HANDS-ON: The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Solar Chronograph offers retro vibes with grab-and-go convenience HANDS-ON: The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Solar Chronograph offers retro vibes with grab-and-go convenience

HANDS-ON: The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Solar Chronograph offers retro vibes with grab-and-go convenience

D.C. Hannay

Seiko has a long history in chronographs, including their first manually wound model from 1964, and the iconic 6139 – the first automatic chrono to hit the market in 1969. That was also the year of the world’s first quartz watch, the Seiko Astron. Naturally, the brands have therefore had a lot of experience producing quartz chronographs in the years since, and today, we’re looking at the Prospex Speedtimer Solar Chronograph, available in three new colourways.

 

 

The case

Size-wise, the new solar Speedtimers are a bit larger than the 39mm models released last year, clocking in at 41.4mm in diameter, with a fairly compact lug-to-lug of 45.9mm, and a case height of 13mm, including the curved sapphire crystal. The stainless-steel case’s vibe leans toward the sporty side, with some very tool-like circular brushing on top, and polishing relegated to the case sides. Water resistance is 100 metres, typical for a modern chronograph without a screwdown crown or pushers.

Seiko Prospex Speedtimer

The aluminum tachymetre bezel is wider than the bezel on the 39mm’s version, which gives the Speedtimer a bit of neo-vintage Daytona flair, but the overall design language is still very much Seiko. Frankly, I like the retro look, and a glossy ceramic bezel would give the whole proceeding a much more modern vibe.

The dial

Seiko Prospex Speedtimer

The new Speedtimer comes in three colourways, a silver and black panda, a blue dial with Pepsi bezel, and a black dial with a red and black Coke bezel. Again, some Rolex Daytona and GMT-Master callbacks are present, but vintage Speedtimers like the “Pogue” made use of the red and blue bezel insert as well. The dials themselves are sunray-finished, and the hands and applied indices feature a healthy dose of Seiko’s retina-searing LumiBrite, so visibility after dark won’t be an issue.

The subdials themselves appear black, but are actually translucent to facilitate charging the solar module. As the date window is located around 4:30, it doesn’t interfere with the view of the chrono functions, but some might prefer it in a different spot (if you’re prone to eye twitches when presented with asymmetry).

Seiko Prospex Speedtimer

I happen to love the look of the silver panda version, as it evokes all the “Paul Newman” feels, without coming off like a blatant ripoff that an off-white dial might. It’s just a great, vintage-looking chrono, without the pampering and service issues that come with vintage ownership. And if you’re a fan of colour, things don’t get any more iconic than a refreshing Pepsi or Coke.

The movement

Seiko Prospex Speedtimer

The movement is Seiko’s V192, with a 60-minute chronograph, a 24-hour subdial, running seconds, and a cool feature within the minute counter at 6: a power reserve indicator for the solar charge that reminds me of nothing more than a little fuel gauge, with “full” and “empty” markings. When the chrono is activated, the subdial’s function switches over to the minute counter. Pretty neat. The movement will run for six months when fully charged, and accuracy is good to within 15 seconds a month. And there’s no shame in rocking a quartz chrono these days: A mechanical chrono is necessarily going to be cost-prohibitive for a lot of buyers, and quartz movements are widely accepted as a cost-effective solution for bringing chronographs to a wide audience. Although the V192 isn’t a “mechachrono” movement, the chrono hand does feature a pretty nice sweep, even if you don’t get that crisp, instantaneous return to zero. And there’s a lot to be said for never having to worry about a battery change.

The bracelet

All three versions come equipped with a three-link stainless-steel bracelet with brush finishing on top, and polished sides. The links are solid and quite substantial, lending a premium feel. The overall look is a standard Explorer-style, but it’s a bit softened due to the contour of the links, and nicely done. A three-fold clasp with dual pushbuttons completes the package. It’s a bit of a shame that the lug width is 21mm, because the watch (especially the panda version) has serious strap monster potential, but luckily, more aftermarket strapmakers are broadening their odd size offerings these days.

The verdict

Seiko has once again brought out a solid winner for those who want chrono functionality in a timelessly cool package. With three classic colourways available, there’s something for everyone, and you can’t beat the set-it-and-forget-it convenience of a solar-powered quartz movement. And while Seikos are no longer the bargain-basement value proposition they once were, the price point is still quite good, considering that they’re one of the few truly vertically integrated manufacturers out there. It’s a watch that’s easy to grab when you don’t want to think too hard before your first coffee, because it looks great with almost anything.

The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Solar Chronograph: SSC911, SSC913, SSC915 pricing and availability

Seiko Prospex Speedtimer

The Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Solar Chronograph: SC911 (Silver), SSC913 (Blue), SSC915 (Black) are now available at Seiko boutiques and selected retail partners for AU$1,110 / US$700

Case Material Stainless steel
Case Dimensions 41.4mm x 13mm x 45.9mm
Water-Resistance 1o0m
Dial Silver, Blue, Black
Straps Stainless-steel bracelet with trifold clasp
Movement V192 quartz chronograph, solar-powered
Power Reserve 6 months
Complications Chronograph
Price AU $1,110  / US$700