A Revealing Trio Of Open-Heart Seiko Presage Style60’s Watches
If it wasn’t for a constant stream of new Astron GPS Solar models leaving the manufacture, I may have been led to believe Seiko only had eyes for the past. Retro rules in Japan. And although that’s the same as in the rest of the watch world, Seiko is particularly active in reviving the past with re-editions and/or re-interpretations. Seiko helps watch lovers on different budgets relive the past with all kinds of models in different product families. One of the brand’s more affordable releases is a revealing trio of open-heart Seiko Presage Style60’s watches.
Re-interpreting a memorable design
Tell me honestly, what was the first thought that popped up in your head when you first saw a Presage Style60’s with the opening in the dial? I guess that was my initial thought as well. Anyway, the inspiration for these three new Presage models wasn’t found in recent watches from Swiss competitors, but in Seiko’s archives.
The Crown Chronograph to be specific, Seiko’s and Japan’s first wristwatch equipped with a stopwatch function. And that was a watch equipped with the hand-wound Caliber 5719. Because of that movement — an extraordinary one with a column wheel and horizontal coupling architecture and a high frequency of 5.5Hz, or 39,600vph — the single pusher to operate the chronograph’s functions is seen at 10 o’clock. Both that single pusher and the clean dial layout give this early Seiko chronograph an unusual, intriguing, and memorable look.
Blending and balancing different eras
So what do the three new Presage Style60’s watches have in common with their famous source of inspiration? I could give you a list of what they don’t share, but I’ll leave that up to you. The resemblance between the newcomer and golden oldie is not literal, but figurative. The hands and indexes have a ’60s feel, and the different kinds of finishing found on the ivory white dial of the SSA423J1, the black dial of the SSA425J1, and the dark brown dial of the SSA426J1 (with its shiny gold PVD case) also hark back to times gone by.
What’s most definitely new and not rehashed are the size and the dial. The original chronograph had a 38mm case and this trio of Presages comes in a contemporary 40.8×12.8mm case. That case is gently rounded and slightly slanted inward for comfort, and the lugs possess a polished mirror finish. It’s a bright highlight to an otherwise understated appearance. Furthermore, there’s the fixed 60-minute bezel and the domed sapphire crystal. In conclusion, you could say that these Presage models blend and balance both modern and vintage design elements. Whether or not such mixing and matching results in a timeless design is open for discussion.
Seiko’s subtle sub-dial design
What’s also open is the dial. The presence of the watches’ “open-heart” dominates proceedings. The opening partially reveals the regulating organ. I’m not a fan of open dials. I’m also not a fan of skeletonized watches. So I guess maybe I’m not the right person to pass esthetical judgment here. Anyway, the opening in the dial is cleverly integrated with a 24-hour sub-dial that can be used as a day-night indication. The way Seiko designed the 24-hour sub-dial leaves me with the impression you can slide that little dial over the aperture. And, of course, I’m dying to do so!
What you can see beating through the opening is the caliber 4R39, an automatic 3Hz movement with a 41-hour power reserve. It beats in all three different versions. The SSA423J1 and SSA425J1 come on a steel bracelet with a folding clasp. Finally, there’s the “gold” SSA426J1 with its nylon NATO strap in dark brown.
A three-fold conclusion
All three Presage Style60’s watches (SSA423J1, SSA425J1, SSA426J1) are part of Seiko’s permanent collection and have a price of €590. The rose gold PVD model is the same price because it comes on a nylon strap and not a metal bracelet. I think that’s clever from a sales perspective, but also a bit weird for my taste.
The gold-colored one is the most luxurious version of the three and bears the least resemblance to the 1964 chronograph, the illustrious inspiration instrument. Still, it comes with a rudimentary, no-frills strap. Hey, I love a NATO strap as much as the next guy, but both the SSA423J1 and SSA425J1 are way more likely candidates to sport a sporty nylon strap than the “gold” SSA426J1, although it has matching rose gold-colored hardware. Leather — maybe even eco-friendly “apple” leather — would have been a more logical strap choice. Anyway, changing a strap is not rocket science so don’t let the strap Seiko puts on any of these new Presage watches stand in your way. For more information please visit the Seiko website.
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