INTRODUCING: The Seiko Speedtimer Mechanical and Solar Prospex Chronographs INTRODUCING: The Seiko Speedtimer Mechanical and Solar Prospex Chronographs

INTRODUCING: The Seiko Speedtimer Mechanical and Solar Prospex Chronographs

Zach Blass

Seiko has a rich and ever-evolving tradition of sports timing and chronometry. Known for historically frightening the Swiss in observatory competitions and being a proud timing partner for events such as the Olympic Games, Seiko has always been motivated by accuracy – a pillar of many of their designs. Today the brand, in a continuing tribute to their 140th anniversary, has introduced six new chronograph watches that pay homage to their timekeeping heritage with two Seiko Speedtimer Mechanical Chronographs and four Seiko Speedtimer Solar Chronographs.

Seiko SPEEDTIMER

Seiko Speedtimer Mechanical Chronographs

Seiko SPEEDTIMER

The first of two mechanical chronographs, the SRQ035 is a limited edition of 1000 pieces and serves as a faithful tribute to the design of their 1964 1/5th of a second stopwatch. As you can see in the image above, the watch echoes the cues of the pocket watch design with a white dial, Arabic numerals, squared minute markers, and a hashed 1/5th of a seconds track at the outmost perimeter. Of course, there are deviations as well, with the introduction of a dial matching black on white date complication at 6′, bi-compax 30 minute elapsed minutes and running seconds registers at 9′ and 3′ respectively, and a stepped inner bezel tachymeter scale rendered in white on black. The stainless steel case, 42.5mm in diameter, 15.1mm thick, and 45.5mm lug-to-lug across the wrist, is primarily satin-brushed with a thin polished bezel framing the dial. It has pump style pushers that reflect the style of pushers used on the 1964 pocket watch, and while a chronograph watch it sports 100 metres of water resistance making this a highly robust wear day-to-day.

Seiko SPEEDTIMER

There is also a charcoal grey standard production variant as well, the SRQ037, but its dial aesthetic has a different source of inspiration. According to Seiko: “The dial design is a subtle nod to Seiko’s and Japan’s first chronograph wristwatch, the Crown Chronograph from 1964. Its bevelled hour markers, sharp hour and minute hands with colored Lumibrite, its chronograph pushers and the markers on the outer dial ring echo the design of the original” While the date disc at 6′ is white on black in a darker tone than the charcoal grey of the dial, it actually is the perfect colour choice as it perfectly matches the white on black tone of the bi-compax registers.

The pair of watches are offered on a stainless-steel bracelet, entirely brushed and smooth finished on its front, but if you buy the limited edition SRQ035 you will also be treated to a bundled black leather strap as well.

Seiko SPEEDTIMER

Beneath a screwed caseback, both watches are powered by the automatic in-house vertical clutch column-wheel caliber 8R46A, with 45 hours of power reserve and a regulation of +25/-15 seconds per day. I know some will jest that the watches that pay tribute to timekeeping are not the most accurate timekeepers, but these watches are highly economical entries into the vertical clutch column wheel driven segment of chronographs. For those who are not aware, a column wheel offers a better tactile chronograph experience with smoother actuation and the absence of hand stutter. A vertical clutch mechanism offers the ability to run the chronograph as often as you desire without fear of heavy wear and tear to the movement.

Seiko Speedtimer Solar Chronograph

In 1969, Seiko introduced the Seiko Speedtimer chronograph, powered by their in-house caliber 6139. Why was the watch so innovative? According to Seiko, the Seiko Speedtimer was the world’s first automatic chronograph with a column wheel and vertical clutch, two components you find in the mechanical variants we just explored. The Seiko Speedtimer Solar Chronograph, especially the blue dialled SSC815, use the original Speedtimer as a springboard for a new modern design that has hints of the heritage it was inspired by.

Seiko SPEEDTIMER

The stainless-steel case, 100 metres water-resistant, maintains classic and compact dimensions with its measurements of 39mm in diameter, 13.3mm thickness, and 45.5mm lug-to-lug across the wrist. The rounded case primarily conveys a concentric satin brush with a caseband and lug fronts rendered in mirror polish. The black tachymeter bezels take an interesting format, with the hashes placed on a flat innermost ring and the tachymeter numerals etched on the sloped conical outer perimeter.

Each of the four sandblasted texture dials leverage the same tri-compax layout, with a 60 minute elapsed minutes register at 9′, 24 hour time display at 3′ and what appears to be a dual purposed register at 6′ that displays the power reserve or running seconds. I have to confess, the 24 hour display functionality is a bit of pet peeve for me on watches like this. I would much rather it serve as an hour counter for the chronograph then tell me the hour in a 24 hour scale. One look up at the sky and I am fully aware whether it is day or evening hours. Unless it is a dual time or GMT watch, I see little purpose to the functionality.

A controversial 4:30 date window graces the dials, with white on black discs for the blue and black dials and black on white discs for the white and gold dials. The central hands, along with the applied hour indices, are coated with LumiBrite to ensure visibility in darkness. It goes without saying that some collectors will draw a comparison between the white dial variant and the Rolex Daytona, but in my opinion cries of “Seitona” are bit unfounded. If anything, the aesthetic reminds me of the Universal Genève “Nina Rindt” but even then it is really a matter of similar colour cues – the case, hands, and fonts are vastly different.

The Seiko Speedtimer Solar Chronographs are each outfitted on a stainless-steel, three-piece link bracelet and are powered by the in house solar caliber V192 that boasts six months of power reserve on a full charge. Assuming you wear the watch with frequency, the power reserve becomes irrelevant as the sun keeps your watch figuratively wound. In terms of accuracy, the V192 has a regulation of +/- 15 seconds per month, so you will not have to resynchronize the time often.

Seiko Speedtimer Prospex Chronograph Collections pricing and availability:

All six Seiko Speedtimer Mechanical and Solar Chronographs will be available in November 2021 at Seiko boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide.

Approximate Seiko Speedtimer Mechanical recommended retail prices in Europe: €3,200 (SRQ035 Limited Edition of 1,000 pieces) / €3,000 (SRQ037)

Approximate Seiko Speedtimer Solar recommended retail price in Europe: €680