Seiko Presage is shaping up to be a big hit for the Japanese watch maker, as watch fans around the world are keen on the classic good looks, quality mechanical movements, and fair pricing of this retro-homage watch collection. Last year, in 2016, Seiko released a limited edition set of Presage Chronographs with an enamel or Japanese urushi dials (hands-on here). The limited edition Presage watches with the fancy dials sold well enough that for 2017 Seiko is introducing a more extended range of Presage models with white enamel dials that are not being designated as limited editions.
Seiko’s 2017 Presage Enamel collection will consist of four models that will be commercially available closer to the end of 2017. The watches all draw inspiration from Seiko’s first ever wrist watch from 1913 that has the brand name “Laurel,” with a white enamel dial. Enamel dials today are typically found in more high-end Swiss watches and are quite rare in Japanese watches. Enamel dials are colored and then baked. The heating process makes the colors permanent, and the crisp, warm design is a perennial pleaser for those who like classic, traditional watch designs. For Seiko to offer white enamel dials at these prices probably makes them among the most affordable enamel dials around. One of the reasons that we love Seiko is because the same brand is easily able to offer some of the most traditional-looking and modern-looking watches without having to make sacrifices to either.
Seiko points to the master craftsman Mitsuru Yokozama as the one responsible for running the workshop along with his team that produces the enamel dials for these Seiko Presage timepieces. What will be most impressive here is the work required, with the level of quality, and the volumes that Seiko will be able to achieve. Mr. Yokozama’s team will ensure that the enamel dials are the ideal thickness before the markers are painted no fewer than ten times on the dial to ensure that they are perfectly formed and bold. Small details hearken to traditional design such as the hands whose tips gently bend toward the dial in order to promote better legibility, and which are also curved by hand.
Over the Seiko Presage enamel dials are double-curved AR-coated sapphire crystals. Another sapphire crystal is placed on the rear of the steel case with a view to the movement. Recall that Seiko even grows their own synthetic sapphire crystals in-house.
The largest and most expensive of the four models is the Seiko Presage Automatic Chronograph SRQ023. This piece contains Seiko’s well-regarded and in-house-made mechanical caliber 8R48. This column-wheel chronograph has a desirable vertical clutch and operates at 4Hz with a power reserve of 45 hours. The Seiko Presage Automatic Chronograph SRQ023 comes in a 42mm-wide steel case that is 14.9mm thick and water-resistant to 100 meters. It comes on a black crocodile strap with a deployant buckle. The Seiko Presage Automatic Chronograph SRQ023 melds the look of a classic sporting watch with modern construction.
You’ve probably noticed that all of these models have white enamel dials with Roman numeral hour markers, and perfectly sized blued steel hands. It’s a slick look, and I think Seiko pulled it off well. If anything, the dial looks so classic that the Seiko logo and text on the face actually look a bit too modern compared to everything else.
Next for the new Seiko Presage models is the power reserve indicator model which the brand calls the Seiko Presage Multi-Hand Automatic SPB045. Containing the caliber 6R27 automatic, this movement also operates at 4Hz with 45 hours of power reserve. It has central seconds, the date indicated by a subdial at 6 o’clock, and a power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock. Purists will appreciate the lack of a date window, and this old-school nostalgic style in a 40.5mm-wide polished steel case that is 12.8mm thick (water-resistant to 100 meters) will no doubt appeal to many people around the world – especially with its very accessible price. It also comes on a black crocodile strap.
Fans of tonneau-style watches will be happy to see that Seiko is once again visiting a higher-end non-round case with the Seiko Presage Automatic SPB049. This model has a 35.9mm-wide, 46mm-tall, 12.5mm-thick tonneau case with the caliber 6R15 automatic movement which runs at 3Hz with 50 hours of power reserve. Also on a black alligator strap, this model costs a bit more than its round counterpart because the non-round sapphire crystal and case shape, not to mention the dials, do cost a bit more to produce. I do hope this watch with its handsome timeless looks and nice technical appointments finds a home on many wrists around the world.
The most simple (and affordable) of the 2017 Seiko Presage Enamel watches is the Seiko Presage Automatic SPB047. Like the SPB049 it also contains the 6R15 automatic movement. The case is 40.5mm wide and 12.4mm thick (water resistant to 100 meters). I’m guessing that this very conservative but good-looking Seiko Presage Automatic SPB047 will be Seiko’s volume model – and for good reason. It offers a welcoming familiar look with a handsome enamel dial that makes it a very classy counterpart for a lot of formal attire. It may look a lot like the Seiko watch my father wore in the 1980s, but in a good sort of way.
Seiko indicated an estimated shipping date of September 2017 for these four new Presage Enamel watches. That they are not limited editions points to Seiko’s confidence in the collection as well as their perception of how well they are doing in the market. I really look forward to seeing these hands-on and feel that they are going to be an excellent choice for watch lovers looking to get more than just your standard dress watch, but who don’t want to break the bank. I also think this is going to be a great choice for anyone who needs to or wants to wear a nice watch but isn’t per se a watch collector. Prices for the Seiko Presage Enamel 2017 collection are 2,650 euros for the Presage Automatic Chronograph SRQ023, 1,300 euros for the Presage Multi-Hand Automatic SPB045, 1,300 euros for the Presage Automatic SPB049, and 1,100 euros for the Presage Automatic SPB047. seikowatches.com