No, you’re not experiencing deja vu. This is in fact the second time in the span of about a week that we’ve brought you news on a new, limited edition Seiko based on their original 6159 diver introduced in 1968. Like last week’s moon shot, this watch (actually, a pair of watches) carry a price tag that will likely only make sense to Seiko completists. If you’re into the Seiko dive aesthetic at all (barrel case, muscular lugs, relatively spartan dial designs) these watches are going to have an immediate pull, but because of their price point and limited nature of each, they might be the kind of watch that you just have to admire from afar.
In the grand tradition of Seiko bestowing names to watches that are cumbersome, to put it kindly, these watches are officially known as the Seiko Prospex 1968 Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Seiko has gone back to the 1968 well several times (with good reason). The watches produced in ‘68 are genuinely historic, representing breakthroughs in dive watch tech, and a leap forward for the brand that we’re still feeling the ripples of to this day. Ostensibly, these new watches have been produced to celebrate the upcoming 63rd Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE), something Seiko has dipped into before (multiple times), so they’re part of the growing “Ice Diver” sub-collection of Prospex divers. Really, I promise, you’re not experiencing deja vu.
The SLA055J1 is the icier of the two new limited edition offerings, with a cool blue dial and matching accents on the bezel and rehaut. The SLA057J1 has the more classic, vintage inspired look, with a glossy black dial and gilt accents. The cases measure 42.6mm in diameter and 13.1mm tall, and the movement powering both is the high grade caliber 8L35. It’s notable that this is not a high frequency movement, which you might expect in a watch modeled after 6159, which is famously remembered for being the first high-beat professional dive watch. Further, the water resistance rating on these watches is 200 meters. That’s plenty, of course, but once again can’t match the 300 meters of the original from 1968.
The specs, then, are somewhat anachronistic, but the watches themselves leave a visual impression that might make up for it. The stainless steel watches appear to be finished with the type of crisp transitions you’d expect from Grand Seiko, and put these firmly in the luxury-diver category despite the Prospex branding that many enthusiasts more closely associate with tool watches. As mentioned above, they’re also limited editions, making them appealing collector’s pieces.
The blue SLA055J1 and the black SLA057J1 each carry a retail price of $4,600. The SLA055J1 is limited to 1,300 pieces, while the SLA057J1 is limited to 600. Both are available in January. Seiko