“New Seiko chronos?! Speedtimer? PANDA DIALS?!”
Let’s get this out of the way first. Yes, there is a panda dial. The new range of Seiko’s Prospex Speedtimer will include a panda dial model that’s part of a six-model lineup – four are solar-powered while the other two are mechanical. The latter pair also consists of a limited edition model because that’s how Seiko seems to be operating these days.
Before we take a closer look at the new Speedtimer models, here’s a bit of a history lesson. Ask anyone what was the first chronograph and you’re bound to get a million different answers and follow-up questions.
“The first chrono?”
“Did you say the first wristwatch chrono?”
“No, no! He was asking about the first mechanical wristwatch chrono?”
Common answers would include Zenith with its El Primero movement that launched in January 1969 or the Calibre 11 which was the result of a joint venture between Heuer, Breitling, Buren, and Dubois-Depraz. That one made its debut in August 1969.
In sticking with today’s topic, some might even say it’s Seiko with their 6139 calibre. This particular movement included many ‘firsts’ – a full rotor, vertical clutch, column wheel and self-winding capabilities. However, with this movement only available for the JDM market at its release, can it truly be considered the “world’s” first mechanical chronograph? Who knows…
“Anyway, back to the new Speedtimer variants…”
So, let’s start with the mechanical ones first, alright? We’ve got two models and one of them is limited to just 1,000 units worldwide. The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Limited Edition (ref no. SRQ035) adopts design cues from the brand’s 1964 1/5th stopwatch. We’ve got a white dial with Arabic numerals and a 1/5th seconds mark along with minute track. Putting the two side by side, the resemblance is a no-brainer if I’m honest. I’m definitely a fan of the clean, uncluttered (for a chronograph) aesthetics here.
However, it’s not a carbon copy. There’s a date window at the 6 o’clock mark while the symmetry is further enhanced by the bi-compax layout. We get a 30-minute elapsed counter at 9 o’clock while the running seconds is displayed at the 3 o’clock mark.
Moving on, the watch sports a brushed 42.5 mm stainless steel case that stands at 15.1 mm. Lug to lug is 45.5 mm while water resistance is quoted at 100 m. The “pump-style” pushers echo the ones found on the aforementioned ’64 stopwatch. Other details include an exhibition caseback, an AR-coated sapphire crystal and a brushed tri-fold stainless steel bracelet with a push-button clasp.
The limited edition SRQ035 also comes with an additional black calfskin leather strap. The approximate retail price for this model is RM15,118.
“What about the other variant?”
Ah, yes. The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph (ref no. SRQ037). Immediately, we can see that this charcoal-grey variant is styled differently. Seiko claims that the “dial design is a subtle nod to Seiko’s and Japan’s first chronograph wristwatch, the Crown Chronograph from 1964. Its beveled hour markers, sharp hour and minute hands with colored Lumibrite, its chronograph pushers and the markers on the outer dial ring echo the design of the original.”
Like its limited edition sibling, the SRQ037 also features a bi-compax layout with a date window at 6 o’clock.
And speaking of similarities, both models are equipped with Seiko’s automatic 8R46 calibre. The 34-jeweled, vertical clutch column wheel movement boasts a power reserve figure of 45 hours and a beat rate of 4 Hz. Price? Roughly around RM14,175.
“Let there be light!!”
And now, we arrive at the new solar-powered Speedtimer models. As mentioned, there are four variants with the blue-dialed (Pepsi anyone?) model (ref no. SSC815) looking very much inspired by the original 1969 Speedtimer chronograph. The other variants come with a white (ref no. SSC813), champagne (ref no. SSC817) or black (ref no. SSC819) dial.
All of them possess a brushed stainless steel case that measures 39 mm across with a thickness of 13.3 mm. Lug to lug is 45.5 mm and water resistance is rated up to 100 m. Depending on which model you choose, the black tachymeter bezel might come with coloured numerals aside from the standard white font.
The dial features a tri-compax layout (solar cells visible within) with a 60-minute elapse subdial at 9 o’clock and a 24-hour time display at 3 o’clock. At the 6 o’clock mark, we have a running seconds counter that doubles as a power reserve readout (accessed by pushing the… well, pushers in a particular sequence). And since no one cares about dial symmetry by this point, there’s a date window at 4:30.
All models come with a three-piece steel bracelet and an AR-coated sapphire crystal. Beneath the screwed-down, solid caseback sits Seiko’s V192 solar calibre with a power reserve of 6 months when fully charged. It also has a rated accuracy of +/-15 secs per month. Lastly, the price tag hovers around the RM3,200 mark.