As Japanese giant Seiko continues its determined push upmarket, the brand has increasingly turned to its classic ‘60s and ‘70s models for inspiration and to remind consumers of its rich and innovative history. This has paid dividends for both Seiko’s dive watch and upscale dress watch collections, but despite largely following the same marketing playbook, the Speedtimer chronograph family has lagged behind in faithfully reviving its back catalog. As part of its winter 2023 novelties, Seiko aims to change this with a pair of high-end automatic chronographs celebrating one of the brand’s all-time fan-favorite references: the 1972 Seiko 6138-8020 “Panda” chronograph. The new Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ047 and the verbosely-named Seiko Brand 100th Anniversary Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition SRQ049 may not be exact recreations of their ‘70s forebears, but their handsomely contoured cases, nuanced dial designs, and refined in-house movements should bring together the best of classic and modern Seiko into a unified, sporting package.
Although it’s significantly larger than its ‘70s inspiration at 42mm wide and a hefty 14.6mm thick, the stainless steel case shared by both the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ047 and the SRQ049 does capture some of the spirit of its predecessor in images. Like the 6138-8020, this is a case design dominated by a tall sloping polished bezel, broad polished case side chamfers, and short, aggressively tapered lugs. It may not be a perfect recreation of the original 6138-8020 design, but the spirit of ‘70s Seiko does shine through here in images. Given Seiko’s penchant for creating cases that wear far smaller than the dimensions suggest, it’s difficult to say how these watches will sit on the wrist based on photos, but it is worth noting that the horizontally brushed case sides do appear decidedly chunky. With that said, the initial images also show a variety of crisp finishes, including radial brushing for the upper main case, mirror polishing for the chamfers and the bezel, and surprisingly detailed linear brushing for the piston-style chronograph pushers. Around back, Seiko opts for a simple engraved caseback featuring the Seiko script logo for a clean ‘70s-style look. The brand also rates this case for a solidly sporty 100 meters of water resistance.
Seiko truly separates the Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ047 and the SRQ049 through their dial colorways. Both watches share the same classic ’70s racing chronograph layout, but the details set these models apart in images. The overall design is pure vintage sports chronograph, with a split outer tachymeter and chronograph seconds scale, while the three recessed azurage subdials are flanked by simple applied rectangular indices, tapering striped baton hands, and chronograph hands tipped in vibrant, eye-catching orange. For the SRQ047, Seiko takes the fan-favorite panda dial layout of the 6138-8020 and refines it in images for a softer, more luxurious look. The base dial surface is a slightly warm, vertically brushed silver in photos, while the black subdials and matching outer tachymeter ring appear almost midnight blue in some depictions. On the other hand, the “reverse panda” SRQ049 takes a more straightforwardly racy approach, with a matte black main dial and bright silver accents. There’s bound to be some controversy among enthusiasts for both models, however, as the famously rancorous 4:30 cutout date windows make their appearances here.
Seiko powers both of these new models with its in-house 8R48 automatic chronograph movement. As one of the most upscale, sophisticated movements produced under the mainline Seiko nameplate, the 8R48 is the brand’s flagship chronograph powerplant, and it compares excellently against its market competitors with a 45-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. In addition, it sports a sought-after vertical clutch and column wheel chronograph actuation system, along with a hefty 4,800 A/m of magnetic resistance. Seiko fits these models with an intricate nine-link stainless steel bracelet design. Essentially featuring a pair of jubilee-style polished link groups running through wider, more conventional links, this design harkens back to several Seiko bracelets from the ‘70s while appearing to be a major step forward for Seiko bracelet finishing and construction in images. The SRQ049 also comes packaged with an additional fully-stitched black leather strap for added versatility.
It’s no secret that as Seiko attempts to position itself as a more premium nameplate, its deep and varied history is a major component in this effort. However, its chronograph designs have leveraged this heritage far less deeply than some of the brand’s other collections. The new Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ047 and the limited edition SRQ049 bring the brand’s heritage to its sports chronograph lineup in style, with a mix of classic design and modern quality execution that should make them a hit among enthusiasts. Only 1,000 examples of the Seiko Brand 100th Anniversary Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition SRQ049 will be made. Both the SRQ047 and the SRQ049 will be available through Seiko boutiques and select authorized dealers starting December 2023. MSRP for the SRQ047 and SRQ049 stands at $2,500 USD and $2,700 USD, respectively, as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.