August 21, 2021
by Ariel Adams
Today, we look at two special versions of the higher-end Seiko Prospex SLAXXX diver’s watches that are designated as exclusive models for the United States. Historically, it was much more common for there to be Seiko watches limited to just the Japanese domestic market — but at times, Seiko’s American branch gets to have some exclusive products of its own. The Seiko Prospex SLA053 and SLA059 are given the “Seigaiha” moniker because of their traditional Japanese texture, which, according to Seiko, translates to “blue ocean waves.” You see this repeating wave-style pattern from time to time in Japanese crafts. The pattern is used on the dial of the two watches, which render them in fitting blue (SLA053) or in burgundy red (the SLA059).
The watches also come with matching blue or burgundy red and steel seigaiha cuff links. In the past, it was actually common to find wristwatches sold with matching cuff links, as you can still find today from brands such as Audemars Piguet and Omega. In this instance, Seiko just throws the cuff links in as part of the purchase, which is pretty cool. Some people might find it a bit ironic that dressy cuff links are being provided with what is essentially a professional-style diver’s watch — and that wouldn’t be wrong. That said, it is also true that the vast majority of high-end sports and diving watches are rarely taken outside of social circumstances. Now you just need more shirts with sleeves that require cuff links…
Seiko and Grand Seiko have made creating interesting dials a hallmark of the two respective brand personalities over the last few years. Many of the dials are inspired by Japanese art or craft, but not all of them. At their best, these decorative additions are subtle, allowing the timepieces to primarily shine as a time-telling instrument and second to having artistic flair and a sense of decorative expressions. Seiko does that well with the Prospex Seigaiha models because, at a glance, these are just SLAXXX models with vivid blue or burgundy dials. Look closer, and only then do the repeating seigaiha wave pattern motifs reveal themselves.
I personally really like these Prospex SLA models because they are modern incantations of the classic Seiko Marinemaster, which was a popular “cult” watch given its mixture of durability, quality, design, and price. The dial and bracelet are exactly what people liked from the original Marinemaster models (including the ratcheting micro-adjust/wet suit extension system in the deployant clasp). Also included is a beefy automatic movement that, in these Prospex watches, is the in-house-made Seiko caliber 8L35 automatic movement that operates at 4Hz (28,800 bpm) with 50 hours of power reserve. The movement features the time with date.
Unlike the original Marinemaster, the SLA053 and SLA059 watches of today also have a black ceramic rotating bezel insert. The dials are among my favorite that Seiko produces for its dive watches, which to me is the right mixture of classic elegance and proportions with a hand and hour-marker style that is distinctive to Seiko. The “fat” hands and hour markers were originally designed so that they could include a maximum amount of luminant material. Using Seiko’s LumiBrite luminant, in the darkness (after being charged by light), these dials glow impressively.
The cases are steel and water-resistant to 300 meters, as has always been the case with this and other Seiko saturation dive watches. The SLA059 has a brushed and polished case with matching steel bracelet (in the box is also a matching black silicone strap), while the SLA053 has a hard-coated black steel case and only comes on the matching high-quality black silicone strap (with matching black coated buckle).
Seiko explains that the reason there are two versions of the Seigaiha dial Prospex watches is to have one that celebrates the ocean waves at night (the black and blue SLA053) and another to represent the ocean at dawn with the burgundy and steel SLA059. The former is a limited edition of just 500 pieces, while the latter is not designated as a limited edition. Both are meant to be sold exclusively in the United States market starting in August 2021 for the SLA053 and November 2021 for the SLA059. Price for the Seiko Prospex Seigaiha reference SLA053 watch is $3,200 USD, and price for the SLA059 is $3,300 USD. Learn more at the Seiko Luxe USA website here.