Fifty-five years ago, in 1965, Seiko introduced its first-ever diver’s watch – which also happened to be the first Japanese diver’s watch. With its automatic movement, its 150m water-resistance, its robust case and its highly recognizable design, the 1965 Seiko 62MAS paved the way for multiple generations of professional dive watches to come – and become the foundation for one of the most respected manufacturers of dive watches. In the years that followed, Seiko created many other diver’s watches that would define the brand’s design codes. In order to pay tribute to three of its most historically important dive watches and to celebrate 55 years of divers, the brand reissues the 1965 62MAS 150m, the 1968 Hi-beat Diver’s 300m and the 1975 Professional Diver’s 600m with a (superb) trilogy comprising the SLA037, SLA039 & SLA041.
Seiko’s important diver’s watches
While today we take for granted the concept of a dive watch, timepieces often made according to the ISO 6425 standards, it took time for manufacturers to clearly define this concept. Early names date back to 1953, with the Fifty Fathoms or the Submariner, followed by other iconic pieces such as the Seamaster 300 or Doxa (to name a few). On the other side of the globe, in Japan, we’d have to wait until 1965 to see Seiko’s first diver’s watch… But what an important watch it would be. This is the watch that laid down the rules for generations of dive watches to come, from accessible pieces to professionally oriented masterpieces. And one thing to keep in mind is the influence Seiko had on the creation of the ISO 6425 standards… just to say how good its early instruments were.
The first in the line-up was launched in 1965, the iconic Seiko reference 6217, or “62MAS”. It was the mother of all upcoming aquatic watches of the brand (fonts, dial colour, bezel style, case style…) and even today, Seiko’s professional dive watches – dubbed Prospex – owe a lot of their inspiration to the ref. 6217.
The Seiko 6217-8000/1, nicknamed the “62Mas”, had solid arguments: an automatic movement (calibre 6217A),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 already featured a perfectly readable 60-minute insert, with all the required markings, but was still bidirectional. It even proved its reliability when it was used by members of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition from 1966 to 1969.
Although it performed very well, Seiko decided that the 62MAS could be improved in many aspects and, in 1968, the brand produced its second professional diver’s watch, the Automatic Diver 300m Ref. 6159-7001. This watch was not just an update of its predecessor. In just three years, Seiko had doubled the water-resistance, improved the functionality and legibility of the watch and gained drastically in precision. The Automatic Diver 300m was the first hi-beat diver’s watch on the market. Its massive size, its signature design, its iconic gilded accents all fostered the legend behind the watch that is still today an inspiration for modern models.
But the brand didn’t stop there… It wanted to create a watch that could truly be called “professional”. But that would require more than a few technical updates. It would take seven years for the brand to produce yet another milestone watch, which also introduced a brand new architecture for the case. In 1975, Seiko launched a 600m diver’s watch that pushed back the boundaries further than any other of its watches, the 1975 Professional Diver’s 600m “Tuna”. It had a titanium one-piece case and an outer case protector. It used a specially developed L-shaped gasket to make it impervious to helium without the need for an escape valve. This unique watch changed forever the style of Seiko diver’s watches – this architecture is still in use today.
Now that we’ve looked at these three iconic watches in detail, it’s time to move on to what Seiko has been preparing for us: a trilogy of recreation watches to celebrate 55 years of diving instruments. Not new models per se, as you’ll see… but still pretty cool pieces anyway.
The 1965 “62MAS” Re-Creation, the SLA037
The first of the three models in this diver’s trilogy, the reference SLA037, is deeply inspired by the earliest of the lot, the 62MAS. It is also based on a familiar modern piece, the reference SLA017, introduced back in 2017 at Baselworld. While being faithful to the original 1965 model in terms of style, it has also been modernized in terms of proportions and materials (obviously). And, in addition to that, it also comes with several updates compared to the 2017 model.
The case of the Seiko 1965 Diver’s Re-creation SLA037 takes great inspiration in the 62MAS, with the same angular shape and integrated lugs. The same can be said about pretty much every element of the watch: the circular brushing on top of the case; the polished caseband; the crown positioned at 3 o’clock (the off-centred crown will come later); and the bezel with complete graduation. What changes is the diameter, reasonable but larger than in 1965, at 39.9mm. The main evolution compared to the SLA017 is the material, and the case is made of Seiko’s “Ever-Brilliant Steel,” which has a brilliant white hue and is more corrosion-resistant than traditional steel.
To complete this high-end package, the Seiko 1965 Diver’s Re-creation SLA037 features a box-shape sapphire crystal and the bezel insert is black with full graduation. The crown screws-down ensuring its 200m water-resistance. Another novelty here is the blue-grey dial, matching the blue “tropic-like” silicone strap. However, the 62MAS-inspired indexes and hands are still present.
Inside the case is a new movement, as this SLA037 features he hi-beat 5Hz calibre 8L55 (the SLA017 came with a 4Hz calibre 8L35). This automatic engine stores up to 55 hours of power reserve. It has been developed and assembled expressly for diver’s watches at the Shizukuishi Watch Studio.
Specs: 39.9mm x 14.7mm – Ever-Brilliant steel case – sapphire crystal – 60-minute unidirectional bezel – 200m WR – blue-grey dial with Lumebrite – Calibre 8L55, automatic – 55h power reserve – 5Hz frequency – 37 jewels – magnetic-resistance 4,800 A/m – blue “tropic” silicone strap – limited to 1,100 pieces, available July 2020 – EUR 6,500
The 1968 Hi-Beat Re-Creation, the SLA039
Second in the trilogy is the Seiko 1968 Hi-Beat Re-Creation SLA039, a watch that pays tribute to the first High-Frequency diver launched by Seiko, as the evolution of the 62MAS. The new model is based on the existing SLA025 launched in 2018. Once again, we have a watch that is faithful to the original model but also displays some evolutions compared to the 2018 version.
While the model above is more of a modern recreation, the SLA039 feels more faithful to the original, whether it’s the specifications, the proportions, or the movement. The case of this 1968 Re-Creation is large and bulky, but so was the original piece. It measures 44.8mm in diameter and 15.7mm in height. It also features the signature crown at 4 o’clock. But still, the design was spot-on in 1968… And it still is today.
Once again here, the case is made of “Ever-Brilliant Steel,” which is finished in the typical GS way, with zaratsu polishing. The case is sharp and angular but also, from our experience with the SLA025, extremely well finished. Just like its ancestor, the SLA039 is water-resistant to 300m and features a silicone strap with a pattern.
Following the theme of this Diver’s 55th Anniversary Trilogy, the dial is blue-grey with a sunray-brushed pattern and it features a matching strap. Inside the case is the same movement as above, the Hi-Beat calibre 8L55 and it 36,000 vibrations/hour – just like the 1968 model.
Specs: 44.8mm x 15.7mm – Ever-Brilliant steel case – sapphire crystal – 60-minute unidirectional bezel – 300m WR – blue-grey dial with Lumebrite – Calibre 8L55, automatic – 55h power reserve – 5Hz frequency – 37 jewels – magnetic-resistance 4,800 A/m – blue silicone strap – limited to 1,100 pieces, available August 2020 – EUR 7,000
The 1975 “Tuna” 600m Re-Creation, the SLA041
Last but not least, the third model in this 55th Anniversary Trilogy is a recreation of one of the most recognizable dive watches ever created, the so-called “Tuna” watch or 1975 Professional Diver’s 600m. And while the design is still disruptive and instrumental today, you can imagine how it was received 40 years ago. The watch gets its name from its unusual shape, combining a central container with the dial, bezel and movement, as well as an external protective shroud, which was black on the original version. This gave the watch the appearance of a can of tuna…
The new model is modelled after the 1975 reference 6159-7010 and incorporates most of the visual and technical elements of this historically important piece. The external case, which measures 52.4mm in diameter, is made of black-coated titanium, used extensively in the surfaces, linings, bolts and other components of marine structures and vessels to avoid corrosion in a chloride-rich environment such as seawater. It is also known for its resistance and its lightness. The bezel is made with the same innovative alloy as the two pieces above, in “Ever-Brilliant Steel.”
In line with the theme of this trilogy, it features a blue dial and an accordion-type silicone strap. Some evolutions can be seen on the technical side: the SLA041 in now water-resistant to 1,000 metres, it comes with a sapphire crystal and the magnetic-resistance has been increased to 40,000 A/m, thanks to the dial made of pure iron – acting like a faraday cage. Inside the case of this powerful dive watch is the Calibre 8L35, the same technical base as the two movements used above but with a standard 4Hz frequency.
Specs: 52.4mm x 17.2mm – titanium external and inner case with Ever-Brilliant Steel bezel – sapphire crystal – 60-minute unidirectional bezel – 1000m WR – blue-grey dial with Lumebrite – Calibre 8L35, automatic – 50h power reserve – 4Hz frequency – 26 jewels – magnetic-resistance 40,000 A/m – blue silicone strap – limited to 1,100 pieces, available September 2020 – EUR 4,500
Price and availability
The watches in this Seiko Diver’s 55th Anniversary Trilogy are all limited editions of 1,100 pieces each.
- 1965 Diver’s Re-creation SLA037 – July 2020, EUR 6,500
- 1968 Professional Diver’s 300m Re-creation SLA039 – August 2020, EUR 7,000
- 1975 Professional Diver’s 600m Re-creation SLA041 – September 2020, EUR 4,500
Also, note that a special commemorative box with all three recreations with additional black straps will be available in May 2020. Just 100 sets will be released.
More details at seikowatches.com.