While most of us have in mind Seiko‘s impressive background in the field of watches made for divers, the Japanese brand has far more to offer, especially when it comes to chronographs. I’m sure we don’t need to remind you that Seiko was one of the earliest manufacturers to build an automatic chronograph in 1969. And it was also the first brand to launch a chronograph on Japanese soil. Today, with this new series of automatic chronograph watches, Seiko pays tribute to its background in sports timing with watches inspired by high-precision equipment of the 1960s. Meet the new Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ035 & SRQ037 watches.
Seiko and chronographs
This might not be the most famous part of the brand’s history, but as Seiko explains: “In the 1960s, Seiko announced itself on the international sports timing stage with a whole new generation of high-precision equipment that was enthusiastically endorsed by many international sports federations and used to capture elapsed time at many of the world’s leading sports events. Central to this success was a range of stopwatches that incorporated Seiko’s innovative “heart-shaped cam” mechanism, a feature which delivered a level of precision once thought unachievable by manual sports timing devices.”
Later, in 1964, Seiko released its first chronograph watch and movement, which coincidentally was the first of its kind for a Japanese manufacturer, with the Seiko Crown Chronograph and its calibre 5179. Launched for the Summer Olympics, it once again showed the brand’s devotion to sports timing. More details about this Crown Chronograph 5179 and its modern reissue here. And then came one of the most fascinating races of the watchmaking industry to produce the first automatic chronograph. Alongside Zenith and the Heuer/Hamilton/Breiling venture, Seiko was among the first three brands to launch a chronograph movement with its calibre 6139 inside a watch named the Speedtimer.
Not only was it a pioneering movement, but the calibre 6139 was the only one equipped with a column wheel and vertical clutch – two devices that delivered real improvements in the measurement of elapsed time in a wristwatch and that are still considered today as the best possible architecture. Today, Seiko wants to pay tribute to this rich past by presenting two models inspired, both visually and mechanically, by these important watches and movements.
Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Limited Edition SRQ035
In addition to a series of four solar-powered chronograph models, the brand is releasing two mechanical chronograph watches that share most of their specifications, yet are treated rather differently when it comes to the design. First in line is a limited edition watch of 1,000 pieces whose dial is directly inspired by some of the coolest sports timing instruments of the 1960s, such as the one above.
This Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Limited Edition SRQ035 is characterized by its dial that is very different from most of the current Seiko Prospex models. It pays homage to the 1/5th second stopwatch from 1964 (pictured at the beginning of the article) with its plain white dial that is entirely focused on legibility and precision of timing. Undeniably bold and surprising, the dial of the Speedtimer SRQ035 displays a combination of sleekness and complexity, with all markers and tracks printed in black over a solid white background.
The tracks are complex and the markers are more focused on improving the readability of elapsed times, not really on reading standard time. As such, it features a precision seconds track with 1/4th of a second markings (in relation to the movement’s frequency), small luminous dot markers for the hours, batons and Arabic numerals for the tenth of minutes and bolder square markers to mark the full seconds. The two sub-dials are clean and legible and the baton-shaped hands are specific to this limited edition with elongated counterweights. It also features a tachymeter scale printed on a black angled inner flange.
This Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Limited Edition SRQ035 is housed in a 41.5mm case made of stainless steel with a super-hard coating, equipped with oversized pump chronograph pushers, a sapphire crystal, a see-through caseback. It still retains a comfortable water-resistance of 100m. The case is sharp yet simple, with brushed surfaces and polished accents, and an overall 1960s look.
Inside the case is the in-house calibre 8R46. This automatic movement is not the most attractive visually, since the chronograph functions are positioned under the dial. Yet, it comes with a top-tier column wheel and vertical clutch architecture, it runs at a 4Hz frequency and boasts 45h of power reserve. In addition to the chronograph functions, it displays a small seconds and date.
The Speedtimer SRQ035 is worn on a 3-link stainless steel bracelet with super-hard coating and folding clasp, which has been designed specifically for this series. The presentation box also includes a black calfskin strap. This version will be limited to 1,000 pieces and priced at EUR 3,200.
Seiko Prospex Speedtimer SRQ037
In addition to the rather bold and attractive limited edition above, the brand is also releasing a non-limited version of its Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph, under the reference SRQ037. Although the case, bracelet and movement are identical, this version is characterized by a dial that feels far more in line with the current Prospex production. Its dial is charcoal-grey with a sunbrushed pattern, and the sub-dials are slightly recessed and coloured in black. With the exception of the black flange with a tachymeter scale, everything is different from the LE watch above.
First, the Speedtimer SRQ037 features applied markers for the hours, with a double-faceted profile and polished surface. All the tracks and indexes have also been redesigned with a more classic look. Finally, the hands are sharp and pointy, something traditional for Seiko, and feature a more generous amount of beige-coloured LumiBrite material. This edition is only delivered on the 3-link steel bracelet.
The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ037 will be available, as its white dial sister, from November 2021 at Seiko boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide. This member of the permanent collection will be priced at EUR 3,000.
For more details, please visit www.seikowatches.com.