The history of chronographs is filled with evocative names like “Speedmaster,” “Daytona,” “Monaco,” and many others. While so many of these series are still alive and thriving, one of the most historic nameplates in Japanese chronography has long laid dormant — until now. Seiko’s Speedtimer line was first introduced with the Caliber 6139 automatic chronograph movement in early 1969 (as arguably the first automatic chronograph to market, although early sales were limited to Japan for several months), and the name graced many of Seiko’s premier chronograph designs for years, from the Caliber 6139 and Caliber 6138 automatic chronographs to the world’s first analog quartz chronograph with the 7a28 series. The Speedtimer name finally returns to Seiko’s stable for 2021 and brings with it a new in-house automatic chronograph movement equipped with both a vertical clutch and a column wheel. With an impressive new powerplant and two looks inspired by classic ‘60s Seiko chronograph references, the new Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph series, including the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ037 and the limited-edition Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ035, offers a clean and capable look forward at the future of one of the brand’s most storied nameplates.
Both the limited-edition Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ035 and the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ037 share the same bold 42.5mm stainless steel case design. The overall shape is clean and simple, taking inspiration from the Seiko 1/5 Second Stopwatch of 1964. As much visual real estate as possible is reserved for the dial, leading to a narrow and sharply sloping chamfered bezel and simple brushed straight lugs. With simple flat-brushed case sides and a low profile sapphire crystal, the cases of the SRQ035 and SRQ037 do little to mask their considerable 15.1mm overall thicknesses, although a contrasting polished finish on the bezel may help to break up this profile somewhat on the wrist. The two models begin to differentiate themselves with their crown and pusher designs. The limited-edition SRQ035 takes the more detailed approach of the pair, with flared tips on its oversized piston pushers reminiscent of the ’60s 1/5 Second Stopwatch and a raised chamfered section atop the unsigned pillbox crown. By contrast, the SRQ037 keeps its piston pushers and square-cut pillbox crown unadorned. Both models are equipped with sapphire display casebacks and offer a sporty 100 meters of water resistance.
Although both the limited-edition Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ035 and the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ037 use dials inspired by ‘60s Seiko chronographs, the pair offers deeply different takes on the core theme. For the limited edition SRQ035, Seiko keeps its inspiration centered on the 1/5 Second Stopwatch from 1964. The result is a stark, ultra-legible white dial layout that wears its stopwatch roots on its sleeve in initial images. Outside of the narrow inner tachymeter bezel in contrasting black, nearly every dial element foregoes traditional wrist chronograph cues in favor of the more utilitarian look of a sporting stopwatch. The multiple concentric printed scales for minutes and chronograph seconds are a prime example of this line of thinking, as are the bold printed Arabic minutes numerals. The subdials both feature full scales and flat printed construction, while the main timekeeping handset sports a set of exaggerated narrow counterweights evoking the look of the 1/5 Second Stopwatch’s central seconds hand. The overall look is bright and function-forward with an almost gauge-like clarity, but Seiko’s treatment at 6 o’clock will likely prove divisive. Due to the inclusion of both a 6 o’clock date window and the brand’s “Prospex Automatic” signage, the Arabic numerals at the 6 o’clock mark are completely omitted, leading to a slightly empty and unbalanced feel in initial images.
By contrast, the two-register chronograph dial of the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ037 follows more familiar wrist chronograph cues for a more refined look. Like the recently introduced Presage Style60’s series, the SRQ037 takes its cues from the 1964 Seiko Crown Chronograph, creating an interesting stylistic bridge between Seiko’s dressy and sporting sub-brands. The anthracite sunburst main dial surface introduces a sense of visual patina in images, which is echoed through the warm khaki lume used for the hours scale and broad dauphine handset. The wide-fluted applied indices deepen the vintage feel in images, while the deeper black surfaces and railroad scales of the recessed subdials give this relatively simple design a sense of visual complexity.
Seiko powers both the limited-edition Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ035 and the Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ037 with its new in-house 8R46 automatic chronograph movement. The 8R46 shares its same basic platform with the current 8R48 automatic chronograph but opts for a two-register layout with a 6 o’clock date rather than the triple subdial arrangement of the 8R48. As with other members of the 8R family, the 8R46 is a showcase of some of mainline Seiko’s most advanced movement-making techniques, incorporating both a vertical clutch mechanism and column wheel actuation into its chronograph complication and using MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) manufacturing technology to create a more durable and precise final product. Overall performance for the 8R46 is solid, with a 45-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. The 8R46’s finishing is light and typical for Seiko, with a striped cutout rotor topping a set of clean brushed bridges with polished chamfers.
Both the limited edition Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ035 and the Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ037 are paired with a proprietary new take on the classic oyster-style three-link stainless steel bracelet. The rounded profile of these solid links and the fully brushed finish gives this bracelet a softer, more vintage look that fits well with the rest of the designs in initial images. For those who prefer straps, Seiko also includes a classic black leather strap with both models.
With well-equipped and highly capable new movements paired to designs echoing some of Seiko’s most historic chronograph designs, the limited edition Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ035 and the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ037 are a fitting revival for one of the Japanese giant’s most iconic product lines. Only 1,000 examples of the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph SRQ035 will be made. Both the SRQ035 and the SRQ037 will be available through Seiko boutiques and select authorized dealers starting in November 2021. MSRP for the limited edition SRQ035 stands at $3,200, while the regular production SRQ037 is priced slightly lower at $3,000. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.