November 30, 2018
by Kenny Yeo
In this round-up, we are focusing on Seiko. We have a handful of new Seiko and Grand Seiko watches, namely the new Prospex Street series, ‘Dawn Grey’ Turtle and Samurai, and US-exclusive Grand Seiko ‘Kira-Zuri’ watches. We also discuss Grand Seiko’s rebranding move, specifically the decision to omit the Seiko logo on the dial, and how it affects the look and symmetry of Grand Seiko watches.
Leaving Japan we move to Germany to take a closer look at Nomos. Did you know that while Nomos manufactures its watches in Glashütte, all of the brand’s design efforts actually take place in Berlin? To close, we turn our attention to independent watchmaking where we feature an interview with F.P. Journe and also examine the benefits and implications of third-party investments in independent brands.
There can be no doubt that Seiko is serious about expanding its influence. From Grand Seiko becoming an independent brand to the rebranding of the Prospex collection, Seiko, it seems, is keen on world domination. Not that it is a bad thing – since their watches are generally regarded to be among the most sensible purchases one can make. This brings us to the new Prospex Street Series, which, as its name suggests, was designed more for the streetwise fashionista than the dive watch aficionado. The collection consists of three new watches, all in muted tones that would blend well with today’s hipster attire. Have a closer look at them here.
Snoopy is one of the world’s best-loved characters but if you ever wanted a nice mechanical watch with Snoopy on the dial that is officially licensed, your choices are quite limited. The two limited edition Speedmasters from Omega come to mind, but they are already sold out and are transacting at prices far above retail. Fortunately, Snoopy fans now have a much more palatable option from Timex. The Timex Marlin Snoopy Edition comes in a modern 40mm case and has a clean dial with Flying Ace Snoopy at 6 o’clock. Best of all, it is powered by a Miyota movement and costs just under $250.
One thing that Seiko is really good at is releasing region-specific limited edition pieces. And their latest region-specific limited edition watches are the ‘Dawn Grey’ Turtle SRPD01K1 & Samurai SRPD03K1 – essentially colored variants (in this case, grey) of popular Turtle and Samurai dive watches. For sure, these are handsome watches and I can imagine the legion of Seiko fanatics living outside of Europe racking their heads now wondering how they can get their hands on these new watches. Oh, and did I mention that this article starts off with a little rant about some of the troubles we watch journalists face with watch PR? Yeah, you know you want to read this.
The advent of the Internet and direct selling has allowed microbrands to thrive. One of the more outstanding ones, in my humble opinion, of course, is Farer from the UK. Their watches have an aesthetic that is unique and difficult to pin down. Certainly, Farer watches draw their inspiration from the past but they mix it in unexpected ways and colors so they stand out and have a flair of their own. One of their newer watches is called the Segrave Chronograph, named from British speed trial pioneer Henry Segrave. It is a bi-compax chronograph with quirky colors and a surprisingly well decorated ETA modular chronograph movement. Best of all, it goes for under $2,000.
Ever since Georges Kern joined Breitling last year, I have been waiting to see just what changes we will see to the brand. A year on, Breitling, it seems, had shed its testosterone-laden image for something more restrained and considered. Proof of this can be seen in their new ‘Premier’ collection, which are vintage-inspired pieces that call to mind Breitling watches from the ’40s that share the same name. Since Breitling is most well-known for its chronographs, it makes sense then that the star of the collection is the new Premier B01 Chronograph watch, which is powered by Breitling’s excellent in-house B01 chronograph movement. Is this the watch to turnaround Breitling’s fortune?
As I mentioned earlier, Seiko is very good at releasing region-specific limited edition watches and this particular practice has no doubt been picked up by the folks at Grand Seiko too. The US has been one of the brand’s largest and fastest-growing markets outside of Japan and so it should come as no surprise that Grand Seiko has decided to release not one but three limited edition Grand Seiko watches that will only be available in the US. These three watches, called the Kira-Zuri, contain elements that American Grand Seiko fans love, namely the 44GS-style case, the Spring Drive movement, and the Snowflake-style dial. See the three Kira-Zuri watches in greater detail here.