Following the trio of watches introduced this morning by Seiko, the Japanese manufacture actually had some more to present in its Black Series line-up. While the other models were relatively accessible and modernized versions, this fourth watch plays in a different field and is part of the SLA category – watches with much higher-end mechanics and more refined construction. Inspired by the 1970 “Naomi Uemura” reference 6105, this new watch opts for a much bolder look, with a fully black-coated case and striking orange accents. Meet the Seiko Prospex Black Series 1970 Divers SLA061J1.
The story of this watch is a rather modernized take on one of Seiko’s most famous dive watches. Following the 62MAS, the first of its kind for the brand, Seiko presented multiple evolutions of its dive watches concept in the late 1960s. One of them was the reference 6105, followed by the 6309. Produced from 1968 onwards, the Seiko 6105 was a sturdy dive watch with a water-resistance of 150 metres. What caught everybody’s eye was the crown positioned at 4 o’clock (which was used for the first time in the 1961 Seiko Silver Wave) and the big, lower crown protector. It was replaced in 1976 by the 6309 series. While quite similar to the 6105, the 6309 has an even more asymmetrical case design and also adds a day function and a dial with circular luminous plots instead of rectangular ones.
The watch is famous for two things. First, most of us will remember its appearance in the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, worn by one of the movie’s main characters, Captain Willard, played by Martin Sheen. Second, and most importantly, it was tested in real life by explorer Naomi Uemura, a very popular Japanese adventurer well respected for having achieved solo feats. For instance, he undertook a one-man dog-sledge run from Greenland to Alaska, a journey of 12,000 km that took 18 months, with this watch on his wrist.
Since then, we’ve seen more or less faithful recreations of this famous watch, such as the Re-Creation SLA033 or the SLA049 & SLA051 Tribute to Naomi Uemura – these two being more a re-interpretation of the 6105 concept with some liberties taken in their design. The new watch we’re looking at today is basically the same as the Uemura-inspired models, except for the colours and textures. And yes, it is far bolder and much more striking than the original watch…
In short, we encounter the same rounded case with integrated crown guards on the side and the signature position of the crown (screw-down, of course) at 4 o’clock. Overall, the design is reminiscent of the late 1960s watches; however, proportions and shapes have evolved over the years. What really changes in this watch, as part of the Black Series, is that the case has been black-treated with a “hard coating”. Surfaces are either brushed or polished, and the watch exudes a certain (in a cool way) mean attitude. The rest is familiar, with a curved sapphire crystal on top, framed by a unidirectional bezel with a black aluminium insert with a classic 60-minute scale. The caseback is solid steel and guarantees 200m water-resistance.
Although the dial of the SLA061J1 uses the same base as the Uemura-inspired models, it opts for new colours and an unprecedented texture – something that we see very often in Seiko and GS collections. Here, the black colour reflects the mysterious world of the ocean at night, the orange accents the lights that illuminate it and the texture evokes the sand ripples you can find on the sea bed – I’m quoting the brand on this… Moving away from marketing jargon, this results in a rather pleasant, fine texture that adds some depth to the dial without interfering with legibility and contrast. The applied markers and hands are filled with cream-coloured lume, that matches the orange seconds hand nicely. This colour is also found on the depth rating.
Inside the case is the calibre 8L35, a 4Hz automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve. This movement was designed especially for divers’ watches by the watchmakers at the Shizukuishi Watch Studio in northern Japan. It is given an accuracy rating of +15 to -10 seconds per day.
The Black Series 1970 Divers SLA061J1 is worn on a black-coated stainless steel bracelet with a folding clasp and diving extension. In addition, a black silicone strap with black-coated hardware is also included in the presentation box.
Availability & Price
The Seiko Prospex Black Series Limited Edition 1970 Mechanical Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation SLA061J1 will be available as a 1,000-piece limited edition as of March 2022. It will be priced at EUR 3,300. More details at seikowatches.com.