The previous few years have been a transitional time for Seiko. Though the Japanese big has lengthy boasted a scope that runs from ultra-affordable entry-level fashions to actually world-beating examples of haute horlogerie (particularly via its Grand Seiko and Credor sub-brands), the corporate has lately made sizeable efforts to maneuver the primary Seiko model upmarket. This development of upper high quality fashions for greater costs, coupled with aggressive strikes on the entry-level worth level by opponents, has put Seiko in an attention-grabbing, quite unprecedented scenario amongst fans. Whereas for years, the Seiko title was nearly the default alternative for value-focused watch fans, these days, many elements of the Seiko lineup are competing straight towards Swiss and fellow Japanese manufacturers on the identical worth level. Seiko, then, faces the problem of beating these opponents purely on high quality. The limited-edition Seiko Prospex SLA063 is a superb microcosm of the present state of the model – excepting Prospex LX choices and a handful of specialty fashions, this sits close to the highest of the pricing scale for three-hand divers beneath the primary Seiko nameplate, however regardless of the extra bold worth level, this mannequin stacks up admirably towards its celebrated Swiss opponents. Impressed by the ethereal glow of the Aurora Borealis, this new diver is an impressively refined and uniquely engaging providing that makes a compelling case for Seiko’s future on this market section.
Measuring in at 44mm-wide and 13mm-thick, the chrome steel case of the Seiko Prospex SLA063 brings a newly luxurious really feel to the basic ‘70s cushion case type. Though this design is essentially true to the scale and form of the unique Seiko 6105 “Willard,” the SLA063 distinguishes itself within the high-quality particulars. The subtlest of those paradoxically may need the most important influence on the general sporting expertise. Somewhat than the 6105’s abrupt transition between the radially brushed higher case and the inwardly sloping, polished case sides, the SLA063 provides a slim stepped chamfer alongside the sides of the case. Past merely making a extra complicated type out of the rounded, pebble-like cushion design, this chamfer ensures that it doesn’t matter what the viewing angle, this case has a brightly polished edge spotlight for a brighter, extra premium look on the wrist. This dedication to a extra refined, nuanced sporting expertise extends to the distinctive 4 o’clock crown as properly. Whereas extra inexpensive trendy interpretations of the 6105 go for a easy coin edge screw-down crown design, the SLA063 stays visually true to the ‘70s authentic with a notched screw-down crown that mimics the pin-lock crown design of the basic mannequin and offers the design a extra distinctive look. Likewise, the unidirectional coin edge bezel provides some refinement to the unique idea, with a shiny, virtually mirror-like engraved insert in deep navy blue. The bezel itself units itself aside by really feel as properly, because of a clean, mild turning motion with a reassuring lack of again play. Seiko’s consideration to element shines via dramatically within the ending itself, with even and exact brushing accented by spectacular case aspect sharpening that markedly outshines its opponents at this worth level (with that stated, the model makes no point out of its upscale Zaratsu sharpening course of on this mannequin).
Like so many Seiko instances, the Prospex SLA063 defies its dimensions in follow. This watch wears considerably smaller than its 44mm-wide diameter suggests, attributable to a mix of quick lugs and a extreme case undercut that minimizes its footprint on the wrist. Seiko’s proprietary super-hard coating ought to assist this case stay scratch-free lengthy after buy as properly, with out giving up the normal look of chrome steel. With that stated, the idiosyncratic form of the SLA063’s case could not go well with all tastes, particularly at this (comparatively) elevated worth level the place fans are extra accustomed to a conventional luxurious diver design. Seiko tops off this case with a stable engraved caseback that includes the model’s acquainted wave brand, and charges the look ahead to an ISO-compliant 200 meters of water resistance.
Seiko has a well-earned status for creating engaging dials all through its mannequin vary, however even by the model’s personal requirements, the Prospex SLA063’s dial is a real standout. With a coloration palette meant to evoke the glowing, ethereal colours of the Northern Lights, the SLA063 instantly units itself aside from the remainder of the Prospex household, and this dynamic look is the results of a multi-level ending course of. Firstly, the model makes use of an unorthodox dégradé impact right here, with the sides of the dial at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock fading to a deep midnight blue to distinction the brighter stripe working from 12 o’clock to six o’clock. Subsequent, there’s the basic sunburst impact, with a average grain and a broad dynamic vary. On prime of this, Seiko provides a light-weight rippled texture to the floor of the dial, which helps to visually soften the sides of the sunburst texture to raised resemble the ghostly, wispy look of the Aurora Borealis. In fact, essentially the most hanging component of all is the dial coloration itself. This wealthy, nuanced blue hue reveals a dramatic number of shade variations and undertones in altering mild, starting from practically black to cobalt blue, turquoise, and even hints of pale inexperienced. It’s a shimmering, complicated mixture of tones that’s tough to seize on digicam, however instantly attention-grabbing in follow. This dedication to nuance additionally extends to the SLA063’s dial textual content and outer minutes monitor, which is rendered in high-quality metallic silver print that lends an additional sparkle to the dial on the wrist. The remainder of the dial format itself largely follows the acquainted “Willard” sample, with faithfully reproduced rectangular utilized indices, pointed variations on the 6105’s distinctive baton handset, and the immediately recognizable “stoplight” seconds hand. Seiko’s determination to maneuver the SLA063’s date window to the 4:30 place could show controversial, however this off-center placement helps to visually protect the format of the indices whereas the black date wheel permits this component to roughly disappear when glancing on the dial.
Contained in the Seiko Prospex SLA063 beats the in-house 8L35 automated motion. The 8L35 sits close to the highest of mainline Seiko’s mechanical motion hierarchy, and the model backs up this extra premium placement with genuinely refined building. This motion is hand-assembled in Seiko’s unique Shizukuishi watch studio, an honor normally reserved for Grand Seiko and Credor fashions. Seiko locations a excessive emphasis on torque output for the 8L35, ostensibly to make sure smoother operation for its diver-style handset, however regardless of this high-torque method the motion nonetheless gives a stable 50-hour energy reserve at a 28,800 bph beat fee. Our accuracy testing for the 8L35 contained in the Prospex SLA063 confirmed glorious outcomes all through our testing interval, averaging out to +3 seconds per day.
Seiko pairs the Prospex SLA063 with two included strap choices. First amongst these is a contemporary reimagining of the Seiko 6105’s rubber “tire monitor” strap in black, however our evaluation pattern arrived with solely the chrome steel bracelet. Seiko’s bracelets carry an unlucky status with some fans, however the SLA063 gives a number of tangible enhancements over the model’s rank-and-file bracelet choices. For starters, though it is probably not obvious at first look, the polished accents on the sides of the middle hyperlinks are literally totally separate components. The choice to make these further slim hyperlinks permits Seiko to make a superbly crisp transition from clean vertical brushing to brilliant sharpening right here, with the additional advantage of a deeply shaded border between the 2 finishes. The clasp can also be a notable step up from Seiko’s extra inexpensive fashions, with a totally machined two-button design that provides a lovely sense of heft and solidity to the bracelet on the wrist. With that stated, the diver’s extension flanking this clasp is exceedingly tough to function, and its hinged off-center placement tends to unbalance the watch barely in precise sporting situations. Lastly, the stable finish hyperlinks have a notably slimmer profile than the SLA063’s lugs, which ends up in a visual down-step which will deter fans used to flush-fitting endlink designs.
Though its positioning close to the highest of the usual Seiko Prospex lineup places the restricted version Seiko Prospex SLA063 in one of the crucial fiercely contested segments within the trendy luxurious watch market, this watch’s mixture of rock-solid building, glorious motion efficiency, and gorgeous ending make it a worthy contender towards its Swiss rivals. Solely 500 examples of the Seiko Prospex SLA063 can be made, and the watch can be obtainable via approved sellers in October 2022. MSRP for the Seiko Prospex SLA063 stands at $3,100 USD as of press time. For extra data, please go to the model’s web site.
>Mannequin: Prospex SLA063
>Value: $3,100 USD, restricted to 500 items, obtainable October 2022
>Measurement: 44mm-wide, 13mm-thick, 49.3mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally put on it: When exploring the outside, swimming, or when assembly with different dive watch followers.
>Pal we’d suggest it to first: Classic-style diver followers searching for a bolder different to the standard suspects at this worth level, Seiko fans searching for the highest-quality interpretation of one of many model’s most beloved divers.
>Greatest attribute of watch: Iridescent, brilliantly textured dial, beautiful case ending, sturdy in-house motion efficiency.
>Worst attribute of watch: Bracelet design is healthier than most Seikos however nonetheless struggles towards opponents; pricing places this mannequin in a fiercely aggressive section; consumers could battle to justify mainline Seiko branding at this worth.