Seiko expands its Prospex Speedtimer chronograph series with a new blue panda-style dial with contrasting black sub-dials. Introduced in 2021, the Prospex Speedtimer celebrates Seiko’s contribution to sports timing with a fusion of design details and mechanical features of stopwatches and wristwatch chronographs produced in the 1960s. The case and dial, for example, pick up on specific design features and the impeccable legibility of Seiko’s handheld stopwatches and its manual-winding Crown Chronograph 5179 wristwatch of 1964. Honouring the sophisticated automatic chronograph movement of Seiko’s legendary calibre 6139 of 1969, the Prospex Speedtimers are powered by the calibre 8R46 with a vertical clutch and column wheel. Here’s the new Seiko Prospex Speedtimer SRQ039J1.
The race against time
Although we tend to remember 1969 as the year when America won the space race and landed a man on the Moon, there was another race between Swiss watch manufactures to develop the first automatic chronograph movement. While Zenith and the Heuer/Hamilton/Breitling coalition rushed to the finish line, another contender in Japan – Seiko – was also developing an automatic chronograph movement code-named 6139 with a column wheel and vertical clutch.
However, Seiko’s first wristwatch chronograph predated the 6139 by five years and was introduced in 1964, just in time for the 1964 Summer Olympics. Marking the first chronograph wristwatch produced in Japan, the calibre 5179 was developed by Toshihiko Ohki and produced at Seiko’s Seikosha manufacture in Suwa. Placed inside the 38mm Crown Chronograph of 1964, it was a monopusher chronograph with a high frequency of 5.5 Hz, readings of 1/5th of a second and no sub-dials. Instead of sub-counters to record elapsed times, the Crown Chronograph relied on a black rotating bezel with1-min increments.
In 2019, Seiko took a trip down memory lane and paid tribute to its 1964 Crown Chronograph with the Presage Chronograph 55th Anniversary model and a chronograph to commemorate the 50th-anniversary of its famous 1969 calibre 6139 – the Prospex SRQ029. Just two years later, it released two Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronographs SRQ035 & SRQ037, to capture the look of its high-precision timing instruments of the 1960s. The SRQ035, a limited edition of 1,000 pieces, captured the stark minimalism of Seiko’s 1/5th of a second handheld stopwatch of 1964 with its white dial and black markings and replicated the piston-style pushers of the 1964 Crown Chronograph wristwatch. Although the second model, reference SRQ037, shares a similar case and an identical movement to the abovementioned model, the look is more in line with the current Prospex collection, just like the blue SRQ039J1 model released today.
Blue panda dial
The latest Speedtimer is cased in stainless steel with a super-hard coating; it measures 42.5mm across, has a thickness of 15.1mm and is water-resistant to 100 metres. Like the 1964 Crown Chronograph, it features oversized pump chronograph pushers that give the watch its distinctive identity.
The new blue dial colour is vertically brushed and has applied hour markers with double-faceted profiles and polished finishing. Compared to the SRQ037, you’ll notice that the indices are slightly shorter, and the sharp-tipped hour and minute hands are blunter at their tips. On the inner black flange, the scale no longer features a tachymeter and is now a classic 60-second precision track.
Another distinctive feature is the removal of the 1/4th of a second track from the dial, which is now replaced with white dots. The lume plots are now white, as is the Lumibrite covering the central hour, minute and chronograph hands as well as the small hand corresponding to the 30-minute counter on the left. Beady-eyed fans will also notice that the hands in the two black, slightly recessed and snailed counters are similar to the hands featured on the limited edition SRQ035. Matching the colour of the two sub-dials, the date aperture on this SRQ039J1 also features a black background.
Inside the case is in-house calibre 8R46, a movement derived from Seiko’s most advanced 8R chronograph series. Perhaps not the most attractive visually, since the chronograph functions are positioned under the dial, the movement comes with a top-tier column wheel and vertical clutch architecture. Beating at a frequency of 4Hz, it delivers a power reserve of 45 hours. In addition to the chronograph functions, it displays small seconds and date.
The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph SRQ039J1 comes with a 185mm-long blue crocodile leather bracelet with a triple folding clasp with push-button release. The retail price is EUR 3,000.
For more information, please visit Seikowatches.com.