Over the past several years, Seiko has doubled — tripled? — down on re-creations of classic pieces from its back catalog. Most of these throwback pieces have arrived within Seiko’s Prospex line of professional watches, with a plethora of 62MAS/6217 revivals, a cornucopia of 6159-7001 reinventions, and a pick-your-adjective of 6105 “Captain Willard” reissues. While it’s hard not to love a well-executed vintage Seiko diver reissue — Seiko has hit more than a few home runs on that count, of late — plenty of folks have been clamoring for Seiko to explore some of the other shelves in its vast archives and bring back some other styles. One request we heard over and over was for Seiko to bring back the 6117-8000 Navigator Timer. Well, it seems that Seiko has been listening, and earlier this year, it did just that, releasing a pitch-perfect version of Seiko’s steel-bezel GMT in the Seiko Prospex Land Mechanical GMT Limited Edition SPB411.
Introduced in 1968, the 6117-8000 Navigator Timer was Seiko’s second foray into the world of GMT watches and far more sporty and palatable than Seiko’s first GMT, the World Time 6217. The new Land Mechanical GMT has many of the design cues that have endeared Seiko fans to the brand, including a slim cushion case, 4 o’clock crown, sumptuous dial, and a clean, stripped-down aesthetic. In other words, this was an obvious choice of watch for Seiko to resurrect and with its new 6R54 GMT movement, the time was ripe. Our friends at Russell Jewellers in Richmond, BC were kind enough to loan us one for review to see how it stacks up when on the wrist.
Many of Seiko’s recent vintage-inspired releases have been more re-creations than straight reissues. And while there’s nothing wrong with that (the SPB14X series inspired by the venerable 62MAS diver has been a runaway success), there’s an undeniable charm to an almost one-to-one reissue like the new Land Mechanical GMT SPB411. You won’t find Seiko’s divisive Prospex “X” on the dial, an upsized case, or other superfluous changes. At a quick glance, the only real differences you’ll find are a loss of the “Navigator Timer” text at 6 o’clock and a full steel bezel rather than a bezel insert.
Ignoring the original 6117-8000 Navigator Timer from the 1960s, it’s easy to simply enjoy the Land Mechanical GMT on its own merits. In a market that’s flush with both vintage-inspired watches and GMTs, the Land Mechanical GMT still manages to stand out from the crowd. And it’s no one thing that does it — there are plenty of gray dial watches, as there are steel-bezel GMTs and watches with five-link bracelets. But Seiko managed to put all these elements together almost sixty years ago and still have the watch look absolutely stunning today — and wear extremely well on the wrist (for reference, my wrist is 6.75”).
A big part of the Seiko magic is case design, and the cushion case here is no exception. Measuring 38.5mm in diameter, 45.2mm lug-to-lug, and 12.1mm thick, the Land Mechanical GMT hits the trends for contemporary case sizes, but ultimately, it’s the case shape that helps the Land Mechanical GMT wear so well, remaining nicely balanced and not shifting around atop my wrist. As a bonus, the stainless steel case gets Seiko’s super-hard coating, so it will stay looking sharp.
Seiko adds a couple of welcome upgrades to the case that modernize the construction without losing any of the vintage charm. First, Seiko swaps out the acrylic crystal for a box sapphire (with anti-reflective coating on the inner surface), retaining the vintage look with modern scratch resistance. Next, in place of a bezel with printed insert, Seiko gives us a full steel bezel with deep engraving for the hours and indices. Now, if you’re worried about bezel alignment (something that still somehow manages to befuddle Seiko QC), that’s no concern here, as it’s a friction bezel. The movement is stiff enough not to budge but smooth to turn, and the coin edge is nice and grippy. Finally, Seiko bumps up the water resistance to a respectable 100m. Though there’s no screw-down crown, it’s deeply recessed and protected at 4 o’clock.
The dial is a deep and dynamic anthracite gray sunburst that makes you re-think the notion that gray is dull and boring. That said, part of what brings the gray dial to life is the deep red GMT hand. Sure, the GMT hand is small, but the red brightens up the entire watch even if it’s not the most legible/practical execution of a GMT hand. Speaking of brightness, the Land Mechanical GMT gets Seiko’s LumiBrite on the hands, chapter ring, and bezel pip. While Seiko lume is usually impressive, it’s hampered in this case by the limited surface area, especially on the lume plots on the chapter ring. To be fair, I’d much prefer weak lume over seeing Seiko mess with the design and add lume to the applied indices. Like the rest of the piece, Seiko showed restraint and didn’t try to “improve” the design too much.
Tying the entire watch together is a flat and faceted five-link bracelet. The bracelet is a beauty and, for me, anyway, a big step up from the bracelet on the SPB14X series. It’s light and comfortable, conforming nicely to the wrist, and the push-button clasp is simple and compact. That said, the bracelet is a massive pain to size, as the links are pin-and-collar, and situating the collar within the links and getting everything aligned to insert the pin is a fiddly affair. Luckily, the links are short, as you only get one micro-adjust hole on the clasp. For those keen on swapping out the bracelet, note that the Land Mechanical GMT retains its predecessor’s 19mm lug width. While options in 19mm are getting easier to find, they’re still less common than their even-sized brethren.
Seiko equips the Land Mechanical GMT with its caliber 6R54 automatic GMT movement. We first saw this movement in the Prospex GMT Diver collection, then later in the Alpinist GMT series. This movement features 72 hours of power reserve and runs at 21.6kbph. The 6R54 is a caller or office-style GMT movement with a jumping GMT hand. There’s plenty of discussion about whether caller or flyer GMTs are preferable, but it really comes down to your lifestyle and preferences. As I personally don’t travel terribly often but do switch watches frequently, being able to quickly set the date with a caller GMT is preferable for me than quickly jumping the hour hand during travel. It all comes down to your use.
Many will be attracted to the Land Mechanical GMT because of its history and the model that inspired it, but that’s certainly not a requirement for enjoying the watch; there’s plenty to appreciate about the Land Mechanical GMT on its own merits. Seiko has limited this release to 4,000 pieces, though I can’t imagine those will last long. It’s hard to put a price on good looks and timeless style, but Seiko has, and it’s USD 1,500. The Seiko Prospex Land Mechanical GMT Limited Edition SPB411 is a nearly one-to-one recreation of one of Seiko’s first GMT watches (and one that pre-dates the Rolex Explorer II by several years) and is one that’s likely to satisfy those looking to scratch that vintage GMT itch. For more information on the Seiko Prospex Land Mechanical GMT, please visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Prospex Land Mechanical GMT Limited Edition SPB411
>Price: $1,500 USD
>Size: 38.5mm diameter, 45.2mm lug-to-lug, 12.1mm thick, 19mm lug width
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Great travel watch, but easy to wear anytime, especially if I’m feeling nostalgic.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone who loves the look of watches from the 60s/70s and is looking for a GMT of that era without the hassle of buying vintage.
>Best characteristic of watch: Nearly one-to-one recreation of a classic, with smart upgrades (bezel, crystal, and water resistance) and few unnecessary changes, like adding the Prospex X to the dial.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Weak lume and small GMT hand.