Direct from Baselworld 2017, we are looking at what’s new in the world of Seiko and Grand Seiko. Prepare yourselves because it is an excellent vintage. There is, of course, the Presage collection who has added numerous “cocktail” variations with new dial colours, a new large date caliber in the Astron family, and new “Samurai” divers. Yes. All this is fine and well, but two particular timepieces literally brought tears to our eyes. They are exactly what an admirer of this Japanese manufacturer could ever hope for: two re-editions that are almost identical to the first Seiko dive watch from 1965 (ref. SLA017), and to the first Grand Seiko from 1960 (ref. SBGW 253). Let’s dig deeper shall we?
Seiko First Driver 1965 (SLA017) – Limited Edition of 2000 pieces
It isn’t a coincidence that Seiko is known for dive watches today. The Japanese watchmaker has long been in the big players circle ever since the launch of their first reference for the Japanese market in 1965. Seiko has reproduced this piece today in a limited series of 2000 pieces for the joy of aficionados of the brand.
The historic timepiece
From the beginning this historic piece was equipped with an automatic mechanical caliber, used by the Japanese Expedition team for Research in the Antarctic between 1966 and 1969. Voilà the Japanese equivalent of a Nivada Grenchen, or a Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic produced for the same occasion.
It goes without saying that the beginning of the the 1970’s there was particular enthusiasm for recreational diving and this watch would enjoy immense success from a growing public.
The re-edition (SLA017)
The piece that we have in our possession today represents everything we like at Seiko in the shape of a professional and versatile dive watch. A “well-contained” size at a diameter of 39.9mm and a length of 14.1mm. This makes for an easy-to-read and functional dial underwater, but also perfectly at ease when worn out of the water, under a crisp button-down.
This piece has been inspired from the original historic piece, feature by feature, in camouflaging the improvements associated with the technological advancement in the materials used. The plexiglass at the time is replaced with a “glass box” sapphire glass that includes anti-reflective coating. The steel has been hardened for better resistance against scratches and the automatic movement the pulses inside is none other than the caliber 8L35.
For the connoisseurs among us, the caliber 8L35 has been directly derived from a Grand Seiko caliber, non-decorated, with 26 rubies beating to the step of 28’800 A/h. This is the same caliber that we find at the heart of the famous monobloc case, the Marine Master 300 (SBDX001).
Price: 3,800 EUR
Grand Seiko 1960 (SBGW 253) – Limited Edition of 1960 pieces
When we talk about Grand Seiko, the “Holy Grail” of numerous collectors, including us, it’s the historical piece whose simplicity is equaled only by the equilibrium of proportions. Similar to what Patek Philippe Calatrava could represent for the Swiss industry, a Grand Seiko is simply the height of the Japanese watchmaking industry, offering the best and in all humbleness, a pure reflection of its ancestral culture. Incidentally, when the national quest for perfection results in such success, I sincerely believe that it speaks for the level of watchmaking education and the culture in question.
Now that Mr. Hattori Shinji has just officially announced the separation of the brands Seiko & Grand Seiko, it means that Grand Seiko will be an altogether independent brand, not just a high-end collection of Seiko. Here we have before us, the re-edition of the first Grand Seiko watch that fills our hearts with joy.
Proportions that have been barely touched: an opening at 38mm, 10.7mm of thickness, polished Dauphine hands like applied faceted markers and two lines of text, inspired by the original model. The essence of a 3-hand timepiece in pure simplicity and beauty of craft.
To breathe life into this legend again, we have the caliber 9S64, a hand-wound Grand Seiko movement offering a 72-hour power reserve.
This re-edition of the first Grand Seiko watch will be available in platinum 999, rose gold, and in steel (thank you).
7,200 EUR (Steel, 1960 pieces)
21,700 EUR (Rose gold 18k, 353 pieces)
38,500 EUR (Platinum 999, 136 pieces)
Two re-editions that represent all that we admire most from this Japanese manufacturer: excellence in all humbleness. Watches just how we like them, and that we can effortlessly picture tucked away in a case in our bedroom. A collection made up of two watches that would easily suffice to make a grown man happy. This is of course only our humble opinion…