55th Anniversary Seiko Diver’s Watch Limited Editions
We have news of the 55th Anniversary Seiko Diver’s Watch Limited Edition pieces. Seiko celebrates its past with innovative materials and updated color schemes on its most iconic undersea watches.
Here we are one year later and we’re more than ready to talk about the newest Seiko releases. With Seiko, there’s always something in the brand’s past to celebrate. We’re excited to talk about the 55th Anniversary Seiko Diver’s Watches. If you’re at all a fan of Seiko, you’ve likely taken one quick glance at the header photo and have concerns. We’ve seen these watches before and I’ll certainly address that. I’ll also address what makes these different while giving you my unbiased opinion.
Three Iconic Divers
Three watches make up the 55th Anniversary Seiko Diver’s Limited Editions. Each will be sold separately in an edition of 1,100 pieces and 100 sets of all three will be there for the completists. Seiko chose to mark the occasion with a modern edition of its first diver, the 62MAS, known as the 1965 Re-creation or reference SLA037. Next, we have the 1968 Re-creation, reference SLA039 — that piece signifies the company’s first-ever foray into the Professional Diver category. Finally, the 1975 Re-creation, reference SLA041, comes in as a watch inspired by the original Tuna. You can see the original inspirations above and some from my collection throughout the article. Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty and break down each of these juggernauts.
The 1965 Re-creation — Reference SLA037
The first of the 55th Anniversary Seiko Diver’s Limited Editions is the 62MAS-inspired SLA037. This watch echoes the SLA017 from 2017 that celebrated the original 6217-8000/1 from 1965. In fact, this newest release carries over the same 39.9mm case diameter along with an identical 14.7mm thickness.
The use of a brand new material that Seiko calls “Ever-Brilliant” is news here. We’re told that the use of this more highly corrosion-resistant stainless steel is a watch industry first. It gives off a more whitish sheen and, due to what I’d guess is the more extreme alloying, is absolute hell to machine. The material is ever-present in marine applications, so it has a track record elsewhere. We also see the first use of Seiko’s Hi-Beat 8L55 in this watch case. As a reminder, that’s built in the Shizukuishi Watch Studio of Grand Seiko fame.
A distinct color theme
There is a distinct color theme running through this new collection. All three re-editions employ an inky blue dial. It is a really nice addition to the range and works particularly well with watches of this style. On the 1965 re-edition, that blue carries over the to the modern silicone reproduction of what would have been a Tropic strap 55 years ago. An anti-reflective box crystal seals off the 200-meter diver. Pricing comes in at €6,500 and watches will hit stores in July.
From an aesthetic standpoint, it’s hard not to like the SLA037 from the get-go. The color combination represents a welcome change from black or grey and the skindiver style case works with just about any hue. What I think will raise eyebrows is the pricing and the fact that we saw this watch case so recently. To remind you, the 2017 release came in at €3,800 and that made people cranky. At just shy of double that, this watch is a serious chunk of money. Unlike the SLA017, it doesn’t seem to come with a bracelet. The new movement and the case material are all cool adds. I simply think we’ll hear some collective groans from the faithful.
The 1968 Re-creation — Reference SLA039
The middle child in the 55th Anniversary Seiko Diver’s Limited Editions collection relates to Seiko’s first Professional diver, the 6159-7000/1. This was a bombshell of a watch when it was released 52 years ago due to its monobloc case and hi-beat automatic movement. It also added 300 meters of water resistance to its arsenal. The newest SLA039 takes its cues from the 2018 release known as the SLA025. The same 44.8mm diameter and 15.7mm thickness dimensions carry over. Here, the movement for the diver remains the same as in 2018 with the Hi-Beat 8L55.
The 1968 Re-creation also helps usher in the use of Ever-Brilliant steel for its case while adding a blue dial and blue pyramid-motif silicone strap. A curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating gives us a view of that lovely dial. The original “stoplight” seconds hand thankfully remains with its red pip. This modern 6159 is priced at €7,000 and will be available in August.
The 6159, in my view, is the watch that stacks up best against classic dive watches like the Submariner and Seamaster. It blends just enough of the traditional with some Seiko traits such as the 4:00 crown and elongated lugs. Therefore, I tend to like just about whatever Seiko throws at this case shape. At this price, the SLA039 comes in at €1,500 more than the 2018 limited edition SLA025. For that price difference, you’re paying for the new case material and a different color scheme. I think you’ll need to visit your local boutique this Summer to decide if that premium is worthwhile.
The 1975 Re-creation – Reference SLA041
The 1975 300 meter Tuna is the final model within the 55th Anniversary Seiko Diver’s group. We’ve covered the original 6159-7010 heavily here on Fratello and love it for its different looks and innovative use of titanium as a case material. The new SLA041 brings in 1000 meters of water resistance within its 52.4mm diameter titanium case and tall 17.2mm thickness. That size, by the way, happens to be the exact same as the serial production automatic Tuna. It keeps the same dial and hand style as the 70s original.
The 1975 Re-creation has a blue iron dial and that brings its antimagnetic resistance up to 40,000 A/m. Interestingly, this is mentioned on the dial in red font. Ever-Brilliant makes another appearance on the bezel and Seiko uses blue silicone on the historically accurate accordion-style strap. The longstanding caliber 8L35 automatic sits inside and runs at 28,800vph. Pricing will be €4,500 and these bruisers will enter stores in September.
Unorthodox bulky divers
I own an example of just about every generation of Tuna. So you could call me a bit of an addict. I just love these unorthodox bulky divers and how brutal they are in stating their mission. This model continues that trend. I like the new material for the bezel and the antimagnetic property addition. However, I could do without the statement on the dial. What’s odd here is that Seiko didn’t go historically correct by using the Hi-Beat movement in this newest edition. Perhaps that would have spiked pricing far higher. Still, it comes in at about €1,000 over the list price of a normal “Emperor” Tuna, so this SLA041 is another situation where it likely needs to be seen in order to resonate.
You’d be right to think that I’m a tad underwhelmed by the 55th Anniversary Seiko Diver’s Limited Editions. For starters, these watches are expensive. Really, really expensive. I think more radical releases are needed to capture new buyers or to lure the returners. For sure, we’ve become spoiled by Seiko’s retro releases, but showing us three watches that we’ve basically seen before just feels a bit off. I’m also hoping that this drop doesn’t anger buyers of the last limited-edition models from 2017 and 2018.
Slight color changes, minor movement changes, and the odd technical enhancement weren’t exactly what I had in mind for my annual Prospex fix. And for goodness’ sake, please include a steel bracelet at this level! On the other hand, I will make the point that I always make here on Fratello or in conversations. Pound for pound, even at these prices, I am convinced that Seiko is making a better watch than almost anyone on the market. You’ll have to decide whether or not that’s enough to consider taking one of these home. Learn more from Seiko’s official site.