Given that Seiko was one of the world’s very first brands to create an automatic winding chronograph back in 1969 (the same year that Zenith created the El Primero), it is a bit surprising how small a role mechanical chronographs have played within the brand’s modern catalog. The Seiko Speedtimer is believed to be the first automatic chronograph to be sold to the public (although sales were limited to the Japanese market for the first few months), and while the “Speedtimer” name has been noticeably absent from Seiko’s catalog for most of its history, it made a big return last year in 2021 when the brand revived the Speedtimer as part of its Prospex series and fitted it with a new in-house automatic chronograph movement that features both a column wheel and vertical clutch. Now, Seiko has expanded upon that same Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph model with the new SRQ043, which features a red and blue colorway inspired by the original Speedtimer Chronograph watch from the 1960s.
While the new Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph SRQ043 is inspired by the brand’s inaugural self-winding chronograph watch from 1969, the actual design and layout of the new timepiece follow the revived Speedtimer model that debuted last year in 2021. This means that rather than being based upon a cushion-shaped case fitted with an external red and blue tachymeter bezel, the new Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph features a more traditional round case crafted from stainless steel that features Seiko’s “Super Hard” scratch-resistant coating and measures 42.5mm in diameter by 15.1mm-thick. Additionally, the tachymeter scale now appears as a black internal bezel under the crystal that surrounds the periphery of the dial, while the red and blue colorway is confined to the dial and hands. A double-domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating on the inner surface protects the top side of the watch, while a screw-down display caseback helps provide the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph with 100 meters of water resistance.
While the case will be immediately familiar to those who have previous experience with the Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph that debuted in 2021, the dial represents a significant departure from the other options currently available, and it features a rich blue surface with contrasting white sub-dials, applied hour markers, and a date window at the 6 o’clock location that contains a white-on-black calendar disc. The edge of the hour markers and both the hour and minute hands receive a healthy application of Seiko’s Lumibrite luminous material for added visibility in low-light conditions, while the chronograph hands are finished bright red for immediate reference of elapsed time while using the chronograph. Additionally, the chronograph second hand gently curves down towards the surface of the dial so that its tip is as close as possible to the dial’s markers, and it extends right to the tachymeter markings at the edge for maximum legibility and a balanced overall aesthetic.
Just like the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph models that debuted last year, the SRQ043 is powered by the brand’s Caliber 8R46 automatic chronograph movement. Like many of Seiko’s workhorse mechanical calibers, decoration and aesthetic embellishments on the cal. 8R46 are minimal, but the hand-assembled movement scores big when it comes to its on-paper specs. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph and magnetic resistant to 4,800 A/m, the Seiko Caliber 8R46 offers users a 45-hour power reserve and is a column-wheel-controlled chronograph with a vertical clutch. Rarely are these features seen on affordable mechanical chronographs, and it is really only due to Seiko’s incredible capabilities as a vertically integrated manufacturer that the brand is able to offer an in-house movement with these features at this relatively attainable price point. Additionally, while a three-link stainless steel bracelet fitted with a push-button clasp is the standard option, the new Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph SRQ043 also comes with an additional black calf leather strap with a stainless steel deployant buckle.
While there will always be some debate over which company actually created the very first automatic chronograph movement, the original 1969 Seiko Speedtimer is undeniably the world’s first chronograph to feature both a vertical clutch and a column wheel, which are now frequently considered to be the superior methods of producing a mechanical chronograph due to the way that a vertical clutch can eliminate any shuddering or jumping of the hands, while a properly implemented column wheel can enable precise control of the chronograph operation. Additionally, given that these features are most frequently mentioned within the context of watches such as the Rolex Daytona, it’s all the more impressive that Seiko is able to offer these features in the new Prospex Speedtimer Chronograph at its official retail price of €3,200 EUR. Additionally, rather than being a limited edition, the new Seiko Speedtimer Chronograph SRQ043 will join the main Prospex collection and will be available starting September 2022 at the Seiko Boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide. For more information, please visit the manufacturer’s website.