“Wait, wait! Did Seiko just refresh every collection for 2020?”
Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say every collection but it’s close. Seiko Malaysia recently hosted a preview of its 2020 additions and let me tell you, they’ve really been doing their homework and listening to feedback. Aside from dropping a ton of new models, the changes they’ve made indicate that there’s a growing demand for smaller-sized timepieces. This is especially true with the 2020 Presage line but more on that in a bit. It’s also clear that Seiko is out to put some sort of a stop to the modding culture of its SKX-cased models. Why do I say that? Well, they’ve added 18 new models to the 5 Sports lineup. Let that sink in, the initial launch already saw a plethora of models landing on Malaysian shores, right? With these new models, it’s nigh on impossible to not find one that suits you.
On the other hand, the Prospex range sees numerous additions with limited editions and reissues leading the charge. There’s even an Alpinist ‘Reduced’ that, in my eyes, would make for the perfect Rolex Explorer-killer. Only from an aesthetic point of view, okay? I can already hear the Rolex fanboys gnashing their teeth.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s new for Malaysians looking to get their next Seikos…
The (inhale) Seiko Astron GPS Solar Dual-Time 5X Series
Right, this one’s for all you techies out there. The movement inside all the previewed variants are the same. Actually, it’s pretty much the same timepiece across. The only major difference being the aesthetics of each one. The 5X53 calibre is solar-powered because PERMANENT SOURCE OF POWER and features GPS-synced time readouts with timezone adjustment capabilities. Accuracy is rated at +/- 15 secs per month (without receiving a GPS signal and at temperatures between 5°C and 35°C). Fully charged, you’ll get 6 months worth of “power reserve”. A power saving mode will enable the watch to be on “standby” for approximately 2 years.
Aside from its tech-derived timekeeping functions, the Astrons also feature a perpetual calendar (correct to Feb 28 2100), a power reserve display, a time-transfer function (ability to switch between home and local time on the main and sub-dial) and a world timer function with 39 time zones. By the way, water resistance is rated at a suitably hardcore 200 m.
As for its exterior, the titanium case measures just 42.8 mm and stands at 14.7 mm except for the SSH071J1 (14.9 mm). The accompanying bracelets are also made out of titanium and all but the SSH069J1 receives a black coat over its bracelet. So, why is the SSH071J1 slightly taller than the rest? You can chalk it down to its green ceramic bezel. This particular variant stands out with its aforementioned ceramic bezel and limited worldwide production run of just 2,000 units. This variant is priced at RM11,500, as is the blacked-out SSH069J1 variant. The rest all stand at RM10,500.
“And now we go diving with Seiko!”
With the new Prospex models, that’s not an issue at all. Though whether or not you have it in you to take these beauties and bash them up is another matter. The highlight here is definitely the trilogy reissue of the brand’s most iconic diver designs. We begin with the SLA039J1. First off, the price for this limited-to-1,100 units diver is RM28,500. That’s a LOT of money – we’re talking Grand Seiko money here – but you can’t put a price on heritage.
Don’t get me wrong, though. You’re still paying top dollar for top specs and the case itself is probably worth half the price already. Measuring in at a whopping 44.8 mm and being 15.7 mm thick, it’s not a watch that goes unnoticed. The monocoque case is also another talking point. With this design, the movement is transplanted into the case from the dial direction and there’s no such thing as a removable caseback. Seiko is also keen to point out that the case is fashioned from what it calls “ever-brilliant steel”. Elsewhere, owners will get a unidirectional bezel and a dual-curve sapphire crystal with an inner AR coating.
This being a proper dive watch, you can expect tons of LumiBrite and a high water resistance rating. The figure stands at 300 m, by the way. This is, according to Seiko, sufficient for saturation diving. The watch comes on a blue silicone strap with a waffle design and a stainless steel pin buckle.
“… and another one!”
The (latest) 62MAS reissue. Widely regarded as the first proper diver from Seiko, there’s no denying that this one is arguably the most significant model in the trio. It’s also the most expensive at RM29,000. The Seiko SLA037J1 is, like the 39J1, limited to 1,100 units worldwide. In regards to its dimensions, this one wears a bit smaller with a case size of 39.9 mm and a thickness of 14.7 mm. Like the 39J1, its case is also fashioned out of Seiko’s “ever-brilliant steel.” However, the overall design is more traditional in that there’s a screw-down caseback and a fully-graduated, unidirectional bezel with a lumed pip.
Seiko says the watch is water resistant to 200 m, which is also sufficient for saturation diving. As for strap options, the SLA037J1 comes on a blue silicone (to match the dial colour) with a tropic-style pattern. Hang on, we’re missing something pretty important, right?
“Ah, yes. The Seiko Caliber 8L55 within these two…”
Let’s cut to the chase, alright? The 8L55 is a Grand Seiko movement in all but name. Mechanically, it’s the same as the Grand Seiko 9S85 movement with the same gear train, kinetic chain, winding system, regulating organ and jewel count. Which is 37, by the way. The movement has a power reserve of 55 hours and beats at an incredible 5 Hz. So, what exactly are the differences between this movement and its GS counterpart? Mainly the decoration and rated accuracy. The 8L55 has a rating of +15/-10 secs per day compared to the GS’s +5/-3 secs per day.
“What about the last addition?”
The “Tuna” reissue is the heavy hitter of the trio, for sure. Measuring in at an intimidating 52.4 mm and being 17.2 mm thick, you’d be surprised at how much of a gentle giant this model is on the wrist. However, there’s nothing gentle or soft about its performance. Aside from the insane 1,000 m water resistance, the watch also boasts a magnetic resistance level of 40,000 A/m (501.6 Gauss). The one-piece titanium case is made out of “ever-brilliant steel” and comes enclosed within a zirconia ceramic shroud.
A thick, accordion-style silicone strap comes as standard. Needless to say, the watch comes with all the basic ingredients of a diver with a unidirectional bezel, tons of LumiBrite and a screw-down crown at 4 o’clock. The SLA041J1 is priced at RM19,000 and is limited to 1,100 units worldwide as well.
“But wait, there’s more!”
As in, more ways for you to spur the economy on via Seiko! The entire trilogy can be yours in a customized commemorative box set which, I’ll admit, looks pretty darn cool. Limited to only 100 units worldwide, opting for it will obviously net you all three watches and said box set. The price? Sure you’re ready for it? Are you sitting down? Good, it’s RM93,500.
Whatever your face looks like right now, I can totally picture it. In any case, if you’re keen on getting yourself a 62MAS lookalike but still live in the real world, Seiko has the SPB149J1 for you. Although it’s still limited to 5,500 units worldwide, the fact that it retails for RM5,600 means that it’s a whole lot more accessible to you and I. The case of the 149J1 measures 40.5 mm (small for a diver, really) and stands at 13.2 mm. A steel bracelet with a tri-fold clasp is standard issue but you get an extra silicone strap as well. Inside beats the Caliber 6R35. The 24-jeweled movement ticks at 3 Hz and offers roughly 70 hours of power reserve. Water resistance is rated at 200 m.
“Let’s go high up instead of deep down now.”
For those who aren’t keen on diving and fancy a hike instead, the Alpinist ‘Reduced’ could be the perfect companion. To be honest, I personally find the looks here a bit… well, off. I’ve gotten so used to looking at Alpinist models with their internal compass rings and “double crowns” that I find the ‘Reduced’ models lacking in visual weight. However, if you’ve always been hankering after a cleaner, Explorer-esque watch, your prayers have been answered.
The SPB155J1 (dark olive dial, steel bracelet) is priced at RM3,900 while the SPB157J1 (blue dial, blue leather strap) and SPB159J1 (dark rhodium dial and black leather strap) variants are priced at RM2,850. Powering the new Alpinist ‘Reduced’ is the Caliber 6R35. However, the biggest news here is the case size as it comes in a new 38 mm steel case with an exhibition caseback. Seiko claims a water resistance figure of 200 m.
“Okay, enough of sports watches for now… Presage?”
The highlight of the range for 2020 involves two limited edition models that draw inspiration from Studio Ghibli’s Porco Rosso animated film. The first is the SNR047J1, followed by the SRQ033J1. Both of these pieces have aesthetic cues plucked from the film’s main character’s Savoia S-21 plane and feature enamel dials. Limited to only 500 units worldwide, the 47 comes in a 40 mm case and contains the Spring Drive Caliber 5R65. The SRQ033J1, on the other hand, features a 42 mm case and 8R48 movement. The latter is limited to 600 units worldwide.
Besides that, the other big news for the Presage line comes in the introduction of a smaller 38.5 mm case size. The SRPE41J1 (red dial), SRPE43J1 (blue dial), SRPE45J1 (green dial) versions are all priced at RM1,900 and come powered by the 4R35 movement. Said caliber offers up 41 hours of power reserve. There are also two limited edition variants in the form of the light cherry-hued SRPE47J1 and turquoise-dialed SRPE49J1. Both models are limited to 5,000 units worldwide and carry a price tag of RM2,600.
“Boy, that’s a solid watch…”
Pardon the pun, I’ll excuse myself once I’m done here but before I do that, I need you to focus on the new additions to the 5 Sports lineup. Dubbed the ‘Solid Boy’, it may seem like a simple redesign of last year’s models by removing the bezel but look closely and you’ll notice something different about its proportions. Yes, the bezel is gone for a cleaner, more versatile look but.. Hang on.
Is that? A smaller case?!
Yes, you’re right. The bezel-less versions possess a smaller 40 mm case size over the regular models with the 42 mm SKX case. So, not only has Seiko removed the bezel, they’ve gone and reduced the size of the case to make sure it looks more balanced sans bezel. That, my friends, is what you call putting in the effort and it shows. A total of 11 ‘Solid Boy’ models are available in a variety of dial colour and strap options. Best part? They’re relatively affordable as all but the two-tone versions retail for RM1,100. The bi-colour models go for RM1,375 instead.
There are also 7 new additions to the range to beef up the Street, Suits and Specialist series. The two new Specialist models retail for RM1,550 and RM1,600 while the Suits go for RM1,450. The three new Streets models are priced at RM1,295, RM1,450, RM1,550.
*hums Bohemian Rhapsody*
Last but not least, we have the ‘Red Special’ Seiko 5 Sports model. Developed in collaboration with Queen’s Brian May, the limited edition model is produced in only 9,000 units worldwide and is priced at RM2,555. I’ll skip the tech specs since they’re the same as all the other 5 Sports models and instead focus on the looks. The shade of red on the dial is mirrored after May’s own red guitar. Said guitar was hand made by May himself together with his father in the 1960s.
On the left of the dial, a silhouette of a guitar is visible while the red portion features a wood grain pattern. It comes supplied with a black NATO and a special presentation box that resembles a guitar case. Inside, owners will also find a commemorative coin based on May’s signature pick, a sixpence British coin.
“I’ve got a headache now…”
And it’s all Seiko’s fault. Still, this is the best reason for a headache as there are just so many new additions to the brand’s 2020 lineup. Mind you, this isn’t even the completed list as I’ll need another story to fully wrap things up. For a blitzkrieg of their entire 2020 collection, you can always check out the year’s catalogue here. So, that’s then. Seiko has once again knocked it out of the park and proven to us that it has been listening to feedback from both the media and its customers.
If they continue at this pace, one might begin to wonder if they really need anything else other than a Seiko to satiate their cravings for watches…