2023 is shaping up to be a momentous year for Seiko. While the Japanese brand may have begun operations in 1881, Seiko’s (and by extension Japan’s) first wristwatch was introduced in 1913, and Seiko is closing out 2022 by getting a head start on the upcoming 110th anniversary festivities. As part of this opening salvo of commemorative models, Seiko returns to its dynamic Prospex Save the Ocean line of polar-inspired dive watches to deliver a tribute to one of the defining moments in the brand’s dive watch history. The new, verbosely named Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Prospex Save the Ocean Limited Edition SPB333 is a coldly handsome new addition to its mid-range diver lineup that captures the rugged spirit of the Seiko dive watches used by Arctic and Antarctic researchers in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
The 41mm-wide fully brushed stainless steel case of the Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Prospex Save the Ocean Limited Edition SPB333 takes its sleek C-case silhouette from the classic 1968 Seiko 6105-8000 diver. The overall shape is clean and streamlined, with a continuous unbroken curve stretching from lug tip to lug tip above simple vertical case sides. The curving form also allows the SPB333 to use integrated crown guards for the distinctive 4 o’clock crown, recessing this element into the existing form rather than adding new protrusions. Atop the unidirectional rotating bezel, Seiko opts for a distinctive grooved engraved insert in stony medium gray, preserving the cold, low-contrast overall color palette in images. Around back, Seiko completes the case with a solid engraved caseback including a limited edition serial number. Seiko rates the watch for a solidly dive-ready 200 meters of water resistance.
For the dial of the Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Prospex Save the Ocean Limited Edition SPB333, Seiko returns to the glacier-inspired faceted texture the brand has used several times before in 2022. Here, this intricate texture is finished in a silver-white sunburst hue, paired with the brand’s familiar pointed baton handset and rectangular applied indices. The central “stoplight” seconds hand takes on a rich new blue tone in initial images, however, visually tying the icy overall theme to the deep blues of polar oceans. As with previous iterations of this design, the circular 4:30 date window is likely to be a contentious decision among enthusiasts, notably disrupting dial symmetry in photos.
Seiko powers the Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Prospex Save the Ocean Limited Edition SPB333 with its in-house 6R35 automatic movement. The 6R35 has become a mainstay for Seiko’s mid-market sports watch offerings in recent years, and offers a solid performance increase over the more affordable 4R movement family with a hefty 70-hour power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate. The 6R35 also offers excellent anti-magnetic performance, with a total magnetic resistance of 4,800 A/m. To complete the design, Seiko pairs the SPB333 with a rugged, bully brushed five-link stainless steel bracelet. While this bracelet lends the overall design a suitably durable and sporting look in images, Seiko also includes a gray and white fabric strap in a traditional Japanese Seichu braiding pattern. This lightweight, breathable strap features high-quality brushed hardware, and the braided texture helps to visually set the design apart from the sea of other NATO-style straps on the market.
With a clean Arctic look, a streamlined case design, and remarkably restrained commemorative nods, the Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Prospex Save the Ocean Limited Edition SPB333 is an attractive and nuanced way for the brand to begin a year of sports watch celebrations. The Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Prospex Save the Ocean Limited Edition SPB333 will be available through select authorized dealers and Seiko boutiques in January 2023, and only 5,000 examples will be made. MSRP for the Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Prospex Save the Ocean Limited Edition SPB333 stands at $1,300 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.