Since introducing its pioneering dive watch in 1965, Seiko watches have maintained a rich legacy steeped in the exploration of the world’s harshest environments. This adventurous spirit led to the creation of a long-running series of watches whose “professional specifications” (“Prospex,” for short) endeared them to those who sought the venerable Japanese brand’s philosophies of unerring quality and dependability.
Today, aBlogtoWatch is proud to partner with Seiko in presenting the past, present, and future of the Seiko Prospex watch collection. We selected six new and currently available Prospex watches that we believe best represent the future of the collection, while each maintaining a deliberate connection and link to the past.
Before we get into that, here is a brief rundown of some of the milestones reached by Seiko Divers. This history starts in 1965, with an icon of modern dive watches, the Seiko 150M Diver’s watch 62MAS. This was the first Japanese dive watch and set the gold standard for future divers that claim to meet Seiko’s Professional Specifications (that’s Prospex, for short). With a bidirectional rotating bezel, distinctive and legible lumed hands, and an easy-to-grip crown, the watch was worn by the 8th Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition.
However, professional divers were still clamoring for a Seiko dive watch that could go deeper than 300M. The Seiko development team and engineer/watch design legend Ikuo Tokunaga set out with the task of producing dive watches that are not just water- and shock-resistant but also helium-resistant. Years of development and research culminated in the release of the Seiko Professional Diver’s 600M 6159-7010 (YAQ028) watch in 1975. With over 20 patents to its name, this saturation diver’s watch was equipped with a protective titanium outer case (lending the watch its “tuna can” appearance). A landmark success for Seiko and dive watches, some notable achievements were the L-shaped single-crystal gasket (which rendered any helium escape valve unnecessary), and the titanium cover that was coated in ceramic.
A few years later, in 1978, came the Seiko Professional Diver’s 600M 7549-7009 (PYF018). The gold-toned visual touches led enthusiasts to the nickname of “Golden Tuna,” but the true point of note here is that this watch was the first saturation diver that was powered by a quartz movement. In 1986, Seiko reached a new milestone in its Professional Diver’s watch series with the 7C46-7008 (SBDS018), which was water resistant to 1000M.
Now, without further ado, aBlogtoWatch is proud to share six new Prospex references that acknowledge the past, present, and future of the Seiko Prospex professional dive watch.
Seiko Prospex SLA033 Diver Limited Edition
The Seiko 6105 is one of the quintessential dive watches from the brand, first introduced in 1968 and in production for the decade following. The recognizable cushion-shaped case, 150M water resistance, asymmetrical placement of the crown at 4 o’clock, and hardy construction made this diver a staple. In the 1970s, a larger version was introduced with an asymmetrical case design, rendered iconic after its appearance on the wrist of Martin Sheen’s character, Captain Willard, in Apocalypse Now, the seminal 1979 war film by Francis Ford Coppola. Modern Seiko collectors might recognize this classic silhouette in what is now the ultra-popular Seiko SRP777 Diver, nicknamed “Turtle” by fans.
In 2019, Seiko released the Prospex Diver’s Re-Creation Limited Edition SLA033. This watch is a tribute to the history of the Seiko Prospex, while being outfitted with a modern 8L35 movement and parts that reflect the best of the brand’s present and future. Water resistance is pushed up to 200M, and the bezel is Zaratsu-polished (a hand-polishing technique more often utilized in Grand Seiko watches). The entire package comes together at the Seiko Shizuki-Ishi Watch Studio, where 60 of the best watchmakers create the brand’s finest offerings from start-to-finish.
The Seiko Prospex Diver’s Re-Creation Limited Edition SLA033 is done in a super-hard-coated steel case measuring 45mm-wide and 13mm-thick and comes on a waffle pattern silicone strap. It uses the automatic Caliber 8L35 movement, which operates at 28,800 vph and has a 50-hour power reserve.
Seiko Prospex SNJ025
In 1982, Seiko released the H558, which was the world’s first hybrid diver and also featured alarm and chronograph functions. The analog/digital display watch is water resistant to 150M and also was designed to withstand harsh environments and extreme weather of between -40C and +60C. In fact, an H558 was worn on a climb of Mount Everest, as well as both the North and South Poles.
The H558 was highly capable and functional, and, in addition to the chronograph and alarm functions, it also can track three time zones, digital light display, date, bilingual display, and has the ability to communicate underwater utilizing electronic sounds. Just like the 6105 before it, the H558 found a place on the silver screen, this time on the wrist of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a series of 80s cult action films including Commando and Predator, earning it the nickname “Arnie” by both fans and collectors.
Taking this archetypal ana-digi watch and updating it through the prism of 2019 is the modern reinterpretation Seiko Prospex SNJ025 Hybrid Diver’s watch. Remaining true to the original, the new Prospex SNJ025 has one significant advantage over the H558: it is solar-powered. In addition to features like power reserve display function, local time indicator, stopwatch, alarm, unidirectional bezel, and 200M of water resistance, the modern interpretation of this Hybrid Diver can last a full six months when fully charged by solar power, thanks to the H851 movement.