Today I bring to you the Seiko Presage first introduced at Baselworld 2017 earlier this year. The reference I have here is the SPB047, a simple time and date dress watch that boasts Seiko’s revered white enamel dial. Over the past month, I have collected thoughts about the watch; some good and some bad, and how this watch would benefit regular watch consumers and enthusiast collectors.
Seiko wristwatches range greatly from budget, low end quartz and mechanical watches through to Japan’s competitor to Rolex and other high-end Swiss watchmakers, the Grand Seiko. However, there is a common misconception that the image of Seiko to be associated with low-end wrist watches among amateur watch collectors and haute watch snobs. I am here today with a wrist watch from Seiko that challenges this misconception.
Seiko has really gone back to its watchmaking roots with this watch. As disclosed in Seiko’s introductory statement of the new 2017 Presage enamel collection, the design of the dial is inspired by Seiko’s first pocket watch; the Time Keeper. In fact, this is a noticeable trend following the initial launch of the reference SPB041 which drew inspiration from the original 1913 Laurel wristwatch. Despite the increasing amounts of almost cliche’ vintage reissues and homages, I find the new Seiko Presage a refreshing update to the current wristwatch context; perhaps because the design is not a total replica of the original pocket watch, but rather respects it in subtle details. I adore the roman numeral markers, it adds another level of symmetry and proportion and the date function is not too oversized to affect the design of the dial. And thanks to the addition of sapphire crystal, the beautiful roman numerals and enamel dial will continue to shine for many years ahead. The minimal, classic design of the minute and hour hands followed by the lunar shaped seconds hand complement the dress atmosphere and further adds to the design proportions of the dial. For these reasons, the reference SPB047 time and date wristwatch is my favourite piece from the Enamel Collection.
Seiko Time Keeper, extract from Seiko Museum
Let’s talk case design. Being a seiko collector personally, I can see design cues that are derived from the 1970s Grand Seiko and King Seiko watches; I can safely say that the stainless steel case upholds the quality and finish of those above mentioned classic Seiko watches. As such, this watch appeals to vintage watch collectors as it carries with it design consistency with its early predecessors.
A Range of Grand Seikos from the 70’s, extract from 1974 Seiko Catalog
Of course, the star feature of this watch is the enamel dial. Handcrafted by Mitsuru Yokozawa and his team at Seiko headquarters in Japan, the fine craftsmanship of this watch is indeed present as light gleams off the beautiful finish. The enamel dial alone elevates this watch from other Seiko models and brings it closer to the fine watchmaking of the Grand Seiko collections. In my opinion, this example of Japanese made enamel dial really does live up to the enamel dials found in high-end Swiss watches. The high contrast between the ultra-white enamel and the black roman numerals and text really contribute to the high legibility of this watch; during daylight.
The dimensions of the case measures 40.5mm and 12.4mm thick. After wearing this watch daily for a month, I can confirm that the watch is a comfortable watch for the average male wrist size. As I have a below average wrist, I found that the crown is larger than usual; and does penetrate the hand occasionally. Furthermore; being fond with vintage watches, initially I was weary of the size, (average case size of vintage watches ranging from 34-36mm). However experiencing the watch on the wrist, the case diameter is bearable and definitely not big enough to intrude with daily activities. The watch feels sturdy with the thicker case dimension, but not thick enough to cause any issues when wearing a suit. Overall, this watch wears excellently and capable for everyday use.
Caliber 6r15D Movement
The Seiko Presage SPB047 houses a Japanese made Seiko Caliber 6r15D specified 21,600 vibrations per hour, 23 jewel movement and hand winding capability. Seiko advertises this movement with 50 hour power reserve with +- 15 seconds per day. With my experience with this watch, the power loss is not noticeable when worn daily however I have yet to find out the longevity of the power reserve over time. The movement is Seiko’s robust mid-range movement; with better performance and finish than the 4r36 movement but not as highly finished and refined as the Grand Seiko movements. Nevertheless, I am indeed happy to see Japan’s beautiful version of Geneva Striping to the rotor and a beautiful sapphire display back to show off the movement. This watch definitely appeals to the watch purists seeking in-house movements.
Aside from the personal issues I have had regarding the size of the crown in the above mentioned, there are a few extra drawbacks i’d like to point out; there is no such thing as a perfect watch. The original deployant strap that Seiko provides with the Seiko Presage is a black faux crocodile leather strap that on the outside screams luxury. However, after wearing the watch only with the original strap, I began to uncover that the strap is indeed of low quality and I truly doubt that it will have any value of longevity. Furthermore, I found that the deployant buckle uncomfortable and lacks the sturdy construction of deployant straps provided by Omega. All these issues are external and can be solved by simply replacing the strap. In my case, I have ordered a brown genuine crocodile leather strap from Hodinkee and will update the watch on Instagram in the following weeks. Lastly, I found that Seiko’s presentation of the watch is uninspiring; with simple white packaging and a plain black box. However; I understand that Seiko focused on spending money on improving the watch itself.
The Seiko Presage SPB047 retails in Australia for $1800 AUD at the Seiko Boutique. This watch represents high value for money and places itself in the market of Swiss made watches. Below is a list of the retail prices for the other watches in the 2017 Enamel Collection:
SPB049J – Rectangle, Date & Time: $2150 AUD
SPB045J – Power Reserve Indicator, Sub Second Dial: $2150 AUD
SRQ023J – Chronograph: $4200 AUD
The Seiko Presage SPB047 is an excellent timepiece; robust for the daily user and is a great addition for Seiko collectors thanks to its vintage design roots. This handcrafted enamel wristwatch can also be appealing for collectors in the high-end Swiss watch market.