Seiko Ananta NS_CONCEPT Limited Edition Watch Hands-ON

Seiko Ananta NS_CONCEPT Limited Edition Watch Hands-ON

Seiko Ananta NS_CONCEPT Limited Edition Watch Hands-ON Hands-On

This is likely to be unlike any other Seiko Ananta watch you've ever seen before (or will ever see). For 2011 Seiko worked with a Japanese "conceptor" to create this limited edition watch called the Ananta NS_Concept (ref. SPB023J). The watch uses an existing Seiko in-house made movement but offers a new modern design that I think works.

If you had to describe this timepiece on paper I don't think I would like it, but in person I do. Really it is all about the interesting dial. Basically it is a re-imagined use of the in-house made Seiko caliber 6R21A automatic movement in a case that is much larger than the caliber. The design leaves the movement sort of floating in the back with the dial connect to the case via a few spokes. Sandwiched between two sapphire crystals, you can see right through the watch. Like I said, cool in execution but you really need to show the final product to people for them to get it.

Seiko Ananta NS_CONCEPT Limited Edition Watch Hands-ON Hands-On

Seiko Ananta NS_CONCEPT Limited Edition Watch Hands-ON Hands-On

The "NS" part of the name has do to with Naoki Sakai, the well-know designer that worked with Seiko on this watch. Sakai as worked with Seiko (in 1989-1990 in the Seiko Asterisk) before as well as a series of other major brands. What fascinates me about the dial is the mixture of modern and classic elements, as well as symmetry and asymmetry. For example., look at the font used for the minutes - very classic. The design of the case, very modern. The hour indicators and hands are almost Omega Speedmaster Professional era classic, while the different looking sections of the dial is a modern though. You have complete symmetrical scales, but you have asymmetrical dials and design. See what I mean? Sakai makes it work, and I am not sure how he did it. The gunmetal color mixed with white and that bluish gray is also interesting. The only thing I would change about the dial is the hands - they are too short.

For a Seiko the case is large at 46mm wide and it is in steel. The steel is gray colored and according to Seiko uses a type of PVD process for the coating. Such a gray color is often the look of DLC coatings, but I don't think that is the case here.

Seiko Ananta NS_CONCEPT Limited Edition Watch Hands-ON Hands-On

Seiko Ananta NS_CONCEPT Limited Edition Watch Hands-ON Hands-On

The caliber 6R21A has the time with central seconds, power reserve indicator, date dial, and day of the week dial. It is essentially a complex looking day/date watch with a power reserve indicator. It is currently used in other Ananta collection pieces. You can really see the movement well in the NS_Concept watch. The neat looking Ananta katana rotor is still used in this piece. Through the back of the watch you can see some red from the retention ring that looks pretty sweet.

Seiko will make 1000 pieces of this limited edition watch - and I believe it is confirmed that some of them will make it into the US. Price will be 262,500 Yen. Over the last year or so Seiko has been getting much better about releasing some of their more unique timepieces here in the US, that traditionally would have never made it (officially) out of Japan and perhaps Hong Kong. Though I am still waiting for the Seiko Izul to come to the US.

A few of these pieces will come to the US and will be exclusively available at Arizona Fine Time.

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  • Another stylish watch from Seiko I very much like the dial. The one thing that I do have a problem is the minutes. Call me old fashioned but I always like my minutes to finish at 60.

  • kris.c

    This one is a wierdo, for Seiko. I like it, and I don’t. I generally don’t like see-thru dials, but at least this one is not totally naked. Looks like this is an LE of 1000 units; also unusual for Seiko. I do love the rich gunmetal colour and modern size, but the strap looks cheap – like pleather.

  • IS3515

    I don’t get this. You make a $3k watch and with an open back to view the movement and do nothing to improve the looks? No decoration on the back makes it look like a cheap chinese watch.

  • Pete

    All excellent points so far.

    So its 46mm just so you can se the spacer on the back basically? its just a frankenstein styling experiment really. Nice but not rubbish at the same time.

  • Chris

    I really like a lot of things about the design of this watch. The dial layout’s quite good, but for the bizarre chapter rings.

    Showing off that crummy little movement in the back is not so good. Display backs are for movements you want to display. This trend is industry wide and won’t go away without some serious mocking.

    The short hands Ariel mentioned are unacceptable.

    Some good elements, but really half-assed execution.

  • Frank

    I have said it elsewhere and I will say it again here. This new “Ananta” is nothing but a half assed effort in part of Seiko to try to distance themselves from the original 2009 release “Katana” inspired cases of the original Ananta launch releases.

    Pardon me, but this watch and some of the new 2011 Ananta watches shown at Basel earlier this year do absolutely nothing for me. For me the best Anantas are the original releases with the exquisitely crafted Katana cases and detailed dials. What happened Seiko? Why are you dropping the ball with these new watered down watches that come from the Japan domestic market Brightz Phoenix parts bin?

    I miss the “verve” and unapologetic styling of the 2009 Anantas. I will never sell my Ananta Spring Drive GMT Chronograph SPS007J for any of these 2011 releases. No way, no how.

    Furthermore, the 6R21 used in this limited edition Ananta is an OK but otherwise sort of mediocre movement on a watch that commands a $3K price tag. For a few hundred more, I can step up to a Grand Seiko mechanical caliber 9S watch with 72 hours power reserve, +5/-3 seconds a day adjusted accuracy and regulated to 6 positions plus temperature which is far more stringent than Swiss COSC chronometer certification.

    I find the +25/-15 secs a day in the 6R21 of this Ananta LE, both embarrassing and unacceptable.

    If a mid tier Swiss brand like Mido can sell COSC certified watches for less than $2K in the US market, certainly Seiko can play and beat this game as well.

    Message to Seiko: Improve the factory regulation of your mechanical movements below the caliber 9S range in the Grand Seiko line, that is, if you want to be taken seriously by would be buyers in the $1K and above price range.

    Two thumbs down!

    Give me back my Katana inspired case and I’ll even take a 42mm version of it, please.

    • Frank,

      Really well thought-out points. I think that Seiko can certainly receive some constructive advice from you. I tend to agree with you on the matter of regulation of the more basic in-house made calibers like the 6R21. They could/should be more accurate. I think one of the issues is with value assessment. The Grande Seiko ones need to be the best all around – also in accuracy. If the basic and higher-end in-house mechanicals all have similar accuracy, I think Seiko fears that they will sell less Grand Seiko watches. I don’t know if they is true – just a guess.

      The 2009 Ananta collection was magic. It was exciting to be in Japan to see them once they were debuted. This was to be a world collection for Seiko, and I don’t know how well it did in terms of sales. Even though the price was fair and the product was amazing, Seiko didn’t spend enough time up-marketing the brand before the release to prepare consumers. In the US I think people universally like the high-end Seiko watches, but only the very educated watch lovers feels comfy with the price. Seiko is likely finding a sweet spot between quality and what the current world consumer is willing to spend.

  • Frank

    Thanks Ariel. I couldn’t agree more with your comments.

    Keep up the good work!

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