Seiko dipped into their rich heritage this year with a collection inspired by their very first diver’s watch from 1965, the 6217, often called the 62MAS. The new collection consists of three watches, a "re-creation" of their first diver and two modern reinterpretations. First is the limited edition that is a re-release of the brand's first diver, the Seiko Prospex Diver SLA017. Next are two models that are said to be the modern reinterpretation of the 1965 model, the black-dialed Seiko Prospex Diver SPB051 and blue-dialed Seiko Prospex Diver SPB053. As Grand Seiko also just re-released their first watch plus a redone modern version, I'm sure dive watch enthusiasts out there are glad that Seiko went the same route with their divers.
Starting with the higher-end “re-creation” model, the Seiko Prospex Diver SLA017 is Seiko’s near exact replication of their first ever diver’s watch all the way down to the stylized dolphin on the case back. This watch is virtually the same size as its predecessor at a very reasonable 39.9mm in width. The new version benefits from a “super-hard” coating on its stainless steel case, a box-shaped anti-reflective sapphire crystal, 200m of water resistance (up from the 6217’s 150m), and 4,800 A/m of magnetic resistance.
The Seiko Prospex Diver SLA017 will also feature the 8L35 movement, a less highly-finished version of a Grand Seiko caliber. The 8L35 is a 26 jewel, 28,800bph, self-winding mechanism with approximately 50 hours of power reserve. This movement was specifically designed for diver’s watches and is produced alongside Grand Seiko movements in Seiko’s Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio in Morioka in northern Japan. The Seiko Prospex Diver SLA017 will come on a stainless steel bracelet with an included vintage inspired silicone strap.
In terms of execution, Seiko clearly knows what they are doing and what will make modern watch buyers salivate. That being said, this recreation will cost $3,400 which puts it at a price point that is beyond most anything Seiko buyers are used to seeing and falls in line more with Grand Seiko prices. Then again, at the time of this writing I can't find any original Seiko 6217 watches for sale online and the fact that there are only 2,000 being made (in addition to the higher quality than the standard Seiko watch, it's really more like a GS) I don't doubt these will be hard to come by.
Seiko’s “re-interpretations” of their 62MAS from 1965 are the more modernized and accessibly priced Seiko Prospex Diver SPB051 and the Seiko Prospex Diver SPB053. These are also totally new watches and will feature a “super hard” coated stainless steel case in a contemporary 42.6mm width with a domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The Seiko Prospex Diver SPB051 and SPB053 have the modern Prospex “X” on the dial at six o’clock and a handset which mimics other current Seiko Prospex divers. The new watches will run on Seiko’s highly capable 6R15, a 23-jewel, self-winding, 21,600bph, 50 hour power reserve movement. The Seiko Prospex Diver SPB051 will come on a solid stainless steel bracelet with a diver's extension and the Seiko Prospex Diver SPB053 will come on an accordion style silicone strap.
As Seiko "explores its history and looks to the future," as they say, the interesting approach of a vintage re-release alongside a "modern interpretation" is a really clever way of showcasing the Seiko history and harnessing their already strong momentum with fans. This trio of Seiko Prospex Divers demonstrates Seiko’s heritage and modern upgrades like anti-reflective coated sapphire crystals (at times rare on Seiko divers) and new movements emphasize the modern quality they offer. There is no doubt that the Seiko Prospex Diver SLA017 and SPB051/53 will be popular, as was last year's hit Prospex SRP777 "Turtle," and we can only hope to similarly see more versions follow.
Side by side, these two cater to the contemporary buyer who loves a blue diver, but I'm glad to see Seiko also providing a more budget-conscious version of the limited edition SLA017 as the black dial version gets pretty close to pulling off a similar aesthetic. Of course, the newer hands, X on the dial, 12 o'clock hour marker, and some other touches (in addition to the movement and materials, obviously) are different. But at a fourth of the price, I'm sure buyers priced out of the SLA017 will be somewhat satiated.
As far as a "re-creation" goes, Seiko did a fantastic job at sticking to the original 62MAS and for the Seiko collector (especially in Japan) I can't imagine not wanting to add this to the collection. For owners of an original 62MAS, this could actually be doubly true. The Seiko Prospex Diver SLA017 will be produced in a limited edition of only 2,000 pieces and will retail for $3,400 USD from July 2017. The Seiko Prospex Diver SPB051 and SPB053 will retail for $1,000 USD on the bracelet and $800 USD on the strap and will be available beginning November 2017. seikowatches.com