A Condensed Guide To Seiko Releases In 2022
Seiko and Grand Seiko reliably grace us with numerous brilliant releases every year. To recap 2022, we decided to create an overview of these brands’ new watches that we covered on Fratello over the past 12 months. In this second of two articles, we will put the spotlight on Seiko. In 2022, the brand released close to 300 watches, a jaw-dropping number compared to most brands! But it also means there was something for everyone, so let’s look back at another great year for Seiko.
Compared to this one, writing the article for Grand Seiko was a walk in the park. Yes, with 278 releases in 2022, Seiko presented a staggering amount of watches to the public. In this overview, we will not be covering them all. If we attempted to do so, we’d be here all year! Instead, we will focus on a selection of the best releases that we covered here on Fratello, just like we did last week for Grand Seiko. Unfortunately, you are bound to miss some watches in this lineup, whether they are regular models, JDM exclusives, limited editions, or releases for the American, European, or other Asian markets. Having said that, we have seen plenty of good watches from Seiko to know it’s been another great year for the brand. My highlight was King Seiko’s return at the beginning of the year. Let’s look at that and some of the other noteworthy releases.
January starts a busy year for Seiko
The first two releases that we covered on Fratello in 2022 were two Save The Ocean models inspired by Antarctic wildlife, the Seiko “Monster” (SRPH75K1) and a “Baby Tuna” (SRPH77K1). Nacho explained that the models are not new, but the spectacular dials very much were. A couple of weeks later, Seiko dropped the biggest bomb of the year. In late January, the brand relaunched the King Seiko name. With a full collection of models, Seiko made sure there was plenty to talk about. Mike wrote the introductory article featuring the five models with different dial colors.
The watches all feature a 37mm case that is 12.1mm thick with a lug-to-lug of 42.5mm. They are water resistant to 100 meters and come with a box-sapphire crystal for vintage appeal and an engraved screw-in case back. The size makes these models ultra-wearable. The first is the silver SPB279, which is meant to take after the original King Seiko that was introduced 57 years before with its sunburst dial. Additionally, there is a similar light gray SPB281 with its hairline dial, the charcoal gray SPB283, the spectacular brown SPB285, and the red-dial SPB287.
Inside the case, you’ll find the brand’s 6R31 caliber, which delivers 70 hours of power reserve. On top of that, it forgoes a date window, which keeps the dials very clean. On the bracelet, these new King Seikos look super stylish and come in at €1,700. Our own Thomas van Straaten bought one, and whenever he wears it, we remember how cool these models are.
In February, Seiko goes stealthy
In February, we saw the release of a series of four ultra-stealthy renditions of popular Seiko divers. I loved the color combination of black cases with bright orange elements. The “Black Series” consisted of three more affordable models, the Mechanical Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation SPB253J1, SPB255J1, and SPB257J1, all powered by Seiko’s 6R35 caliber. All three came on a really impressive thick brown NATO strap that completed the great looks.
The fourth was the more expensive SLA061J1, which featured Seiko’s high-end 8L35 caliber. The 1970 Mechanical Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation also came on a blacked-out bracelet for some extra-stealthy looks. Thomas Stover wrote about the series, which was among my favorite of the year.
March was a packed month
We kicked March off with five new models for the Seiko Presage Sharp Edged Series. The series seems to take inspiration from the angular Grand Seiko cases and introduces a series of spectacular dials. Four of the models — the SPB305, SPB307, SPB309, and SPB311 — introduced a new case. The fifth model — the SPB303 — was a limited-edition GMT. The luxurious appeal of the watches makes them standouts in the Seiko collection. As Robert-Jan explained in the introductory article (and Sky later highlighted here), the watches feature dials that get their inspiration from Japanese nature and make for impressive pieces.
March also saw the introduction of a new Seiko Speedtimer created for The World Athletics Championships 2022. If you just took a glance at the limited-edition SRQ041, you wouldn’t think it was a special model. But as Nacho explained, when you’re in the know, you see it features hints of Seiko’s signature yellow shade, which is used on all of its professional sports timing equipment. The yellow color contrasts nicely with the black dial and its gray sub-dials at 9 and 3 o’clock.
Turning the watch around, you’ll see the signed sapphire case back features the championship logo and Seiko’s “official timer” designation. Inside the 42.5mm case, you will find Seiko’s caliber 8R46, which provides 45 hours of power reserve. The chronograph movement features a classic column wheel and a vertical clutch. I love the Speedtimer series as it’s a classy chronograph that really adds great character to the Seiko collection.
March was not over just yet
March also saw the introduction of three new Seiko Prospex Save the Ocean Special Editions. As Nacho explained, the three heritage models are modern reinterpretations of the 62MAS, the 6159-7001 from 1968 (Seiko’s first 300m-rated dive watch), and the famous “Willard.” I was particularly impressed by the 1970 Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation SPB301, which uses the Willard case. It’s not often that we see a Seiko Prospex diver with a white dial. But this white dial with its texture looked amazing and combined really well with the light blue bezel.
May sees the celebration of the Seiko Astron series
In May, Lex explained all about four new Seiko Astron GPS Solar 5X53 Dual-Time models. These consisted of three regular models and a special 10th Anniversary model with a spectacular dial. All four feature the same 42.7 × 48 × 12.2mm case in titanium with a sharp and angular construction that looks modern with a pinch of retro class. Add the integrated bracelet, and you have a series of impressive and sporty travel watches.
Inside each watch, you will find the GPS-equipped caliber 5X53, which offers many functions. Undoubtedly, the best out of the four was the 10th Anniversary model featuring a dial with horizontal stripes in multiple gray shades. The monochromatic look also made this a standout compared to the other three, which all had hints of color on the dials.
May also saw more stealthy goodness with three more models in the brand’s “The Black Series.” This time around, the black aesthetic was combined with a teal-colored lume. As Vincent explained, there were three different models — the SNE587P1, the SRPH97K1 (aka the “Samurai”), and the SRPH99K1 (aka the “Tortoise”). According to Seiko, the lume is a new type of long-lasting bright green Lumibrite, which is a color that stands out in the dark. The results were pretty spectacular.
The King Seiko collection is expanded in June
At the start of June, Thomas van Straaten introduced us to the new King Seiko SJE087 with its stylish and classic presence. On top of that, the existing five models I talked about earlier were accompanied by the new SPB291 with its spectacular dial that takes inspiration from the Kameido area in Tokyo.
As Thomas explained, “Near the old [King Seiko] factory is the Shinto Kameido Tenjin shrine, known for its flowering wisteria in spring.” These wisteria flowers inspired the pale lavender tone of this new dial. This non-limited model is a boutique special and, at €1,850, is slightly more expensive than the models that preceded it.
In June, we also saw what turned out to be the most popular Seiko releases of the year. Nacho wrote the introductory article for the new Seiko 5 GMT series that quickly won over the hearts of many enthusiasts. The three different models take the familiar SKX aesthetic we know from the current Seiko 5 series and combine it with a GMT complication. We featured the watches in many different best-of lists in the second half of the year. On top of that, the orange-dialed version that Nacho loves crushed the Tudor Black Bay Pro in our Sunday Morning Showdown series.
June is a packed month
But June saw more highlights with the three thinnest Prospex divers out there. The Seiko SPB313J1, SPB315J1, and SPB317J1 introduced a modern take on the brand’s classic 6105-8000 from 1968. What many of us were excited about was the smaller size. Whereas Seiko was known to introduce rather large divers, this new series introduced a fully brushed C-shaped 41mm case.
After writing the introductory article for the watches, Daan decided to pull the trigger and actually buy the black-dial SPB317. We’ve seen it shine bright on a wide array of different straps. This was one of the best surprises for me of the year 2022.
But we were not done in June. We also saw the introduction of three new “Arnie” hybrid ana/digi divers. But these three new models were no simple Arnie watches. As Thomas van Straaten explained, Seiko made the trio seriously impressive thanks to the new caliber H855. On top of the regular functions, it can measure a diver’s depth to 80 meters and comes with a diving log that can record the duration and depth of up to 100 dives. Lastly, these Seiko Hybrid divers even warn you when a rapid ascent is detected. Arnie himself never came better prepared.
July sees the Seiko Sumo collection expanded
In July, Nacho introduced all of us to the three new Seiko Prospex “Sumo” divers that came out. These new models introduced dials with patterns and structures, and one of the three models also introduced a bicolor dive bezel. As a proud owner of the first-generation Sumo, I love seeing the model get more attention, but I don’t know whether these were actually more impressive than the regular models. However, that blue SPB321J1 looks very classy.
In August, the summer slowed Seiko down only briefly
During the summer months, it’s usually a bit quieter with releases. Seiko graced us with another Speedtimer, the SRQ043. As Robert-Jan explained, the watch features a playful blue dial with a vertically brushed finish and two silver sub-dials. The red chronograph hands create a nice contrast and ensure readability. Technically, the watch is in line with the previously introduced models and is powered by the Seiko caliber 8R46. Overall, this might be the best Speedtimer yet, with looks that are a perfect mix between sporty and classy.
That same month, I had the pleasure of writing about two camo Seiko 5 models that the brand developed with Japanese skateboarder Yuto Horigome. The regular-production SRPJ37 featured a green camouflage dial, whereas the limited-edition SRPJ39, specially developed with Horigome, featured a camo dial in black and gray.
Seiko also introduced its spectacular collaboration with Japanese artist Kosuke Kawamura that same month. With their colorful transparent dials, these two timepieces are not for the conservative enthusiast. The SRPJ43 and SRPJ41 are part of the Seiko 5 Sports line, and their design is inspired by the brand’s icons from the past. Kawamura is known for his collage-style art, which is the style he used for these limited-edition pieces.
September was another busy month for Seiko
In September, we saw a lot of new releases. It started with the Seiko Prospex SLA063J1 Aurora Limited Edition. Essentially, this is a simple color variation, but the hues and the execution are very well done. I loved the blue color of the dial and bezel in combination with the retro-inspired case.
Additionally, Thomas introduced us to two new Presage Style60s Line models. The first was the SRPH93J1 with its white dial and maroon bezel on an Oyster-style bracelet. The second model was the SRPH95J1 with its black PVD-coated case, black dial, and bezel on a leather NATO strap.
September also saw the introduction of the second series of the new Seiko Astron GPS Solar 5X53 Dual-Time. This time, they were presented with new dials and ceramic bezel inserts.
As Lex explained, the black-cased SSH123 with its sparkly purple dial was the absolute star of the show with its spectacular presence. To my shame, I must say I missed this stunning release that was produced in a limited run of 1,500 pieces.
In September, we also saw the announcement of the European-exclusive Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB355J1 “Rock Face.” With its spectacular dial, the watch was developed with the help of Italian rock climber Stefano Ghisolfi, who tested the watch on his own climbs. The textured silver/gray dial mimics a rock face’s ruggedness with spectacular results.
October turned out to be cool for several reasons
In October, Seiko graced us with its Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary Ultraseven Limited Edition SRPJ79. This was a must-have if you are a fan of the Ultraman franchise. As Nacho explained, the Seiko 5 Sports model got a serious makeover and looked like a piece of kit from the show. For me, this was one of the coolest special releases of the year.
Speaking of cool releases, October also saw the introduction of three new solar-powered Speedtimer chronographs. The three very affordable models combine seriously cool looks with worry-free tech. At €700 each, they offer a lot for the money. The SSC911 comes with a panda dial and a black and gray bezel, the SSC913 comes with a blue sunray dial and a blue and red “Pepsi” bezel, and lastly, the SSC915 comes with a black dial with a sunray finish and a black and red “Coke” bezel.
Out of the three different editions, my eyes were immediately drawn to the SSC911. It reminds me of the vintage Seiko 6139-6040 that Mike owns and that I’d also love to add to my collection one day. Maybe I’ll start with this new solar chronograph, though, as it looks stellar.
December is a colorful month for Seiko
Seiko kicked December off in a colorful way with the Prospex SNJ039P1 and SRPJ35K1 Special Editions. As Daan explained, the “Arnie” and the “Turtle” got a fresh, aquatic look that dramatically changed the aesthetic. In particular, the SRPJ35K1 “Turtle” looks different with its green and blue bezel and the turquoise minute hand. If you are into something a bit funkier, the SNJ039P1 takes it even further and adds a blue strap, making it a fun watch that you could wear during your next summer holiday.
December also saw the announcement of what I believe was one of the best of the year. It’s another Save The Ocean Limited Edition and another Prospex diver with a white dial. It will be available in January in a limited production run of 5,000 pieces. The watch celebrates 110 years of Seiko watchmaking. As Lex explained, with the dial, Seiko’s designers tried to capture “the power of the polar glaciers that shape the landscapes and seascapes of the Arctic and Antarctic.”
Combined with the gray bezel insert, you get a very icy Prospex diver that looks different from most others without losing its charm. If anything, the white-dial Prospex models add even more charm than most models. Alongside a stainless steel bracelet, Seiko also provides a Seichu strap that is made from recycled plastic bottles. I have to say that on both the bracelet and the strap, this Prospex SPB333J1 Save The Ocean Limited Edition closed out 2022 in style. It shows that there is still plenty of new things to discover with trusted Seiko models.
But there was even more in December
But that was not all because December also saw the announcement of the return of the Laurel. As Daan explained, in 1913, Kintaro Hattori, the founder of Seiko, presented his first wristwatch under the name Laurel. With the new Seiko Presage SPB359J1, Seiko honors the Laurel and brings back Hattori’s first wristwatch. It’s not the first time that Seiko has done this, but it is arguably the closest aesthetic tribute to date. Seiko decided to increase the size to 37.5mm for this new edition, whereas the original watch was just 30mm. It comes on a characteristic brown leather strap and will be produced in a limited run of 2,500 pieces that go on sale in January.
Thomas van Straaten closed our Seiko year out with the announcement of the Seiko Sharp Edged Akebono Limited Editions. Both the SPB361J1 and SPB363J1 feature a black DLC coating and are inspired by Akebono — “when the dark of night gives way to the glimmers of dawn.” The combination of black and purple is impressive and shows a stealthier but still-classy side to the Sharp Edged series. Both watches will be produced in a limited run of 2,000 pieces and will be available in January 2023.
There you have it! This has been a glimpse into the stream of new releases that Seiko introduced in 2022. While this only scratches the surface, it perfectly shows that there is a lot to discover in the different Seiko collections. While the sheer number of new introductions can become overwhelming and hard to keep up with, it’s more a matter of finding your favorites and enjoying them to the fullest. Seiko also showed in 2022 that it still makes some of the best affordable watches out there. Bring on 2023!