Seiko Presage Celebrates 110 Years of Japanese Craftsmanship


Seiko Presage with Urushi lacquer dial.

Watch novelties are popping up everywhere, like horological blossoms, which makes the Seiko 2023 novelties the equivalent of cherry blossoms. The Japanese watchmaker divided its publicity into two parts, one focussing on the sporty tool watch, and the other on artisanal craftsmanship, which is what the four new Seiko Presage novelties are. To begin with, we want to dive into this second area, which for the moment consists of the following four watches, all limited editions honouring the 110th anniversary of Seiko: fired enamel the SPB393 (with fired enamel dial); the SPB395 (with traditional Urushi lacquer dial); the SPB397 (with Arita porcelain dial), and the SPB399 (with Shippo enamel).

To the casual observer, it may seem that the models here are all about the action on the dial, and that is not untrue. However, the Presage collection has long featured extraordinary dials, and so the story here necessarily begins with something really new: the case. Seiko says that the new case profile is both slimmer and gives the dials room to dominate. The effect is also meant to make the dial feel closer, like you can touch the hands, for example. We will have to take the brand at face value here as we have not yet arranged for our appointment to see the real watches. This will have to wait till after Watches and Wonders Geneva…

But to give as much sense of this as we can, here are the specifications of the four new watches, each of which is in steel. SPB393 and SPB395 are 40.2mm in diameter, and 12.8mm thick, while SPB397 and SPB399 are 40.6mm in diameter and 14.1mm thick. The differences here are likely down to the different movements used, with the former two being powered by the automatic calibre 6R24, and the latter two, the automatic calibre 6R27. Enthusiasts might be familiar with the unusual date display associated with calibre 6R27 (a subdial that looks superficially like a 30-second counter). Calibre 6R24 offers a retrograde date in the same position, at 6 o’clock. Both calibres have a claimed power reserve of 45 hours, and display this information at 9 o’clock on the dial (again in different styles).

With the Seiko Presage family of watches, overall, you get one of the best price to value ratios in all of watchmaking, from a trusted brand name. Now that might sound like an advertising pitch, but a simple scan of the facts reveals that it is true. Models with enamel dials, like SPB393 are available for below US$2,000, which is pretty remarkable considering price points at even Grand Seiko, which can be an order of magnitude higher.

Watch enthusiasts have known about the virtues of the Seiko Presage collection for some time, which is why my own attempts to buy one recently failed — it was no longer in stock. In fact, this problem comes up more frequently than you might think, because whenever we cover Presage models in WOW, we have to consider if they might be sold out by the time people get their hands on the magazine. Even online, on LUXUO, we add this message upfront because the new Presage models here are limited editions, as mentioned earlier. SPB393, SPB395 and SPB397 are limited to 1,500 pieces while SPB399 is limited to just 800 pieces.

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