Hands-On With the Seiko Presage SPB173J1 Limited Edition Watch
When it comes to Seiko, quite a lot of my focus goes to the Prospex collection. With a string of great new Prospex releases, I almost tend to forget that over the last couple of months, we have also seen a significant number of Seiko Presage releases featuring unique dials. The handmade enamel and porcelain dials are often breathtaking evidence of incredible craftsmanship. I had the change to go hands-on with the Seiko Presage SPB173J1 Boutique Limited Edition with a beautiful green enamel dial.
The lack of focus is not a lack of interest, to be honest. I have always loved the looks and light-hearted approach of the Cocktail Time-series within the Presage collection. At the same time, the Cocktail Time watches are classy and often seen sporting some fantastic dials. They are also very affordable, making them serious contenders for the role of “go-to dress watch” in any collection that may otherwise find itself dominated by sportier wares.
The Seiko SPB173J1 Limited Edition dial
But if you want to get a better idea of the incredible dial making craftsmanship, it’s better to focus on the limited edition watches in the Presage collection. Quite often, the inspiration for the unique dial colors comes from Japanese nature. Not too long ago, Rob wrote a review about the SPB171J1. Essentially it is the brother of the SPB173J1 with an excellent Arita porcelain dial. The porcelain dial was inspired by the Japanese tradition of Suigetsu, which celebrates the beauty of the moon reflected in the water.
For this Boutique Limited Edition Seiko took the green colors of the forest and the mountain streams as the inspiration for the dial.
A similar idea is the creative concept behind the stunning green enamel dial of the Presage SPB173J1. For this Boutique Limited Edition, Seiko took the green colors of the forest and the mountain streams as the inspiration for the dial. Whether you like the idea of dials reflecting the colors of nature or not — I love these stories — the results are always stunning. And the blue-green dial of the SPB173J1 is no exception.
Enamel craftsman Mitsuru Yokosawa
Responsible for the creation of the Seiko enamel dials is master enameler Mitsuru Yokosawa. He has been perfecting his craft for over four decades and oversees the production of every one of the dials. Because enameling is such a specialized and labor-intensive process, every single dial is unique. Mister Yokosawa is also responsible for the stunning blue enamel dials for the SPB163J1 that Bert reviewed here.
The dial creation process comprises six different steps. The first two focus on the creation and treatment of the dial before the enameling process starts. The enameling process consists of four steps. From creating the enamel glaze for the dial to the application, the firing, and the final inspection, it’s a craft that requires both knowledge and experience.
True Japanese craftsmanship
It’s one of those details I love about Japanese craftsmanship in general. Japanese artisans have great focus, unique knowledge, and a peerless eye for detail. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the art of noodle making, Japanese calligraphy (shūji), or watchmaking. The love and dedication that goes into each one of these crafts — and so many more — are extraordinary. As a result, the dials of these Presage watches are truly special.
The dial color changes constantly from a beautiful deep blue to a nice dark green.
The result for the SPB173J1 is a blue-green dial that looks amazing. The color of the dial changes in different light conditions, making it endlessly interesting. The dial color continually changes from a beautiful deep blue to a lovely dark green. Because it is so hard to pinpoint, the attraction of the dial is immense. Is it blue or green? The human brain is programmed to want answers. And it’s mister Yokosawa’s great craftsmanship that deliberately doesn’t provide one. You’ve gotta love that.
The Seiko SPB173J1 Limited Edition in detail
Although the cases of the SPB171J1 and this SPB173J1 are visually similar, the specs of the case differ somewhat. The beautiful dial of the SPB173J1 is fitted in a comfortable 40.5mm stainless steel case that is 12.8mm thick. Lug-to-lug, the case measures 47.8mm. Combined with the stainless steel bracelet with a double-folding clasp with a push-button release it comes with, it makes the watch sit comfortably on my wrist.
The dial is visible through the dual-curved anti-reflective sapphire. On the dial, you will find white Roman hour numerals and a date display at the 6 o’clock position and the power reserve indicator at the 9 o’clock position. I especially love the color of the hour and minute hands. It’s a light creme color that turns into a light green the longer you look at it. Once again, that powerful dial color is playing tricks on your eyes.
Caliber 6R27 that powers the watch is visible through a sapphire display back. The case back also states that it is a Seiko Boutique Special Edition. The well known 6R27 automatic movement has 29 jewels, operates at 28,800vph, and has a power reserve of 45 hours. The watch is water-resistant to 100 meters, which is more than enough in the unlikely event you might need it. As it is a dressier watch, the chances of people going swimming with it are slim.
The Seiko Presage SPB173J1 is available now, and you can buy them only at Seiko boutiques worldwide for a price of €1,500. Considering the craftsmanship required to bring these models to life, that seems like a reasonable price to me. The classical styling of the dial is a matter of personal taste. I’m not the biggest fan of the big power reserve indicator on the dial but to each their own.
Overall, the elements on the dial don’t take anything away from that stunning dial color, though. Once again, Seiko comes up with a fantastic visage for the Presage line. I have to give Seiko credit once more for showing an incredible eye for craftsmanship and for once again reminding me to pay greater attention to the Presage collection. With the number of watches Seiko releases annually, it can be tough to keep up. But the brand makes sure there is a lot to discover every time. If you want to find out more, you can visit the official Seiko website here.