Seiko’s reputation in terms of professional dive watches is rock solid and dates back to 1965 with the creation of the Seiko Diving Department, and later the Prospex nomenclature. For our enormous pleasure, the brand has been digging into its rich history to offer us some of the best vintage re-editions we’ve seen of late. Last year was about Seiko’s first-ever dive watch. This year, the brand looks at yet another icon, with the recreation of the 1968 Automatic Diver 300m Reference 6159-7001. Meet the brand new Seiko Prospex Diver 300m Hi-Beat SLA025.
In 2017, Seiko stole the show with its “cooler than ice cream” vintage re-edition of its first dive watch, the 62Mas or Seiko 6217-8000/1. Eagerly awaited, praised by many, decried by some as too expensive, judged by most as an ultra-faithful and superbly executed piece, the Seiko 62Mas Re-edition SLA017 was a hot topic of debate. Expect the same reaction this year with the new Seiko Prospex Diver 300m Hi-Beat SLA025. The recipe is identical: take one of the most iconic dive watches of the brand, modernise it (just a bit), take some inspiration (a lot) and here you go… A successful talking piece.
In 1968, three years after the creation of the 62Mas, Seiko delivered another impressive and innovative professional dive watch, the Automatic Diver 300m Reference 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 of that created the legend behind the watch that is a hot item on collector’s lists.
The Seiko Prospex Diver 300m Hi-Beat SLA025
For Baselworld 2018, this watch is back in a (slightly) modernised package, yet with a design faithful to the original 1968 piece, under the name Seiko Prospex Diver 300m Hi-Beat reference SLA025. Quite a mouthful!
With this new reference SLA025, Seiko is directly targetting the most hardcore collectors, those who know what the original 1968 is and what it represents – both in terms of technological importance and collectible value. Just like the recreation of the 62Mas last year, the Baselworld 2018 piece will again be a true collector’s piece that won’t be gathering dust in display windows – and for very good reasons.
Seiko has decided to play the historical card and has produced a case that is identical to the 1968 model. The size and shape, as often with Seiko Prospex watches, are quite massive – 44.8mm diameter x 15.7mm height – and all the details have been executed correctly with the same circular brushing, the same notched bezel, and the same position of the crown. The rubber strap is even true to the original one. Luxury and beauty aren’t forgotten though, and Zaratsu polishing gives the lug sharpness and beauty.
The dial and the bezel of the Seiko Prospex Diver 300m Hi-Beat SLA025 are also entirely true to the 1968 model, with the same fonts, the distinctive shape of the indexes and hands or the gold colour featured extensively. Various details have been modernised, of course, but the evolution remains subtle and the result very desirable.
Inside the case, just like the 1968 model, ticks a hi-beat movement – that is, a movement with 5Hz or 36,000vph frequency. It incorporates Caliber 8L55, which was specially designed to be used by divers and is made by Seiko’s skilled craftsmen and women in the Shizukuishi Watch Studio in Morioka, in the north of Japan. This movement is a toned-down version of the Grand Seiko 9S calibre, with less decoration. It boasts a comfortable 55h power reserve and features automatic winding.
The Seiko Prospex Diver 300m Hi-Beat SLA025 – or 1968 Automatic Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition – will be produced in a limited run of 1,500 pieces worldwide. It will be priced at EUR 5,500. Clearly, not a cheap watch, but the result is truly enjoyable. More details on www.seiko-prospex.com.