HANDS-ON: The Seiko SPB149J HANDS-ON: The Seiko SPB149J

HANDS-ON: The Seiko SPB149J

Nick Kenyon

Dive watches have come a very long way in 55 years. It was 1965 when Seiko first dipped their toe into the waters of serious dive watches when they released the Seiko automatic 6217 62MAS, water resistant to 150m. Featuring large luminous hands and hour markers, a rotating dive 60-minute bezel and a rubber strap, it already had all the ingredients of the modern-day dive watch. To pay tribute to this special watch, and the legacy of diving watches that it gave birth to, Seiko have released a collection of limited edition watches inspired by important historic references, three of which are faithful to the originals, and one, the Seiko SPB149J, is a modern interpretation of the 62MAS from 1965. As it is a modern interpretation, it is worth some closer scrutiny to see how it stacks up.

Seiko SPB149J

The link to the original Seiko dive watch is immediately obvious, with the blocky case sides, squared-off lugs and prominent crown at 3 o’clock. While the crown was originally placed there, by 1968 Seiko had shifted the crown to the 4 o’clock position that we are used to seeing to this day. The black 60-minute bezel is also consistent with the original from 1965; however, in the new Seiko SPB149J it is much wider and frames the deep blue dial.

Seiko SPB149J

The dial of the Seiko SPB149J is finished with sunburst brushing that radially casts light across itself, interrupted by some seriously legible furniture. Each of the hour markers are thick, true to the original, and contrast heavily against the dial thanks to the bright LumiBrite that fills them. The baton-shaped hands are filled with the same luminous material for the majority of their length, and are slightly faceted as they arrive at an ever-so-slightly pointed tip.

Seiko SPB149J

One of my favourite elements of the watch is the gold seconds hand, which is the same colour as the DIVER’S 200m text on the dial, and adds a playfulness to what otherwise might be a relatively sombre impression. The date window at 3 o’clock is both practical and true to the original version. It also maintains the visual symmetry of the dial with a white date wheel that is consistent with the indices.

Seiko SPB149J

One of the most noticeable differences is also one of the best features of the watch — the brushed steel bracelet. The original 62MAS was sold on a tropic-style rubber strap, which was comfortable but not particularly durable over time. The steel bracelet on the Seiko SPB149J will not only last the lifetime of the watch, but also gives it a much more robust tool watch feel on the wrist. The deployant clasp is easy to use, but features a second lock for security for those who actually dare to take it into the deep. Good news if you don’t like the bracelet though — the Seiko SPB149J also comes with a silicone strap.

Seiko SPB149J

Another obvious difference, though you can’t see it, is the movement. The Seiko SPB149J is powered by the caliber 6R35, which boasts a thoroughly modern 70 hours of power reserve. The screw-down crown guarantees 200m of water resistance, another upgrade from the original which could only take you to 150m. The case is very nicely sized. At 40.5mm in diameter and 13.15mm thick, it has arguably the perfect dimensions for a daily dive watch that has some heft, without giving you a limp. All considered, there is a lot to like about this contemporary reimagining of the first-ever Seiko dive watch. The build quality is as good as you would expect from Seiko, the proportions are well balanced, and the pop of gold on the dial really draws the eye. If you’re a fan of Seiko dive watches, this could be one of the most compelling releases in recent years.

Seiko SPB149J price and availability

The Seiko SPB149J has an Australian RRP of $1995, and is limited to 5500 pieces worldwide.

Made in partnership with Seiko. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.