas Reedition SLA017 will be produced (available from July 2017). Then, the price is slightly consequent, at EUR 3,800 – yet justified by the quality of the movement, of the case and of the dial.
More details on Seiko’s official website – www.seikowatches.com.