Introducing: The Seiko SPB411 Navigator Timer Reissue
Finally, after months of wondering when it would break cover, the new Seiko SPB411 Navigator Timer reissue is here. This might be the most highly anticipated release from the Japanese brand in some time, and it looks good! Today, we’ll look at the specs, pricing, and availability. Later, we’ll follow up with a hands-on review.
When it comes to watches, we always seem to want what we cannot have. This is also true for Seiko, although the brand has been doing a heck of a job when it comes to delivering retro-inspired timepieces. Still, many of these have come from its back catalog of dive watches. Perhaps it’s the relatively recent return to travel or a general feeling of wanderlust, but GMT watches are hot, and folks have been wondering when Seiko will turn its attention to its vintage world timers. Today, the new Seiko SPB411 is the first attempt to satisfy those who have been waiting.
History — the Seiko 6117-8000
In 1968, Seiko came out with the 6117-8000 Navigator Timer. This was the brand’s first GMT-style watch with a rotating external bezel. I covered this watch back in 2015 and featured my very own example from 1969. With its C-case, it followed the form of many Seiko watches during the day and fit well within an absolute favorite Seiko sub-genre of mine, the Sports Divers. In reference to this, the original Navigator Timer is, essentially, the more heavily optioned twin of the 6106-8100 Sport Diver. Mechanically, the watch used a relatively simple automatic caliber 6117 without hand-winding capabilities. It had a quick-set date and a 24-hour hand that moved at half speed. Like the Rolex 1675 GMT-Master, the bidirectional bezel was used in conjunction with the red hand to track another time zone. Today, these watches are heavily collected, and prices for nice examples often exceed €1,000.
The new Seiko SPB411 Navigator Timer reissue
Now, 55 years after the 6117-8000, we have the new Seiko SPB411 Navigator Timer. Officially, and oddly, Seiko calls it the “Prospex Land Mechanical GMT Limited Edition,” but the brand will be alone in using this nomenclature. From the first pics, this is an absolute looker, and the PR verbiage supports this by stating that it’s as faithful as possible to the original. Good!
The new watch features a 38.5mm-diameter stainless steel case with a super-hard coating. This puts it within 1mm of the original. The lug spacing stays the same at 19mm, and the watch comes on a five-row bracelet with a push-button folding clasp. The thickness is just 12.6mm (we assume that includes the box-shaped sapphire crystal), which is just a fraction of a millimeter thicker than the 6117. Pleasingly, the 45.2mm lug-to-lug remains unchanged.
The Seiko SPB411 Navigator Timer uses the familiar 6R54 automatic movement with 72 hours of power reserve, a quick-set date function, and an independent 24-hour hand. We’ve seen this movement in the recent Alpinist GMTs and the Prospex GMT Divers. Due to the spirit and functionality of this watch, I think it’s the one time we won’t hear complaining about the fact that it’s a so-called “office” GMT. Despite being part of the Prospex collection, Seiko thankfully resisted the urge to add any logos. The crown is unsigned, and the screw-in case back features the vintage “horseshoe” engravings. You’ll note that, for good or bad, this is a limited edition of 4,000 pieces.
The SPB411 Navigator Timer has a dial to make fans smile
When viewing the Seiko SPB411 Navigator Timer reissue from the side, it’s nice to see the lithe, elegant form that collectors enjoy so much. Truly, this should prove to be a lovely watch on the wrist! The gray sunburst dial is also quite faithful, as is angled rehaut complete with lume pips and a minute track. The hands look spot-on and that includes the small, red 24-hour hand. Seiko even added an applied logo below 12 o’clock, which is an appropriate touch. Of course, the “Navigator Timer” script is missing, but Seiko kept the dial clean with only the “Water Resistant 10 Bar” text. The original 6117-8000 used a smooth, printed (and often worn) bezel insert. This new interpretation looks much nicer with its engraved 24-hour scale.
Pricing and thoughts
Rumors broke out months ago about the return of the Navigator Timer. However, absolutely no one knew which movement would be inside and, therefore, the pricing was a mystery. Oddly, Seiko didn’t include pricing in the PR materials, but we have it on good authority that the Japanese price is ¥190,000 or roughly €1,200 when it goes on sale in November. Some were hoping for a less expensive rendition with the 4R34, yet Seiko chose to go with a higher-end version. Honestly, I am okay with this because the watch seems like the kind of piece that could exist as more than a retro novelty. For this price, the quality should be good, and the pictures portray this. As for the limited nature of the release, it’s annoying, but hopefully, 4,000 pieces will be enough to cover global demand. In the end, this was and is a highly anticipated release. In my view, this is probably one of Seiko’s best releases in recent history, and aside from possible availability issues, there’s very little to complain about here.
For more information on the Seiko SPB411 Navigator Timer reissue, visit the official Seiko site.