Frequently known for their quartz watches that caused an upheaval in the watch industry, sparking a revolutionary move for a preference from mechanical watches to quartz watches.
Quartz technology also allowed the masses to cheaply own a watch that is accurate to a few seconds a month (versus to a few seconds a day for mechanical watches) and easily replaceable, albeit somewhat delegating watches to being another item off a production line, lacking soul and love.
Nevertheless Seiko has a hidden side, a side where mechanical watches of the highest calibre are assembled by hand in Japan (think Grand Seiko, Credor). Mid priced watches that are only available in Japan (popularly known as Japan Domestic Models or JDM) are now also highly sought after by watch enthusiasts, such as myself, from all over the world.
Online dealers such as Higuchi, SeiyaJapan and Chino Watches are household names to all Seiko watch lovers, by providing unrivaled services in delivering JDM watches to the hands of collectors not living in Japan.
The past week has been a fruitful week for myself as I caught no less than 3 Seiko-related articles.
1) Comparison of the old and new Seiko Monsters by SJX.
Following up from my previous post on the Seiko Orange Monster where I mentioned about the introduction of the new monsters, SJX has posted a good pictorial comparison between the two. The price of the monster might have increased by close to 50%, but SJX is of the opinion that it is justified due to the better finishing, movement, dial, crown, etc. Perhaps this is a sign that Seiko is gradually moving their entry level divers into a higher price bracket via the use of better movement (4RXX) which allows hacking and hand winding. Time will tell if this is true.
2) Seiko PROSPEX by Monochrome.nl
Seiko is also known for making a range of great tool watches under the PROSPEX line. No watches are actually labelled PROSPEX, but Seiko watches that meet certain criteria will have hangtags designating them as being from the PROSPEX line. The PROSPEX lineup are divided into Sea, Air and Land. Some famous examples are the Tuna and LandMaster watches. Monochrome has a great post last week with regards to the PROSPEX line including some history of Seiko which led to the development of this line.
3) New SEIKO PROSPEX watches in collaboration with “Golgo 13”
Model SBBN023 “sea”
On August 8, 2012, Seiko announced 3 new models that were launched as a tie up with the manga “Golgo 13”. Now I am not a manga fan myself, but it appears that the main character in the manga is an assassin and each of the 3 watches are representative of what the manga character will wear when he is operating in the field (either land, air or sea). All the 3 models are encased in a Tuna-like shroud, which is itself coated in black. Please note that unlike the actual Tunas, this material is made of stainless steel (with PVD coating) and not ceramic. Hence I would expect that scratches will indeed collect, and if deep enough, will result in the underlying grey of the steel showing through. However, I do own a PVD coated Seiko 5 watch, which has held up fairly well thus far.
In addition, a common color scheme running across all three models, is the stark black and white with red accents on the watches. For the Sea and Land models, the red accent is supposed to form a cross hair, drawing resemblance to a sniper rifle scope. This brings to mind, another brand that uses the cross hair motif (in white, not red) in most of their models, Damasko.
SBDC021 “land’SBDL011 “air”
In my personal opinion, these models appear to be nothing more than cosmetic changes to their existing models in the PROSPEX lines, but I guess the fact that they are released in limited editions will ensure its rapid sale in Japan and beyond.
From the specifications given in the table below, I would expect the Landmaster model to be the best selling of the three, given the preference for collectors for mechanical movements over quartz and solar. However a turnoff for me is that the movement is the 6R15 movement, and not the higher end 8L35 movement. Hence I wonder if the price (USD 1500 retail price) is indeed justified, as the normal LandMaster (SBDC011) can be had for USD 1000 or so, with the exact same specifications, save for the PVD coating and red accents.
Nevertheless I eagerly await for pictoral reviews from the lucky owners of these watches, come the official launch on 8 September 2012. (And I am sure the online dealers mentioned above will have these models in stock as well!)