While Seiko’s gradual move upmarket over the past several years has been divisive among fans of the brand, there’s no doubt that the brand’s current lineup is one of the strongest in its price range. With a strong series of new releases throughout 2020 from its entry-level 5 Sports series, a slew of popular new Prospex diver designs, and exciting new developments for its higher-end Spring Drive models, Seiko has been consistently delivering this year on nearly every front. One of the quieter corners of Seiko’s lineup so far in 2020, however, has been the dressy Presage series. While there have been a few new Presage additions this year to moderate acclaim, overall the line has not seen the same level of fanfare as some of its sportier cousins. With its latest release, Seiko has rectified this in dramatic fashion with a new series that showcases the brand’s strength in case design, dial finishing, and movement work, all in a uniquely Japanese fashion. The Seiko Presage Sharp Edged Series, including the Seiko Presage SPB167, Seiko Presage SPB165, Seiko Presage SPB169, and Seiko Presage SPB170, is one of the Presage line’s most complete collections to date, and hopefully a beacon for the future of the brand’s three-hand dress designs.
While case design and finishing is a historic strength for the Seiko brand dating back to the early ‘60s, the case design work for the Presage series has generally been a weak point, with most models featuring simple round cases with all-over polished finishing. The stainless steel case of the Seiko Presage Sharp Edged Series, on the other hand, feels much more classic Seiko in its execution, with visual hallmarks from several historic models. The 39.3mm case diameter is right in line with current trends, while the overall case shape dumps the usual Presage formula of slab case sides and straight lugs for something that feels more in line with the brand’s “Grammar of Design” era of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The wedge-shaped angular lugs flow directly into the case sides, creating a single unbroken line running along the case sides from lug tip to lug tip, with only an unguarded signed pillbox crown to break up the profile. As the name suggests, the transition between flat planes is a razor-sharp 90-degree angle. There’s a drastic inward tuck toward the caseback on the underside, helping the design to conform to the wrist and making the 11.1mm overall thickness feel slimmer. The lug tops showcase a broad, sporty brushing with a clean and dramatic transition to the mirror polish of the case sides. The narrow sloping bezel is also highly polished, giving this shape a touch of light play from almost any angle. The overall form shows touches of several classic Seiko designs, most notably through the bezel and lug shapes, which feel akin to the ‘60s Seiko Lord Marvel 5740. For the SPB170 model, this form gains some added charisma by way of rose gold-tone plating. The caseback features a sapphire display window, while also providing a sporting 100 meters of water resistance.
The Presage line has always punched above its weight when it comes to dial finishing, and the Sharp Edged Series is no exception. All four models of the Sharp Edged Series use a three-dimensional version of the traditional Asanoha, or hemp leaf pattern, a staple in Japanese art and design for over a thousand years. This hexagonal design leads to a myriad of dynamic light-catching surfaces, with an execution that feels like a Japanese take on the classic tapisserie pattern. The handset continues the “sharp” trend of the overall design, with an aggressively pointed lumed take on the classic dauphine style, while the applied indices are dramatically faceted and finished with a mix of matte and polished surfaces. Even the surround for the date window features a mix of finishes, helping this design to feel far more cohesive than most of its competitors in its price range. With a simple overall concept for the dial design, Seiko is able to dramatically change the overall feel of the watch by playing with dial color. The metallic cobalt blue of the SPB167 feels almost harsh in its clean cold tones, while the subtly iridescent white dial of the SPB165 with its blued seconds hand could make for an intriguing alternative for those seeking the feel of the classic Grand Seiko “Snowflake” on a budget. The deep verdant green dial of the SPB169 calls to mind jewel tones as much as it does plant life, thanks to the faceted pattern and gold seconds hand. Lastly, the warm rose gold tones of the SPB170 are augmented by a mellow whiskey brown.
Seiko powers all four models of the Presage Sharp Edged Series with the in-house 6R35 automatic movement. Modestly decorated with a striped rotor and beveled edges along the plates and bridges, the 6R35 is a relatively new addition to Seiko’s stable of in-house movements and occupies the upper echelon of the brand’s mainline offerings. The performance reflects this, with an impressive 70-hour power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate.
For the stainless steel versions of the Presage Sharp Edged Series, Seiko offers a three-link stainless steel bracelet featuring polished segments not unlike the standard bracelet on the Omega Speedmaster Professional. It’s a handsome enough design on its own, adding a touch of sporty character to a primarily dress oriented design. For the rose gold-tone plated SPB170, however, the brand opts for a simple mahogany brown leather strap with a butterfly deployant clasp. It’s a classic, versatile style that suits the overall design well, and feels more at home with the design than a bracelet. That said, aftermarket straps are cheap and plentiful, so finding a replacement to suit each owner’s personal taste should be straightforward.
With the Presage Sharp Edged Series, Seiko has taken a stunning step forward in moving the Presage line into new territory, creating some of its most attractive modern offerings in the process. The Seiko Presage Sharp Edged Series, including the Seiko Presage SPB167, Seiko Presage SPB165, Seiko Presage SPB169, and Seiko Presage SPB170, will be available through authorized dealers in September 2020. MSRP for all four models is set at $1,000. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.