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Basel 2014: A Look at the Seiko Novelties
Seiko is fulfilling its promise to the U.S. for higher allocations and more variety of high-grade Seiko watches in a very big way.
For 2014, Seiko announces the global launch of the new mechanical Caliber 9S86, the first ever hi-beat GMT that will only ever be available in a Grand Seiko. Grand Seiko also debuts its second Historical Collection that followed last year’s popular 44GS Tribute. This year, Grand Seiko pays tribute to its 1964 “Self-dater”, which was the first Grand Seiko to incorporate a date window.
Next, the Seiko Astron GPS adds a GPS Solar Chronograph with the second-generation GPS Solar Caliber 8X82. The caliber is smaller, includes a chronograph function and is easier to operate. Most importantly, Seiko responded to consumer demand for a smaller Astron and reduced the case diameter by two-millimeters to 45mm, and also made the case thinner by three-millimeters to 13mm.
Finally, for the first time, Seiko is making its high-grade PROSPEX professional diving and sports watches available to the United States.
Mr. Shinji Hattori, President & CEO of Seiko Watch Corporation
Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT
The Caliber 9S86 is Seiko’s first-ever Hi-Beat GMT and is created on the platform of the caliber 9S85 that launched in 2009. It has all the existing features of the existing caliber, with the addition of a 24-hour GMT hand with easy hour adjustment. The high-precision, 37-jewel caliber has an accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day and a 55-hour power reserve. The GMT hand is adjustable independently as the time of day hands continue to mark time.
Seiko designed several new models to kick off the new caliber. First, is the Hi-Beat 36,000 GMT Limited Edition (SBGJ005) with a 40mm stainless steel case based on last year’s highly popular 44GS Automatic. The deep green dial with a radial pattern is beautiful and inspired by Mt. Iwate, the famous mountain outside the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio. The titanium oscillating weight is treated with an anodic oxidation that results in a gold tone. The timepiece is a limited edition of 600 pieces and retails for $7,250.
Hi-Beat 36,000 GMT Limited Edition, ref SBGJ005 (LE of 600)
The deep green dial features a beautiful radial pattern inspired by Mount Iwate
Titanium oscillating weight is treated with an anodic oxidation that results in a golden tone
Two regular production Hi-Beat 36,000 GMT are also being launched with the identical 40mm stainless steel 44GS Automatic case, and available with either a white (SBGJ001) or black (SBGJ003) dial. Both the white and black Hi-Beat GMT models retail for $7,000.
The textured finishing on the white dial is subtle, elegant and absolutely gorgeous. When I first saw the model in the display booth, I assumed it was a snowflake dial. Then when I handled it, it has less texture and depth than the snowflake dial and is more of a cross between a snowflake and sunray pattern since the striations are subtly uneven. Legibility is optimal and the heat blued GMT hand is precisely the right length to the fixed GMT chapter ring.
Hi-Beat 36000 GMT with white textured dial and heat blued GMT hand, ref SBGJ001
Hi-Beat 36000 GMT with black dial and red GMT hand, ref SBGJ003
Grand Seiko Historical Collection
Five new Grand Seikos join the Historical Collection and pay tribute to the 1964 Grand Seiko “Self-Dater”, which introduced a date window to the Grand Seiko and a water-resistance to 5 bar. Three of these models are limited editions fitted with Calibre 9R15 Spring Drive movements with an accuracy of +/- 0.5 seconds per day, with one in a 39.9mm platinum case (SBGA107) and two in 39.9mm stainless steel with silver (SBGA103) or blue dial (SBGA105). The approximate recommended retail prices for these limited edition models are $34,500/Euro 31,900 for the platinum (SBGA107) and $6,500/Euro 6,050 for the stainless steel (SBGA103, SBGA105).
GS Historical Collection Self-Dater Spring Drive with platinum case (LE of 50)
The gorgeous dial is a champagne metallic
30-jewel, Calibre 9R15 Spring Drive movement with 72-hour power reserve
GS Historical Collection Self-Dater Spring Drive with stainless steel case (SBGA105 and SBGA103)
GS Historical Collection Self-Dater Spring Drive with deep blue dial and stainless steel case (SBGA105)
Exclusive for TimeZone is a sneak peek at a Spring Drive with a unique “GS” logo dial:
Astron GPS Solar Chronograph
The new Astron GPS Solar Caliber 8X82 features a chronograph function, is smaller and easier to operate. The new case size is 30% smaller than the first generation Astron GPS and measures 44.6mm x 13.3mm. To achieve these smaller case dimensions, Seiko refined its energy-saving technology which allows for a smaller antenna. The movement is GPS controlled time and time zone adjustments. The 6-hour chronograph can measure and display time in 1/5 second (0.2 second) increments. The “one touch” operation remains the same in that pressing the calibration button for six seconds activates the Astron’s GPS function. However, the secondary functions such as manual time zone setting are now easier and more intuitive due to the crown.
The SSE001 Limited Edition is the flagship of the launch and features a titanium case with super-hard coating, white dial, sapphire crystal with super-clear coating, a faceted ceramic bezel, and a new laser-cut crown that makes it easier operate. The bracelet is a combination of titanium outer links and ceramic inner links, and the timepiece is also packaged with a black crocodile strap. This model is limited to 7,000 pieces and individually numbered on the case back.
Astron GPS Solar Chronograph SSE001 LE
There are seven new GPS Solar Chronograph models that join the Astron collection. Three models feature titanium cases with super-hard coating and ceramic bezel, and are fitted with titanium bracelets (SSE005, SSE007 & SSE009); two models feature stainless steel cases with super-hard coating with ceramic bezel, and are fitted with stainless steel bracelets (SSE011 & SSE013); and two models feature stainless steel cases with super-hard coating with ceramic bezel, and are fitted with silicon straps (SSE015 & SSE017).
Astron GPS Solar Chronograph with blue dial, Ti case & Ti bracelet, ref SSE005
Astron GPS Solar Chronograph with stainless steel case and bracelet, ref SSE013
(L-R) Astron GPS Solar Chronograph refs. SSE015 & SSE005
Exclusive for TimeZone is a sneak peek at an Astron GPS Solar Chronograph “Resort”:
The PROSPEX model name derives from “professional specification”, and this high-grade collection of professional diving and sports watches has developed such a strong US collectors base that Seiko has finally decided to bring down the distribution wall. Last year, a very small allocation of a PROSPEX Marinemaster limited edition (affectionally known as the “Golden Tuna”) was authorized for sale in the US and quickly sold out. This year, the Seiko PROSPEX will be distributed outside of the Japanese market and made available in the United States.
The new PROSPEX Kinetic GMT Diver uses the same double case system as the legendary 1975 model, with a Kinetic caliber that is precise to 1 second per day. The Kinetic GMT Diver measures 47.55mm in diameter and retails for Euro 660. The new PROSPEX Aviation Solar Chronograph is a modern interpretation of the 1972 classic Seiko Flight Computer that introduced the trigonometric slide rule that allows pilots to make complex calculations in flight. The Aviation Solar Chronograph measures 46.1mm in diameter and retails for Euro 610. The new PROSPEX Automatic 200M Diver houses the 24-jewel Caliber 4R36 automatic movement with hand winding capability. For the initial US launch, two 42.3mm stainless steel PROSPEX “Monster” models with black hard coating are available in black and blue (SRP581K1) and black and gold (SRP583K1), as well as two other 200M divers.
PROSPEX Kinetic GMT Diver with double case system & Caliber 5M85, ref SUN019
PROSPEX Kinetic GMT Diver with double case system & Caliber 5M85, ref SUN023
PROSPEX Aviation Solar Chronograph collection with Caliber V175
PROSPEX Automatic 200M Diver’s collection with Caliber 4R36
See also Seiko Forum Basel 2014: A Conversation with Shinji Hattori, President & CEO of Seiko
See also Seiko Forum Basel 2014: A Look at the Seiko Novelties
Photos: Paul Boutros