Baselworld 2018: Hands-on with new Seiko Prospex dive watches
Seiko's impressive showing at Baselworld has been widely celebrated throughout the show, but once you've actually had a chance to check out all the excellent offerings, does all the hype start to make sense. With numerous anniversaries (both the 9S and 9F calibers are observing their 20th and 25th, respectively) being celebrated, and a broad swath of the brand's heritage being explored, there's really something for everyone, whether you're looking at an ultra-modern Grand Seiko, a vintage-inspired Prospex diver, or Seiko's future classic Presage offerings. In this post, we'll just be doing some quick wrist impressions of the Prospex watches, with Grand Seiko and Presage to follow.
While there's plenty of buzz around the new Prospex watches, the new SLA019 Marinemaster 300 rendered in emerald green seems to be the booth's show-stopper. Most notably, this is a contemporary nod to the ref. 6159 from 1968. Granted, it's technically no longer referred to as the Marinemaster, but its most notable original cue is still here: the one-piece stainless steel case. Seiko has upgraded it with a luminous ceramic bezel, sapphire crystal, and a hard coating on the case and bracelet to resist everyday wear. Inside, is the 8L35 movement, which we've confirmed with Joe Kirk as a lightly decorated Grand Seiko base movement. The 44mm case still wears as the Marinemaster always did – assertive, with its 15mm thickness, but it takes on an entirely new character and dimension with the brilliant green dial.
Next up, is the SLA025 – limited to only 1500 pieces, and essentially this year's "SLA017," if we can quote last year's white-hot 62MASre-issue from Seiko. With a beautiful 'gilt' dial and the waffle rubber strap, it's as faithful a re-issue of the original 1968 Hi-Beat 300m diver ref. 6159-7001 as we've ever seen (a watch which followed the original 62MAS by three years), and boy is it good looking. With a Zaratsu polished 44mm stainless steel case, it has also been upgraded with a sapphire crystal. Inside is Seiko's 8L55 caliber, which Seikofans will recognize as the Hi-beat (36,000vph) movement with 55 hours of reserve.
The third Prospex should be interesting to collectors, as it mirrors Seiko's strategy last year of releasing a highly faithful re-issue, and then a more contemporary, modernized one. Last year, it was the SLA017, and the SPB051. This year, it's the SLA025 above, and the new SPB077 (black) and SBP079 (dark blue bezel) – essentially a contemporary Hi-Beat, but with a 6R15 and Seiko's current handset. While following the design cues of the SLA025 was clearly the intent here, this pair of watches actually look very much like an update to the long-running Sumo – note the case shape, and 'maxi' circular applied indices. Measuring 44mm, and priced very competitively, we expect this to be a very popular Prospex edition at Topper this summer.
As mentioned, we'll be providing plenty more in-depth impressions on the Prospex collection, including a video overview from Miami Grand Seiko boutique manager Joseph Kirk, so stay tuned! Otherwise, if you have any questions about pre-order availability for the new models, email us at email@example.com, or visit our new Pre-Order Central page to reserve one online. If you don't see your desired watch in the Pre-Order Central, don't worry, just call the shop at 888-730-2221, and we'll be happy to assist you. For the latest in the rest of Topper's show coverage, head over to our Baselworld 2018 page, which we'll be updating following every brand meeting.The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.