Dear Seiko, Bring Back The SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition
For many of us, there are watches we keep returning to that we haven’t bought yet but really want to. In my case, the Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition is one of them. It’s still possible to find these available new, so I could get my hands on one with enough effort. But that doesn’t come without its challenges because it is one of Seiko’s Japan Domestic Market (JDM) releases. And this story is about more than just wanting a single watch. It’s a story of what I would like to see from Seiko. On top of that, it’s a story of a design construct that somehow works. Time to explore the story of the Seiko SZSB006.
When I first laid my eyes on the Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition, I was conflicted. Did somebody make a Seiko mod as an Explorer tribute? While that might have been an initial semi-serious reaction at first glance, I soon found myself intrigued. Upon closer inspection, the Seiko SZSB006 visually works. It works incredibly well, to be honest. Sure, all credit to Rolex for creating the iconic 3-6-9 dial. But I quickly started loving the SZSB006 for what it is. And to me, this is not a Rolex Explorer copycat. Rather, it’s a clever combination of design elements that reflect Seiko’s roots. That’s why I wrote about it before in a list of the best Seiko JDM releases.
The Seiko SZSB006 is a design construct that works
That was roughly 18 months ago, and since then, the watch has sometimes popped up while browsing. Every time, I am mesmerized by its looks and its incredible potential for Seiko. There is no denying that we have seen the looks of this limited-edition Seiko before, but the impact on the overall collection could be bigger. First, let’s start with the story of the watch before we jump into the design details.
The watch was introduced in 2019 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Japanese watch store TiCTAC. In fact, this SZSB006 was just one of two collaboration pieces for this occasion. The other was the dressier SZSB007.
The SZSB006 is my favorite because it comes on a bracelet and has a black dial with printed vintage-inspired hour markers for some extra character. And I adore the minute/seconds track with its mix of longer minute markers and shorter intermediate markers. The other model, the SZSB007, has a gray sunburst dial with applied hour markers and doesn’t use the heavily vintage-inspired lume. Now, despite the SZSB006 being my favorite, there is definitely a place for both in the current Seiko collection. But I will get to that. At the time of its introduction in 2019, the watch retailed for around US$480 (official price ¥55,000). So what did that get you?
Hitting the right note
Let’s look at some basic specs. The watch features a case that measures 40mm wide, 48mm long, and 11mm thick. This case shape takes inspiration from the brand’s popular SARB series. The watch has a lug spacing of 20mm, and it comes on an Oyster-style stainless steel bracelet. For my wrist, the dimensions of the SZSB006 are a perfect fit, and overall, I think the visual balance of the case and dial works very well.
The watch has a black dial with “fauxtina” hour markers and cathedral hands filled with the same lume. This dial layout has a strong Rolex Explorer vibe, but I like that Seiko only used Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock. In all fairness, though, these two numerals link it directly to the Explorer. Looking past that, the text on the lower part of the dial and the cathedral hands are directly linked to the Alpinist models. So what you get is a design construct that takes inspiration from a series of watches. Usually, I would not be interested in these visually fabricated designs. Once in a while, however, a design construct hits exactly the right note. Granted, it’s a very personal note, but it has resonated with me for years now.
The Seiko 4R35 movement
Inside the stainless steel case, we find Seiko’s in-house caliber 4R35. This automatic movement operates at 21,600vph and provides approximately 40 hours of power reserve. The caliber displays hours, minutes, and central seconds along with a date indication at 3 o’clock. The addition of the date is a welcome one for me as it is one of those design elements that steer the design away from the Explorer vibes. We know the caliber 4R35 as a basic Seiko movement that the brand used for various watches. Seiko claimed that the accuracy of caliber 4R35 was between +45/-35 seconds per day. That’s nothing impressive, although it must be said that a lot of owners of a Seiko with this movement have reported better accuracy (both with and without some regulation).
Why does this Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition matter?
I have become a fan of the looks of the SZSB006. The watch is a perfect combination of factors that result in a great explorer’s watch. As such, the link to the Alpinist line is very evident. Two weeks ago, I wrote about Seiko’s “Red Alpinist” in this same series of articles. In that piece, I made a plea to bring back the red “Alpinist” text on the dial of the current Alpinist and get rid of the Prospex logo.
That logo is out of place on the classically-styled dial of the Alpinist series. But put in a wider context; the Alpinist is one of the few official Seiko names that the brand could and, in my opinion, should use to build a collection around. And yes, you guessed it — this SZSB006 and the SZSB007 are perfect examples of two more explorer’s watches that could proudly carry the Alpinist name.
So I do make another plea to bring back the Alpinist name, take the SZSB006 design, and make it a series that tells a story that goes back far in Seiko’s history. In terms of design, as our reader Conor Whitworth rightfully remarked, the lower part of that classic Red Alpinist dial could use some cleaning up. The dial of the SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition already does a better job in terms of proportions. Still, the mix of font types is unnecessary in my opinion. The “10 BAR” text has a different font than the “23 JEWELS” text right above it, and there’s no need for that. But it’s better than the old Alpinist dials for sure.
Final thoughts on the Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition
As you can tell, I have a lot of love for this Seiko SZSB006. It’s a quirky watch that works for some people and feels like too much of a construct to others. I am definitely part of that first group. I would love to see an updated version of this watch with a slightly altered dial design. First off, the text on the lower part of the dial could use some improvements, and I would also love to see a black date disc with the numerals in the same color as the hour markers.
Additionally, an upgraded movement would also be very welcome. While the 4R35 kept the price reasonable, a new version could use a better caliber. If Seiko could make that happen and bring it together with the Alpinist, 1959 Alpinist, and Baby Alpinist, the watches would represent a strong story in the brand’s history. I perfectly understand that the chances of that happening are slim to none. As a result, I know what I have to do — pull the trigger on the Seiko SZSB006 TiCTAC 35th Anniversary Limited Edition once and for all.