This year’s seen a bunch of anniversary releases but this is the one Seiko aficionados have been waiting for — a chronograph to mark the 50th anniversary of the Seiko Ref. 6139, the first automatic chronograph in the world.
Though Zenith also claims its El Primero to be the first, its production models did not hit stores till October 1969 whereas Seiko’s 6139 chronograph were already in production in January and was available to the public in March. Seiko’s Caliber 6139 had a column wheel and vertical clutch construction, a pre-requisite of any high grade chronograph today. However, Seiko made chronographs cased in pocket watches way back in the early 1940s. In 1964, it famously made the monopusher Crown Chronograph in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games, the first Seiko wristwatch chronograph.
The Japanese brand has now introduced two models to mark the 50th anniversary of Caliber 6139 and the 55th Anniversary of the Crown Chronograph, one is a Prospex while the other is placed in the Presage line. Let’s start with the Prospex Ref. SRQ029 – a stainless steel chronograph that is inspired by a 1970 “panda” chronograph running the Caliber 6138.
The new Prospex has a 41 mm wide stainless steel case that has the famous Zaratsu-polished finish. This blade polishing technique ensures there is distortion-free reflection on the case. This is a chunky case at 16 mm thickness and is fitted with a box-shaped sapphire crystal. The hairline-polished dial pays homage to the 70s chronograph and uses the same style hands and orange-tipped chronograph seconds needle. It is paired with a stainless steel bracelet with a “super-hard” coating.
The watch is powered by Seiko’s Caliber 8R48, which was first introduced in 2014. In addition to the vertical clutch and column wheel, it incorporates Seiko’s unique three-pointed hammer and a heart-shaped cam which ensure the perfect synchronization of the hands’ flyback. The balance wheel oscillates at 4 hz (28,800 vph) and has a power reserve of 45 hours.
The second chronograph, the Presage Ref. SRQ031 takes its design cues from the 1964 Crown Chronograph. The Zaratsu-polished stainless steel case is 42.3 mm wide and 15.3 mm thick. It has a box-shaped crystal and sharply defined numerals on the narrow bezel. The inwardly tilted case shape allows the watch to sit tight on the wrist. Just like the Prospex, this uses the same Caliber 8R48 movement and is paired with a black Cordovan leather strap with a three-fold clasp with push button release.
While the Prospex model Ref. SRQ029 is priced at €3,700 (AED14,877), the Presage chrono Ref. SRQ031 will retail at €3,400 (AED13,670). Both are limited editions of a 1000 pieces each and will be available from December this year.