50 years… 50 years of innovation, 50 years creating professionally oriented watches, 50 years of immersion in the cold seas all around the world – or just simply being strapped on the wrist of watch enthusiasts. From the first use of a titanium case for a diver’s watch to the invention of the accordion-style strap and the two-layer case to the design of dial markers and hands of unparalleled legibility, Seiko had been involved in improving tool watches made to dive for 50 years. To celebrate this anniversary, Seiko is coming with two special watches. One of them is a great tribute to the MarineMaster series. Here is the Seiko Marinemaster 1000m a.k.a Emperor Tuna Rose Gold ref. SBDX014.
A quick view on 50 years of dive watches by Seiko
Back in 1965, Seiko introduced their first professional dive watch, the renown 6217, with a rotating bezel and a 150m water-resistance (more to read about it here, here and here). From now on, a part of the collection was build with the only intention to seduce professional divers and to fulfill their needs with purposely build watches. PROSPEX watches are not to be confused with Seiko’s standard mechanical line-up of watches. The build quality of these watches are far from cheap and Seiko’s PROSPEX is also one of the leading innovators in terms of dive watch advancement.
In 1975 Seiko unveiled the Professional 600m diver’s watch (6159-022). This is an important watch as it was the first diver’s watch to be made in titanium – a material that was more or less reserved for prototypes or NASA watches at that time, but a material with a lower density and a great resistance to corrosion. It was also the first Seiko (and the first watch) to come with accordion-style strap – created because at high-pressures, the diving suits tend to shrink, so the rubber strap can be worn tightly to compensate for this fact. This anti-magnetic, highly shockproof, and highly luminous watch was also coming with a new way to construct cases: the two-layer case. Protected around by an outside black coated titanium case, the main part is made of a single bloc that is first highly waterproof (water resistant to 600m) but also a structure effectively impermeable to helium, thus eliminating the need for an helium valve. The watch could then be safely used for saturation diving to great depths.
the 2015 Seiko Marinemaster 1000m Emperor Tuna ref. SBDX014
This new 2015 Marinemaster 1000m Emperor Tuna is a pure tribute to this 1975 Titanium 6159-022, as it comes with many of the attributes of this vintage edition. It is hard to believe it, but yes, the 2015 edition is kind of a re-issue that is both visually and technically close to the vintage one. Seiko is usually not into this kind of ‘marketing stuffs‘ but hardcore collectors and aficionados will certainly be pleased to see such a faithful timepiece. The new Emperor Tuna is based on the same architecture, same case construction, same professional standards – the internal PROSPEX & the ISO 6425 certification that Seiko helped to create (more about it here & here) – with however updated features and modern clues.
The 48.2mm case is based on the two-layers construction, but here with modern materials. The inner case is still made of titanium – for the reasons we exposed before – but with rose-gold color and black hard coating. The case is also still relying on the one-piece / monobloc case structure, meaning that there is no screwed caseback. The movement is cased from the top, before the dial and the crystal – just like the first editions of the Omega Seamaster Ploprof. This allows the watch to be now water resistant to 1.000m (in fact, it reached 3.000m affixed to the exterior hull of KAIKO 7000 II, a remotely operated undersea research vehicle) and to be fully impermeable to helium – reason why there is no helium valve like in an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean or a Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000.
The outer shell – what collectors called the shroud – is now made of highly resistant black ceramic. This outer shell is made both to protect the case in case of shocks and to prevent any unintentional rotation of the bezel. Talking about the bezel, besides being coated with rose gold, it comes with the usual dive watch design, meaning a unidirectional rotation capacity and a large, legible 60-minute scale to be used to calculate decompression times. The dial is also faithful to the original – and thus extremely practical and legible – as it comes with large luminous dots, batons and triangular indexes – to be easily legible and recognizable even in the dark – and large luminous hands. Both the hands and the indexes are coated with a warm creamy colour that matches the idea of a vintage re-issue and that perfectly mixes with the gilded bezel. It comes with a discreet date feature located at 4:30 with white numerals printed on a black disc.
Inside the 2015 Seiko Marinemaster 1000m Emperor Tuna Rose Gold ticks one of the middle range self-winding movements – the high-end one are those created for Grand-Seiko or the ones with high-beat feature. The Calibre 8L35 is a modern movement that, as usual with Seiko, is developed, designed, manufactured and assembled fully in-house, at the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio. It might not be finished with haute-horlogerie standards (don’t expect polished bevelled angles or Geneva Stripes, we’re talking tool watches here), it is however a reliable and efficient movement that prove its qualities. It ticks at 28.800vph / 4Hz, has 26 jewels and boasts approximately 50 hours of power reserve. This automatic calibre 8L35 is regulated to an average +15 / -10 seconds per day.
On the wrist, the Seiko Marinemaster 1000m Emperor Tuna Rose Gold is a large, very large watch (remember that the case measures 48.2mm x 17.4mm). However, due to the rubber strap and the absence of lugs (the strap is attached under the case), it is quite an easy watch one the wrist. Besides that, this size and this unique shape are part of the feeling and faithful to iconic watches it pays a tribute to, including the 1975 ref. 6159-022. Price in Europe: 3.450 Euros.
- Reference: SBDX014
- Caliber 8L35
- Driving system: Automatic with manual-winding mechanism
- Vibration: 28,800 vibrations per hour (8 beats per second)
- Power reserve: Approximately 50 hours
- Number of jewels: 26 jewels
- Titanium with rose-gold color and black hard coating and ceramic case
- One-piece case structure (no-case-back construction)
- Sapphire crystal with anti-fogging coating
- Screw-down crown
- Water resistance 1,000m for saturation diving
- Magnetic resistance 4,800 A/m
- Diameter: 48.2mm, Thickness: 17.4mm
- Extra-strength silicone strap
- Approximate recommended retail price in Europe: Euro 3.450