March 9, 2023
Last year, Seiko made major headlines when it unveiled the Seiko 5 GMT and brought an affordable mechanical GMT watch to the masses. Although this lineup of budget-friendly travel watches was a massive success and resonated with an incredibly wide range of different buyers, it also created somewhat of a hole in the brand’s catalog. A number of more-premium mechanical GMT models had already been available for several years through Grand Seiko, and the recently launched Seiko 5 GMT now occupied the entry-level category, but there wasn’t really a mid-level mechanical GMT option within the brand’s lineup until now. Joining the catalog for 2023 are three new Seiko 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation GMT watches consisting of two standard-production models and one limited edition that will be released as part of the brand’s Save the Ocean series.
At the time of launch, the new lineup of Seiko 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation GMT watches consists of three new models, with the primary differences between them being their colorways. The SPB381 is the green model, the SPB383 is the black version, and the SPB385 is the Save the Ocean Limited Edition, which has an ice-blue dial that is inspired by polar glaciers. From an external case perspective, the three models are more-or-less identical, and they feature a stainless steel case with a super-hard coating that is heavily based on the design of the brand’s famous 1968 Diver and measures 42mm in diameter by 12.9mm-thick. Compared to the brand’s modern dive watches that have also been based upon this historic case design, the new Seiko 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation GMT has a wider bezel and a smaller crystal diameter to give it a more harmonious appearance on the wrist.
Fitted to the top of the case is sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating, and this gets surrounded by a uni-directional rotating timing bezel that has a ceramic insert that has a 60-minute elapsed time scale. Meanwhile, the reverse side of the case gets fitted with a solid-screw-down stainless steel caseback, while an unsigned screw-down crown sticks out from the side of the case just above the 4 o’clock location. Additionally, despite their GMT functionality, the new Seiko 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation GMT models remain proper ISO-certified dive watches, and they feature 60-minute timing bezels rather than 24-hour GMT bezels, while also offering users 200 meters of water resistance. In this way, they remain first and foremost dive watches, which also happen to offer GMT functionality, rather than being GMT watches that also happen to be able to accompany you scuba diving. Regardless of colorway, all three of the new models come with three-link stainless steel bracelets, while the Save the Ocean SPB385 Limited Edition also comes with an additional fabric strap made from recycled plastic bottles using a traditional Japanese braiding technique called Seichu.
When it comes to their dials, all three of the new Seiko 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation GMT watches feature an identical style and layout, although they all embrace different colors, and the Save the Ocean Limited Edition version also offers a glacier textured surface. The overall design of the dial is highly reminiscent of the brand’s original 1968 Diver’s watch, although the date window has been relocated from the 3 o’clock position to 4:30 so that it does not interfere with any of the dial’s luminous hour markers. Since the bezel fitted to the watches are standard 60-minute dive bezels, their 24-hour scales reside along their angled chapter rings for a clean and uncluttered secondary timezone display. While the SPB381 is fitted with a green dial and the SPB383 is the black version, both standard-production models feature gold 24-hour hands and “GMT” text on their dials, along with small red dots on their “stoplight” style seconds hands. Additionally, while the overall style of the dial fitted to the Save the Ocean Limited Edition SPB385 is the same as its two siblings, it appears in an ice blue color with a prominent glacier texture and accents in both dark and bright blue.
Powering the new Seiko 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation GMT watches is the new Caliber 6R54 automatic GMT movement, which joins the brand’s 6R family as a higher-end version of what can be found inside the Seiko 5 GMT watches. Running at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz) with an extended power reserve of approximately 72 hours, the new 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation GMT models mark the first time that this movement has appeared inside one of Seiko’s watches, and this new caliber offers a solid step up in performance compared to the 4R34 that is used to power its entry-level GMT range. That said, it’s important to note that just like the 4R34, the new Seiko 6R54 features an independently adjustable 24-hour hand, making it a “caller” style GMT, rather than the more complex “traveler” style that has an independently adjustable local 12-hour hand. While most people would likely prefer the alternate style of GMT movement, there are still only a handful of manufacturers producing “traveler” GMT movements these days, and it is a feature that has not yet worked its way down to Seiko’s more affordable mechanical GMT models.
Prices for the new Seiko 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation GMT watches will be $1,500 USD for either of the standard production models (SPB381 and SPB381), while the Save the Ocean Limited Edition (SPB385) will be accompanied by an official retail price of $1,700 USD, with production limited to 4,000 examples worldwide. At more than three times the price of the Seiko 5 GMT, these new Prospex models are certainly more premium offerings, although they are still quite a bit less expensive than any of the GMT watches that are currently available from Grand Seiko. Additionally, while the Seiko 5 GMT was intended to be the affordable mechanical GMT watch for the masses, these new Prospex series models are aimed at the slightly more discerning collectors who may have liked the original concept of the Seiko 5 GMT, but ultimately wanted something a bit more premium than the brand’s entry-level collection. For more information on the new Seiko 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation GMT watches, please visit the brand’s website.